Huntington Place hires Nicole Johnson as Director of HR

Apr 24, 2023

Media Contact: Mary Klida  



DETROIT— April 19, 2023 – Today, Karen Totaro, general manager for Huntington Place/ASM Global, is pleased to announce that Huntington Place has hired Nicole Johnson as Director of Human Resources for the venue. Johnson is certified by the Society for HR Management (SHRM) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) by the Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) and comes with a 15-year career in human resources in Fortune 200 companies across a range of industries.


“We are so excited to have Nicole join the team. She brings the skills and experience we know will take Huntington Place to the next level in human resource management,” said Totaro. “Our team continues to thrive and with Nicole’s experience as a change agent we know there will be many more opportunities ahead for our team.”


Johnson’s expertise in leading human resources change initiatives has been recognized in various industries including gaming and entertainment, labor relations, health and safety, K-12 education, leadership development, coaching, benefits and leave administration, and workforce development.


Human Resources change initiatives are increasingly becoming top priority for convention centers and other venues coming out of COVID and rebuilding their workforces after venue closing and massive layoffs. Diversity, Inclusion, Equity (DEI) and flexible work schedules have become a top priority for employees, along with opportunities to create better work/life balance.


Huntington Place was closed for business by the Michigan Governor in March of 2020 and reopened in March of 2021 as the event industry began to slowly return. During the shutdown, the center furloughed 60% of staff. Of those that remained, remote work was established where possible. The center shifted its focus to community support with a FEMA Field Hospital, drive-through COVID vaccination and testing center, Food Rescue US distribution center and partnered with the Detroit Pope Francis Center to provide day services to the city’s homeless.

The slow return to business and rehiring of essential staff created opportunities to implement new hiring strategies and workforce improvements.


“Diversity is our Superpower BUT Inclusion is really the Secret Sauce that takes us to the next level,” said Totaro. “All members of our team have a voice and are treated with respect and encouraged to share their perspectives. It is not just a listening exercise, we act upon our teams great ideas, no matter their position in the venue, what they look like or what they believe.”


The event industry, including the nation’s convention centers, have been tasked with making health and safety of employees and visitors priority one, along with rebuilding a workforce with candidates that now have very different expectations of their employers.


The need for a new hiring strategy became apparent during the “great resignation” and work-from-home habits developed during COVID-19 outbreak. Emerging from COVID employees are more prone to set limits to their contributions at work such as work hours, scope of tasks and fairness on how their talent is utilized. Candidates are more often insisting on these working conditions before accepting jobs.


"I am honored to join Huntington Place as the Director of Human Resources and look forward to working collaboratively to create an inclusive and empowering work environment where all Team Members feel like they belong,” said Johnson. “As we navigate the post-COVID hiring landscape, I am excited to implement new strategies and initiatives that prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion, and at the same time foster exceptional guest experiences, thus driving the growth and success of the venue."


Most recently, Nicole served as Senior Director of Human Capital for Promise Schools, former Charter Management Organization for Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. In this role, she was responsible for the development and execution of human resources strategies, programs, and policies. Nicole's passion for human resources, coupled with her expertise, experience, and ability to lead and execute complex human resources initiatives.


Johnson holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Management and a Master of Science in Human Resources and Organizational Development degree from Eastern Michigan University.




About Huntington Place

With 723,000 square feet of exhibit space, Huntington Place, Detroit’s convention center, boasts one of the largest contiguous exhibit floor spaces in North America and has the largest ballroom in Michigan with 40,000 square feet. It is a LEED Gold certified venue and has received numerous industry awards for excellence including the 2020 USGBC Leadership Award for Building Performance, making it the only convention center in the history of the award to receive it. It is the 16th largest convention center in the United States. Visit online at


About ASM Global

ASM Global is the world’s leading producer of entertainment experiences. It is the global leader in venue and event strategy and management—delivering locally tailored solutions and cutting-edge technologies to achieve maximum results for venue owners. The company’s elite venue network spans five continents, with a portfolio of more than 350 of the world’s most prestigious arenas, stadiums, performing arts venues, and convention and exhibition centers, including McCormick Place Chicago; Moscone Center San Francisco; ICC Sydney Australia; Olympia London; Shenzhen World China; and P&J Live in Aberdeen, U.K.  Visit online at