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The Best People Leaders in 2024

The Best People Leaders in 2024

Managers, HR professionals, people leaders — they all do so much for companies often without the recognition they deserve. Great people leaders can make or break the success of a startup, influence culture, and drive real results. And contrary to the myth, most of them are not grumpy people who resent, well, people. 

We're taking a moment to celebrate the amazing people leaders in our community. They lead with empathy, passion, innovation, and are building incredible teams and empowering the people around them. 

Join us in recognizing these 26 stellar people leaders. Who would you add to the list?

Full list:


26 Best People Leaders in 2024

best people leaders (2)


Gary Deitch

Best Peole Leader - Gary Deitch

Lead HR Business Partner at MITRE

With over 15 years of experience, Gary Deitch is a people leader pro. Currently serving as Lead HR Business at MITRE, Gary is a partner for 875 employees, managers, directors and VP level executives in internationally dispersed locations. He brings a variety of HR skills to the table and leads by example with his core values: inclusion, responsibility, harmony, focus, and futurism. Gary is a peacemaker and a reformer who strives to create a positive and lasting impact in his work and community. As the future of workforce development evolves, Gary is optimistic about the future of utilizing emotional intelligence for leadership development. Passionate about helping people achieve their career and life goals, Gary is truly an empowering leader.



Sarah Devereaux

best people leader - sarah devereauxPartner at White Pine Leadership Collective

Sarah Devereaux spent nearly 15 years in the Learning and Leadership Development space at Google and is now a partner with the White Pine Leadership Collective. Sarah has been coaching and facilitating for more than a decade on a variety of topics, including: resilience, wellbeing, innovation, self-awareness, leadership, complexity theory, systems thinking, and more. Sarah has a passion for learning and helping individuals and organizations to realize their full potential. She is particularly passionate about coaching senior women leaders in traditionally male-dominated industries, like tech, finance, and manufacturing. 


Taminy Fernandes

best people leader - taminy fernandesDirector of People & Culture at CertifID

As Director of People & Culture at CertifID, Taminy Fernandes brings over a decade of experience to helping grow and nurture the CertifID team. Her experience runs the gamut from every aspect of HR, and she’s passionate about driving impact by improving company systems and processes. A natural leader and problem solver, Taminy loves to support her coworkers and empower them to be more engaged at work. Her team says she always leads by example, is inclusive and encouraging, and empowers the people around her. 



Angie Hemmelgarn

Angie-Hemmelgarn-Headshot-squareChief People Officer at PatientPoint

Angie Hemmelgarn, Chief People Officer at PatientPoint, has a leadership style that exemplifies a rare combination of purpose, vision, philanthropy, and a clear vision that has significantly impacted the organization's growth, culture, and community engagement. Naturally drawn to purpose-driven work, Angie was excited to jump on board at PatientPoint, and further serves the PatientPoint Foundation to help create health equity in underserved communities through technology-enabled access. As CPO, Angie is passionate about strengthening the organization through talent development, visionary leadership, and empowering individuals to reach their full potential. She has played a pivotal role in creating an environment that fosters inclusivity and encourages individuals to contribute freely, removing obstacles to ensure everyone can thrive. She introduced the Culture Club to facilitate intentional cross-functional networking, initiated a Community Day where employees actively engaged in serving local nonprofits, and enhanced their total rewards package while maintaining cost stability for employees.



Leah Knobler

leah knoblerVP of People at Help Scout

Over the past almost nine years at Help Scout, Leah Knobler has risen as a top people leader, now serving as VP of People. She’s passionate about growing teams and fostering empathy among them. Leah has been influential in developing the team at Help Scout, which has always been full-remote, and has been long recognized for its progressive and inclusive culture. Leah is also a leading voice in the people operations space. She often talks about remote company culture, recruiting like a human, diversifying tech, DEIB, and more. She’s one of the best people leaders advocating for better and more equitable workplaces.  



Bianca Konja

best people leader - bianca konja

Head of People at ModeSens

Bianca Konja has led and developed some of the biggest and most innovative tech companies in Detroit. From her time at Quicken Loans (now Rocket Mortgage) as an employee relations specialist, to serving as the VP of Human Resources at StockX, Bianca is a startup HR veteran bringing years of experience to her role as Head of People at ModeSens. Bianca is passionate about helping others and building innovative, people-first companies. 



Sang Lam

Best People Leaders - Sang LamHead of HR for Magna Mirrors – Holland

As the Head of HR for Magna Mirrors – Holland, Sang Lam has played a crucial role in the growth of the company. Sang has changed the vision and culture at Magna by empowering other leaders and team members around him. He guides leaders, inspires confidence in others, and has a long-term vision for the company and its success. He always continues to shape the people at Magna both on the production floor and in the office. His insight into what the company can do and look like in the future empowers the team to think outside the box and be innovative.



Ryan McClure

best people leader - ryan mcclureSenior Director, People Ops & Talent Acquisition at Onbe

As the Senior Director of People Ops and Talent Acquisition, Ryan McClure has played a pivotal role in elevating Onbe's People Team. Recognized by his team for nurturing their development, he pushes the team beyond their comfort zones, helping people realize potential they didn’t even know existed. Ryan's adeptness in building authentic relationships cultivates inclusivity within his team and throughout the company. He prioritizes inclusive hiring, resulting in outstanding diversity statistics and a high Net Promoter Score for new hires. Beyond his department, Ryan drives organizational change, collaborating cross-functionally and embodying Onbe's core values. He’s a change agent for the entire organization and has contributed to Onbe’s recognition as a top place to work for three consecutive years.



Jewelyn Mendoza Angeles

Best People Leader - Jewelyn Mendoza AngelesVP, People & Culture at Group14 Technologies

Jewelyn Mendoza Angeles is currently the VP of People & Culture at Poshmark, a marketplace app for buying and selling used clothing and accessories. In her 10 years with the company, Jewelyn has risen as a top people leader, focusing on culture and workplace experience. Poshmark is known for being an inclusive and people-first team, prioritizing empathy, autonomy, care, empowerment, and individuality. 



Kendra Mitchell

best people leader - kendra mitchell

Head of Legal & People at IMPaCT Care

Kendra Mitchell has led and developed teams behind some of the country’s biggest brands. From her role as Chief of Staff at Duo Security and then at Cisco, to being the Chief People Office of Chief, Kendra brings over 15 years of experience in HR, law, strategy and operations to her role at IMPaCT Care. She has overseen the culture and operations of venture capital-backed and public companies with employees ranging from the hundreds to the thousands. As a cross-functional leader, Kendra drives results, leads with vision, aligns strategy, and works to advance equity and inclusion in the workplace and beyond. 



Christie Moon

Best People Leader - Christie MoonDirector of HR at Pew Research Center

Christie Moon, now serving as the Director of HR at Pew Research Center, has over 20 years of experience as a human resources professional and leader. Christie is passionate about creating and sustaining a positive and productive work culture. Christie is a top leader, partnering with the executive team and the board of directors to provide strategic guidance and advice on all aspects of human resources management, including diversity, equity and inclusion; organizational development and workforce planning; talent acquisition; performance management; and employee relations. She also leads the team of dedicated HR professionals, and is a trusted adviser, a collaborative partner, and a great person to work with.



Thressa Nichols

best people leader - thressa nichols

VP of Operations at Snappt

After leading the people teams at some of Ann Arbor’s biggest startups like Groundspeed and Genomenon, Thresssa Nichols is now the VP of Operations at Snappt. She is a people-focused leader with experience in HR leadership, people leadership, culture creation, organizational effectiveness, and strategy. Thressa is all about building relationships and brings high energy to her work to improve employee experiences, foster an environment of upward mobility, strengthen employer brands, and drive innovation. Her passion for culture creation, remote engagement and DEIB makes her a progressive leader for a modern workplace. She’s also a community-builder and an active leader in the Shine & Rise community. 



Kristina Oberly

best people leader - kristina oberly

Head of People at Signal Advisors

Kristina Oberly is an experienced HR professional helping grow some of Michigan’s rising startups. As Head of People at Signal Advisors, Kristina has led and built the company’s People Operations function over the last 3 years. Her leadership has helped establish a strong, collaborative, forward-thinking, remote culture at one of the fastest growing startups in Detroit. Her team is inspired by her drive, smarts, humility, and how she constantly looks for ways to empower the team. Outside of Signal, Kristina is a co-founder of Shine & Rise, an organization dedicated to making a meaningful impact on gender diversity in the tech and startup ecosystem.



Jessica Paddock

best people leader - jessica paddock

Senior Director of Recruiting at Unite Us

As the Senior Director of Recruiting at Unite Us, Jessica Paddock is leading a highly purpose-driven, people-first team. She’s energized by connecting people, solving problems, exchanging ideas and working collaboratively to make a positive impact. She often speaks on panels about startup culture, scaling hyper growth teams, candidate and employee experience, DEI hiring in tech and more. She’s a winner of HIGHER’s Talent 100, the power list of 100 most innovative talent acquisition professionals globally.



Angie Peterson

Best People Leaders - Angie PetersonVP, People & Culture at Group14 Technologies

Angie Peterson has spent over 25 years building best-in-class people operations and workforce strategies. She’s been recognized for her work throughout her career, for her many skills and excellent leadership. She’s especially strong with hiring, coaching and mentoring, and directing teams around the world. As VP of People & Culture at Group14 Technologies, Angie leads an innovative tech team, focusing on DEI, employee engagement and development, and much more. 



Lauren Randall

best people leader - lauren randallSenior Vice President of Human Resources at Lower

Lauren Randall has been with Lower for over eight years, seeing the company through transformative growth. As the SVP of Human Resources, Lauren has harnessed a variety of skills in strategic planning, employee relations, talent acquisition, benefit administration, compensation and performance management to help Lower become a nationally recognized insurtech. Lower is known as an excellent place to work with an innovation mindset and a community-focused approach, being a force for good in the greater Columbus community. 



Mendel Rosenberg

Mendel HeadshotCEO at Gearsupply

Not all CEOs get recognized for their people leadership, but Gearsupply’s Mendel Rosenberg was nominated by his team for his exceptional dedication to fostering a thriving team environment. Throughout this year, Mendel has not only focused on achieving business benchmarks but has also prioritized nurturing a positive culture and team spirit in the office. His commitment to the growth and well-being of team members has been evident in his efforts to create opportunities for professional development, open communication, and collaboration. Mendel's leadership has played a pivotal role in shaping the company culture and ensuring that each team member feels valued, supported, and empowered to succeed.



Scooter Sabel

best people leader - scooter sabelHead of People at Vouch

Scooter Sabel is a seasoned People Leader currently serving as the Head of People at Vouch. He has extensive experience in helping scale high-growth startups, and much of that growth is due to Scooter’s leadership. Through his strategic management and expertise that runs the HR gamut, Scooter has nurtured and developed world-class teams. His holistic approach to leadership drives excellence, innovation, and growth at forward-thinking companies like Vouch.



AJ Schwarzkopf

best people leader - aj schwarzkopfDirector of Talent Acquisition at Kin

AJ Schwarzkopf has over a decade of experience in talent acquisition and people management. She’s helped develop global workforce strategies as well as scale some of the Midwest’s biggest and most innovative startups, Lower and now Kin. As the Director of Talent Acquisition at Kin Insurance, AJ brings a clear vision and innovative mindset to helping the company grow and become an award-winning top place to work. 



Holly Shoemaker

beat people leader - holly shoemakerVP of Human Resources at Fusion Academy

As VP of Human Resources at Fusion Academy, Holly Shoemaker lives the organization’s values through and through (EPIC!: excellence, passion, innovation and courage). She’s been dedicated to nurturing a supportive and inclusive environment since her start in 2014. She’s been instrumental in enhancing the company's approach to employee satisfaction. Through innovative initiatives and her empathetic leadership style, Holly has created and improved processes that are easy and streamlined to support Fusion’s schools, which operate in over 20 states with 2,500 employees in over 80 locations. She is committed to fairness and equity, and her teammates see her as a beacon of inspiration throughout the organization. She puts people first, leads with heart, champions new ideas, and embodies Fusion’s fun and meaningful culture. 



Robin Sirko

best people leader - robin sirkoSenior Director, People Business Partners and Talent Acquisition at AHEAD

Robin Sirko is also an HR veteran in the Michigan startup and tech scene, working with companies like Rocket, Slalom, and Homepoint. As the Senior Director of People at AHEAD, Robin leads with passion, positivity, and dedication to creating an amazing place to work. As her colleagues put it, Robin sets the gold standard of what People Operations should be about. Her passion for people is sincere, and she’s dedicated to creating and demonstrating an excellent culture and people-first values. 



Madeline Smith

Madeline Smith 1 LargeDirector of People Operations at Radia

Madeline Smith is an experienced HR and people operations leader known for building employee-informed people programs and inclusive organizational cultures. From strategic to tactical, Madeline is well-versed in working across the employee lifecycle from recruitment and onboarding to talent management and policy development. She brings experience and training in change management and organization development to her work at growing start-ups and nonprofits, both nationally and within southeast Michigan. She is currently supporting a global workforce and serving as the Director of People Operations at Radia. Based in Colorado, Radia is enabling the best onshore wind energy – through a unique aerial transportation solution – to help the world meet its decarbonization goals.



David Staels

Best People Leader - David Staels

VP, Head of People Experience at StockX

David Staels is a seasoned human resources executive now serving as the VP, Head of People Experience at StockX, one of the fastest growing startups in Detroit, and in the country. David brings a diverse range of skills and experiences across multiple human resources functions/specialties to strategize, execute and drive growth. In his 5+ years at StockX, David has helped the company grow its headcount to over 1,000 people, expand globally, and create an innovative and inclusive culture at one of the biggest rising brands in the world.



Tierra Terrell-Johnson

Best People Leaders - Tierra Terrell-JohnsonHead of People Operations at Torch

As the Head of People Operations at Torch, Tierra Terrell-Johnson leads a team that is passionate about creating a positive and productive work environment. She has over eight years of experience in human resources, developing skills from HRIS and training to operations management. Her people-centric philosophy guides her decisions and actions. With collaboration, innovation, organizations, and a clear vision, Tierra is helping foster a culture of workplace happiness, engagement, and growth.



Forrest Tylutki

best people leader - Forrest TylutkiSenior Director, HR at Root

Forrest Tylutki, Senior Director of HR at Root, is passionate about building fantastic teams. As a leader in the HR space, Forrest aligns, leads, and develops world-class talent at scale, influencing positive change at all levels. Forrest says that his personal experiences as a foster youth and child of immigrants has taught him empathy, tenacity to succeed, a thirst for knowledge, and an eye for quality. His teammates recognize him for his skills as well as his people-first approach to leadership. 



Kim Wilkes

Best people leader - Kim WilkesHead of Talent Attraction at Zapier

Kim Wilkes has spent most of her career in the talent space, leading and mentoring teams and connecting people around the world to new opportunities. As Head of Talent Attraction at Zapier, Kim has played a pivotal role in advocating for people and continuing to make Zapier an excellent place to work. She’s a champion for DEIB, employee wellness, professional development, and remote work flexibility. She takes an active role in supporting the career journeys of women and people from underrepresented backgrounds. She’s a proud member of the Elpha community, a professional network founded by women, aimed at empowering high-achieving women in the tech industry. Kim is a wonderful example of modern, people-first leadership.



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