SOURCE | Winter 2023 11
Now he walks in quiet solitude the forests and the streams . Seeking grace in every step he takes . His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake .
– John Denver , lyrics from the song Rocky Mountain High
“ Now he walks in quiet solitude the forests and the streams . Seeking grace in every step he takes . His sight has turned inside himself to try and understand the serenity of a clear blue mountain lake .”
It ’ s those lyrics from the classic John Denver song Rocky Mountain High that Ann Kafer says wash over her when she ’ s hiking in one of her favorite spots – Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado . Kafer now has a lot more time to pursue her favorite pastime , retiring as GROWMARK ’ s Executive Vice President of Human Resources and Corporate Services after 30 years in the System .
“ Hiking is a passion . I have loved being outdoors all my life and being in the woods is my happy place , not only for exercise but a connection to God ,” adds Kafer .
Kafer talks a lot about faith during our conversation in late fall just a few weeks before her last official day in the office . For her , it is a principle that has guided her not just in her personal life , but also navigating the professional challenges that come along with the long hours involved in this job .
“ My faith became real to me when I was 35 and I realized I didn ’ t have enough knowledge to operate on , so I went back to school and graduated with a master ’ s degree in the Bible ,” says Kafer . “ That education impacted my leadership in the System . I don ’ t isolate who I am from one place to the next and have brought those values to work with me every day .”
Kafer says the principles of servant leadership work in the business community .
“ The idea of building people up , supporting them , and holding them accountable is what servant leadership is about . It also means ensuring that decision making is inclusive and based on values and principles and being reflective of your own shortcomings ; all those things are part of my faith , and I believe they work in all environments .”
For her part , Kafer says she didn ’ t intentionally set out to be in human resources . But she did know that she wanted to be involved in agriculture in some form .
“ My grandfather and uncle farmed , and I loved spending time on the farm ,” recalls Kafer . “ In fact , I much preferred doing outside chores to inside chores !”
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