Meet Lansingburgh's New Human Resources Manager: Benjamin Seymour
Things were so busy at the end of the school year that we never had a chance to introduce you to the newest member of the Lansingburgh District Office staff! In May we welcomed Benjamin Seymour to the Lansingburgh family as the district's Human Resources Manager, a new position in our district.
We checked in with Mr. Seymour to ask him a few "get to know you" questions including just what exactly an HR Manager does, what brought him to Lansingburgh and life outside the workplace.
First, can you quickly explain the role of a Human Resources Manager and what you'll be doing for Lansingburgh in that role?
My role as the HR Manager (a new position here at Lansingburgh) is to be a resource for the district's staff to help figure out and decode the complexities that come with working in the public sector. From contracts, to benefits, to how the various laws and regulations apply specifically to a school environment, it can be hard to figure it all out by yourself. My job is to help make sense of it all for our talented support staff, educators and administrators so they can focus on their mission of supporting the students of Lansingburgh.
I was drawn to the district by the opportunity to help build a system and a role to support the district moving forward, and by the passion of the community and the district staff for their students.
Tell us a little about your background and how it brought you to this new role in Lansingburgh.
I come to the district having followed a pretty non-traditional path. I grew up in Guilderland and went to Siena for undergrad where I majored in Political Science. During my junior year, I got involved in emergency services through a local firehouse. From there I decided to go to a Paramedic school and worked in the area as a Paramedic for about 12 years, eventually teaching Paramedic students at SUNY Cobleskill.
I was pretty active in the Paramedic union, eventually serving as the Chief Steward and worked on all aspects of labor relations from the union side (discipline, contracts, grievances, etc.). I grew to love doing labor relations work, and as I finished my Masters in Public Administration through Marist College, I decided to pursue it full-time as a career. My first stop was as a Labor Relations Specialist with Capital Region BOCES, where I worked on many of the same issues I had as a union leader and represented ten school districts through the labor service, and later moved on to the New York State Division of the Budget's Labor Relations Section where I focused on statewide labor policy issues.
When the position became available here at Lansingburgh, I saw it as an opportunity to bring a unique perspective and skillset to the role. Having worked as both a union and management representative, and having done significant policy and public sector HR work, I like to think globally about issues, questions, and systems, and this role presents an opportunity to do just that.
You've started this role in the middle of what is still an unusual time for schools. Given that, what do you hope to accomplish during these early months on the job?
My number one goal during these changing times is to get out into the Lansingburgh school community and start to build relationships with the staff. As life begins to return to normal, I'm excited to share what HR can do to support their good work and want to do everything I can to get the word out that I'm here to be of service to the District.
What's something about your work style that you want the community and any Lansingburgh staff who haven't met you yet to know about you?
First, I'm here to support the school community and there's no question or issue too big or small to bring to me - don't hesitate to reach out! If I don't know the answer immediately, I'll do the research to find out.
Second, after more than a decade of working on issues in public sector labor relations, I'm convinced that very few issues can be solved without collaboration and I'm all about finding consensus through stakeholder involvement.
Finally, what's life like outside of work?
My wife Sarah and I have two kids, Henry (9) and Charlotte (6), who keep us pretty busy between lacrosse, soccer, and swimming during the school year. Whenever possible, we love to get up to Lake Pleasant, in Hamilton County, where we get out on the water in the summer and go skiing throughout the winter. Most weekends I try to get out for at least one long bike ride up and through Albany County's hilltowns.
Over the last two years, I've been working on my Ph.D. in Public Administration and Policy, and am starting my dissertation this summer.