HR Gives Back – The Story of an Accidental Advocate #hrgivesback

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Today’s guest post is from Mollie Lombardi, cofounder of Aptitude Research Partners, and the “accidental advocate” behind #HRGivesBack  This year the mission is even more focused, goals are larger and vendors like Cornerstone Ondemand, Ultimate Software, Devon Group, Equifax and GreenJobInterview have stepped up in a big way to support and sponsor the initiative.  Make sure to follow @hrgivesback,  donate or become a sponsor.  

The Story of an Accidental Advocate

They say that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. Ain’t that the truth. I never planned to be and advocate, a fundraiser, a voice for a cause. Of course, I also never planned for Parkinson’s. Sure, you worry about cancer, heart attacks, brain-melting amoebas. Parkinson’s? At 36? Was not on my list. But as a good friend said to me, after the initial shock of my diagnosis wore off, “You always have to be special, don’t you?” My friends get me.

So what do you do with news like that? You cry a little. You call your parents. You cry a lot. You take a few days to throw a pity party. And then you get on with it. You arm yourself with information. You dig deep. You take your meds. You find inspiration. And you realize how lucky you are. Never, never will I say I’m lucky or glad to have PD.

But, I’m lucky to have a voice.

One thing a lot of people don’t know about Parkinson’s is that it can slow your speech and lower the volume of your voice. Anyone who has met me knows that these particular symptoms don’t seem to be an issue for me. But Parkinson’s has turned down the volume for many people, literally and figuratively. Luckily, I’m willing to make noise. So I started to plot, to scheme, to figure out how I could separate people from their money in the name of curing Parkinson’s. I got involved with The Michael J Fox Foundation. And some friends of mine and I realized that HR Tech 2015 was on the same day that Marty McFly went Back to the Future. This was a coincidence not to be ignored. So we decided to make some noise.

Last year, we were able to raise nearly $50,000 through the efforts of HR Gives Back.

This year we are turning the volume way up. We are channeling the Blues Brothers to do great things in Sweet Home Chicago. We’ve expanded to include two charities, The Michael J Fox Foundation as well as The American Heart Association. And with the amazing support of The HR Technology Conference and our sponsors, we have already raised over $20,000. The more successful we are, the louder I get. Because these organizations do amazing work. Through the efforts of The American Heart Association, among others, heart disease has dropped from the number three cause of death to the number five cause of death in America. As the largest private funding source for Parkinson’s research, The Michael J Fox Foundation has distributed over $450 million in research funding. And they both keep up the fight every day.

We are part of an amazing community. One with the word human at its core. We have an opportunity to change people’s lives, not only through making their work lives better, but by helping to cure these diseases.

I didn’t plan to be in this role, raising my voice to ask for your help. You may not have planned on getting involved. But plans change. Lend your voice. Join us today.


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Mollie Lombardi is cofounder of Aptitude Research Partners. She has a passion for HR technology, transforming the world of work, and her 10-year-old Bernese Mountain dog. As a researcher and influencer in the HCM arena, she has written and spoken on multiple aspects of HCM with a particular focus on workforce management and the evolution of the employee experience.

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