what makes our HR consultants different?

Our team of HR Consultants function as HR Business Partners.  Because of that approach, we don’t just tell you what to do, we’ll handle the HR Function for you, or we give you the support and resources you need handle HR yourself with us in the background when needed. We’ll work with you to find the right solutions for your company’s unique needs and culture.

Employers Advantage provides full service human resources solutions for small business. We roll up our sleeves and become your small business HR department, or we advise you on the best solutions for your business – based on what your company needs. Our solutions are always tailored to fit your company’s requirements allowing you the flexibility to engage us as an HR resource as little or as much as you’d like to.


your HR department

our team


local touch

These are the regions we primarily work in.



deanna baumgardner

Owner &  Human Resources Consultant

Deanna Baumgardner has a HR generalist background and extensive experience in creating and establishing the Human Resources function for an organization. Prior to starting Employers Advantage LLC in 2010, she has proven successful in her field by providing solid Human Resources guidance and leadership in various industries, for both small and large organizations. Her industry experience includes, but is not limited to, commercial & residential construction, real estate development, hospitality, and distribution & manufacturing. 

Deanna graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management and became a Certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) shortly thereafter. Deanna is also certified in Mental Health First Aid, qualifying her to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses. 


She has been an active member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) since 2003 and is an active member of LakeNormanHR, the local SHRM chapter.  She is a member of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce and the Lake Norman Executive Group. Additionally, Deanna serves on the HR Advisory Committee for the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners as well as on the Parks and Recreation Commission for the Town of Huntersville.  Deanna also serves on the Board for Project Outpour, a local nonprofit dedicated to uplifting Charlotte’s homeless community by providing showers and other basic needs.


fun fact:  Deanna participated as an actor in 2 infomercials.

  • linkedin
  • email


robert williams

Client Relationship Manager

Robert is a client relationship manager with over 15 years in the financial industry with a focus on business sales, recruiting, and business/relationship management.

Robert has served as a consultant within the financial advisor world, with a focus on territory growth and brand promotion as well as financial advisor recruiting. Robert also has extensive experience in working with small businesses in both financial software consulting and insurance planning capacities. Robert earned a B.A. degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and holds several insurance designations.

Robert specializes in: relationship building | small business management | business development | marketing & promotion | recruiting | finance & operations

fun fact: Robert coaches youth sports and is a public speaker

  • linkedin
  • email

shannon curtis


Human Resources Consultant

Shannon Curtis has served in a Human Resource capacity for over 15 years.  Prior to this role, she functioned as an in-house Business Partner for organizations in nearly all industries, spanning from a nonprofit to a mortgage company to a newspaper to a financial institution.

Shannon specializes in: Investigations | Payroll | Compensation Analysis | Employee Handbooks | Job Descriptions | Training Presentations | HR Administration | Employee Relations

fun fact: Shannon has held the purse of a first lady.

  • linkedin
  • email


jessica lorello

HR Operations Manager

Jessica serves as the HR Operations Specialist for Employers Advantage. She has a strong, diverse background in operations, administration, research, and management. Jessica has worked in an HR role in higher education, hospitality, and healthcare. She continues to further her education in the field of Human Resources to better assist clients in all areas of Human Resources.

Jessica has a passion for small businesses because she says, “the owners truly are the heart and soul behind the business. You power the business with your passion and let HR (us) help you stay in compliance and manage the people that help you live out your dreams.”.

She graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelors of Science in Biology and from Appalachian State University with a Masters of Arts in College Student Development. She is a Certified Group Fitness Instructor teaching indoor cycling and interval training classes at a local gym.

Jessica specializes in: Training and Development | Leadership | Employee Relations | Recruiting | Employee Engagement

fun fact: In 5th grade Jessica was the lead singer for her elementary school Christmas play. She had to audition, and she got the lead part. You probably wouldn’t want her to sing anything now, but back then she had a voice to sing in front of 200+ parents.

  • linkedin
  • email

sandra chustz

Recruitment Specialist

Sandra brings with her close to 15 years of general human resources experience, but her passion and specialty lies with full-cycle recruitment.  She enjoys the challenge of finding just the right fit to fill a role for a company.  Sandra has worked in a variety of industries including consumer goods and services, engineering, state government, and public accounting. 

Sandra graduated Summa Cum Laude from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. She has also held a PHR certification for 9 years and is challenging herself to obtain an SPHR designation to stay current in the ever-changing world of human resources.

Sandra specializes in: Sourcing | Talent Acquisition | Onboarding | Interview Training | Manager Coaching |Continuous Process Improvement| Employee Engagement

fun fact: The current Queen of England waved to Sandra during a procession to open Parliament and she has a picture that captured the moment!

  • linkedin
  • email

rachel vradenburgh


HR Business Partner - Raleigh, NC

Rachel has extensive experience managing all areas of human resources within small to mid-sized businesses. During the past 25 years, she has been on the ground floor of three different company start-ups, overseeing the HR function in each of them as the organizations grew. She understands the importance of HR in supporting business development through acquiring the best talent and strong employee engagement. Rachel is an advocate for team collaboration and recognizes the contributions exceptional HR practices make to a company’s overall mission.  Her expertise lies in evaluating a company’s objectives and structuring the best HR model to achieve steady growth.


Rachel graduated from Bob Jones University with a degree in Speech Communications. She has been certified as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) since 1999, and a Senior Certified Professional through SHRM (SHRM-SCP), the world’s foremost human resources organization.  She considers it a privilege to mentor young HR professionals, and has been a guest lecturer numerous times on the university level. 


Passionate about giving back to the community, Rachel served six years on the Board of Directors for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina, chairing the HR committee for three of those years. She also participates in other charitable organizations within the Raleigh/Durham area.


Rachel specializes in: Workforce Development | Culture Building | Employee Engagement | Industry Forecasts and Trends | Legal Compliance | Benefits Plan Design | Compensation Analysis | KPI Monitoring and Adjustments | Conflict Resolution | Training and Leadership Focus.


fun fact:  Rachel is a huge fan of the NC State Fair, going multiple times every year. She has won blue ribbons in the Fair’s baking competitions and, in her earlier years, dreamed of living the carny life!

  • linkedin
  • email

candyce washington

HR Business Partner


Candyce has an extensive HR generalist background with over 20 years of Human Resources experience supporting clients in a variety of industries including Telecom, Nuclear, Technology and non-profit organizations. She graduated from the University of NC at Charlotte with a bachelor’s degree in Communications.

Candyce takes a client focused consultative approach to HR engagement and is known for her integrity and dedication. Candyce has a passion for supporting the deaf and hard of hearing community. She is fluent in American Sign Language and participates weekly in a volunteer ministry work.

She specializes in: Conflict Resolution | Leadership Coaching | Employee Relations | Performance Management | Relationship Building |HR Administration

fun fact:  Candyce learned how to swim as an adult in preparation for a trip to Madagascar, Africa where she spent lots of time in the Indian ocean watching humpback whale moms take care of and train their newborn calves. It was an amazing experience and now swimming is her favorite thing to do.      

  • linkedin
  • email


ellen slane


HR Business Partner


Ellen has served in the Human Resources field for almost 15 years, working in manufacturing, construction, and service industries.   She has experience in all phases of employee relations and specializes in policy and procedure development.  She has been a HRCI certified professional in Human Resources since 2012 and received her SHRM Certified Professional certification in 2015.

Ellen is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a bachelor’s degree in Advertising and a minor in Business Administration.  She is a HUGE SEC football fan and loves to cheer on her Volunteers.

Ellen has a passion for giving back to the HR profession and currently serves as the President of Lake Norman HR, the areas local SHRM-affiliated Chapter.  She also served as President of the Iredell HR Association, as well as various roles on the North Carolina SHRM State Council.  She served as the 2019 Co-Chair for NC SHRM’s State Conference where she had the pleasure of meeting keynote speaker Coach Roy Williams!  

fun fact: Ellen is a runner, and her favorite race is the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon, where she got to run on the Neyland Stadium Football field and cross the finish line on the 50-yard line!

  • email

renita pendergrass

HR Business Partner

Renita brings over 20 years of Human Resources experience to the EA team. She has a diverse background in private and public sectors within Government, Retail, and Manufacturing industries.  Her broad range of HR knowledge afforded her opportunities to work as a strategic partner in start-up operations, and for established fortune 500 companies.

She has an extensive background in multiple HR disciplines.  Renita spent time in corporate settings   leading the organizations HR Initiatives, establishing company policies and procedures, and maintaining adherence.  Equally, she has worked as a hands-on Generalist handling all aspects of the HR function.  She spent several years consulting multiple clients; supporting small to mid-size companies as a Contract HR Manager.

Renita graduated from Fayetteville State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology.  She’s a Certified Mediator with a focus of Alternate Dispute Resolutions in the Workplace.  

Renita specializes in: Organizational Development I Performance Management I Employee Relations I Mediation & Conflict Resolution I HR Compliance.

fun fact:  Renita has a passion for entertaining and décor…she’s an event planner, and when time permits, she loves to create crafts and rehab furniture.

  • email

meghan trout

Business Operations Manager

Meghan serves as the Business Operations Manager for Employers Advantage, bringing with her over 18 years of business operations experience. Her passion for organization and teamwork has well equipped her to oversee day-to-day operations. In addition, she is drawn to small businesses, as her parents were small business owners, and she knows the dedication that goes into owning a business built from the ground up. Originally from Naples, FL, Meghan completed her undergraduate studies in Pennsylvania. She enjoys spending time with her family, as well as traveling (particularly to the mountains of Northern Georgia where her parents live) and reading.

Meghan specializes in: Business Management | Leadership | Employee Relations | Finance & Operations 

fun fact:  Meghan has been on TV three times, in the newspaper twice, as well as on the radio for various events she participated in with her hobby business. Meghan’s favorite causes are breast cancer awareness and animal rescue, both charities are near and dear to her heart.

  • email

penny yountz


Penny Yountz knew at a young age she wanted to go into HR.  She had a love for law, but also wanted a career where she could give back and help people.  So, she worked during the day (to gain experience) and went to school at night to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Gardner Webb University.  She has spent her career focusing on making the connection and improving communication between front line employees and Leadership Teams as that is the best way to capitalize on the gains that can be seen with good employer/employee relationships. 

With almost 25 years in Human Resources, she has been exposed to many industries; both small and large organizations.  She has been an active member of the Society for Human Resources and SPHR certified since 2004. In 2015, she obtained her SHRM-SCP certification.  She is also an active member of the local SHRM Chapter (Iredell Human Resource Association) and currently serves as Secretary.  She is an active member of the Southview Christian School PTO serving as their Communication Liaison.  And last, but not least she is very active in her church serving as a Master Club Leader for 4th-6th graders, singing in the choir, and serving as an interpreter for the hearing impaired.

Penny specializes in: Relationship Building | Investigations | Payroll | Compensation Analysis | Employee Handbooks | Job Descriptions | Employee Relations | Training and Development | Leadership | Employee Relations | Employee Engagement | Workforce Development | Culture Building | Legal Compliance | Benefits Plan Design| Conflict Resolution | Coaching | Safety & Workers Compensation

fun fact: In Elementary School, Penny loved to read and write.  In fact, she was once given the opportunity to ride with Nascar Hall of Fame Inductee Junior Johnson in the Harmony, NC Christmas Parade Grand Marshall Car as a result of winning a writing competition.  

  • email

Small Business Focus. World Class Results.

"I have received positive feedback from within our company about the Employers Advantage team that has interacted with our people...and that engaging with Employers Advantage has been perceived as a positive step for us."

85-employee Manufacturing Company • Concord 


Deanna Baumgardner, PHR, SHRM-CP

Owner &  Human Resources Consultant

Hi there! I’m Deanna, the Founder and Owner of Employers Advantage LLC. I love what I do because I truly enjoy helping and supporting other people, small businesses and the communities in which we live and work. My goal is to provide opportunity for anyone and everyone who is looking for an open door.  I aim to (1) create opportunities for HR professionals to work with my company and to (2) support small businesses with HR services. As Employers Advantage helps the lifeblood of a community through small business support, these small companies are empowered to create opportunities for their employees and communities.

We focus on small businesses because they often have little to no HR support, and frequently don’t know who to turn to for HR assistance. Regulations are constantly changing, and small business owners dedicate most of their time to running their companies. As a result, it’s not uncommon for small businesses to fall behind when it comes to essential HR functions like hiring, separations of employment, making policy updates, adhering to compliance changes, and managing employee relations. In fact, small business owners rarely realize that they’re not acting in compliance with current standards, and understandably so. It’s simply too difficult to keep up with evolving HR requirements and run a small business effectively.

That’s where Employers Advantage can help. We help small businesses get in compliance and stay in compliance by providing a variety of HR administration options. We offer employee handbooks, termination of employment, compliance audits, training, employee relations, performance management, and most other Human Resources functions and tasks that you may need assistance with.


We provide solutions that fit a variety of budgets – we can act on your behalf, collaborate with you, or help you manage HR tasks yourself. Whatever size your company is, we have a solution that will fit your budget.


Small businesses and the people that we have the opportunity to work with on a daily basis are what motivate and inspire our passionate team of seasoned HR professionals.  

We look forward to the opportunity to talk with you and see how we may best support the HR needs of your small business.


Deanna Baumgardner, PHR & SHRM-CP

Employers Advantage Human Resources Company


Thanks to loyal support from our clients, Employers Advantage is celebrating it’s 10th year as a Human Resources Company.

a letter from the owner

let's work


Reach out, we’ll help you find the perfect HR solution for your small business.