Pamela Paulk Honored at the White House as a Champion of Change

Johns Hopkins Medicine News and Publications

Pamela Paulk, senior vice president for human resources for the Johns Hopkins Health System and Johns Hopkins Medicine, was recognized at the White House on Monday, June 30, as a Champion of Change because of her work and advocacy in hiring ex-offenders into the Johns Hopkins workforce.

President Barack Obama instituted the Champions of Change program to celebrate Americans whose innovative ideas have fostered positive change. The program recognizes creative solutions to problems in such areas as energy efficiency, gun violence and other areas the president has targeted.

For over 10 years, Paulk and Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System presidentRonald R. Peterson have been leaders in the push to give qualified ex-offenders a second chance at a job and a life.

Recognizing a need for stable, reliable employees in hard-to-fill positions, Paulk led an initiative to hire people whose pasts might otherwise disqualify them from employment. Though not all ex-offenders are suited for the program, careful screening has made the program a success.

“First and foremost, this is a good business decision,” Paulk says. “These are good, loyal, solid workers. And I have the numbers to prove it.”

Paulk and her department conducted a sample of 80 ex-offenders hired by The Johns Hopkins Hospital in the year 2000. Four years later, seventy-three of those 80 were still employed at Johns Hopkins. A 2009 study at Johns Hopkins of almost 500 ex-offender hires showed a retention rate after 40 months that was better than a matched group of non-offenders.

“So from a business perspective, you’ve got great workers who truly are pleased to have a second chance,” Paulk notes.

Peterson lauded the efforts of Paulk and her colleagues in human resources. “We’re extremely proud of Pamela’s leadership in this area,” Peterson said, “and we’re proud of our staff members who have taken this second chance and done great things with it.”