The Voice: Spring 2003
2003 Distinguished Alum: Randy Kroll: president and social worker
By: Sonya Jongsma Knauss
One of Randy Krolls clients describes him as a displaced social worker. Hes
probably on to something. You wouldnt find too many of Krolls associates who
would argue with that assessment. Krolls activities over the last couple of decades
since graduating from Dordt College speak loudly for his orientation toward service.
My natural disposition is certainly in the area of human need, he said.
Krolls faith has always shaped the way he does business. After graduating from
Dordt in 1980 with a degree in business administration, he began his career
as a CPA at Wilkerson, Guthmann, and Johnson, Ltd, in St. Paul, Minnesota.
He has since become a shareholder in the company and was named president
of the firm in 2000. He specializes in working with not-for-profit organizations and
believes that God has given him the opportunity to bring hope to individuals
and organizations by the way he works with them.
His firm has doubled in size since he became president. He attributes it
to service, planning, and opportunity.
What I am most excited about, though, is the opportunity to lead the
firm in thought and values clarification, he says. He and his partner have
worked to build a firm that is not limited to Christian employees, but
that is built on what he believes are kingdom principles. Their employees notice
But much of the work he does takes place outside of the office.
He values his position as president, because it offers him the flexibility to
fill his calling to serve in a variety of ways.
But it took a change of hearta transformation of sortsbefore Kroll fully understood
the role into which he was being called.
The traditional role that I had played as a deacon at my church
was more one of administration, more one of a critic of the poor.
I looked at the poor as being responsible for their plight, rather than
seeing them as image bearers of God who are in a particular situation
that often is over their head to deal with, said Kroll.
After a CRWRC conference in 1989 he saw things in a different light.
It wasnt a comfortable change, because I had to change all paradigms, he
said. It took a long time. But it was this transformation of his
mind, a topic he spoke on while at Dordt College over homecoming weekend,
that led him to establish a mentoring program with the St. Paul Union
After helping found the Eastern Minnesota Deacons Organization, he realized many deacons in
the suburban churches viewed ministry the way he had. I wanted to kind
of push the churches to look at new ways of doing ministry as
it related to the poor . . . get them involved in more
Kroll took leadership in this area as well, since he felt strongly that
he needed to be in relationship with the poor. That was the only
way I could walk the talk.
It was then that he met Will Heard, a train hopper who would
stop in cities between Seattle and Chicago just long enough to make money
to buy drugs and alcohol, then move on to the next place. Kroll
met Heard after Heard reached a low point, stealing from his mother and
pawning the goods to feed his addictions. Heard decided to go to the
Union Gospel Mission in St. Paul to try to get a new start.
As much as I helped him work through some issues, he helped me
work through some issues in my life by making me recognize the necessity
and beauty of an interdependent relationship, Kroll said. For one thing, it pointed
out to me the difficulties that the poor encounter just to get back
on top of things.
One other thing that was really revealing to me was how I personally
could love somebody who was so unloveablesomeone who had stolen from his own
mother to feed his drug habit, Kroll said.
In addition to his activity with the Gospel Mission, his desire to serve
people in need has drawn Kroll into leadership roles within organizations like the
Christian Reformed World Relief Committee. Kroll also helped found a Bethany Christian Services
office in Minneapolis; he serves on the alumni board at Dordt College and
the board of Calvin Christian School in Edina; and he is currently heading
a task force to establish a Christian high school in the Twin Cities.
As you might expect, one of Krolls biggest challenges is finding time to
do it all, and to stay balanced. He also consciously works to provide
leadership that is meaningful.
Sometimes as a leader, you want to move too far, too fast. .
. I need to keep thinking about how I can get others to
move forward as well.
About his time at Dordt College over homecoming, Kroll said he was greatly
honored to be named a Distinguished Alumni.
It was fun to reflect on where Id been, the changes God brought
about in my life, and where Im going, he said. I wanted to
challenge students at Dordt to be open to that renewal process (Romans 12:2).
The result of that is the transformation of your mind; as Reformed Christians,
thats what were about. We need to transform not only ourselves but also