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It’s All About People: Spotlight on von Drehle’s HR department

Dawna Blackburn joined our team two and a half years ago as Director of Human Resources. She was drawn to von Drehle because she had heard about our company, our products and our people, and the fact that von Drehle truly values our people.

When she first joined the team, her department was working diligently to make sure employees had the right resources to be successful. Through collaboration, the HR team has developed strategies and policies to support staffing needs across the organization, leverage HR data to make agile decisions to best support our team members, and be an advocate for our team members and communities. Now, she says “Our statement of ‘It’s All About People’ is exemplified at all levels of our organization. Our people engage, they care, they make things happen every day, and they don’t give up on each other. We have amazing people!”

Those amazing people include several different teams Dawna works with regularly. When asked about her HR team, she says they have “a wealth of knowledge and heart that they bring to work every day. We challenge, value, and improve each other.” With the other teams she notes, “I’m inspired each day how each team is determined to take care of our people and make von Drehle the best work family around.”

Making a difference in the lives of that work family is important to Dawna and why she looks forward to coming to work every day: “Whatever the initiative, policy or moment, I think about how we can take care of our employees. I like to grow great ambassadors – those who represent von Drehle, their department, their line, their location in the best way possible. Creating an environment where our people feel they are a true Employee Owner who is excited about where we are going as an organization and proud of the value they bring to our work family.”

The coronavirus pandemic has presented new questions of how to do just that, but our HR team has met every challenge thrown our way. “You have to rethink everything,” Dawna says, asking “how do we take care of our people during a pandemic? Who would have thought that would be a question before 2020?” The Operations team quickly rose to the challenge around how we implement socially distancing in our facilities, increase our sanitation practices, and still meet the needs of our customers. The HR team worked quickly on determining ways to make sure we take care of those who are sick and not spread the virus. Dawna says the pandemic has “caused us to come together and be stronger – to be there for each other. Our people rose to this challenge and continue to face obstacles positively.”

One of the reasons Dawna and her team excel is her drive to understand how to support our people to be the best they can be – to continually figure out how to make things better and that’s an interest that extends to her personal life too. When she’s not in the office working on recruiting, benefits, payroll, employee committees or training, Dawna can often be found spending time understanding how things come together to create something new, from recipes to Lego buildings or motors and circuits. She loves spending time with her family, including her husband of 20 years and two teenagers, gardening, painting and doing anything creative. She says her family “gives me my spark,” and we are grateful she shares it with the whole von Drehle team!