JoAnn L. Edwards was appointed executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in July, 2011. She has over two-and-a-half decades of experience as a human resources executive in the non-profit sector.
Prior to 2011, Edwards spent eight years as corporate vice-president for human resources at NHS Human Services, a Philadelphia-based national organization providing specialized services for older citizens, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, people with mental health issues, and those in the juvenile justice and foster care systems.
At NHS, she managed the full spectrum of human resources programs and solutions for over 13,500 employees and over 65 programs in eight states, and negotiated union contracts for 16 bargaining units.
During her tenure, NHS was recognized in American Rights at Work’s annual Labor Day List, for its successful partnerships with AFSCME, AFT, SEIU and SPFPA unions. The list recognizes employers who embrace forward-thinking business models that fairly compensate workers, share decision-making responsibilities, recognize diversity and inclusion and otherwise foster productive employer-labor partnerships.
Edwards also introduced a number of cost-saving efficiencies while at NHS, including a timekeeping and scheduling system that reduced the company’s overtime costs and administrative overhead, incentives that increased productivity, audit programs, wellness initiatives and other cost-saving innovations. She also instituted a harassment-free workplace program and diversity training.
Edwards was a regional human resources director for NHS for five years prior to becoming vice president. She also spent ten years as director of human resources for New Directions for Progress Inc., a Harrisburg provider of services to people with mental disabilities.
Edwards holds a master’s degree in human resources and industrial relations from St. Francis University in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University. She also holds a lifetime Senior Professional Human Resources Management Certification from the HR Certification Institute, Society of Human Resource Management.
She has taught undergraduate and graduate-level human resource management courses as well as professional certification preparation for human resource professionals.
Edwards was named HR Professional of the Year in 2003 by the Human Resource Professionals of Central PA and in 2000 was named a Notable American woman by The American Biographical Institute, USA.
She is a longtime member of the Society of Human Resource Management and Human Resource Professionals of Central PA (previously Harrisburg area SHRM), for whom she has served as board treasurer, vice-president and president. During her tenure as president, she merged the junior and senior professional organizations to increase networking, professional development and career advancement opportunities.
She lives in Lebanon, PA.