Dr. Yvonne Renee Watts, an adjunct professor with North Park’s School of Business and Nonprofit Management (SBNM), joins Crain’s Chicago Business 2021 list of exceptional leaders in HR. To be honored among Crain’s Chicago Business 49 HR leaders, Dr. Watts had to demonstrate the ability to effect change in a senior leadership role at a company of at least 50 employees.
Described by her students as full of energy, Dr. Watts teaches Human Resource Management to both undergraduate and graduate students. Teaching at North Park is a natural fit for Dr. Watts. “As a Christian, I am surrounded by students, staff, and faculty that share the same faith and values that I follow. North Park’s vision and commitment to intercultural values allows me to engage and interact with others that are diverse in many ways, resulting in my gaining new insights from multiple perspectives,” said Dr. Watts.
A passion for learning and education, along with a life-long goal to teach at a university, inspired Dr. Watts to pursue a doctorate degree in adult education. With twenty-plus years in various leadership roles, Dr. Watts believes in bringing awareness to the challenges accompanying real life events, imparting to her students the necessary knowledge, skills, and confidence that they too will need.
“I believe my diverse professional background (special education teacher, seminar presenter, licensed administrator, and former US Marine) and my hands-on experiences in workforce management serve as a valuable resource that brings real work scenarios to the classroom,” said Dr. Watts.
In her daytime role, Dr. Watts is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Little City Foundation, a nonprofit serving children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Over the course of the pandemic, Dr. Watts has effected change to participant safety, transportation and facility use, incorporating CDC protocols.
North Park students benefit directly from the in-the-field experience Dr. Watts has implementing strategies addressing recruitment, retention and performance, resulting in improved quality hires, employee engagement and reduced turnover.
“I have always seen myself as more than an employee’s supervisor, which includes not only overseeing or directing the work of others, but to serve as a facilitator in the career or personal development of employees. I apply this same logic to my students,” said Dr. Watts.