When the Employers Association of New Jersey commemorated its one hundredth anniversary in 2016, Rebecca J. Dent (“Becky”) was conspicuously absent.
But certainly not forgotten.
In fact, when John Sarno, the Association’s president, told the group that Becky was “beloved” the room erupted in applause.
Her return to the office was met by more applause from the staff.
Ms Dent has announced her retirement from the organization that she has faithfully served since 1978.
“Becky’s overall contribution to the Association cannot be overestimated. She is literally a pillar of the organization” says Sarno.
Dent was already an established staff member when Sarno was appointed chief executive in 1995, hired by Harold Hawkey, then executive director, out of private industry.
“She totally bowled me over” Sarno recalled. “Then and now, her depth of knowledge is unparalleled.”
More than that, it was clear to Sarno that the relationships she had built up with individual members was a critical asset to the organization. “She is the best relationship person I have ever seen” he says.
Dent was soon thrust into every aspect of nurturing the membership, including travelling the state with Sarno, and personnel from the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development, providing seminars to employers on labor laws and regulations.
Member enrollment sky-rocketed. “Employers enroll and renew with EANJ because Becky’s knowledge of the laws and regulations is second-to-none” says Sarno. “Experienced labor lawyers routinely call her for advice. I’m one of them and obviously fortunate to have her in the office next to mine.”
Sarno and Dent launched the acclaimed HR Law Certificate Course, which is now in its twelfth year.
“For this year, I have assembled a ‘dream team’ [of Robin Ross, Amy Vazquez and Andree Laney] but Becky is leaving an enormous legacy” he says.
Ms Dent also conducted training sessions at hundreds of worksites throughout New Jersey. While a foremost expert in administrating federal and state leave laws, she conducted training along the full range of HR practices – all while fielding on average one hundred calls per month from individual members on every conceivable HR topic.
“Some members would not make a move without consulting with Becky. It’s still the case.” Sarno says.
Ms Dent also coordinated and published the Association’s wage and hour surveys and researched the most complex issues brought to the staff.
A native of Ohio and a graduate from Ohio University, Ms Dent is relied upon by members and staff alike.
“Every once in a while, we disagree and sometimes have heated discussions but I admit, that at the end of the day, Becky’s reading of a statute or interpretation of a regulation was almost always correct” says Sarno.
“Every day, at the highest levels of integrity and professionalism, the very definition of consistency. A role model for the rest of us” Sarno adds.
Ms Dent will be starting her new life journey on August 16th.