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Chief People Officer of the Year, Christina Luconi, Dave Almeda, Heather Hartford, Janine Allo, Lucy Lemons, MassTLC Leadership Awards 2019

Meet the Finalists for Chief People Officer of the Year

For the past twenty-two years, the MassTLC Leadership Awards have celebrated the best and the brightest of the Massachusetts technology ecosystem. The sixteen award categories, including a newly added category for the Massachusetts Growth Company of the Year, highlight the vitality, innovation and importance of the region’s internationally respected technology industry. In addition, for the first time, MassTLC will honor the visionary organizations that are pioneering digital transformations to innovate and re-imagine the future of the Commonwealth’s leading industries in the form of the newly created Digital Transformation awards category. 

The finalists in all sixteen categories were revealed during a reception at PTC’s Boston headquarters on September 10. 

Winners will be announced at the All Stars of Tech Winners’ Celebration on November 6 at Fenway Park

In the meantime, let us introduce you to the finalists and the incredible work that they are doing here in Massachusetts – and how they are changing the world. 

In the words of their nominators, meet the 2019 “Chief People Officer of the Year” finalists.


Janine Allo, ezCater

LinkedIn: in/janineallo

Janine and her team have supported massive growth over the last year significantly, by not only adding over 200 to ezCater’s headcount across offices, but also by integrating two new companies and their teams following acquisitions, implementing a new HRIS system, instituting a world-wide pay equity project, streamlining the on-boarding process globally, strengthening the learning and development program, and more.

Under her leadership, Janine’s team has implemented career paths across the organization, working with individual teams to design career ladders based on core competencies for the department and setting the team up for success as their careers progress and ezCater grows.

It’s  working. ezCater’s voluntary turnover remains below 15%, despite half the company working in the call centers. ezCater was selected as a Best Place to Work by the Boston Business Journal every year since 2016, most recently ranking #6 on the list. This year, ezCater was also named a Best Place to Work by Inc., Built in Boston, and The Denver Post.


Dave Almeda, Kronos

LinkedIn: in/davealmeda

When David was hired as chief people officer in 2010, employee engagement scores at Kronos were hovering around 60%. Shortly after he joined, he and his team launched the Kronos WorkInspired employment brand. Within four years, engagement skyrocketed to a (then) all-time high of 84% globally. This rise had a direct impact on Kronos’ bottom line success, as revenues more than doubled in the same period. Then, bi-annual employee engagement scores for the then 5,000+ employees worldwide plateaued at 84% for two-and-a-half years. The business challenge: to impactfully increase employee engagement and, in turn, improve retention during an incredibly competitive time for Kronos top talent. 

David and his team theorized that the key to this would be developing and scaling great managers across Kronos. To do this, under David’s leadership, they created the Manager Effectiveness Index (MEI). In the first full year since MEI rollout, the company’s all-time high engagement scores increased for the first time after a three-year plateau and have held strong at 87% globally year over year, which is in the top 1% of all companies worldwide.

New in 2019, following the immense success of MEI, Almeda and his team have also pioneered a complementary Kronite Effectiveness Index (KEI) to similarly measure and develop all Kronites worldwide, regardless of whether or not they are people managers. As for Almeda’s personal leadership prowess, his own MEI scores have topped out at 99%, as scored by his own direct reports.

On top of consulting free-of-charge with dozens of Kronos customers each year about the company’s HR best practices (completely unrelated to the Kronos product line), Almeda makes it a point to be a visible HR thought leader in order to drive the profession and his passion for strong corporate culture forward. He speaks at numerous conferences each year, and his thought leadership has been published in HR Leaders, Bloomberg, Harvard Business Review, and the SHRM People & Strategy Journal, to name a few.


Heather Hartford, Acquia

LinkedIn: in/heather-hartford-4425862

As Acquia’s first Chief People Officer, Heather Hartford has dramatically impacted Acquia as an organization globally, putting in place a mission, vision, and strategy for the talent team to help support more than 950 employees worldwide. During her time at Acquia, she has transformed the organization from a transactional HR function with back office complex systems to a people-first, forward thinking talent organization. 

Under Heather’s leadership, each year, hundreds of Acquians from around the globe descend into Boston for the Acquia Immersion Program to help new employees better understand the company’s products and services, while also spending valuable facetime with colleagues and peers. Heather has also created a framework for ongoing feedback including Quarterly Pulses, Acquia First program, and the company’s first learning and development team. 

Heather led the strategy to institute Acquia’s new methodology, OKRs (Objectives and Key results), to improve the company’s global approach to department and individual goal setting, alignment of goals to company objectives, and overall results of the company. She was institutional in rolling out BetterWorks, a platform that allows for goal setting, tracking progress toward goals, alignment and complete transparency to all goals, progress and results to all team members worldwide. 

Heather believes in allowing for leaders to design, build, and read programs that benefit both the business and employees. Some of the programs that have been rolled out under Heather include anonymous employee satisfaction and engagement surveys on a quarterly basis, educational sessions about Unconscious Bias in the workplace, and ongoing support of women in leadership through sponsored events and key partnerships with She Geeks Out, VentureFizz’s Lead(H)er Live, and Girls Who Code.


Lucy Lemons, WordStream

LinkedIn: in/lucylemons

Lucy is an unrelentingly positive and proactive individual. Since joining WordStream just over a year ago, she has made an immense impact on the happiness and productivity of employees across the organization. The commitment she demonstrates to unlocking everyone’s true potential, while simultaneously making sure everyone feels secure, fulfilled, and respected, is truly unmatched.

In order to help employees transition to managerial positions as successfully as possible, Lucy implemented a series of training sessions for new managers. By strengthening managers, Lucy has catalyzed a ripple effect across the organization; as the relationships between managers and their direct reports improve, the efficacy of the company as a whole improves as well. 

Additionally, Lucy has collaborated with these managers to develop career lattices for every area of expertise within the company. The lattices enable managers and their direct reports to have much clearer and more effective conversations about career development, promotion prospects, and more. In turn, the improved effectiveness of these conversations translates into greater employee satisfaction and higher productivity overall.

Lucy completely revamped WordStream’ official policies regarding diversity and inclusion, implemented diversity and inclusion trainings specifically for WordStream’s recruiters and hiring managers, and is in the process of launching a diversity and inclusion training program specifically for managers. She has personally sat down with small teams across the company to discuss these new policies and field any questions or concerns employees may have about them. 

Lucy has partnered WordStream with Hack.Diversity’s Boston-based organization that connects black and Latinx workers with local tech companies and also spearheaded the effort to partner WordStream with the Boston Women’s Workforce Council in an effort to close the persistent wage gap between men and women.


Christina Luconi, Rapid7

LinkedIn: in/peopleinnovator

Christina is known for shunning the term “human resources,” as she fundamentally believes people are the lifeblood of a company. She has been using the term “People Strategy” since 1994, as she believes it conveys the critical balance of needing to map people strategy directly to business strategy.

Christina joined Rapid7 when it was 75 people, allowing her to partner with leadership and employees to define the company’s culture and core values from the start and ensure that those elements were woven into every element of the employee lifecycle. People Strategy has morphed many times based on the evolving needs of the rapidly growing business, but by ensuring every people process is mapped directly back to Rapid7’s core values, Christina has made sure the company truly practices what it preaches. This culture has allowed the company to scale to nearly 1400 globally – and still remain a fantastic place to work.

In addition, Christina has spearheaded a number of programs and initiatives at Rapid7 to ensure that the company is offering its employees every possible option to succeed and a space to truly celebrate individuality. She committed to the Parity Pledge in order to ensure that with every role hired for, Rapid7 will seek to broaden the candidate slate to include more women and PoC.

Christina has an active and influential voice in helping to identify and drive the overall mission and vision of Rapid7. She partners daily with the CEO and other senior leaders to drive the company’s business forward  and provides the vision and strategy to support those business goals with a people strategy that will be embraced by the entire organization.She works tirelessly to ensure any change and evolution creates a positive experience for the employees and is known for handing out her cell phone number to any employee who just wants to talk it through.

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