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Published: Monday, July 25, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Aptonym: Debi Humann, city of Edmonds human resources director

  • Debi Humann is the human resources director for the city of Edmonds.

    Sarah Weiser/The Herald

    Debi Humann is the human resources director for the city of Edmonds.

Q: How did your name direct your career path?
A: It was accidental really. I actually applied for a reception position back in 1999. At the time, I was really thinking of the city of Edmonds because I had school-age children and was working in downtown Seattle, and had the concern of trying to get home in time and all that.
And the receptionist job supported the HR department and the mayor and the fire department. So over the course of 10 years all together, I've had five jobs. So really I can't hold a job. Ha!
I was HR assistant, HR analyst, HR manager and HR director, which I've had for about five or six years. It's been a fun and exciting ride and definitely everybody was intrigued by my name.

Q: Would you change your name if you could, and why or why not?
A: No. And this is going to be an interesting answer.
It's my married name, from which I am now divorced. I guess I've kept it because I've been a Humann longer than I've been anything else.
I got married at 20 years old and, oh yes, I was married for 29 years, and he's a great guy. I'll add that my kids actually asked me what I was going to do about my name when I divorced, and then I asked him and he said, "Of course. Sure, keep the name."
I really do like having a rather unique name. It usually makes people smile when they hear what I do for a living, and it kind of cracks them up and it's an icebreaker, and in my particular job, whenever you can give someone something to smile about, that helps I think.

Q: If you could choose another career, what would it be?
A: I wouldn't. I really like what I do. And yes, I deal with the employees' tragedies, but the marriages and births and those kinds of things are awesome. I've worked here long enough that going to Starbucks before work, I'm stopped two or three times, but I really enjoy it.
Besides, my maiden name was Rice, so I would have had to go into ethnic foods or something like that.

Q: How do you know when someone has picked up on the fact that your name is an aptonym?
A: They start laughing or I'll get "Are you kidding," and that kind of thing. I have to admit, it's kind of unique.

Q: How do people react to the combination of your name and job? Do they get it? Any funny stories as a result?
A: What I hear more often than not is "You are aptly named." From the ladies planting flowers on the corner to the police officers in their cruisers, they'll say "Oh yeah, Debi. She is aptly named."
I deal with humans and that suits me. I find in this job, just like on any job when you are dealing with sad stuff, the job gets to you, but I know I can help and that's the good part. Sometimes just listening to somebody is helpful, and that's my job, trying to make things better, that goes for anybody in HR.
What's an aptonym?
It's a name aptly suited to its owner. Read more stories about apt names at

About this series
The word is "aptonym."
It refers to people whose name suggests key attributes of their jobs, professions or lives. Their names might have, in fact, influenced their lives or careers.
It's no surprise that The Herald has found lots of these people living in our area. They are vital members of the community, as well as being good sports for playing along.
So for the third summer and for the next several weeks, we'll be profiling our local aptonyms. If you happen to know an aptonym or are one yourself, send the name to
Story tags » EdmondsHuman Interest

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