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Game Changers

2017 Game Changer: Agnes Cholewa

“It’s difficult to be in HR without caring for people,” said Agnes Cholewa, associate director of strategic capital at D.C. Department of HR.
Agnes Cholewa, District of Columbia Department of Human Resources

Agnes Cholewa, Associate Director of strategic capital at District of Columbia Department of Human Resources

Agnes Cholewa’s love of data began at an early age. “Math was my comfort as a child because English is my third language,” said Cholewa. As associate director of strategic capital at D.C. Department of Human Resources, Cholewa, 34, helps others see the significance of using data to measure results. Cholewa has been creating strategic process improvement by utilizing 21st century practices since 2012.

“Agnes is an exemplary, compassionate, dedicated and devoted leader,” said Ventris Gibson, director at DCHR, in the Game Changers application reference letter. “Her consistent high performance and extraordinary achievements resulted in the development and delivery of citywide innovative HR programs.”

While data trends are always changing, Cholewa has improved Washington’s government with new technologies. Her partnership with the district’s chief technology officer led to the creation of dashboards. Users can view data directly on their mobile devices.

Without her innovative practices and project management skillset, HR couldn’t provide the significant data that drives decision-making to the mayor and other senior leaders. “She is becoming a proven leader in D.C. government business intelligence,” said Gwen Thomas, consultant at Gwen Thomas PR, in her nomination letter.

Cholewa creates an innovative approach to managing the crucial touch points surrounding Washington’s human resources. It allows them to recruit “the best and the brightest” talent to local government. This citywide automated exit interview process impacts 80 different district agencies. Her predictive models throughout DCHR provide internal data. This transforms people’s approach to improving leadership and employee competencies.

Cholewa leads four different subordinate organizational units in HR: performance management; records management; customer care and credentialing; and human capital planning. She finds time outside her heavy workload to mentor and coach members of her team. 

“Her transformational style of leadership touches the heads, hands and hearts of her team,” said Gibson. This led Gibson to appoint her as the executive change agent over the district’s realignment of the decentralized HR organizations.

“It’s difficult to be in HR without caring for people,” said Cholewa.

Cholewa emphasizes quality and commitment to sustain a welcoming workplace culture. “I speak with my employees daily. I make sure that they are doing well professionally and personally because it is almost impossible to separate the two,” said Cholewa. Little things, like candy in her office, help create a welcoming environment

Those who work with Cholewa attest to her strong ability to influence others, rally a team and meet outcomes. Gibson said she can rely on Cholewa for her “forward thinking, analytical and customer-centric mindset.”

[To read about our other 2017 Game Changers, click here.]