Opperman named one of most powerful women in HR

Nancy Doolittle
Mary Opperman

Mary George Opperman, Cornell’s vice president for human resources and safety services, has been named one of the top 15 most influential and prominent women leading human resources today. The recognition was given by editors of the national magazine Human Resource Executive and places Opperman in the company of human resource leaders at such organizations as Merck, IBM, Coca-Cola and General Electric.

“Mary has skillfully guided us through times of great organizational change, while advancing employee engagement and career growth with programs, benefits and services that support our employees and their families,” said President David J. Skorton. “I am delighted that she has received this national recognition for positioning Cornell among the leaders in promoting responsive and responsible workplace practices.”

Under Opperman’s HR leadership, Cornell has received numerous workplace awards, including being named AARP’s top U.S. employer for workers 50 and older in two consecutive years, and being listed as a “best employer” for working mothers, prospective and adoptive parents, information technology professionals, veterans and women executives.

Opperman also helped lead a campuswide effort to advance diversity and inclusion by focusing accountability at the dean and vice president/provost level. She has worked to attract and retain top talent while addressing workload increases and institutional knowledge gaps created by the retirement of key faculty and staff.

Her portfolio includes oversight of the Division of Human Resources, Inclusion and Workforce Diversity, Environmental Health and Safety, Campus Police, Emergency Management and the Center for Regional Economic Advancement.Most recently, Opperman has taken on a role guiding Cornell’s Charter Day Operations Committee.

Opperman has served on numerous boards of local and national organizations, including Challenge Industries, the Tompkins Cortland Community College Foundation, the Community Dispute Resolution Center, the Workforce Investment Board, the Women’s Opportunity Center and the United Way of Tompkins County. She is active on the boards of Kendal at Ithaca, Foodnet, Planned Parenthood of the Southern Finger Lakes, Tompkins County Area Development, the Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council, the Legacy Foundation of Tompkins County and the TIAA-CREF Advisory Council.