When James Llewellyn ’87 was a senior, the psychology suite in Chandler Hall – where the University Center now stands – was voted one of the top 10 favorite campus hangout spots by Mary Washington students.
“The professors were so engaging and fun; learning from them was truly a gift,” said Llewellyn, who credits psychology faculty, including Debra Steckler; Steve Hampton; and the late Topher Bill, as strong positive influences on his college experience.
The exceptional liberal arts education Llewellyn received from Mary Washington is why he continues to give back to his alma mater. Now a seasoned human resources professional who applies psychology in his work in the private sector, he was the Department of Psychological Sciences’ 2019 graduate-in-residence, sharing experiences and advice with psychology majors.
After graduating with honors in 1987, Llewellyn pursued a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Old Dominion University. Early in his career, he taught human resources graduate courses for several years while working in the corporate world. In 2012, he joined Masonite International Corporation, a global door manufacturer based in Tampa, Florida.
As Masonite’s vice president of global total rewards, Llewellyn manages a team of 25 that handles executive compensation, incentive plans, benefit plans, human resources systems, and payroll for employees throughout North America worldwide. His team also works with vendors and supports front-line human resources staff. He’s found that his background in psychology has been incredibly beneficial in the field of human resources.
“How humans communicate, what creates engagement and inclusion, what drives motivation to perform beyond expectations on the job … all of these concepts are core to psychology,” Llewellyn said.
Through it all, he credits his college education, especially the writing and research skills he now uses every day.
“Whether I’m presenting to senior executives, facilitating a training course or helping blue-collar workers understand employee benefits programs, Mary Washington has always guided me,” he said.
In his profession, Llewellyn has focused on helping leaders motivate employees to excel at their jobs and reach their goals. It’s no wonder he’s chosen to do the same for UMW students and alumni.
Llewellyn not only serves on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, he and wife Deborah have established a merit scholarship for psychology majors and contribute annually to the Fund for Mary Washington.
“It helps our alma mater provide the highest quality, most affordable education possible,” said Llewellyn, who also volunteered with annual giving campaigns as a college student.
He encourages current students and alumni to reflect upon what Mary Washington has given them and how they can give back to the university and future Eagles.
“Find a way to make a positive impact in life,” Llewellyn said. “Do this through your work or with your resources – time and money – and start by being charitable with organizations that are meaningful to you.”
— Jill Graziano Laiacona ’04