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New HR boss works behind the scenes

School District 833's new Director of Human Resources Denise Griffith wants to be quiet and behind the scenes in her new job. She also wants to foster a climate where people are happy to come to work, she said.

Her position was created when Mark Porter left his job as assistant superintendent for human resources and legal services to become superintendent.

Porter said he chose to hire Griffith for human resources, and hire an outside firm to handle the legal duties instead of having an in-house attorney.

Griffith's job includes more than overseeing employee insurance.

She oversees conflict resolution and is an integral part of employee contract negotiations. She also helps supervisors with interviewing skills.

Not only should hiring practices be fair, but the district needs to make sure potential employees are a "good fit" for the district, she said in an interview on July 10.

Griffith began her career as a special education teacher and holds a master's degree.

She worked for Minneapolis Public Schools in special education and moved toward the area of technology in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School District.

She left education for a time to work in the technology area for St. Paul Companies and went on to be human resources director for Northfield Public Schools before coming to District 833.

"I love what technology can do to facilitate teaching and learning and streamline the process," she said.

She and her husband, Dennis, have two sons, Nick and Noah.

Dennis is an opera singer and is currently appearing in "The Ring" in Seattle, Wash.

Her hobbies include kickboxing and travel.

"I love to travel because it opens your mind," she said.

Griffith is also a mentor for a young woman through Connected Kids, an organization centered in Northfield schools.

Her interests include natural healing and wellness.

She also enjoys gardening and swims on a regular basis at a fitness center.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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