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from serving in that role.
“I ended up doing other duties, like guarding
the gate and working as the provost marshal’s secretary, but I was never allowed to work as a military police person,” she said. But instead of letting that experience bring her down, she turned it into a motivator.
“I’ve had my own personal experiences with gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and being treated very differently because I lived in a country where I didn’t speak the language.”
But those experiences provided a background that would become valuable in shaping her career, first as a Human Resources director with Mass Mutual and at several stops after that
— all of them marked by a simple desire to be impactful by leading with empathy and treating people the right way.
Focus on Diversity
In the mid-1990s, Mass Mutual was working to address diversity issues that affected not only internal employees, but potential customers as well.
“At that time, their marketing messages
were directed to white men with salaries over $100,000,” Hendrix said. “But they were ignoring families with dual incomes, women business leaders, and women entrepreneurs.”
When then-CEO Tom Wheeler decided he wanted diversity to be his legacy, Hendrix became the leader of that effort at MassMutual. Later, in the early 2000s, she brought those same leadership skills to Pennsylvania-based Simmons Consulting.
“We worked with a number of Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies that had gotten in
trouble around gender or race discrimination issues,” she told BusinessWest. “With our help, they were able to better address diversity in their workforces.”
Hendrix also worked to improve human- resource processes at the American Cancer Society and Baystate Health before taking on her current role with the Loomis Communities.
It was a Loomis board member who encouraged her to be part of Bridge for Unity, a
for the Art for the Soul Gallery in Springfield. Founded by Stella Butler and Rosemary Tracy Woods, Art for the Soul is a place where underrepresented groups can to display their art in all its various forms. When Woods decided to form a board of directors for the gallery, she asked Hendrix to lead it.
As a first order of business, Hendrix set a strategic goal to get the gallery out of the red. After some modest local fundraising, Art for Soul
 “If you show people that you care, take time to learn about their families, and show a real interest in them, they will take that hill for you. They will even die for you. Otherwise, they’re not even going to follow you up that hill; you’ll be by yourself.”
group of people from around the Pioneer Valley who come together to talk about race relations. With a goal of starting a dialogue among diverse people in a thoughtful and safe environment, the group has also hosted similar groups from South Carolina and Kentucky.
The simple act of gathering people to have
a dialogue about race has been enlightening at times for Hendrix. “The people from Kentucky have a very different experience than the people from Amherst,” she observed.
A desire to be involved in the community has provided numerous opportunities for Hendrix to share her philosophies. In what she calls “my love project,” she serves as board president
stepped up its game and organized its largest event, arranging for Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes to perform a concert in Springfield in 2018. Since then, the gallery has operated in the black, allowing the board to be more forward-thinking.
“We can now start to build the brand and develop our board to put the organization in a good place for the future,” she said.
Woods appreciates the impact her friend has had on the gallery. “Toni’s leadership and out-of- the-box thinking have been an inspiration and a godsend to the sustainability of Art for the Soul Gallery,” she said in nominating Hendrix to be recognized as a Women of Impact.
Toni Hendrix, Director of HR at The Loomis Communities, on being recognized as a woman of impact. You do us proud.
Women of IMPAC
 omen of
A24 NOVEMBER 9, 2020

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