HRDC CEO & President Hits 20th Anniversary In Organization
It’d be unusual at most organizations to find the CEO running the front desk or out delivering food, but that’s not the case at the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC).
HRDC’s CEO and President Heather Grenier “leads by example,” Associate Director Tracy Menuez said.
“She’s definitely not sitting up in her office,” Menuez said. “She’s doing the hard work too.”
Grenier recently celebrated her twentieth year with the organization in November, an occasion she didn’t think to mark, but that her team took as an opportunity and“spoiled” her with a gift basket and gift certificate to Chico Hot Springs.
During her two decades with the Bozeman based non-profit, Grenier has worn many different hats. She initially started in the accounting office in 2000, moved into the housing department and then became the Gallatin Valley food bank director, special projects officer, chief operating officer and chief executive officer before taking on her current role in 2016. However, her career with HRDC started by “happenstance” she said.
The Montana native and MSU graduate had just accepted a job elsewhere and was out to celebrate, but noticed an advertisement while walking by the Bozeman Hotel.
“(It) said that HRDC was hiring, and I was like, I’d really rather work here,” she said. “So I applied.”
Her lengthy relationship with the organization in various departments has left her with a wide breadth of knowledge about all of the organization’s components from the low income energy program to specific housing development projects, Chair of HRDC’s Board of Directors David Kack said.
“When we interviewed Heather (for the CEO position) it was abundantly clear that she was the best person to keep leading HRDC,” he said. “I don’t know that there’s a question you could ask her about HRDC that she wouldn’t know the answer to.”
Menuez echoed his statements, saying she “can’t say enough good things about her. She’s fantastic to work with. She’s a great leader for our organization.”
“I don’t know that there’s anyone in our organization who’s working harder than she does and who’s smarter,” she said. “She just cares so much about what we do and our consumers.”
Over the years, Grenier has worked on several major projects at HRDC that had significant impacts on the community. She opened Fork & Spoon, the state’s only pay-what-you-can restaurant. She’s also played a major role in the creation of various affordable housing units in the Bozeman area. Additionally, Grenier helped to establish seasonal and youth shelters in Gallatin and Park County.
“She’s the one who was behind bringing the warming center to Bozeman originally,” Menuez said. “She just worked relentlessly to make that happen.”
A major program she’s currently spearheading is Griffin Place, a parcel of property HRDC purchased several years ago and are developing new facilities at. The plan is to“consolidate all of our food programs” at the location Grenier said, including a new food resource center and the Fork & Spoon restaurant, as well as featuring a year-round emergency shelter and the state’s first tiny housing village.
“All these things our community has needed for a while, and she’s working pretty tirelessly to make them happen,”Menuez said.
Grenier said in her role there’s “no shortage of challenges to tackle.” However this year due to the coronavirus she and her employees had to face numerous unique issues. Kack said having her “steady hand at the helm” has been crucial to the organization’s continued ability to provide services, such as the food bank.
“I think if nothing else this year has shown us that Heather is a phenomenal leader,” he said. “When COVID hit she was able to rally the staff and just say, look, we can’t stop doing what we’re doing.”
For her part Grenier said she’s proud of HRDC employees’ response to the pandemic, and the way they’ve been able to adapt and “evolve how we’re doing things,” during this time.
“I think I’ve just been amazed at the dedication of our entire team to be so nimble and active,” she said. “As a community action non-profit our responsibility is to identify and respond to local community needs and issues. The pandemic has really shown our ability to do that and adapt it over and over again.”
Grenier said her favorite part of her job as CEO and President is interacting with their customers, and getting to witness the impact the organization’s projects have on them.
“We really are creating change and changing people’s lives.” she said. “It’s wonderful to see (…) when we have someone that we’ve worked with for years finally get to be a homeowner and fulfill their dream.”
Kack said her passion for her work, the company and community are evident, and rub off on the staff.
“Everything HRDC does and how we do it is important to her.’ I think everyday, though it may be challenging, she knows what she and the organization are doing (has) a huge impact in the area,” he said. “(And) that passion is carried forward by the employees. They understand that when most people come to talk to HRDC they’re having trauma of some kind in their life.”