The HR Minute: Interviews

Meet Your HR Team

Gwen Parris,
Executive Assistant to the Vice President and CHRO

Headshot of Gwen Parris

1. What is your job title?

Executive Assistant to the Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer.

2. What exactly do you do in your position?

I provide high-level administrative support to the VP and CHRO. Given the nature of my work, the position requires a high level of discretion and confidentiality. I interact with internal and external resources, senior leadership offices, government offices, and peer institutions. I partner and engage with the EAs and Administrators in the offices of other Executives on campus, with visitors to the University, University executives, vendors, other HR employees, and faculty and staff from throughout the University. Activity planning is another essential part of my responsibilities. I work closely with my colleagues to streamline workflow and communications, follow up on all projects and issues until resolution is achieved, and participate in any special projects as needed or requested by the CHRO. In addition, I oversee general day-to-day office management, budget monitoring, and reconciliation for supplies and services.

3. How do you serve the Georgetown community?

“In 2020, GU Women in Leadership surprised me with the Staff for Others Award for the time, effort, and care I demonstrated for making the campus environment the best it can be.At that moment, I realized how visible my footprint is, and I vowed to seek opportunities to strengthen partnerships with departments and employees across all campuses (including Qatar).

I am honored to help plan and execute HR programs such as Bring Your Child to Work Day, the Staff and AAP Service Awards, and the Sponsor A Family Program. I have been responsible for communicating with participants, coordinating logistics, and organizing volunteers for each event. I have also served the community by participating as a mentor and as Operations Chair for the Georgetown Women’s Alliance, assisting the Phi Beta Kappa Delta Chapter with applications for the Lepgold Award, serving on the Advisory Committee for the Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation Initiative and singing in the Let Freedom Ring Choir each year.

4. How long have you been at Georgetown University?

Just over five years.

5. Why did you choose to serve at GU?

After retiring from Target in 2016, I had no plans to begin a new career in Human Resources, as I had just spent 20 years in the training, talent acquisition, and retention spaces. On a visit to DC to visit my fiance (now wife), I happened upon a job fair in downtown Arlington where I met my current colleague, Charmagne Wesby, who heard me speaking with another employee, and she talked with me about a position in HR. I was so impressed with her that, before returning to Georgia, I visited campus and fell in love with it. Although new to higher education, I instantly felt a sense of belonging. Much to my surprise, not only have I begun a second career in Human Resources, but I also have made the DMV area my home. I am grateful for the “chance encounter” with Charmagne, as it has allowed me the opportunity to-

contribute to a university environment that is diverse, invests in employee’s well-being, and has a heart.

6. What’s your hometown?

I consider the entire Tidewater Region my hometown. I was born in Portsmouth, VA, and raised in Virginia Beach, VA. Growing up at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay allowed me to experience beautiful sunrises and many salty days, and I developed a passion for the hospitality industry.

7. Educational Background

Gwen graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in May 1996 with dual degrees in Biochemistry and Psychology. In addition, Gwen completed Human Resources Management and Human Services Counseling certificates at Old Dominion University and became SHRM-SCP certified.

8. What are three fun facts that the Georgetown community may not know about you?

“I spent two years as an armed Private Investigator.”

“I have an International Bartending Degree from the IBA.”

“Inspired by my colleague, Roberta Paul, I became a gardener during the pandemic and now volunteer to teach seniors how to plant and maintain container gardens for their window boxes.”