Here is additional information on the backgrounds and activities of the 2009 HR Executive of the Year and Honor Roll winners.
2009 HR Executive of the Year:
John M. Murabito
Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Services
John Murabito was appointed Executive Vice President of Cigna Corp. in July 2003, with responsibility for driving growth in CIGNA's businesses through an effective human resources and people strategy. He is responsible for human resources strategy and planning, staffing, talent management and succession processes, as well as compensation and benefits, employee relations, leadership development and training, corporate medical operations, and employee assistance programs.
He is also in charge of a variety of corporate-wide administrative areas including, travel, security, real estate, and other business support services.
Prior to joining Cigna, Murabito served as senior vice president of human resources and corporate services at Monsanto. His background includes more than 25 years of extensive related experience with the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo, Symbion, Inc., and The Trane Co.
Murabito is a graduate of Augustana College in Illinois (B.A.) and the University of Iowa (M.A.). He serves on the Boards of Directors of Cornell University's Center for Advanced Human Resources Studies and the Human Resources Policy Association. He is a member of the Personnel Roundtable. He is also active in various civic and community organizations in the Philadelphia area.
2009 HR Honor Roll:
V. Michael Ferdinandi
Senior Vice President - Human Resources and Corporate Communications
CVS Caremark Corporation
Michael's business career spans 30 years with three of the nation's leading Fortune 200 consumer products, retail and health care companies. His leadership roles with CVS Caremark, PepsiCo and Ford Motor Company encompass human resources, manufacturing and distribution.
As SVP and CHRO since April 2002, Michael reports to the President, CEO and Chairman of CVS Caremark. He leads all strategic human resources functions that ensure the organization's capability to meet aggressive revenue and profitability goals and maintain the company's leadership position within a highly competitive industry. He also provides strategic guidance to the Board Compensation Committee.
CVS Caremark employs more than 210,000 employees, operating in 6,800 retail pharmacies, 11 distribution centers, several mail pharmacies and clinical patient support centers. Under Michael's leadership the Department of Labor, National Council on Aging, and several other notable organizations have recognized CVS Caremark for its commitment to outstanding workforce development.
Prior to joining CVS Caremark in 1999, Michael spent 17 years at PepsiCo where he held leadership positions in operations and human resources in the United States and Canada. Throughout his tenure with PepsiCo, Michael led the integration activities for numerous business acquisitions, implemented TQM initiatives that improved financial performance and manufacturing efficiencies and instilled a stronger operational focus on customer satisfaction.
Central to the success of these business activities was the ongoing development of general management leadership capabilities and succession planning programs as well as targeted organizational communications strategies.
Earlier in his career, Michael held operations positions with the Environmental Protection Agency and Ford Motor Company.
He earned both Bachelor and Master of Science Degrees from Rhode Island College. In addition, he received a Doctoral Degree in 1995 from Boston University where his major research focused on business process re-engineering.
Christina K. Picha
Austin Public Schools
As director of human resources of the Austin Public Schools in Minnesota, Christina is a strategic partner with all key business functions. As such, she assists in the planning and forecasting of future need, manages projects and change, oversees employee relations and serves as chief management negotiator of six bargaining units. She also is responsible for employee evaluation initiatives, training and staff development, resolving teacher licensure issues and responding to all legal complaints.
Prior to this position, she served in several positions at Northwest Airlines, with responsibilities including recruitment and staffing, analyzing and resolving EEO claims, setting up relocation packages and working on employee development and performance, compensation issues and reduction-in-force analyses.
Previous positions included work as an attorney with the firm of Steffen& Munstenteiger and as a legal assistant for the state Judicial Advisory Service.
Christina has a juris doctor from the William Mitchell College of Law and a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from St. Cloud State University.
She is a national board member of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators and a member of the Minnesota ASPA and the Society for Human Resource Management. She also serves as president of the Kiwanis and is a member of the Austin Area HR Group and the Business Access Scholarship Board.
Director of Human Resources
Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, NASA
After graduating with a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from the University of New Mexico, Natalie V. Saiz, began her work for NASA. Her job with NASA at the Johnson Space Center relocated her to Houston Texas. Natalie continued her education at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, and earned a Master of Arts in Human Resources.
Her career at the Johnson Space Center began as a Cooperative Education Student in the Human Resources office. That same year she was hired as a human resources representative and supported a variety of organizations (Space & Life Science, Space Station, and the Engineering Directorate) for 12 years.
Her first promotion was in 1999 as Chief of the human resources management branch, which she held for four years. In 2003 she was selected as chief of the newly formed human resources operations branch. Later that year she was selected as assistant director of the human resources and education office, providing administrative and technical supervision necessary for the strategic management of human capital.
In 2004, she was named director of the human resources office at Johnson Space Center, and was responsible for leading a team of more than 50 civil servants and a budget of more than $28 Million to support the Center's 3300 civil service employees.
Natalie was selected for the NASA Leadership Development Program in 2005. There she completed an eight-month assignment at NASA headquarters in the office of human capital management.
She resides in Houston with her husband John Saiz, and they have three children.
Elease E. Wright
Senior Vice President, Human Resources
As senior vice president of human resources, Elease is responsible for the development of all HR strategies, and the delivery of HR services and programs.
She has specialized in HR for more than 20 years. During that time, she has held many key positions, including head of HR re-engineering implementation and head of HR, finance and administration. She has also served in senior positions in the education, pension, and employee relations departments.
An expert in strategic education models, staffing, employee relations, re-engineering, organizational and leadership development, Elease has led many critical and successful human resources initiatives. Recently, she has managed the transformation of HR into a strategic business partner, the development and launch of a comprehensive and leading-edge benefits strategy and creation of a comprehensive talent management system.
Community involvement includes leadership roles for her alma mater, the University of Connecticut, for which she serves both on the Board of Advisors for the UConn School of Business and the Board of Directors for the UConn Foundation.
She also serves on the Board of Directors for HR Policy Association, advisory board for Cornell University's Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies, and is past president of the Hartford Region YWCA Board of Directors. In addition, she serves on the Board of Directors for The Bushnell, Connecticut's premier performing arts center.
She is a member of the Executive Leadership Council, was named one of Savoy Professional Magazine's "Top 100 Most Influential Blacks in Corporate America," one of the Top 25 Most Influential Black Women in Business, and one of Black Enterprise's Top 50 Blacks in Corporate America.
She was also installed in the National Academy of Human Resources 2007 Class of Fellows and inducted into the UConn School of Business Hall of Fame in 2008.
Elease holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from the University of Connecticut. She resides in Hartford, Conn., with her husband, Dana.
Information was compiled from corporate Web sites, Linked-In profiles, resumes and The University of Texas-Pan American Hispanic Engineering, Science & Technology Program.