November 2015 Print

President's Message

Happy Fall!

I hope you and your family have been enjoying the beautiful fall weather and New England’s fall foliage. Before you know it, we will be gearing up for the holiday season.  This is an exciting time to be a member of the CT Chapter.  There is a lot happening so far this year!  For one, this is our first newsletter published through our new website. The feedback on the website has been extremely positive.  Members love the online registration and convenience of paying for programs through Pay Pal.  It has also been a great help in keeping our membership contact information current and sending out communications.  We hope you continue to find the website helpful as we add more features, such as the ability to post your organization’s jobs and your own resume, if you so choose.  We are working on this and more, all to add value to your membership and to help us stay connected through the chapter.

Our 2015 Legal Updates program was a great success!  I would like to thank Kim Barberi, our President-Elect, for putting together a fantastic program for us to kick off our program season.  Attorney Dan Murphy prompted a lively discussion on recent case law dealing with employment issues such as social media in the workplace and transgender civil rights.  The presentation was very well received, and we had our highest turnout ever for this program.  And now, we are looking forward to our November 16th program on Time Management, presented by Ralph Braithwaite, trainer and Adjunct Faculty member at the University of Hartford.  Ralph will give us some great pointers for gaining control of our time and maximizing productivity.  Just think how valuable these skills will be when you are trying to eke out some free time during the busy holiday season!  There is still time to register - we hope you can join us at the Wethersfield Community Center of the 16th! 

In this issue, you will find articles by Cheryl Cepelak, Deputy Commissioner at the Department of Corrections and Chair of the Programs Committee for the 2016 Eastern Region Conference, and Mike Coury, Host Committee Chair and President of the Rhode Island Chapter.  Cheryl and Mike have provided us with some great information about the conference and updates on where we are at in the planning stages.  We hope you take the time to read this exciting news.  This conference is going to have a record turnout, which no doubt has plenty to do with the beautiful Newport venue and the great programming that the Eastern Region Conferences continues to deliver year in and year out.   We will keep you updated on the conference news as there are more developments. 

Our feature article, Growth and Hiring During Fiscal Crisis, is written by Vicki Arpin, HR Director at the Department of Transportation.  Vicki is also our chapter’s liaison to the Eastern Region Board and has been a leader and mentor in IPMA for many years.  We are so happy to have Vicki and all of our contributors writing for us in this issue.  Thank you! 

One final note: We ask that you please excuse the jumbo sized pictures.  This a technical issue that we still need to work out.

Vicki Soucy

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Welcome New Members

Our chapter is growing!

We added 16 first time members this year, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to show them what our chapter is all about!  We have new members from the City of Hartford, UCONN Storrs campus, UCONN Health Center, the Board of Regents, Shipman and Goodwin, DMV, CCSU, DMHAS and Department of Education.  Welcome New Members! We look forward to seeing you at a future program, or perhaps at our holiday get together on December 9th! 

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Eastern Region Conference Update

Update from Mike Coury, Host Committee Chair:

As a member of the IPMA-HR family, we are excited to announce that next April 3 – 6, 2016 the IPMA-HR Eastern Region’s 88th Annual Training Forum will be held in the historic and beautiful City of Newport, RI. The choice conference venue is the newly remodeled Hyatt Regency Spa and Resort located on Goat Island in Newport (website: . This year’s annual event will be Co-Hosted by the CT, MA and RI Chapters with our own members, Cheryl Cepelak who will serve as the Program Committee Chair; Vicki Soucy serving as the Conference Co-Host Chair; and Tony Lewis and Jay Hickey who will continue their tradition of serving up cocktails and fun in our Hospitality Room. This is certain to be an educational, fun and rewarding experience for the CT Chapter and its membership who are welcome and encouraged to participate in the planning and workings of this conference.

 Even though Newport, RI is known for its summertime events, there are many advantages in travelling to Newport, RI “off season”.  Free parking, no crowds and the freedom to explore the City without the traffic are “perks” you will find in this world renown tourist destination “off season”.

 Conference registration will open soon, however, all members are encouraged to book hotel rooms NOW as only a small number of guest rooms remain available.  Booking your guest room now does not cost you any up front dollars. Please use the special conference guest room link at rooms for Saturday, April 2, 2016 are already SOLD OUT!  In addition, members are encouraged to “subscribe” to the Eastern Region’s website at to receive up-to-date conference information. Also, explore this website for more conference information including promotional videos and the Host Chapter presentation. 

 We look forward to seeing you in April 2016 in Newport, RI.

 Update from Cheryl Cepelak, Program Committee Chair:

This year’s theme is “Anchors Aweigh!  In a Sea of Challenges and Opportunities”  The program committee is off and running and represents 7 of our Eastern Region Chapters.  We have approximately 30 speaker proposals to review and rate and this year, are looking for new and unique presentations for our training forum.  There are 15 breakout sessions along with opening and closing speakers and a general session on Tuesday afternoon.  Plenty of opportunities for our participants to learn and grow and find strategies to meet challenges.  Our subjects will run the gamut from technical HR topics to Ethics and Leadership and our goal will be to have attendees wanting to go to multiple sessions at the same time!

“It’s all about the program”, says Jim Wells…That along with a few days in Newport in April – How could you go wrong?!  Look forward to seeing everyone there!

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Feature Article

Growth and Hiring During Fiscal Crisis: Benefit or Curse

By Vicki Arpin, HR Director, DOT

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has benefited from Federal funding from a “Transportation” focused administration at both the State and Federal Executive level that promotes growth and development.  Although this funding can be seen as a blessing when many Executive branch agencies are facing layoffs, job freezes and budget cuts, the DOT has to facilitate the expected growth while under the hiring restrictions that are applied to all agencies.  This can be quite a challenge, given the dichotomy of expectations:  On the one hand, HR is expected to move rapidly toward the committed expansion; yet on the other, the expectation to operate within the many processing and approval steps creates significant roadblocks to advancing the growth.  While there is great advocacy for the development of the State’s transportation system, the required processing protocols consistent with the budget restrictions preclude the DOT from being as nimble as it should be to expedite the implementation of the expanded programs. 

With that being said, there are many things the HR Division can do to position the agency for meeting resource needs.   DOT has:

-remained diligent and active in the pursuit of exemptions from roadblocks (i.e. the certification moratorium, refill authority)

-initiated Lean initiatives to expedite the necessary processes and reduce internal administrative steps

-developed tracking and monitoring tools to ensure HR is on top of actions that may be necessary and used these tools to provide status updates to the approving authorities, thereby keeping the requests on the forefront for review and approval

-reduced the internal approval processes to facilitate greater collaboration between the HR liaison and the operating unit, thereby expediting the initiation of the CORE process

-identified and continued active outreach programs for the agency core mission areas (for us it has been engineering and maintenance) to provide for a ready pool of candidates

-developed extensive listserv capacity for outreach so we can reach hundreds of recruitment resources with one computer click

-facilitated postings that utilize applicant pools for multiple positions that have the same job classification to consolidate the selection process

-posted vacancies indicating the resultant applicant pools would be utilized for an extended period of time to reduce repeat interview processes

-collaborated with our Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity to identify multiple candidates for current and future vacancies, thereby reducing the amount of time for “re-approval” of candidate selections for future vacancies

-actively engaged the Department of Administrative Services in reorganization proposals to facilitate any necessary job specification adjustments

-studied the employment demographics of the agency to determine eligibility for retirement and as such identify upcoming and future staffing needs

-assisted operating units in identifying succession planning needs related to training and/or organizational structure

-worked with the unions to establish initiatives to expedite internal employee job movement and thereby arrive at new hire opportunities quicker

-facilitated intern opportunities (both paid and unpaid) as a means of establishing relationships with institutions of higher learning and to create a ready pool of engaged candidates

-developed relationships with the community and education system to facilitate ongoing exposure relative to career opportunities in the agency

-developed template notification systems for applicants, interview candidates and selected employees to expedite communication and reduce the clerical load on the HR professionals

In summary, HR must use all available data and resources to anticipate areas of need and identify the most efficient means to achieve success at meeting those needs.  It is all about working closely with the operating units of your agency; being open minded in seeking planning options; being well-versed in the regulations to know where there is opportunity for change and how to get there; always looking to reduce potential duplication of effort by working in a manner of continuous process review toward making improvements, creating efficiencies, and eliminating administrative steps that don’t add value; and making sure all your efforts and activities are in concert with furthering the core mission of your agency.  HR’s role is to be advocate and facilitator of actions necessary to achieve success at ensuring your agency has the correct amount of resources at the correct classification level in a timely manner. 


Vicki Arpin is HR Administrator for the CT DOT, member at large on the IPMA Eastern Region Board and CT Chapter liaison to the ER Executive Board.

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2015 Sandra Biloon Scholarship Recipient

The 2015 recipient of the Sandra Biloon Memorial Scholarship was Hannah Malinosky, daughter of Laurie Dunn, Interim Vice President for Human Resources at the Board of Regents. 

 Hannah graduated from Miss Porter’s School in Farmington. While attending Miss Porter’s, Hannah achieved honors all four years. Her interests include the sciences and she is studying medicine at Tulane University in New Orleans with a long term goal of becoming a doctor.

 Hannah has distinguished herself not only as an excellent student, but has also been a vital part of her high school’s sports program where she has been on the varsity softball team all four years and junior varsity volleyball team for three years. In addition to her activities at school, Hannah found the time to mentor young ladies from the Grace Academy in Hartford - an all-girls school for disadvantaged girls as well as volunteer with Hands on Hartford – a non-profit organization that serves Hartford’s neediest residents.


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Important Chapter News:

  • Our next program TIME MANAGEMENT is on 11/16 at the Wethersfield Community Center
  • The Holiday Get Together is on 12/9 at Bertucci's in Newington.  Those who attend will receive a member appreciation gift!
  • Chapter Members can now submit job postings and resumes on our website for posting. Look under Classifieds on the homepage.
  • We are looking for a member with mad photography skills!  Please contact Vicki Soucy for details if you are interested in helping us take pictures - we need you!  240-8162

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Member Spotlight

Look who's in the limelight - Tony Lewis and Jay Hickey, CO-Chairs of the Hospitality Suite for the 2016 ER Conference!

By Vicki Soucy, Chapter President

For our newer members, you may not have met Tony and Jay yet. So, let me introduce you to two long-time members and leaders in our chapter. Tony Lewis, HR Director at the Military Department, and Jay Hickey, Labor Relations Specialist at the UCONN Storrs campus, have been members of IPMA for close to twenty years. They have both served on the Executive Board and various IPMA committees and have been faithful attendees at our programs, supporting our chapter in more ways than I could possibly count. They also happen to be great friends and co-chairs of the hospitality suite for the 2016 ER conference. On November 9th, I interviewed Tony and Jay to find out how they came to be key players for a successful conference and to see if I could persuade them to reveal any of their trade secrets for being great hosts. You’ll see what I mean as you read this interview: (due to scheduling, the interviews were conducted separately, therefore separate answer for each question)

Q: How long have you guys been friends? Did you meet through IPMA?

JH: I’d say when we first met at an IPMA conference it was back in the late 90’s. It was Princeton, NJ.

TL: We met at an IPMA conference in Princeton, NJ in 1997. How long were you working for the state at the time? It was my 10th year in state service. I actually knew Jay’s brother through college baseball before I met Jay. I played football for the University of Rhode Island and Jay’s brother was coaching baseball at Providence College.

Q: Did you ever serve on a committee or E Board together?

TL: I was on the E Board for 3 years (2001-2004). Jay and I served together for 2 of the 3 years before he abandoned me in 2003.

JH: I served as Director at Large – 4 years, got Tony to run after, I didn’t tell him that I was done. Tony ran and found out after that I retired from the Board.

Q: If you had to compete against each other in any activity/sport of your choosing, and you wanted to be sure you would come out the winner, what activity would you pick?

TL: We both played college football in Rhode Island (I played for URI, Jay for Brown). Jay is a much better golfer than I am, but I would definitely take him in basketball.

JH: Any one, it wouldn’t matter. But for a sure thing, golf.

Q: So you both have a passion for sports. Which sport was your favorite to play?   To coach (a team or your kid)?   As a fan?

TL: Football has been very good to me, without it I probably never would have attended college. I’ve enjoyed coaching my son’s youth teams and being a fan.

JH: 1) Favorite – football 2) Coach – baseball 3) Fan – all sports except soccer

Q: What is your greatest sports memory?

TL: Watching my son play and sign a National Letter of Intent to play college football.

JH: There are so many: 1) going back to back years (2014 & 2015) to the American Legion Baseball World Series in Shelby North Carolina. As one of the final 8 baseball teams in the nation, we competed in the 2 years against a team from Hawaii, Oregon, Michigan, Nebraska, New Orleans, Florida, South Carolina, New Jersey & California.

Q: Do you think there is anything you learned from sports that can be applied on the job, working in HR?

TL: From an HR perspective, competitive sports have taught me the value of diversity and team work. It has instilled in me the strength to hold people accountable and the compassion to help others succeed. Working in HR you need to build a good team and know how to coach others to bring them along.

JH: Absolutely, the daily competition and the need to work to get better at your job & whatever sport you’re playing.

Q: How did you guys become so well-known as hosts of the hospitality suite? How did this tradition develop?

TL: I was on the E-Board for the 2004 ER conference in New Haven and was asked to be host by the CT Chapter Joe Leftkowski. I worked for Joe and he knew I used to bartend. At that time, Jay and I had been to 3 or 4 conferences together. We had giveaways and activities and made it a fun place for everyone to get together. It was almost like a 24/7 operation. We have hosted 3 or 4 times for other chapters and have done 2 for CT, Mystic and New Haven.

JH: There’s no tradition. Early when attending conferences, it always seemed you remembered meeting colleagues from other chapters, in the hospitality suite, in a social atmosphere. I can remember before Tony & I, Gary Siegel would coordinate the hospitality suite. When he retired, Tony and I just wanted to add to the conference, so we just volunteered. Coming up with different themes and competitions added to the fun. No one ever said that a conference can’t be fun. In our business, we have to be able to let our guard down and laugh & have fun at times.

Q: What was your best ER conference ever and what made it so memorable?

TL: Newport in 2000 (?). The location was great and the awards banquet was held at one of the Newport mansions.

JH: I would have to say when CT hosted the conference in New Haven. We sort of went a little over board, the hotel security had to warn us a several times and on the 3rd time, we were shut down. I guess it was somewhat late at 1:30 AM. We did learn and made sure the next time, the hotel put attendees to the conference, in rooms around or below the hospitality suite.

Q: Has anyone ever stumped you by ordering a cocktail you did not know how to make? What was the drink?

TL: Absolutely not (thanks to Tony’s bartending experience!). We will have a few specialty drinks on the theme night, which makes it fun.

JH: No, if I didn’t know, I’d just make something up. Also, we’re not talking about a high class bar with an assortment of liquors. Tony & I would plan on a couple of special drinks.

Q: In running the hospitality suite for the next conference, without giving away any trade secrets, what will your preparation be like?

TL: That’s a Tony and Jay trade secret!!

JH: You’ll have to show up to see.

Q: Yes or no, the Patriots will go undefeated this year?

TL: No

JH: Yes

Conducting this interview, it was great to hear the stories shared about the good times at past ER conferences. I haven’t taken count, but I would not be surprised if Jay and Tony hold the record in our chapter for most ER conferences attended. In their 20 years of IPMA membership, they have only missed a handful between them. One thing I learned for sure is that Jay and Tony make a great team for hosting the hospitality suite; they are enthusiastic about creating a fun atmosphere where we can all get together and where everyone can count on finding their IPMA friends during the down times at the conference. It definitely makes a difference in adding to the experience you will have at the conference. Jay and Tony shared some of their great memories with me, and in April 2016 it will be time to make some new ones! Make sure you are there to be a part of it!



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Photo of the Week

CT Chapter at a black tie affair in Newport, RI (2000? ER Conference) - Photo provided by Tony Lewis

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