ATD Recognizes Several Individuals for Their Contributions to Talent Development

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Brene Brown and Elaine Biech receive awards for their support of Talent Development and ATD. Colorado State University student honored with Dissertation Award.

“I feel blessed to contribute to a profession that has given so much to me.” — Elaine Biech, author, mentor, trainer, and president of Ebb Associates.

During a virtual awards recognition celebration, the Association for Talent Development (ATD) recognized several individuals for their excellence and contributions across the talent development field.

This year’s winner of the Champion of Talent Development Award is Brené Brown. Elaine Biech was honored with the Distinguished Contribution to Talent Development Award, and Colorado State University student Zachary Mercurio won the Dissertation Award.

The Champion of Talent Development Award is presented to an individual outside the profession whose commitment, advocacy, and actions in support of talent development within or outside an organization have influenced audiences, organizations, or society.

As a researcher and bestselling author, Brown has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy. She is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers: The Gifts of Imperfection; Daring Greatly; Rising Strong; Braving the Wilderness; and her latest book Dare to Lead, which is the culmination of a seven-year study on courage and leadership.

During the Association for Talent Development 2016 International Conference & EXPO, where Brown was a keynote speaker, she characterized the talent development profession in this way: “We’re in the business of people.” She added, “And if we’re really going to reignite innovation and passion, we have to rehumanize the way we work and the way we learn.”

Brown is a professor at the University of Houston where she holds the Huffington Foundation—Brené Brown Endowed Chair at the Graduate College of Social Work. She is also a visiting professor in management at University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business. She hosts the Unlocking Us podcast, and her TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability, is one of the top five most viewed TED Talks in the world with more than 45 million views. She is also the first researcher to have a filmed lecture on Netflix. The Call to Courage special debuted on the streaming service on April 19, 2019.

The Distinguished Contribution to Talent Development Award is presented in recognition of an exceptional contribution that has had sustained impact on one or more aspects of the talent development field.

Biech is an author, mentor, and trainer with more than 30 years of experience in the talent development field. She has written or edited more than 85 books and is president of Ebb Associates, a strategic implementation, leadership development, and experiential learning consulting firm. Biech, the first CPTD (formerly CPLP) Fellow, notes the importance of the words contribution and distinguished in the award’s name.

“I feel blessed to contribute to a profession that has given so much to me,” she says. And the word distinguished “represents all the people who have received the award before me. It’s humbling and amazing.”

Biech has been key to the profession expanding beyond a learning and performance role to one of talent development, including writing the ATD Talent Development Body of Knowledge, the definitive resource for talent development professionals. She believes that today’s talent development function needs to step up to serve as trusted advisors to leaders in their organizations.

For ATD alone, Biech has presented at 33 consecutive International Conference & EXPOs, written a monthly “Ask a Consulting Expert” column, designed the first Train the Trainer Certificate, and authored or edited 18 ATD Press books. Further, she has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Management Update, Investor’s Business Daily, and Fortune.

The ATD Dissertation Award is given to foster and disseminate research in the practice of developing talent in organizations.

Mercurio is an instructor in the Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change program in the Colorado State University School of Education in Fort Collins, Colorado. His dissertation, “The Lived Experience of Meaningful Work in a Stigmatized Occupation: A Descriptive Phenomenological Inquiry,” sought to expand on studies that show positive outcomes related to meaningful work—benefits such as engagement, job satisfaction, performance, and a sense of well-being. Drawing on previous research, he defines stigmatized occupations as “jobs relegated by society as physically, socially, or morally undesirable due to the nature of the work.”

Through his research, Mercurio found that meaningful work comprised a learned, positive approach to work, taking pride in one’s work, receiving outside validation of the self and work, helping others, and developing positive and personal relationships.

A complete list of award winners can be found on ATD’s website.

About ATD

The Association for Talent Development (ATD), formerly American Society for Training & Development (ASTD), is the world’s largest association dedicated to those who develop talent in organizations. These professionals help others achieve their full potential by improving their knowledge, skills, and abilities. ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in public and private organizations in every industry sector. ATD supports the work of professionals locally across 100 chapters, international strategic partners, and global member networks.

For more information, visit td.org.

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