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Federation’s Channell Takes On New Membership Role

Federation’s Channell Takes On New Membership Role
January 22, 2008 |

At the Alabama Farmers Federation home office in Montgomery, Terrie Channell is known as someone folks can count on. So it was no surprise when her duties as comptroller were expanded recently to include membership.In fact, with the most recent addition to her responsibilities, Channell now oversees all financial transactions within the Federation — a move Federation Executive Director Mike Kilgore said will strengthen the organization’s internal controls.”From a management standpoint, when people retire, you look at the organizational structure to determine how best to serve the membership. This was the perfect opportunity to bring all the money-handling operations of the Federation into a single department,” he said. “The same experienced membership staff that served our members under the outstanding leadership of Charlotte Faulkner will continue to work with membership, but we will benefit from the controls and practices Terrie has put in place as comptroller.”A native of Prattville, Channell began her accounting career while a junior in high school as bookkeeper for the Southern Pantry convenience store chain. It was there her first boss, Jon Hydrick, caught a glimpse of the tenacity hiding behind Channell’s soft-spoken exterior and issued a challenge.”When I graduated, I asked him if I could have a (full-time) job, and he said not unless I got a degree. He said I was too smart not to have a college education,” Channell recalled.With Hydrick footing the bill for tuition and books, Channell accepted the challenge and began working full time while attending college. But when the Southern Pantry stores were sold, Channell declined an offer to move out of state and was on her own.Fortunately, the accounting firm representative that Southern Pantry employed also performed audits for Alabama Farmers Federation, and Channell was encouraged to apply for a job as a bookkeeper.Channell started work at the Federation in 1984 and continued to put herself through school, eventually earning her bachelor’s degree in 1987. Meanwhile, her career at the Federation blossomed. She was promoted first to assistant comptroller for Alfa Services, and later her duties were expanded to include the Federation and Creative Consultants Inc., the organization’s in-house advertising agency.When former Accounting Department Director Sam Till retired in 2000, Channell was named department director and comptroller. Then, in 2003, her department took over processing of financial transactions for Alfa Health.With the addition of the membership division, Channell now has 13 employees handling all phases of the organization’s finances. Despite the added responsibility, Channell said she can’t imagine a job she would like more.”I’ve always liked numbers. Even when I was a kid I would play checkout with my mama’s groceries,” Channell said. “I like to figure out things, and we have a lot of opportunities to do that in the Accounting Department.”Regarding the decision to move membership to the Accounting Department, Channell said, “Overall, it’s a good move.””Working in the accounting field, we have an understanding of certain controls that someone who’s not in that field might not be versed in,” she said. “In the future, I would like to make things more technology oriented and cross train the membership employees with those handling Alfa Health finances, so that we are covered if anyone is out for extended periods.”Channell describes herself as a hands-on leader, but says she likes to delegate and let people do their jobs. Judging from a long history of clean audits and sound financial management, that leadership style is working. Despite her personal success, however, Channell is quick to give credit to her coworkers.”We have a great group of people,” she said. “They are very loyal and dedicated, and they’re always willing to help each other when something needs to be done that’s ‘not in their job description.'”

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