This week we’re featuring our favorite SHRM speakers so those in attendance can learn a little more about who they are and their session through a Q&A session. Today we’re featuring Dawn Kelley.


Dawn Kelley is the Human Resources Manager for the City of Modesto. She is a certified HR Professional and has served in HR roles for more than 25 years providing a high level of expertise specifically skilled in leadership development, coaching/ supervision, employment law and California uniqueness! Dawn has a reputation for being a strong, empathetic leader. She spent several years serving on her local Executive Board for Central Valley Human Resources Management Association.

She has a determination to meet people where they are. To help people be heard and be welcome in their workplace. A passion for people, a passion for storytelling, a passion for life…. an engaging speaker, a voracious laugh…all descriptions people would use to identify her. In September 2018, she was a featured TEDx speaker in the Central Valley speaking on Parental Resilience. In her “spare” time Dawn works with start-ups as their HR Consultant.

SHRM Session Info

Dawn is leading an in-person session on Friday, September 10 (10:30am – 11:30am Pacific Time) called ” Coming of Gender” under the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion track at SHRM 2021 and a Networking Peer Group Ideas Swap under Education & Nonprofit as a virtual event on Saturday, September 11 (10am – 11am Pacific Time).

Connect with Dawn on LinkedIn.

This is Dawn’s 2018 TEDx Modesto where she speaks of her personal story as the mom of a child that was moving through the transitioning process.

Getting to Know Dawn Kelley, SHRM-CP, Human Resources Manager for the City of Modesto

Q: What do you love about HR?

I love that every day is a new day. Change is a mantra in HR. Having been in HR for more than 25 years, I have worked tirelessly to get to the table to be the employee advocate while maintaining the employers best interest. Seeing the flash of light in the employee’s eyes when they get it. It could be a leadership strategy or an extension of FMLA. It is helping the humans that I love most.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about what you’ll be talking about for your session “Coming of Gender” at the SHRM Conference?

Life is full of the unexpected, the difficult, the overwhelming, the uncomfortable…shouldn’t we, as HR Professionals, pave the way for employees to be their authentic selves? Everyone deserves to do the job they choose without fear. How is it that a person’s gender, relationship status, sexual partner, clothing, or even style determines worthiness?

Coming of Gender is about working through and removing your bias in the workplace and facing the uncomfortable so ALL of your employees can feel the belonging.

Q: Who should attend this session?

Any HR Professional that wants to do better, be better, and support the employee, even when it is hard. Those that want to learn that you can never have diversity without inclusion.

Q: The SHRM Conference is hybrid this year and you’re also leading a networking peer group on Saturday. How will this virtual session work and who should attend?

This virtual group is to make those connections that you typically make in person. My group is education and non-profit. The goal is to facilitate the room to ensure each person leaves the session with at least one resource and connection. It truly takes a village in the HR world right now!!

Q: What is your best tip for attending the SHRM Conference?

Comfortable shoes and attend those sessions. Don’t be too tired….get up and go…learn the most you can and remember to SHARE what you learned with your company.

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