Profile: Denny Smith, PhD, SHRM-CP

President, Tennessee Valley Chapter SHRM


Denny Smith currently serves as President of SHRM’s Tennessee Valley Chapter, proudly supporting over 100 members by providing professional development, networking, and current information and research in the field of Human Resources, in addition to influencing legislation on state and national levels.

In his role as Director of Testing and Assessment for Calhoun Community College, Denny understands the need for partnerships and collaboration between colleges, employers, and the community to promote student success, advance a qualified workforce, and contribute to stronger local economic development. For this reason, he is an advocate for workforce solutions, like those offered by the national nonprofit organization, ACT, Inc.

The cornerstone of ACT workforce solutions — ACT® WorkKeys® Assessments — has a proven track record of helping HR professionals in organizations measure essential workplace skills among job seekers and build career pathways, for over two decades.

The best part?

Successful completion of WorkKeys Assessments enables job seekers to attain the ACT® WorkKeys® National Career Readiness Certificate® (NCRC®), a portable credential that reflects essential work skills capabilities and is a strong predictor of job performance success.

For HR professionals, the program provides measurable insights into a job candidate’s skills, suitability for a particular position’s essential requirements, and opportunities for future training. Best of all, SHRM grants members professional development credits for participating in continuing education programs on WorkKeys solutions.

Furthermore, ACT offers a community-based framework with its ACT® Work Ready Community designation, which is an economic benefit to attract employers. It allows states or counties to demonstrate that they have a robust workforce development effort in their area, by offering WorkKeys Assessments and encouraging employers to adopt and recognize the WorkKeys NCRC.

Work Ready certification makes communities more economically attractive, and Denny believes it positions his community as a leader in workforce development by:

  • ensuring employers and industries have a more qualified workforce ready to fill their jobs,
  • allowing educators and policymakers to measure and close skills gaps, and
  • providing economic developers with the on-demand reporting needed to market the quality of their workforce.

ACT Work Ready Communities is truly a tailored approach to meet local priorities, from boosting economic development to closing the skills gap and growing a skilled workforce.

Currently, 30 states issue the WorkKeys NCRC in statewide or regional programs while 24 states are actively pursuing the ACT Work Ready Community certification.

Denny is particularly proud of the new collaborative partnership budding in his home state of Alabama. The Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission (APOSTC) now partners with the Alabama Community College System to offer WorkKeys Assessments to all Law Enforcement and Correctional Officer academy applicants. This allows peace officers to conveniently schedule times to complete the WorkKeys assessments at local community colleges across the state.

Denny is passionate about the benefits of ACT Work Ready Communities, and would be happy to talk to any SHRM member interested in learning more about the initiative, and how it spurs workforce and economic development. His email address is:

There are several opportunities to learn best practices from fellow regional leaders in workforce development and earn professional development credits. These include a workforce solution webinar, and an ACT Workforce Summit, scheduled for Nov. 8-10, 2017 in Austin, TX.