SOURCE | Winter 2023 13
Kafer with her husband Brad and Coach K
Kafer at the 2018 GROWMARK Annual Meeting
Within a short time , Kafer was then asked to do another 180 in her career , moving into the newly created role of Director of Organizational Change .
Kafer was part of the spark ! leadership team that led GROWMARK through the laborious process of sunsetting the legacy Omni and Lawson systems and implementing the SAP system .
“ The process of replacing business systems is like changing the engine out of an airplane while flying ,” she says . “ Supporting the people – internally and at our customers ’ locations – was key .”
Kafer presents Friend of GROWMARK Award to Bill Walsh at 2019 Annual Meeting
In 2017 , then-CEO Jim Spradlin promoted Kafer to Vice President of Human Resources and Strategy Officer .
“ I didn ’ t realize it fully at the time but going through the change management process , to really make those big kinds of changes , that ’ s been a theme through the rest of my career , whether it was navigating the pandemic or helping develop a successful enterprise strategy ,” adds Kafer . “ All of those previous roles seemed like left turns , but they were all related in the end .”
In addition to the GROW enterprise strategy , Kafer points to the implementation of the GROWMARK Way and Service Excellence Standards as key accomplishments during her tenure as vice president .
When talking with her , I ask what it feels like to separate herself from the projects she ’ s been immersed in for the last few years . She thinks for a few moments before responding .
“ It ’ s the little moments of working with people here to work through complex challenges that have been satisfying for me ,” adds Kafer . “ I ’ ll miss the people – this organization allows you to have an impact – and feeling like you ’ ve had an impact in an organization for 30 years , it ’ s going to be hard to step out . Hopefully people do miss you and your
impact , but things do move by quickly and you just recognize that we are all transitory . I look at it like we are engaged with things for a season and then you know when to go . Unlike Tom Brady , I know when to go !”
Kafer says she ’ s now looking forward to spending more time serving the nonprofits she ’ s worked with , specifically the Midwest Food Bank where she has served on the board for several years . She and her husband Brad are also looking forward to spending more time with their church in La Salle , Illinois , where they have been spending their weekends for many years .
“ I ’ m looking forward to my second act ,” says Kafer . “ Still , it will be hard to not have GROWMARK as part of my daily routine . I truly want to reinforce my gratitude and confidence in all of the employees of GROWMARK . There really is no place like this that supports its customers as intentionally as the people of this System .”