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Harnessing the Power of I-O Science and Practice to Promote Organizational Effectiveness: A Close Look at the Port Authority

  • NYU Wasserman Center 133 East 13th Street New York, NY, 10003 United States (map)

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is the bi-state agency that conceives, builds, operates and maintains infrastructure critical to the trade and transportation network in the metropolitan area that affects all of us daily. These facilities include America’s busiest airport system, marine terminals and ports, the PATH rail transit system, six tunnels and bridges between New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, and the World Trade Center. 

In this talk, Mary Lee Hannell who serves as Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  She will describe the human capital challenges she has faced in the CHRO role and the variety of ways she has harnessed the best of I-O psychology science and practice to assure the quality of Port Authority human capital processes and practices. 

Seymour Adler has supported the Port Authority for close to two decades in the design of leadership development, succession planning, performance management and other people practices.  Seymour will sharehis perspective, based on his Port Authority experiences, on the making of a productive and impactful partnership between HR leaders and I-O psychologists to promote organizational effectiveness. 


In her capacity as CHRO, Mary Lee leads a talented team that supports the agency’s human capital agenda by delivering compensation and benefits, talent management, succession planning, recruitment and assessment, HR metrics, performance management, occupational health, EEO compliance, and diversity and inclusion initiatives.  Mary Lee also is responsible for a comprehensive labor relations strategy across 24 unions, including direct negotiations for twelve civilian and police unions.  Mary Lee joined the Port Authority in 1987.  Prior to becoming Chief in 2013, Mary Lee spent eleven years in various leadership roles in the Human Resources Department at the Port Authority.  From 1998 to 2005, she served as the Executive Advisor to the Chief of Staff/Chief Administrative Officer, coordinating agency services in the human resources, procurement, general services, and labor relations functions. As Assistant Director, she also led the agency procurement function to ensure a competitive and fair public procurement process. In 2007, she returned to Human Resources where she served as Director until she transitioned to her current role as Chief.   

Seymour Adler, holds a PhD from New York University in I-O Psychology, and is currently a Partner in the Talent, Rewards, and Performance Practice at Aon Hewitt.  For over 35 years, he has directed the development and implementation of talent assessment and talent management programs for major private and public sector organizations.  He has published widely in both the scientific and professional literatures.  In addition to his work as a practitioner, Seymour has served throughout his career on graduate I/O faculties; and currently is an Adjunct Professor at Hofstra University.  He is a Fellow of SIOP and a Past President of the Metro.