It was 2008 when Keri Hunt, talent acquisition specialist, was making a daily 75-mile commute to her job in Pittsburgh at UPMC. Despite her ability to move closer, something inside her was telling her to stay in Boardman.
Around August of the same year, an HR generalist position opened on Beeghly’s campus. Keri applied, interviewed and has never looked back.
Throughout the years Keri has served the hospital through a multitude of HR roles, such as an HR generalist, a business partner for employee relations, and a talent acquisition specialist. She has helped form the hospital’s culture through her successful hiring skills.
“I wanted to end my career doing what I love,” Keri shared. “And I love recruitment.”
Keri is retiring from Akron Children’s Hospital on April 14 after a dedicated 15-year career.
What brought you to Children’s? Who gave you your start?
The director at the time was friends with one of my previous managers that I worked for, and she connected us. Also, Ann Marie Ondo (talent selection specialist) was a driving force for me to come here because we’ve known each other forever, and I knew how much she loved it here. It was such a great environment, where everyone knew everyone. Working in Beeghly was special because the group in admin was so cohesive.
What was going on in your life then?
A lot of miles and a lack of sleep.
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
I’ve worked in many different HR roles. I began recruiting, moved on to other responsibilities, and am back recruiting, so the same department but not the same role.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
In recruitment, you may not be the healthcare worker, but you are responsible for finding the best you can find, and that has always been my goal – to not just fill an empty space, but to fill it with someone who meets our culture and understands children.
Other than new buildings and construction, is there anything about the way that Akron Children’s has changed that you notice since you started here?
The amount of people. I think we had 200 in Mahoning Valley when I started, and now there are almost 900. It’s crazy.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
Knowing that you’ve done good in someone’s life and made an impact by providing a job opportunity has given me the most satisfaction. We have a mom who has been here around 12 years now, and at the time of our interview she had never had a job. She had three little children. This woman is still here, and she is doing amazing. Her children have graduated from school, too. Just to see that is satisfaction.
What’s your most memorable and/or happiest moment at Akron Children’s? Why? What is it?
The camaraderie here is amazing. Watching people’s stories impacts me the most. For example, there’s a young dad in our hospital community who had a son with medical issues. During COVID, we couldn’t do the 5k, so he and his son did their own around the hospital to raise money. The story behind Mahoning Valley’s playground is also a true blessing. A family who lost their child raised money to build the playground. The donation was matched, so the playground could be finished. Lastly, there was a snowstorm years ago, and Lisa Taafe (clinical administrative director, Mahoning Valley) and her husband picked me up in a four-wheel drive vehicle, and we came to work when no one else could because of the snow. I was serving food. Lisa was covering the floors. We just all pitched in – a great memory.
With so many little children here, did someone or something especially touch your heart?
There’s a little girl who we’ve watched grow over the years who would come in for rehab and visit us in admin. Just to see her grow was special.
What do you look forward to the most in retirement?
I am looking forward to visiting my grandchildren in Arizona and Florida, and also the ones here. I am excited to not have to check my email while I am away.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
When I am hiring people, I share that everyone here is for the kids. There is not a manager that I wouldn’t want to work for here. When I talk to someone young who might be going into an entry-level position, I use my son’s story. He worked in support services and put himself through college by working here.
What couldn’t you live without?
My family. I have 5 sons. I love my boys, my beautiful daughters-in-law and my babies. My husband passed away in 2014, and the family atmosphere at the hospital got me through those times. I am remarried now, and I have an amazing family.
What’s the last book your read? Favorite TV show?
Soulprint by Mark Batterson. I like Dr. Henry Cloud; he writes books about boundaries. That’s what I am going to do when I retire, I am going to read. I am not a big TV person, but a couple of my favorite shows are The Chosen and The Voice (when Blake Shelton is a judge).
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I help teach a leadership class at Kent State University, so I’ll be doing that. I also love spending time with my neighbors, including Annie Sofran (marketing content manager), for our weekly Friday night happy hours.