Misty (Shellner, '92) Bennett

Chief Human Resources Officer
The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens

Misty serves as chief human resources officer at The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens. Her history in hospitality and human resources spans more than 20 years.


Get to Know Misty

What talent would you most like to have?
The ability to play the piano

What living person do you admire most?
Michelle Obama

Favorite fictional character?
Michael Burnham (Star Trek Discovery)

Favorite musical artist?
H.E.R.

What is your most treasured possession?
My elephant collection

What is your favorite pastime?
Traveling―I intend to travel to all of the continents

What interested you in a career in human resources?
My career began in hospitality where I enjoyed a fast-paced role interacting with guests. Eventually, a mentor gave me an opportunity to cross-train in HR, and I quickly learned that the HR leader had a direct impact on the success of the entire organization.

What's the greatest challenge you've faced in your role?
Recognizing when it was time to transition from an organization where I was very comfortable into a newer position with more unknowns has been the greatest challenge so far. It was difficult, but one of the best decisions I’ve made. It helped me prepare for my current position as chief human resources officer, where I’m the primary HR decision maker for the entire organization.

What specifically prepared you for this position?
I have held the majority of possible roles in human resources, which has given me comprehensive knowledge of the discipline. I am a lifelong learner and regularly take courses, attend conferences and network with industry professionals.

Tell us about your greatest success.
My greatest success is being a “talent agent,” and I believe in the philosophy of paying it forward. My approach to building a high-performing team is to focus on cultivating relationships based on trust and transparency. I strive to create an environment where individuals are encouraged to showcase their expertise, creativity and ability to innovate. This allows people to learn from their mistakes and unlock their potential.

In my current role I have a seat at the table and provide a diverse perspective, shape policy and influence behaviors. I am committed to creating an inclusive environment in which diversity in thought is valued and equity is prioritized.

What advice do you have for women who aspire to become leaders in their fields?
Dream big and never lose sight of your goals. Surround yourself with individuals who support you and what you are trying to achieve. Develop a growth mindset. Work outside your comfort zone as much as possible. Apply for roles that are one level up. Be a lifelong learner. Resist self-doubt and take risks.
Join professional organizations where you can network.

What quality do you most admire in a woman leader?
Integrity and agility

What is your leadership style?
Democratic and transformational