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Koppenaal Named New U.S. Human Resources Director

December 16, 2020

Courtesy of Carol Koppenaal

Carol Koppenaal has been appointed by a search committee to serve as the new U.S. director of human resources for the Christian Reformed Church in North America.

Having worked in this field for several years for various organizations, Koppenaal said this is a role that fits her perfectly.

“From my first internship [in this field], I fell in love with the human resources community,” she said. “I’m so blessed to work in a career God gifted me in.”

Koppenaal, who began her new job this week, has been busy — with the help of retiring director Michelle De Bie — meeting CRCNA leaders and employees via video conferencing.

In normal circumstances, outside the restrictions placed on businesses and other organizations by the COVID-19 pandemic, she would have been able to walk around the CRCNA office building in Grand Rapids, Mich., and greet people in person.

And that would have been preferable, she said, given that one-on-one meetings online lack a personal touch, which she believes is crucial in her job.

“Getting to meet and know people and understand them and their families is really important to me,” she said.

Whether it involves assisting people with their benefits, participating in strategic planning, or helping in labor relations, Koppenaal said she approaches the role with a level of humility and open-mindedness.

This means, she said, being willing to pivot and be nimble and adapt to help employees in circumstances that can be challenging, especially in today’s world of ongoing change.

“I want to have an open-door policy. I want to help people grow their careers,” said Koppenaal, a graduate of Grand Valley State University.

“Also,” she added, “I see diversity and inclusion and antiracism work as part of the fabric of what I’ll be doing.”

A lifelong resident of West Michigan, Koppenaal worked in various human resources positions at the John Ball Park Zoo in Grand Rapids before coming to the CRCNA. She worked at other organizations prior to that.

She credits her church — Harbor Churches in Hudsonville, Mich. — with helping to shape her and expand her talents. For many years she has served as a youth leader at the church. In that role, among other things, she has helped to coordinate an annual Youth Week ministry in which dozens of young people are placed to work in various ways throughout West Michigan in the summer.

That role, as well as others in youth ministry, has helped her to see and learn of the aspirations of young people and to assist them as they seek ways to grow in their faith and in their lives.

“I’m especially passionate about working with the younger generation and finding how to help them stick around [and stay connected to church],” she said.

Along these lines, Koppenaal said she hopes to recruit younger, talented men and women and help them to see the value of serving in positions in the CRCNA, and she hopes for them to assist the church in moving forward in the future.

“I want to help younger people realize that church is not just a Sunday thing. I want them to get involved. I want to see them active and serving,” said Koppenaal.

The appointment of Carol Koppenaal is one of several currently under way in senior leadership within the denomination.