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Alumni Spotlight

Using a J.D. to Foster Positivity

Monique Honaman ’97

By Lauren Mineau

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Monique Honaman ’97 uses her J.D. from Albany Law School every day. But doesn’t practice law in the traditional sense.

Over the years, Honaman has served in various human resources roles, launched three different companies, and currently serves as Chief Human Resources Officer with International Market Centers (IMC) where she is currently working to create a positive company culture during a pandemic and implement robust human capital management processes. IMC serves as the center of commerce for the furniture, gift, home decor and apparel industries, bringing buyers and sellers from all over the world together in Atlanta, High Point, and Las Vegas.

“This past year has been challenging. You have to be very intentional with how you connect with people,” she said. “But no matter what, we always balance that role of being both an advocate for all of our team members, and a business partner to our leaders. Our core values are an important and visible part of our culture. We have our eyes on what’s right for our team members, ensuring we are treating them fairly, paying them competitive wages, focusing on their development, making sure they feel listened to, trusted, and heard.”

Day-to-day, the skills she learned at Albany Law School contribute to being an effective human resources leader. A labor and employment law class required during her master’s program at Michigan State University piqued her interest and she decided to pursue a J.D.

“I had a really different law school experience than most of my peers. I worked in Human Resources full-time while attending law school and never planned to practice law in the traditional sense, so I was able to go through it with a different lens,” she said. “I loved it. I often say that everyone should get a law degree as the education helps you to learn how to write, how to speak, how to argue, how to listen, how to approach a problem from different perspectives.“

Her Albany Law education has also come in handy as Honaman has grown her latest entrepreneurial venture, Contender Brands. The company produces a portable ring cleaner, a series of conversation starter card games and a children’s book about having a bonus mom or dad (step-parent).

Reflecting back on the chances she has taken, Honaman refers to one of her guiding principles: “what’s the worst that can happen?”  She is a proponent for taking chances, stepping outside of your comfort zone, and following your dreams. “Knowing a little bit about a lot can be dangerous, but also really helpful when starting your own business. You have to be the general counsel, the IT person, the CFO, the CMO, the COO. My law school experience prepared me in a way to not be afraid to tackle any of that,” she said.

Inspired by her parents, Honaman always makes time to give back to her community. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta, supports a leadership program with the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, and is on the advisory board for the Albany Law School Women’s Leadership Initiative. “It’s important to give back, and I have a passion for helping to support and develop the next generation of leaders.”

 “Stretch yourself. Think outside of your comfort zone. Find those organizations you can give back to you that matter to you. When you step back and think of all the things that a law degree gives you, it is so useful. To this day, I use techniques I learned when public speaking. I can’t emphasize enough the value that a legal education gives you, and I’m incredibly grateful for my time at Albany Law School.”