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Member Spotlight

The Capital Region Association for Talent Development (CRATD) spotlights a member each month to highlight some of the great talent and support that is a part of our local organization.  Check out some of the great local professionals below.

Gregory DiStefano - June 2019

Please tell us a bit about yourself; your name, current job title, and what a typical day looks like for you.

I am Gregory DiStefano, the Talent Management Specialist for Saratoga Casino Hotel. There is no typical day for me and that is one of the reasons I love my work so much! I might be toiling away in my office working on a new learning initiative, out at a recruiting event, delivering L&D to my team mates here or seeking new fun ways to add value to our employee experience.

How long have you been a member of CRATD, and have you volunteered on any chapter activities?

I have been a member of CRATD since October of 2018. I have attended many activities but, as of yet have not had the opportunity to volunteer though that will be changing very soon.

What do you enjoy most about CRATD?

It is difficult to pick one aspect that I most enjoy about CRATD. If I must though, it would be the community culture that the organization and members have created and represent. One of lifelong learners that consistently share their wealth of knowledge and experience openly with all, while always seeking to expand that knowledge through everything they do.

What do you like to do outside of work?

There’s an outside of work? I enjoy traveling to new places, working with my hands, pretty much anything that gets me outside and active. I love animals and have 3 dogs that are a constant source of joy for me. I have a passion for cooking, especially new and challenging dishes. Though when I step back and look at my life I am truly happiest when I am with my family and friends just enjoying each other’s company.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

Hands down the Cayman Islands. This place embodies the idea of vacation to me. All the worries of the world are washed away in the warm blue waters of the Caribbean Sea while your stress melts into the white sand beaches. There is truly nothing more freeing than being on a dive 100ft below the crystal clear water’s surface enjoying the beauty of nature with no chance at all of hearing a cell phone ring!


Mark Grimm - May 2019

Please tell us a bit about yourself; your name, current job title, and what a typical day looks like for you.

I founded Mark Grimm Communications (markgrimm.com) 17 years ago.  I conduct keynote speeches or workshops for corporate or government clients on many topics ---- public speaking, motivation, leadership, media relations, advocacy, customer service, etc. I also do one-on-one coaching for public speaking and media skills. There’s never a dull day because helping people never gets old. I am an on-camera performer/voiceover artist for various commercial productions. I have interviewed Presidents Bush and Clinton and written a public speaking book.

How long have you been a member of CRATD, and have you volunteered on any chapter activities?

I joined CRATD about 15 years ago. Natalie Williams asked me to speak at an annual conference and I soon became a member. I then volunteered as a member of the annual CRATD conference committee for more than 10 years.

I worked with a great group of people and we had a lot of fun. I learned a lot about how a conference comes together. It’s a lot of persistence and organizational skill.

What do you enjoy most about CRATD?

Cultivating friendships over the years with some truly wonderful people. Trainers impact thousands of people with their work. I have learned so much from other trainers and continue to benefit from their wise counsel and innovative thinking. It is great to be a part of such a noble enterprise.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Much of my time away from work involves my service as an Albany County Legislator from Guilderland. Most people shy away from politics. But if you work hard, have courage and stay focused on helping people, you’d be amazed at the difference you can make. I wish more trainers would get involved politically. I do make time to be a soccer and lacrosse dad, rarely missing one of my daughter’s games.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

The Adirondacks. I love swimming, boating and spending time with my family and vacations there have all three.

 


Lisa Adams - April 2019

Please tell us a bit about yourself; your name, current job title, and what a typical day looks like for you. 

Lisa Adams, Leadership Coach & Facilitator for Bishop House Consulting.  A typical day is not very typical.  I could be either working at a client’s site training and coaching or I could be working in my home office developing content.  I do a fair amount of virtual coaching as well.

How long have you been a member of CRATD, and have you volunteered on any chapter activities?

I just became a member and am looking forward to attending more events and volunteering.

What do you enjoy most about CRATD?

The regular monthly meetings.  I think the consistency and content have been fantastic.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I have two teenage boys that are very active in sports.  I am involved with my church of which my husband is the pastor, Grace Fellowship Saratoga.  I volunteer with 4WordWomen.org as a mentor to young women professionals.  I love living in Saratoga Springs.  There is always something going on.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

My husband and I love vacationing on the beach on the Cape, NC, FL or Hawaii.  I love the ocean waves and scent.  It is very relaxing for me.  As a young adult I learned to sail, surf, and scuba dive.  The water is very refreshing for me.

 


Katy Butler - March 2019

Please tell us a bit about yourself; your name, current job title, and what a typical day looks like for you.

Katy Butler, Principal Specialist, Learning & Organizational Development at Global Foundries.  I’m not a huge fan of job titles because I don’t think they always tell the whole story. I am a catalyst of change, supporting and providing leaders with the skills and tools to be successful.  A typical day is very atypical. I do everything from creating content for the learners (at my desk) to facilitating a session (in any given location), and providing feedback.

How long have you been a member of CRATD, and have you volunteered on any chapter activities?

I joined CRATD in 20016, when it was HMATD.  I have been a Board member, and presented at a few breakfast meetings.

What do you enjoy most about CRATD?

CRATD is a great place to meet fellow trainers and learn new skills.  It’s also a fantastic place to network and find kindred spirit in the training arena.  I always learn new things, share best practices, and listen to trends in the workplace in the Capital District.  CRATD has a diverse membership with varied types of trainers, and it’s always good to share information.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to travel.  My suitcase is already packed and reay to go!  I’m also an experienced sewer and enjoy spending time in my habby, quilting or making clothes.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

Thailand!  My best vacation ever was a week in Phuket, ChangMai, and Bangkok, Thailand.  The weather was perfect, the sand was warm, and the people were inviting. There are so many great vacation spots, but that was my favorite.

 


Steve Derrick - February 2019

Please tell us a bit about yourself Steve.

I am Steve Derrick and my position is Director of Organizational Development. My day varies greatly from day to day as my role here is pretty varied. I could be facilitating a training session on a variety of leadership development topics, coaching leads, working with outsourced art clients or working in different aspects of studio finances.

How long have you been a member of CRATD, and have you volunteered on any chapter activities?

I have been a member of CRATD for one year and was part of a panel discussion once and have helped briefly with some other graphic design needs.

What do you enjoy most about CRATD?

I haven’t fully immersed myself into the programs as much as I would like but the networking is great, and I look forward to attending more functions this year.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I love to travel, draw, paint and sketch. Video games, even though it is part of my job, requires “research” that is a lot of fun.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

Any location in Europe but particularly Italy as I speak the language and lived there for a couple years. The food is also pretty amazing.

 

 


Dawn Carlson - January 2019

Please tell us a bit about yourself; your name, current job title, and what a typical day looks like for you.

I’m Dawn Carlson, the Branch Development and Training Specialist for Greylock Federal Credit Union in Pittsfield, MA. My days vary; training classes depend on who has been hired – Tellers stay in the Training Room for 12 days and are shadowed on the window for another 5 by me or my back-up trainers. All new hires receive some time in the Training Room specific to their job title. If I am not in the Training Room, I am working on Fraud Prevention or other assignments for Branch Administration.

How long have you been a member of CRATD, and have you volunteered on any chapter activities?

I have been a member of CRATD for two years but haven’t volunteered for any of the chapter activities at this time.

What do you enjoy most about CRATD?

I have really enjoyed the Training Summits held in May. They are very informative and give me the opportunity to network with other Trainers.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Spend time with family, especially my grandsons. I do multiple crafts, read, garden and watch hockey.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

Myrtle Beach is my favorite vacation spot. We have gone there for 19 years, have family in the area and have created great memories. I love the beach and try to be the first one at the ocean and the last to leave!

 


Holly Kahn - December 2018

Please tell us a bit about yourself; your name, current job title, and what a typical day looks like for you.

My name is Holly Kahn and I am the Training Coordinator for LeverPoint Management. On any given day I can be found facilitating soft skills or leadership development training, hosting a private equity technical training, or working with our employees and mentors in our CPA program.

How long have you been a member of CRATD, and have you volunteered on any chapter activities?

I have been a member of CRATD since January 2018. This year I will be serving as a member of the Talent Development Summit Committee.

What do you enjoy most about CRATD?

What I enjoy most about CRATD are the professional development opportunities. I appreciate that on a monthly basis I am able to attend a session that helps to develop me as a training professional and also provides information that I can bring back to my organization and share with my colleagues. I am excited to contribute to the Talent Development Summit this year and help to create these kinds of experiences for other training and talent development professionals!

What do you like to do outside of work?

When not in the office I spend most of my time with my friends and family. Whether that be grabbing a meal, checking out the newest movie, treating ourselves to mani/pedis, or just hanging out and watching Netflix, I know I will always have a great time when I am with my favorite people!

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

My favorite vacation spot is Southern California. Once a year I take a trip out west and spend time with my family in that area. We get to go to the beach in San Diego, enjoy cool cafés in Los Angeles, and just enjoy the sunshine and good vibes.

 


Kim Gander - November 2018 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm the Staff Development and Training Officer at Pioneer Bank.  As part of a dynamic Human Resources team, my day is comprised of working on various initiatives that support our employees, from developing and facilitating learning on topics related to professional and leadership development to financial education and wellness.  In addition I work with members of our management staff in developing and coordinating our performance management program. 

How long have you been a member of CRATD, and have you volunteered on any chapter activities?

I have been a member of ATD (formerly ASTD) since 2000 and a member of CRATD since 2003.  In 2004 I joined the Board of Directors and served on the Membership, Conference, Scholarship and Audit committees.  I served as President from 2008 – 2010.  

What do you enjoy most about CRATD?

What I like most about CRATD is getting together with other talent development professionals – longtime friends and new acquaintances. Although I have been in learning and development for almost 30 years I always learn…or am reminded of…something that I can apply to my current role. It has been great watching the organization evolve with new talent on the Board of Directors and on the committees.  I am excited to see what the future has in store for CRATD. 

What do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with family and friends.  I enjoy going to the movies, cooking, baking and taking a few trips a year to Atlantic City.

What is your favorite vacation spot and why?

I spend a week at the Cape Cod every summer and love sitting on the beach enjoying the sounds of the surf.  It’s my favorite place to take a nap! Considering I did not win the MegaMillions, I have to postpone my buying a cottage there for a few years!


Denise Mallow - October 2018

Denise Mallow, PHR, SHRM-CP has been a Member of Capital Region ATD since 2001.  She spent 15 years as a Member of the Board of Directors, served two 2-year terms as President and held several other positions on the board through her tenure.  Denise Chaired our Annual Conference Committee for two years and has won both the HMATD Training Team of the Year award as well as Trainer of the Year.  Denise is now the Chief Human Resource Officer for TCT Federal Credit Union located in Saratoga, Washington and Warren Counties.

How did you come to join CRATD?

In 1999 I made the decision to move my career from training physicians and hospitals on how to work with a local health insurance company, to Training & Development under the HR umbrella.  My manager at the time was a phenomenal trainer who took me under her wing.  The first thing she did was introduce me to the American Society for Training & Development.  Next, she sent me to Washington DC for a certification program with Achieve-Global and then to Dallas for my first ASTD International Conference.  That was it for me, I’d finally found my calling!  A year later in 2000 I received an invitation to the Hudson Mohawk Chapter of ASTD’s “Trainer’s School”.  I had not realized there was a local chapter until the invitation came in.  I attended the conference and was so energized by the presenters and award winners that I made the decision to join that day.

How do you feel CRATD has helped you in your career?

Once I made the decision to join the chapter, I approached a few of the people whom I’d met at the conference and asked how I could get involved.  I wanted to learn everything I could from them.  I was looking for mentors and they were happy to help.   I was comfortable training the physicians and hospitals on information that I was familiar with, however I knew I had a lot to learn about the Training and Development industry if I was going to be successful.  They invited me to the annual open Board Meeting at which time I got involved as the Presenter’s Chair for the next annual conference.  That single volunteer decision was probably the turning point in my career.  It allowed me to reach out to area and national training professionals and build relationships, many of which have lasted through today.  I’ve had the honor of learning from each of them.  Later I was able to build on my organizational, team building and leadership skills when I took over as Conference Chairman.  I grew and learned from each one of my years on the Conference Committee.  When I was elected President of the Board, I was very aware of the fact that once again I was in uncharted territory for me.  I built strong relationships with veteran Board Members so that I could truly learn the history and decision-making processes that they had used in the years prior to my coming onboard. Understanding where we had been was critical to making decisions about our future. Once again, I was able to hone in on my team building and leadership skills as the Board continued to turn over during my 15-year tenure.  Ultimately, attending the chapter events and networking with HR and Learning & Development Professionals throughout the Capital Region, Central NY, Western NY and NYC and surrounding states expanded my network of contacts resulting in numerous job opportunities and professional growth for me.

Do you have a favorite author?

I read a lot and have several author’s that I love.  I have to say though that my all-time favorite is still Stephen Covey.  I first listened to his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when I was on the road traveling across the state when I was working in health insurance.  From that point on, I have really tried to live by those principals in both my professional and private life.

What drives you?

Helping people be the best version of themselves.  Whether I’m facilitating a training program, coaching an employee or even raising my family, my end goal remains the same.

What advice do you have for up and coming training professionals?

  • Never stop learning – wake up every day with a curiosity to learn something new!
  • Get involved with CRATD, volunteer, network and learn through your experiences!
  • Listen with purpose – in the words of Covey – Seek first to understand…
  • Love what you do and do what you love, and this will never feel like a job!
  • Take care of you! You can only be effective if you are the best version of YOU!

Any final thoughts about your experience with CRATD?

The beauty of CRATD is that we as training professionals are always willing to share knowledge and mentor others. CRATD provides us the opportunity to make that happen.  I’ve had the absolute honor to have been mentored by some of the best learning and development professionals in the country, some of which live in our backyard.  In turn, I’ve tried to be there for those that have asked for my insight.  ATD and CRATD is a wonderful support system for anyone in the HR and Talent Development Professions.  In today’s business environment, where priorities are changing at an unprecedented rate, we need to have all the tools necessary at our fingertips to support the transfer of knowledge.  It’s always been reassuring to me to know that I have developed a network of experts through ATD and CRATD who I could turn to for tools, advice and ideas when I had a project I needed to move forward.  I am extremely grateful for the experiences and connections I’ve made over the past 19 years.