I’m writing to share that Raquel Karls, chief people officer, has made the decision to leave the co-op. Raquel joined the co-op in the fall of 2016 and during her nearly six years at REI, Raquel has impacted every part of our employee experience.
Each and every employee at the co-op has benefited from Raquel’s deep dedication and constant focus on the co-op’s mission and purpose ,and putting our values into action. During that time, the co-op—and our people—faced some of the biggest challenges and changes in our history. We’ve been able to navigate them because of the foundation she has laid in the midst of these times. Her leadership is best expressed in the articulation of our values in The Co-op Way, the building and growing of our leadership teams, and the commitments we’ve made to race, equity, diversity, and inclusion at every level of our organization – including the creation of our Inclusion Networks and progress on learning and representation.
We are a stronger co-op through these challenges because of the foundation laid by Raquel’s leadership. I’m also confident that our HR leadership team—Chris Gardner, Mike Hulser, Muhammad Umar—and the entire HR organization share that focus, and the strength of this team will be vital to progressing work across every aspect of our employee and member experience.
In her own words:
“I am deeply grateful for the co-op, where I worked with the best people of my career, accomplishing work that is important and impactful. It’s never easy to think about the ‘right time’ to leave an organization you care about so deeply. But the moment has come for me to step away, take some time, and consider new challenges. As I do so I have the utmost confidence in the leadership team, the HR team, in the important work of The Way Forward and, in the words of The Co-op Way, with a deep belief in our shared work ‘toward a common purpose in order to make our greatest impact.’”
Raquel will transition from her role throughout the summer, and we will immediately begin a search for a new people leader to help carry on the support of our employees and culture.
During this time, Curtis Kopf, chief experience officer, will be stepping forward to support our HR team on an interim basis, starting immediately. During his time at Microsoft, Curtis supported a multi-year HR communications and change management effort as they launched new benefits and employee experience programs for more than 90,000 global employees at Microsoft. As we embark on a similar journey, support from Curtis and our HR leadership team will be invaluable. I’m confident that the important work of progressing the employee experience will not slow or shift in priority along the way.
We’ll share more in the weeks to come, but at this moment I want to thank Raquel for her dedication to our employees—I know you’ve positioned the co-op well for all that’s ahead.