Celebrate 60-Chicago SHRM Retrospective: The 1980’s

In celebration of Chicago SHRM turning 60, each month we will highlight a different decade of HR to discuss the impact on HR practice today (and over the years) and future.  This month we are proud to look back to the 1980’s through the eyes of Gerry Belko, past president from 1983-1984.

Can you share some reminiscences that provide a glimpse into what the organization was like when you were president?

At the time Chicago was the host for the ASPA (American Society of Personnel Administrators) national convention in Chicago which drew other Chicago area chapters to the convention. The convention yielded a substantial income to the chapter, part of which was used to sponsor student chapters. [Other members have stated that after the success of the Chicago convention, national changed the role of the host chapter and the revenue sharing format.] The Chicago chapter also pioneered the concept of pre-conference workshops, offering twenty-three (23) ½ day workshops in which national did not support, nor did they think the idea would work. However, the Chicago Chapter numbered about 100 people prior to the convention but grew rapidly thereafter due to such. The chapter also experimented, without success, in other meeting formats; suburban, morning and dinner.

Can you share an anecdote to provide a snapshot of the times — styles, trends, how the members interacted, any significant achievements or unique events?

A major hit of the convention was an evening at the Chicago Art Institute Museum. [Marian Alt was the VP personnel of the Art Institute and was key to arranging this.] The evening program included 3 bands and was a major hit with the attendees. Additionally, the chapter had monthly luncheon programs at the Midland hotel and all activities were supported by a meeting arranger, but chapter administration was done internally by the board and committee members.

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