Jose Berrios Takes Over as New Chair of SHRM Board of Directors

New SHRM Board Chair Jose Berrios
New SHRM Board Chair Jose Berrios

See (2) updates below.

SHRM watchers take note: Robb Van Cleave is out, Jose Berrios is in.

Berrios, described in a press release as “a national thought leader on workforce diversity and a 22-year member of the Society for Human Resource Management,” has been elected chair of the SHRM’s Board of Directors, effective January 1, 2011.

Yes, the SHRM announcement of this change came out on January 6, 2011, and I suppose that’s how it goes with SHRM given the general lack of accessibility, transparency, and openness shown this past year by the organization’s Board of Directors.

From SHRM’s press release

Here are the essentials from SHRM’s press release announcing the change:

Berrios — president of BTG: The Berrios Talent Group, a diversity consulting and search firm in San Antonio — has served as a board member since 2006.

In a two-year appointment that was effective Jan. 1, Berrios replaced Robb E. Van Cleave, chief talent and strategy officer at Columbia Gorge Community College in The Dalles, Ore.

SHRM is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management with more than 255,000 members in more than 140 countries. Its 13-member Board of Directors sets direction and priorities for the organization; provides fiduciary oversight; and ensures that the Society’s services and products benefit its members.

At SHRM’s Leadership Conference in November, Berrios previewed for state council and chapter leaders his priorities for the next two years: the use of innovation and technology to anticipate and meet the developing needs of members in the rapidly changing global business environment. “The need to be global and the need to be tech-savvy will be important areas of focus for SHRM. That’s what the workforce demands,” he said.

Berrios added that while HR professionals are facing greater expectations and challenges today, SHRM will continue to provide members with access to the information, people, trends, networks, practices and technologies needed to succeed and advance throughout their careers.”

Jose Berrios (right), with Steve Forbes and interim SHRM CEO Hank Jackson at the SHRM annual conference last June in San Diego.
Jose Berrios (right), with Steve Forbes and interim SHRM CEO Hank Jackson at the SHRM annual conference last June in San Diego.

Was an HR executive with Gannett

Berrios is an HR professional, and his career in human resources includes 20 years on the corporate HR team at Gannett Co., Inc., the nation’s largest newspaper publisher based in McLean, Va. (Full disclosure: I worked for Gannett for five years as editor of statewide newspapers in Montana and Hawaii, although I never met Berrios while I was employed there).

The press release adds, “As vice president of leadership development and diversity at Gannett, he was responsible for corporate HR programs, leadership development, succession planning, and a nationally recognized diversity strategy for more than 90 daily newspapers, including USA TODAY, and 20 television stations. He also has held management positions at NBC and Time Warner.”

I don’t know Jose Berrios — and my hope is that I get to talk to him, at length, before his two-year term as SHRM Board chair ends — so there’s no telling if he will guide the Board in a different direction than now past-president Robb Van Cleave.

It would be refreshing if, in his first official act as Board chair, Berrios would commit the SHRM Board to the kind of transparency, openness, and media accessibility one would expect from a not-for-profit organization that touts itself as “the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management.”

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That was not the direction of the Robb Van Cleave-led SHRM Board, but perhaps it will be with an HR executive who worked for so long with a large and prominent media company, as Berrios did. Only time will tell.


UPDATE NO. 2: The SHRM media relations staff was kind enough to forward along a Q&A Jose Berrios did with SHRM’s own HR Magazine that was published in the January 2011 issue. You can find it here, if you are a SHRM member and can get behind the registration wall at As nice as was for the SHRM PR people to send me this, I still hope that new Board Chair Berrios is willing to sit down sometime and take questions from some independent media that’s not paid and employed by SHRM.


UPDATE: I’m trying to get reaction to the election of Berrios as SHRM Board chair, but it seems that few want to talk on-the-record. One who was willing was Gerry Crispin of Career XRoads who said:

He’s more of an acquaintance but I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with him on several occasions and found him to be a gracious host, always listening carefully before commenting and curious about every facet of our profession as well as the businesses we serve. Jose doesn’t just show up, he is a strong advocate for the profession.”

John Hollon is Editor-at-Large at ERE Media and was the founding Editor of A longtime newspaper, magazine, and business journal editor, John has deep roots in the talent management space. He's the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and, served as Editor of RecruitingDaily, and was Vice President for Content at HR technology firm Checkster. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices, including for the popular Fistful of Talent blog. Contact him at, connect with him on LinkedIn, or follow him on Twitter @johnhollon.


3 Comments on “Jose Berrios Takes Over as New Chair of SHRM Board of Directors

  1. John, I hope you find Jose to be open to you, I had several conversations with him at the recent SHRM Leadership Conference and found him to be engaging and intersted in what I had to say, asking several questions I had never been asked by a SHRM Board Member or Staff member before. I may be in a slightly different position being a SHRM volunteer leader but I hope to him to be the leader that Gerry described.

  2. John: I share your hopes. My hope is that Jose is open and accessible, and that the SHRM Board decides that the same policy is the best way to operate for all SHRM members.

  3. Can anyone verify that Jose has an actual degree? In his bio it says that he attended two universities, but there is no mention of a graduation or degree.

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