Director of Human Resources Karen Cross was born in Japan and grew up in Michigan, or as she says, “Made in Japan but from Detroit.”
Her career in human resources started with a Minnesota newspaper. Then she held human resource positions for several long-term care and rehabilitation facilities.
She came to La Hacienda in December 2017 after serving as Human Resources Manager for Great Hearts Texas, a charter school in San Antonio.
Was Looking for the Right Position
In 2016, Karen earned a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management from Concordia University (St. Paul, MN), the school from which she holds a bachelor’s degree in the same field.
“I was looking for the right position. I wanted to go to the next level after finishing my master’s degree. Then I saw the ad for La Hacienda Treatment Center,” she says.
“I love working in human resources, especially in health care. I’m so impressed with people who work in the field, especially during difficult times.”
“I went to nursing school before deciding on human resources. I know about health care and its high stresses. If I can make it easier for the employees, then they don’t have to worry about every little thing.”
Make Work Enjoyable, Reduce Stress on Staff
Karen is responsible for the overall administration, coordination, and evaluation of our human resource functions, including hiring, payroll, and benefits administration. She also oversees the staff whom arriving patients first meet, the front gate attendants and receptionists.
It’s important to her to balance the department’s activities between necessary management functions and making work less stressful for staff. “I like to make it fun,” she says.
Throughout the year, Human Resources organizes wellness competitions, such as walking/running challenges, to build morale and help improve employees’ health. The department also recognizes service anniversaries and hosts gatherings around holidays.
Volunteered Hobby for Service During Pandemic
Karen loves to sew and quilt, and she found a definite need for her skills during the pandemic.
La Hacienda suddenly needed masks and hospital gowns, so she started sewing in her “free time” at home. “I just ran with it,” she says.
That action follows her belief that the staff is “one big team.” “That’s not my job” is a phrase she does not like to hear.
During the weeklong winter storm of 2021, staff members caught on campus without relief carried the burden. But the treatment center continued its care and counseling for patients.
Karen made a point of honoring their service afterward. “I like to celebrate successes.”
Not Afraid to Try Something New
Karen enjoys being with her three adult children. “I sneak up to Minnesota twice a year to see the one who lives up there.” Her other two have followed her to Texas.
She also likes to go north because of her fondness for the largest of the Great Lakes. “I love Lake Superior – it’s soothing. It’s so big, it feels like an ocean.”
In her home, she has fishbowls filled with colorful rocks from the lake’s shore. She’s even kayaked on Superior. It was cold, she admits, but she enjoyed it.
“I like to get out and try new things.”
Sunny Weather Benefits Her Activities
Karen moved to Texas to escape the harsh winters and is enjoying the nice weather. “You will never hear me complain about weather.”
Texas sunny weather also benefits her outdoor pursuits–bike riding, running, and walking.
Having lived in both large and small cities, she finds Kerrville perfect. “It has enough people and things to do but still has a small-town feel.”