Josie Hoover lives out her calling by supporting and empowering the Pittsburgh Seminary staff
Being a seminary’s director of human resources is a perfect fit for Dr. Josetta (Josie) Hoover. In addition to her proven track record in HR, she also has an M.Div. and D.Min., and has taught and published in theological education. Her role at PTS allows her to utilize these pastoral skills and temperament while resourcing the Seminary’s workforce.
“I love that I have the opportunity to live out my vocation, to carve out a niche for this very unique work as a human resources administrator in higher education,” Josie says. “Working at Pittsburgh Seminary allows me to be of service to the Church universal and help enrich the PTS community. I really like this role.”
Working Behind the Scenes
As the director of human resources, Josie is responsible for all human resources matters, including benefits management, Title IX compliance, and personnel management. She is also a member of the Seminary’s senior leadership team.
“It’s not just about making sure people have their benefits or resolving office conflicts, or enforcing our compliance policies,” she says. “I also work behind the scenes to ensure the institution is moving toward achieving its strategic plan and goals. My work is tactical, strategic, and mission-oriented—the mission of the Seminary gives me my directives. I have to make sure our institutional strategies and priorities aligns with the ethos of the institution.”
That behind-the-scenes work includes recruiting and retaining the right employees for PTS. In recruitment, she works with the Seminary’s senior leadership to keep compensation and benefits in line with industry standards. To retain talent, she strives to keep employees motivated with a positive work environment, systems of accountability, and working with managers on how they engage with employees.
Josie partners with the Seminary’s Employee Life Committee to create service and fellowship opportunities. For example, last fall many employees came to campus on a Saturday morning to volunteer with a food-packing event with the Amen to Action organization, and at Christmas the committee partners with a local nonprofit to provide toys for families in need. Employee lunches and recognitions throughout the year keep staff wanting to show up to work and engaged with their co-workers.
“You can tell people really want to be here,” Josie says. “People really love what they do at the Seminary.”
In her first year at PTS, Josie has updated and strengthened the employee performance review process. Her goal in making these improvements was to help managers and employees relate to each other with more trust, integrity, and accountability.
“Accountability is essential, and that includes me,” she says. “Have I operated with integrity? Have I been able to hold others accountable and have I held myself accountable?”
As part of this focus, last September she conducted a management training session on effective communications in the workplace. She chose the topic because it aligns with the Seminary’s strategic plan of being one, effective, engaged, and accredited seminary. In addition, she regularly contributes to monthly staff newsletters. Doing so gives employees tools to be their best selves in the workplace.
A Resilient and Purposeful Workforce
In the last three years, Pittsburgh Seminary’s employees have welcomed a new president, adapted to the challenges of a pandemic, and engaged in a monumental task of re-accreditation work. Through all of it, the community’s response has impressed her. She says:
“The people of PTS are so resilient. The employees have been through so much transition over the last three years, and they still believe in the work that they do. That motivates me and makes my job easier.”
Movement and Exploration
Being new to Pittsburgh, Josie has enjoyed exploring all the city has to offer. She loves going to museums and is amazed by the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. In the dead of winter, she sought refuge in the life-giving botanical garden of Phipps Conservatory. And she looks to host out-of-town friends for special visits to explore the August Wilson African American Cultural Center (which she’s already visited).
One of Josie’s other passions is dancing. She holds a D.Min. in arts and theology, has taught seminary courses, written about liturgical dance, and occasionally serves as dance facilitator at worship conferences. Earlier this year she contributed to the PTS video series “Spiritual Practices for Lent” with reflections on movement and dance. She loves any chance to talk about and teach dance and embodiment.
Josie never expected her journey would lead her to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. But she continues to be filled with gratitude for the chance to live out her unique vocation in the work of human resources at PTS.