Treadmills, Trains and Human Resources - Nick Christy, Director, Human Resources and Labor Relations City of Kalamazoo0
The second floor of City Hall on West South Street in downtown Kalamazoo is now home to the long-awaited treadmill workstation of Nick Christy, City of Kalamazoo's new Director of Human Resources and Labor Relations.
Christy speaks quickly, enthusiastically -a man on a mission. He's spent his life on the move, constantly learning and growing from the education that life has put in his path. As a young person, home was New York. He grew up outside of New York in Westchester County, going to a private high school in Manhattan, known for pushing its students to the limit academically. He had the opportunity to stretch himself by helping children with developmental issues too, as his school required a trimester of full time community service. After this rigorous education, college came easy to him. He attended Binghamton University in New York State, and met his wife Heather.
Over his career, Nick has filled many roles; always demonstrating his love for learning and applying his skills towards his next adventure. He excelled as a journalist for several publications - covering topics from minor league baseball to the beer and wine industry - before moving to California to earn an MBA from Berkeley. Upon noticing that much of his time in the Bay Area was spent in traffic jams, "where we had a 45-minute drive to Target - that was not sustainable," he transitioned into a new career in human resources. After a time as Human Resources Specialist for Norfolk Southern Railroad in Virginia, he accepted a position as a Human Resources Strategist for IBM in New York City, where he and his wife were living when had their first child, Jack, in 2005.
By 2007, when their daughter Tess was born, the family was paying $2,600 a month in rent for a one bedroom apartment in the city, and they needed a change. When IBM offered a transfer to the community of Rochester, Minnesota Christy jumped.
The Christy family spent several years in Minnesota, "What pioneer decided to settle here?" asks Christy, truly trying to understand the madness, and then another opportunity arose. In 2011, Christy came to Kalamazoo to work for Stryker for a short stint, then later for Eaton in an HR management role. At Eaton, Christy found an environment that suited him. "Continuous learning was a basic expectation of every employee, and the company offered a wealth of online support and other resources to encourage skills development." He fondly recalls working with Eaton's wonderful workforce.
When Christy first heard about the City of Kalamazoo opportunity, his thoughts immediately went to the television show Parks and Recreation. He had a picture in his head of a city government that was not very progressive, hard up for funding, but with a sense of humor. In reality, Christy found Kalamazoo to be cutting edge in many areas, including in the area of wellness - i.e., the fulfillment of a major career aspiration in the treadmill desk.
Christy brings a lifetime of experience and ideas to Kalamazoo. His new team has been very receptive and welcoming, and as he's already at work on a compensation study for city employees. Additional future projects will likely include continuous team learning, inclusion and diversity projects, cataloging processes, standardizing work instructions and employee recognition programs, all things that Christy is passionate about.
After living and working around the United States, Christy and his family are settled in Kalamazoo and loving it. His favorite things are the reasonable cost of living, paired with the diverse culture of a university town. "There is no sacrifice in culture. We have quality education, theatre, WMU, the lake close by..." Christy trails off, as if he could continue the list for days. For fun, Christy and his family enjoy swimming, including competitive swimming. Christy is also a movie buff and can quote any line from The Godfather or Goodfellas in particular. His children Jack, now 12, and Tess, now 10, also participate in Taekwondo and theater and "are overscheduled just like their parents," says Christy.
Lucky for us, Christy has now directed his organizational passion and energy to the City of Kalamazoo, where his unique background and experience will benefit many. As Don Corleone would say, it's an offer we can't refuse.