Heather L. Fagundes, vice president for human resources at The McClatchy Co., died Tuesday of cancer. She was 45.
Mrs. Fagundes spent almost all of her professional career at McClatchy, starting in 1992 in an entry-level position in corporate human resources. She rose through the ranks as McClatchy grew to be the third-largest newspaper publisher in the United States. She was named vice president for human resources in 2004.
She oversaw labor, benefits, executive compensation, training, diversity and employee relations for the company’s 29 daily newspapers and related print and digital products, including The Sacramento Bee. Since 2012, she also was responsible for the company’s information technology division.
From her corporate office in Sacramento, Mrs. Fagundes reached out to form personal relationships with individual McClatchy workers throughout the country, colleagues said. She was remembered as a dedicated human resources professional and a warm, caring person who looked out for needs of all employees, from the print shop to the boardroom.
“She had a unique touch with people, regardless of your position in any organization,” said Peter CaJacob, who was her predecessor as McClatchy vice president for human resources. “She was sensitive and caring, and yet she was also very analytical. To say she was special doesn’t adequately describe Heather.”
Mrs. Fagundes was involved in various mergers, acquisitions and divestitures at McClatchy, including the 2006 purchase of Knight-Ridder newspapers. She chaired McClatchy’s retirement committee and advised the board of directors on executive compensation matters.
As head of human resources, she arranged for applicants for top jobs at McClatchy and its newspapers to meet and interview with as many corporate officials as possible in Sacramento, said Patrick J. Talamantes, president and chief executive officer.
“She was always the one who took them to lunch, and she was the one who provided key insights to determine whether someone would fit with the values and culture of McClatchy,” he said. “In that way, she was able to help preserve what is best about McClatchy.”
Born in 1968 in Redwood City, Heather Lou Loughran grew up in San Mateo and graduated from Hillsdale High School. She earned a communications degree with a minor in journalism from California State University, Sacramento, and a master’s degree in human resources management from Golden Gate University.
Before joining McClatchy, she worked briefly in human resources for Red Lion Hotels. In addition to leadership roles in professional human resources organizations, she served on the boards of The McClatchy Foundation and The Miami Herald Charities Foundation.
She was married since 1992 to Ed Fagundes and had two daughters, Emily and Kate. An avid runner, she enjoyed being outdoors and supported her children in sports activities.
“A majority of weekends were spent on athletic fields,” her husband said. “And she loved weekends on the coast.”
In addition to her husband and children, Mrs. Fagundes is survived by her father, Dean Loughran, and a sister, Kim Tarnutzer. Services are pending.
Call The Bee’s Robert D. Dávila, (916) 321-1077. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Davila.