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Get to Know: HR Director Gretchen Parker

Nonotuck Resource Associates was honored to recently welcome Human Resources Director Gretchen Parker, MBA. Gretchen comes to Nonotuck with 20 years’ experience in human resources, as well as an entire career working with nonprofits.

Parker most recently worked as Associate Director of Human Resources for Highland Valley Elder Services, also working for LifePath, the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Franklin Regional Council of Governments. She earned her Bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College and Master’s from Fitchburg State University. 

She resides in Turners Falls with her husband.

What attracted you to Nonotuck?

I was referred by a friend who works at Lifepath’s AFC program, who worked closely with Kitty {Curtin, Executive Vice President of Operations}. When I looked at the {organization}, I felt good about it, so I applied.

{Also, Nonotuck is} helping people with disabilities; as I get older, it becomes more and more a priority to put a good spin on the world.

What's your impression of everything so far?

Everyone is welcoming and friendly. {Nonotuck is} really ahead of most other nonprofits as far as tech goes, too: that’s been really refreshing. I’ve never had the tech that we have here, it’s so nice.

I’m very excited to join Nonotuck and am looking forward  to getting to know everyone that helps Nonotuck be the agency that it is today.

What are your goals for working here?

My goal is to further my career in human resources, and stay put until retirement, which is hopefully earlier than 65.

What are your retirement plans?

I’d like to dabble in having an antique shop, something low key. We just bought a small house in Portugal, that’s going to be our retirement home.

Why Portugal?

We researched all over. I wanted to be in Europe, I didn’t care where, and my husband, Chris, doesn’t like cold weather. I picked Portugal because it’s really, really, inexpensive, has fantastic weather and food, they are welcoming to expats, and it’s the third safest country in the world. 

Have you traveled extensively?

I’ve done a fair amount of traveling, I’ve been to France, Italy, Ireland, England, Iceland, and New Zealand. Travel is important to me. I love to travel, to try new things, and to see new places. I like to go to the smaller places. I’m not big on something like the Eiffel tower, I want to get to know the culture and the people, and the local food.

What is unique about your personality in relation to this job?

I’m approachable, friendly, knowledgeable, I think that’s a good combination for an HR person. I’m here to help staff navigate their career goals while balancing their personal life; I like helping to take the fear out of those things.

What is your specific definition of ‘Human Resources?’

It's a liaison between the company and the staff, like Switzerland {a neutral party}. My position is paid for by the agency, and I need to look out for agency interests, but it’s important to put the “human” side of Human Resources for the staff so they can put their best foot forward at work while they’re here.

How can you do that?

It’s usually for something that they need- I’m not proactive, I'm reactive. What I can do is answer things, maybe it’s a training that they want to take, or they want to navigate toward a career goal either within the agency or outside the agency. 

Most people come to me because {for example}, there’s a death in the family, it’s not one of the people that’s covered in the bereavement policy- how do I handle that? It’s usually questions like those that I’m helping to answer. 

I also help with policies, we just worked on a couple policies, {including an updated} performance assessment for Nonotuck employees. I also help people to navigate new software related to HR: I really thrive working as a team and helping people attain their career and life goals. 

Have you always worked in HR?

I haven’t. I morphed into it because we were short staffed in a smaller company and needed coverage for payroll. I liked it and ended up going back for my Master’s degree later in life, that’s where I’ve been ever since.

I was a planning grant administrator, I worked for the Regional Council of Governments in Greenfield, I did a little bit of everything. I was there for almost 20 years, doing grant billing, procurement, homeland security minutes for different committees. My favorite part was the payroll and helping staff navigate choosing benefits. {After that,} I decided to get my Master’s degree, that’s when I fully went into HR.

What do you like to do for fun?

We just bought a house in Turners Falls, and we’ve been having a blast decorating the house and putting in period furniture. I also like to read, quilt and walk on the bike path right near my house along the canal.

What have you read lately?

I keep hearing Brenee Brown’s name around Nonotuck—I love Brenee Brown! Otherwise, I love reading historical fiction. I just read The Tobacco Wives, that was really good. 

How Can People Get In Touch With You?

508-927-2837, parker@nonotuck.com


“(Through shared living) people with a disability experience a real transformation and discover confidence in themselves; they discover their capacity to make choices, and also find a certain liberty and above all their dignity as human beings.”

Caregiving with Love:
Guide for Shared Living Providers

Learn how Nonotuck developed a love-based ideology of care. We started our shared living program as an alternative to group homes for people with disabilities. Instead, Shared Living creates genuine life transformation for people with disabilities, as well as families and communities. The true power of caregiving is found through hospitality, authenticity, and love.

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