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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.

why us

our team

your HR department



local touch

These are the regions we primarily work in.


Where we work

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 serves on the Parks and Recreation Commission for the Town of

Deanna is also a
contributor with MarketScale - check out her page


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

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ellen slane


Vice President HR Operations


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!  

Ellen earned her Mental Health Ally Certification through PsychHub in July 2022 and is able to apply that to supporting employees and workforce mental wellness.

Ellen earned her Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) certification in June 2023 from the National Council for Mental Wellbeing.

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!

  • Ellen's Linkedin

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 charity events she has participated in. Meghan’s favorite causes are breast cancer awareness and animal rescue, both charities are near and dear to her heart

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shannon curtis


Senior HR Business Partner, Team Lead

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

After graduating from Ohio University with a BS degree, specializing in Human Resources, Shannon spent the first half of her professional career in Chicago, IL. In 2012 she relocated to Charlotte, where she currently resides with her family.
Shannon is passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and is currently pursuing her certification in this area. In addition, she spends time outside of work volunteering for local organizations that support similar efforts.

Shannon specializes in: Investigations | Compensation Analysis | Employee Handbooks | Job Descriptions | Training Presentations | HR Administration | Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | Employee Relations

fun fact: Shannon drove in a presential motorcade down the street of Chicago.

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penny yountz


HR Business Partner, Team Lead

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. She achieved her SHRM-SCP certification in 2015 and added the Global Professional in Human Resources certification to her credentials in 2024. Presently, she holds the role of President at her local SHRM Chapter, the Iredell Human Resource Association.  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 | 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.  

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candyce washington

HR Business Partner, eaEdge Team Lead


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.      

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caroline carr

HR Business Partner

Caroline Carr comes to Employers Advantage, having worked as an HR Manager for a variety of small companies and large international organizations in several industries, including education, hospitality, retail, and manufacturing.  

Caroline's thirst for knowledge and professional growth led her to complete a master’s degree in Educational Leadership at Montana State University. This academic pursuit revealed to her the HR expertise of school administrators, prompting her to test for her PHR certification in 2012. After a 15-year HR career, primarily based in Montana, she relocated in 2022 from Bozeman, MT, to Hendersonville, NC, where she now resides in the mountains with her dogs.

Caroline is passionate about improving company performance by developing strong leaders and managers through providing quality training and guidance​.  She believes management and leadership skills are the key to employee engagement, retention, and productivity.  

Caroline specializes in: HR Management | Leadership Development | Employee Engagement | Culture Development | Employee Performance Management | HR Strategic Planning | Employee Relations

fun fact: Caroline loves to travel and has been to nearly all 50 states (only 5 left!).

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lena estey


HR Business Partner

Lena Estey has been a dedicated Human Resources professional for nearly 8 years, with experience spanning nonprofit organizations, youth sports, adult recreation and fitness, and retail sectors. She brings a strong focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Employee Resource Groups, employee relations, employee engagement, performance management, policy creation, and program management. In May 2024, Lena earned her SHRM Certified Professional credential, underscoring her expertise in the field.


A proud graduate of the University of South Carolina, Lena holds a bachelor's degree in economics. As an avid runner, she is dedicated to working with organizations to make fitness accessible to all. Lena is also passionate about helping employers develop talent and create opportunities for underserved communities.


Her work in HR is driven by a desire to build inclusive workplaces that empower all employees to thrive.


Fun fact: Lena and her family share their home with four free-roaming rabbits who are litter box trained but have a knack for finding any exposed cords. She's convinced that if she laid out her collection of chewed-through iPhone cords, it would stretch from coast to coast across the United States.

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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.

  • Renita's Linkedin
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sarah trakas

HR Coordinator

Sarah is a University of North Carolina at Charlotte graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in Human Resource Management and a minor in Gender Studies. While studying at UNC Charlotte, Sarah served as the Director of Community Relations and Development for the student chapter of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). In this capacity, she orchestrated impactful community service initiatives and played a pivotal role in driving diversity and inclusion efforts while spearheading recruitment and retention programs. 

Sarah now serves as the HR Coordinator for Employers Advantage where she says “A dedicated work ethic, a passion for progress, and a positive mindset” are her ingredients for paving the way for our clients' success.

Outside of work, Sarah enjoys traveling abroad, gardening, and volunteering with local animal rescue organizations. 

She specializes in HR Administration | Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | Recruiting | Relationship Building | Job Descriptions | Conflict Resolution


fun fact:  Sarah loves a good adrenaline rush, oftentimes behind the wheel and in the driver’s seat. So, in her spare time, you can find her at the Trackhouse Motorplex outdoor racetrack racing go-carts. 

  • Renita's Linkedin

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 

letter from the owner

a letter from the owner

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 its 13th year as a Human Resources Company.

let's work


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

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