Friday, February 19, 2016

City Manager advises of Executive Director of Human Resources' Upcoming Retirement

The following is a letter sent by City Manager Chris Murray to Council advising of the upcoming retirement of Helen Hale Tomasik, the Executive Director of Human Resources
Dear Mr. Mayor and Members of Council. The Hamiltonian wishes Ms. Tomasik well with her future plans post retirement. 

Please join me in extending best wishes to Helen Hale Tomasik, the Executive Director of Human Resources, who has announced her retirement effective September 30, 2016.

As I read her retirement letter, I was once again reminded how lucky we are to have such talented and committed staff working for this City. And how stellar people like Helen take chances and change their career paths, continue to learn, take risks, and do great, leading edge work not because of any personal benefit but because of their unequivocal commitment to public service and to our municipality.

Helen graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Master of Science Degree in Nutrition and began her working career as a Lecturer in Applied Human Nutrition, first at the University of Manitoba and then at the University of Guelph. Although she was on a path to begin her PhD studies, in 1981 she was enticed to work for the Region of Hamilton-Wentworth, as our very first public health nutritionist. In 1984 she was appointed as the Director, Public Health Nutrition Service; then in 1994 became the Director of the Healthy Lifestyle Branch followed in 1999 as the Director of the Healthy Lifestyles and Chronic Disease Prevention Branch. While in Public Health, her work was published in peer-reviewed dietetic journals and she was a sought after presenter at national conferences. In 1995 she was awarded the Ontario Dietetic Association Award of Honour in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the profession. This was the highest award bestowed upon one dietitian across all sectors in the province of Ontario

In 2001, her career path took a sharp turn in a different direction when she became the Director of the Strategic Services Division supporting both Public Health and Community Services. And then, not deterred by the challenge, in 2008 she accepted the position as the Executive Director of Human Resources and Organizational Development.

Helen has dedicated 35 years furthering the health of our community, and the wellbeing of our organization and staff. She has been a role model for us all in terms of her commitment and character. She is a courageous, humble, hard-working, patient, collaborative, smart, passionate and compassionate leader. There is nobody who has worked with more dedication than Helen.

I am grateful for her steadfast and stubborn push to develop a People Plan for the City of Hamilton. This will be her legacy – leaving us in a better place in terms of our understanding of what great leadership looks like and how to support and develop our people. She has been my trusted confidante and advisor, with a calm temperament and superb problem solving skills. I will miss her.

As we make the transition to Helen’s retirement, Lora Fontana will assume the role of Associate Executive Director effective March 7, 2016 and will begin to manage the day to day operations of Human Resources. Helen’s priorities and attention during this period will be on strategic HR initiatives that are priorities for my office and the Senior Management Team – including Succession Management, Leadership Profile and Leadership Development, the Employee Survey and Performance Measurement.

Please join me in congratulating Helen, thanking her for her dedication, and wishing her the best in her retirement.

Chris Murray
City Manager

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