MEET OUR TEAM
- Tom DarrowPrincipal
Thomas M. Darrow is the Founder and Principal of Talent Connections, LLC (www.talentconnections.net). Since 1999, the Atlanta based professional services firm has specialized in recruiting—including recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), executive search, HR consulting, and contract recruiting. Current and past clients include The Coca Cola Company, Habitat for Humanity International, Mercedes-Benz USA, ADP, Booz Allen Hamilton, the American Cancer Society, Deloitte, Newell Rubbermaid, Microsoft, McKesson, Mercedes-Benz, and the Southern Company. Talent Connections was named in 2007 and 2008 to the Inc. 500 list of America’s fastest growing private companies for realizing 1700% revenue growth.
In March, 2009, Tom teamed with nationally recognized recruiting and career transition experts to launch Career Spa, LLC (www.careerspa.net). The career management company is revolutionizing the way unemployed and misemployed workers are equipped to assess and proactively manage their careers.
Tom has almost 30 years’ experience in the Human Resources and Recruitment profession — including 9 years with the global professional services firms of Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers) and Andersen Consulting (now Accenture).
He is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Atlanta Chapter (SHRM-Atlanta). At the National level, he has served on the SHRM Foundation Board from 2010 to 2017 and was Board Chair in 2015 and 2016. He also served on the SHRM Staffing Management Special Expertise Panel from 2005-2008 and on the Cost per Hire (CPH) Standard Taskforce. In 2016, he was chosen at Inaugural Board President for the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP). On a local level, he was the 2006 and 2007 President of SHRM-Atlanta, the largest city Chapter in the country out of 600 Chapters and served on the Board of Directors from 2005-2008. Under his leadership, SHRM-Atlanta’s membership increased 60% to over 2600 members and the Chapter launched two programs that won a 2007 SHRM Pinnacle Award for membership growth and a 2008 SHRM Pinnacle Award for the Mayor’s Youth Program. In 2015 he received the SHRM-Atlanta Lifetime Achievement Award and was named the HR Leader of the Year by the SHRM Georgia State Council. He is the Founder and former Chair of the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) Recruiting Society and has served on the TAG Board of Directors from 2005 through 2009. From 2005 through 2007, he was the Inaugural President of the TAG Leadership Council and served on the Executive Committee of the TAG Board.
Tom earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame. He speaks internationally at conferences and workshops on topics related to improving corporate recruiting processes and career management best practices, and he has been quoted in publications including BusinessWeek, Inc. Magazine, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Washington Post, and HR Magazine and has been interviewed on National Public Radio (NPR) and WXIA TV – Channel 11 in Atlanta.
In addition to his leadership in the Human Resources and Recruiting profession, Tom is dedicated to community service through many volunteer activities. He currently serves on the Board of Advisors for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. As a lead volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta, he served as a Big Brother from 1991 to 1998 and was honored as the Big Brother of the Year in Gwinnett County in 1996. In 2002 he served on the Board of Directors and was Chair of the Ambassadors for Big Brothers Big Sisters. In 2001, he was voted the Ambassador of the Year. In 2005, he was the Co-Chair of the Arby’s Charity Tour golf tournament which raised a record $285,000. He was Chair of the Board of the Inward Bound Center for Nonprofit Leadership from 2012 to 2015. From 2003 through 2005, Tom served on the Board of Directors for The Partnership Against Domestic Violence. He served as a Host Committee Member of High Tech Ministries from 1999 to 2011. Tom founded and is President of the Atlanta HR Prayer Breakfast, Inc. Tom has also a leader and frequent speaker in the Crossroads Career Network career ministry since 1997. In 2008, 2011 and 2016, Tom was nominated for the Turknett Leadership Character Award in the CEO category and was a finalist for the North Fulton County Chamber of Commerce Small Business Person of the Year Award in 2008.
Tom lives in Murphy, NC and Atlanta, GA with his wife Anne and parrot, Mango. He enjoys golf, Notre Dame Football, Christian music, spending time with family and friends, and comedy. In 2004, he made his stand-up comedy debut at The Punch Line, the premier comedy club in the Southeast. Tom is also a significant shareholder of the Green Bay Packers.
- Susan KentVP, Houston, TX Office
Susan was strategic in launching Career Spa in Atlanta in 2009, and is now responsible for the Houston, TX office, newly opened in 2011. She serves individual clients nationwide who are preparing for a personal career transition by creating updated resumes and LinkedIn profiles, as well as coaching for interview preparation. Susan also builds customized solutions for company clients who are faced with redundancies as a result of shrinking budgets or during a merger or acquisition.
Susan has thirty years’ experience in Human Resources within the energy industry at Southern Company, Georgia Power Company, and most recently at Mirant, a global competitive energy provider. She has led two recruiting functions in these corporate environments and has experienced the challenges of human resources during times of growth and times of downsizing. Susan is experienced in working through start-ups, acquisitions, and through bankruptcy as well as emergence from bankruptcy.
Susan was also a Principal Consultant in Organizational Effectiveness & Staffing at Southern Company, designing and implementing efficient and compliant transition processes during times of staff reduction. She has delivered severance packages to employees during multiple downsizing programs. As a former Sr. Human Resources Generalist, Susan understands the client’s perspective, especially when there is a need to balance business need with employee performance, while managing budget constraints and executive expectations. She’s a proven business ally – – someone who can empathize with both client’s needs and employee’s needs, seek win-win solutions and build business relationships based on integrity.
Susan has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management from Georgia State University, and has held numerous leadership positions in both professional and community organizations. In her spare time, she enjoys golf, tennis, volunteering for mission work through her church, and vacationing at the beach. Susan and her husband, Ron, reside in Houston, Texas where they are fortunate to be near their son, daughter in law, and 2 grandchildren.
- Jade AugustineExecutive and Career Coach, Chicago, IL
Jade Augustine has over 20 years’ experience working within organizations, specializing
in employee engagement, talent acquisition, leadership coaching and development,
change management, career transition support, employee relations, and company
culture initiatives. She has worked in several industries including human capital
management/recruitment technology, telecommunications, and hospitality.
Throughout her career in various human resources leadership roles, an area of passion
for Jade has been coaching leaders and employees through career transitions and career
path strategies. She has experience working with people at all stages of their career
journey, including early career, first-time leaders, mid-career changes, executives, and
coaching individuals through loss of employment and new beginnings. She’s had the
opportunity to live and work in Connecticut, Boston, Washington, D.C., and is currently
based in the Chicago area.
Jade has an Executive MBA degree from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College
of Business, and a Bachelor of Science Degree from Purdue University. She earned her
Certified Professional Coach (CPC) designation from the Institute for Professional
Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) and is Energy Leadership Index certified as a Master
Jade is the chair of the human resources committee at her church and is involved in
other committees and events. She is originally from Indiana and has called the Chicago
area home since 2002. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two kids, family and
- Teela JacksonFaculty
Teela Jackson brings over ten years of recruiting expertise to the career transition industry. Prior to joining Career Spa, she focused on recruitment of executive level Human Resources professionals as a Senior Talent Consultant with Talent Connections. This experience transitions well into the job search and career transition industry because she has the “inside track” on what companies are looking for in new candidates for their openings and she has previously provided counsel to candidates on the best ways to go about finding an new position. Teela also provides job search assistance to individuals through volunteer work with Crossroads Career Network and DeVry University’s HR Management program. Teela has been most complimented for her ability to give clear, concise advice to job seekers.
She began her recruiting career with CIGNA Healthcare, a Fortune 100 provider of benefits where she was responsible for recruiting for a large, high-volume call center and claims service center. She was also responsible for attending job fairs on behalf of the company to locate the best and the brightest for her openings. Following her experience with CIGNA in Tennessee, Teela moved to Atlanta and began working with a national executive search firm that specialized in placement of HR talent. During her tenure with the firm, Teela developed and implemented new sourcing strategies and recruiting processes that ultimately resulted in the successful addition of two divisions and the ability to focus on clients’ needs in other areas. Following her search firm experience, she worked for Georgia Pacific, a Fortune 100 forest products company, where she was responsible for recruiting for their corporate office and 55 field locations.
Teela earned her master’s of business administration – management from Mercer University and her bachelor’s of science – human resources from The University of Tennessee. A native of Nashville, she enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband, reading, making beaded jewelry and is active in her church.
- Vernesha SmithManager - Individuals
Vernesha is the “Super V” of our team. As Talent Delivery Coordinator, Vernesha plays a critical role in enabling our HR Search team to effectively fill open positions in record time. She sources qualified candidates, keeps our network informed of full-time and contract opportunities, coordinates key human resources and recruiting community events, manages our database and supports our branding/marketing initiatives. In many ways she’s the “glue” that holds everything together at Talent Connections and Career Spa.
Vernesha earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Human Resources from Georgia Southwestern State University. She serves as the Youth Director for her church and she’s very active in the Pike County School System. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time her husband, Harland and their three children.
- Patricia HughesVP, Washington D.C. Office
Patricia Hughes is the VP of the Metro Washington, DC office of Talent Connections, LLC. She is an experienced business leader with a background in HR technology and staffing. She focuses on understanding her client’s requirements and delivering search solutions to help organizations acquire exceptional Human Resources and Executive level leaders that will help them meet their goals.
Patricia has held leadership positions with corporate and early stage technology and staffing providers, where she was responsible for growing revenue and partnerships. She is recognized for her business acumen and collaborative approach, she focuses on building revenue streams and relationships for long term growth. Patricia has a strong track record in helping organizations realize returns on their talent development investments.
Before joining Talent Connections, LLC, Patricia realized a long-time dream and used her business experience and passion for helping others in the nonprofit space. Patricia spent two and a half years, supporting the launch of a new placement and career coaching organization, working exclusively with Year Up alumni. She was responsible for developing corporate partnerships to secure employment for urban youth and helped the organization grow from $250K to over $5M in revenue. She is passionate about Closing the Opportunity Divide that confronts many young adults today and continues to mentor and coach.
Patricia earned a degree in business management and economics from North Carolina State University and is a certified Strategic Alliance Professional. She is an active community volunteer, leading fund raising and service projects. Patricia lives in Alexandria, VA with her husband, Eric, a retired Army Officer and West Point graduate. Their son, Taylor, recently graduated from the University of Alabama and is working in Augusta GA.
- Jim HartsookVP, Coaching
Jim is currently Vice President of Coaching with Career Spa / Talent Connections. His objective is to help every individual and organization he works with achieve their highest potential and overcome the obstacles that may be holding them back. Jim is a certified coach and holds the HR certification of SPHR (Senior Professional in Human Resources). His specialties include Executive, Leadership, and Career Coaching.
Prior to his current coaching practice Jim spent most of his career with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte Touche where he was actively involved in coaching, human resources, training, and administration. His experience included strategic planning, leadership development, mentoring, recruiting, training, compensation, resource deployment, budgeting, benefits, evaluation, diversity/EEOC and legal issues. He holds a Masters degree in College Student Personnel with an emphasis in Guidance & Counseling and a bachelor’s degree in Education.
Jim holds membership in a number of professional organizations including the Georgia Coach Association; and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).