Kathleen Duffy

President and CEO

Kathleen Duffy Ybarra - President

Kathleen Duffy knows how to seize opportunities. In 1991, she founded Duffy Group Inc. to help individuals find joy in their work and companies unearth the right candidates with the best skills. Thirty years later, Duffy Group, Inc., has grown from its humble beginnings into one of the most respected recruitment firms in the nation.

This did not happen by accident. Kathleen’s commitment to serving candidates and clients inspired her to develop an innovative model called Recruitment Research, which enables Duffy Group to harness marketplace intelligence, work as a discrete (and transparent) partner and deliver quality candidates at up to a 50% savings off traditional recruitment fees. The ability to scale and customize processes to deliver an optimal outcome is advantageous to employers and job- seekers alike. This proven approach to recruitment inspired her to write a book, Revolutionizing Recruitment: How Recruitment Research is Reshaping the Industry, to help other hiring leaders perfect their recruitment practices.

Kathleen balances her role as president of her busy firm with numerous business and community endeavors. She lends her expertise to business and HR-related groups on smart hiring and retention practices, and she serves as a mentor for social entrepreneurs through Seed Spot, an incubator for those who are building a product, service or technology that makes the world a better place.

Kathleen also is an advocate for women. In 2005, she was a member of the first formal mentoring program for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), the voice of America’s 10.6 million women-owned businesses. She also is a founding member of the Arizona Human Resource Executive Forum, a professional organization that is a driving force in addressing and providing current perspectives on complex and challenging human resource and business issues. And she co-chaired 50/50 Women on Boards Phoenix Conversation on Board Diversity, a global initiative to increase the number of women in company leadership positions and on corporate boards, in 2019 and 2020.

If that isn’t enough to keep this entrepreneur busy, Kathleen is a member of the Rosie’s House Campaign Cabinet, one of the nation’s largest, free afterschool music programs, and she mentors women entrepreneurs as a Seed Spot Impact Accelerator Mentor. She is currently working with a female entrepreneur in Columbia, South America.

In addition, Kathleen was co-chair of No Longer Homeless Campaign Cabinet, which makes resources accessible to veterans to help end the growing cycle of homelessness. She also served as national district coordinator and president of the Moon Valley chapter of the National Charity League, designed to build character and a deep bond with family and community through service and volunteer activities for mothers and daughters in grades 7-12.

As a proud graduate of Arizona State University, she is deeply committed to education, too, representing the President’s Club, a philanthropic group of the school, along the College of Liberal Arts and Science’s Futures Center Advisory Board. She also served as chair of the ASU Alumni Association national board of directors and council and the board of trustees serving on the Arizona Leadership Council.

  • Kathleen is a founding member of the Arizona Human Resource Executive Forum.
  • She is a highly-regarded keynote speaker on recruiting techniques, processes, and entrepreneurship.
  • As a member of the Forbes Human Resources Councils, an invitation-only community for HR executives, Kathleen shares her knowledge with other hiring and recruitment leaders through authored articles for Forbes.com.
  • She was named one of the 2019 Most Admired Leaders by the Phoenix Business Journal.
  • Kathleen was honored for her leadership, community service, and dedication to mentorship by being awarded the 2018 ATHENA Business Woman of the Year Award in the private sector.
    Kathleen was also recognized by the Arizona Society of Human Resource Management with the Al O’Connor Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • In 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 Kathleen was an honoree of the Sun Devil 100 which celebrates the achievements of Arizona State alumni who own or lead businesses across the globe and exemplify the spirit of ASU as the New American University.
  • In 2020, Kathleen was named one of the Most Influential Women in Arizona by Arizona Business Magazine.  The award honors 50 Women for their impact on their organization, the region’s business climate and the community.

Forbes 2020