Blank Slate Media Recognizes Elizabeth Uzzo, Executive Vice President/Chief Human Resources Officer as a Woman of Distinction
Liz Uzzo is the Chief Human Resources Officer and Executive Vice President at H2M architects + engineers, where she has worked since 1987. She leads and directs the H2M Human Resources team to achieve excellence by planning, implementing, and evaluating employee development, HR policies, programs, and practices, with the goal of supporting business strategy.
Liz grew up in a home that was far from traditional, with five siblings, a quasi-stay-at-home mom with a part-time job, and a father with multiple careers. From the beginning, the family threw gender roles right out the window: the girls did yardwork and the boys played music. In junior high school, Liz’s father pushed the school counselor to allow Liz to become the first girl in the district to take shop class.
After being told that she wasn’t “college material,” Liz was advised to find a trade instead. She attended a BOCES school where she was introduced to the culinary arts and restaurant work. In an industry dominated by men, Liz worked grueling 80-hour weeks and rose through the ranks until she was trained by a French pastry chef at one of the most exclusive restaurants in New York City.
To move from the “back of the house” to the front, she enrolled at SUNY Farmingdale, later transferring to New York Institute of Technology (NYIT), to pursue a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. The day she graduated with her bachelor’s degree, Liz quit her job to work on a commercial longline fishing boat out of Fort Lauderdale, FL, another industry heavily dominated by men. She represented the industry in front of local governments across the eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico to ensure fair representation in policy matters.
After her father passed away, Liz returned to New York. Her mother, Babe Uzzo, had already worked at H2M for many years as a part-time corporate librarian, but after the death of her husband, she transitioned to a full-time job with H2M so that the family would continue to have access to health insurance. Liz also joined the company as a payroll clerk.
When the opportunity arose to transfer into the HR department (then called Personnel), Liz took it. After two years of being a “department of one,” Liz went back to school and earned her master’s degree in human resource management and labor relations. Since then, Liz has earned senior level certifications from the Society of Human Resource Management and the Human Resources Certification Institute.
Liz had long been passionate about advocating for others and incorporating that advocacy into industry practices. From a “department of one,” Liz has built H2M’s HR Department into a close-knit team of 10, and introduced organizational clarity on operational structure, employee development, recruiting/retaining talent, risk mitigation, regulatory compliance, workforce and succession planning, and strategic planning. She has presented at national industry conferences on employee engagement, the demonstrated value of HR, and industry best practices.
On the advocacy side, Liz puts other first as a member of the Farmingdale Foundation Board, Stony Brook University Women in STEM Advisory Board, and the Long Island Chapter of SHRM. She supports three ACE mentoring teams, which introduces over 70 high school students each year to careers in science, technology, engineering, math, and architecture. Liz is also the executive sponsor for H2M’s Women’s Leadership, Diversity and Inclusion, and Young Professionals employee resource groups.
Liz is active in charitable and civic organizations such as Tri-CYA and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Cycle for Survival fundraiser, where she and the H2M team have already raised more than $100,000 for rare cancer research. Liz also employs her culinary arts background to address food insecurities by cooking meals for The Interfaith Nutrition Network.