Supporting Military Employees

Susan McMenamin displays The Hill’s Seven Seals Award, accompanied by employees of The Hill who are also retired sergeants of the U.S. Army: Joseph Cilio, Thomas Sivel, and Gregory Mitchell.

In December 2022, when The Hill at Whitemarsh’s Chief Human Resources Officer Susan McMenamin was notified that The Hill would be receiving the Seven Seals Award from the U.S. National Guard and Reserves, she was pleasantly surprised.

“It was such an unexpected honor to receive this award,” Susan said. “We had no idea that an application had been submitted on our behalf, and they sent a copy of it for us to read over. It was so personal in nature and such a wonderful surprise.”

The Seven Seals Award is given out by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), which is an office within the Department of Defense. Established in 1972, the ESGR aims to promote cooperation between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers. According to the ESGR website, the award “is presented in recognition of significant individual or organizational achievement, initiative, or support that promotes and supports the ESGR mission.”

The Hill has long been a supportive employer to military veterans and active members of the military, including to Nury Ortiz Riano, who nominated The Hill for the award. Nury started working for The Hill as a junior in high school as part of the Philadelphia-based Starfinder Foundation.

“I started working at The Hill in 2011 as a part-time server,” said Nury. “Eventually I was promoted to hostess and then a supervisor. I enlisted with the National Guard after graduating high school in 2013, so to be able to move up in my career while also serving my country was incredible for me.”

Nury’s commitment to the National Guard required her to complete 10 weeks of basic training and then serve for one weekend per month, until she was sent overseas for an eight-month deployment in Poland. Whenever Nury needed time off from work, The Hill provided flexibility, including holding her job while she was deployed.

“We’ve had a number of employees who are former military or have served in the Reserves or the Guard,” Susan said. “All of our employees are incredible, but those in the service always embody so many of our organization’s values.”

Nury is no exception. For over 10 years, she dedicated herself to The Hill and credits her experience there to playing a huge role in shaping who she has become as an adult.

“They were a huge part of not just my civilian career but also my life,” Nury said. “I always felt like I had a place at The Hill regardless of whether or not I wanted to pursue a civilian career in the long term. They were always flexible; I never felt held back.”

Susan was a military mom herself, with her son having spent a year serving the United States in Kuwait, so she not only empathized with Nury’s journey, but she also supported her and rooted her on.

“When we found out that Nury was going to be deployed to Poland, I sent a book to her mom called ‘Be Safe, Love Mom.’ It’s an outstanding book, with plenty of words of wisdom for military families. It gave me a lot of strength, and I wanted to pass that on to Nury’s family,” Susan recalled.

“When Susan sent my mom a book, it meant so much to me, and to her,” said Nury. “So when I started transitioning away from civilian life and into recruiting for the military full-time, I reached out to my Human Resources Officer to see if there was an award that I could submit The Hill for. That’s how I found the Seven Seals Award. I wanted to honor how wonderful they’ve been to me throughout my employment with them.”

“I always felt like I had a place at The Hill regardless of whether or not I wanted to pursue a civilian career in the long term. They were always flexible; I never felt held back.”
– Nury Ortiz Riano

“The award was an honor, but it meant so much coming from Nury,” said Susan. “I have so much appreciation for how she talked about us in her application, about how supported she felt despite her difficult schedule.”

“I had to write an essay for the application explaining the impact of The Hill’s employment on my life,” Nury said. “It’s rare to find an employer that really understood and supported my goals and my career. I appreciate everything they did for me over the years—they feel like family. The whole team went above and beyond for me.”