Redwood Empire Food Bank's Paula Handelman wins 2019 North Bay CFO award

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Paula Handelman

Director of Finance

Redwood Empire Food Bank

3990 Brickway Blvd., Santa Rosa


Paula Handelman, director of Finance for Redwood Empire Food Bank in Santa Rosa, is one of North Bay Business Journal's CFO Recognition Awards winners for 2019.

Number of company employees: 60

Professional background: Financial management with for and not for profit businesses.

Education: Santa Rosa Junior College and Sonoma State University

How has the current economic environment changed how you carry out your job at your current employer?

We continue to increase our impact in our communities through careful management of our resources.

What are the two key challenges your industry faces?

Availability of donated nutritious food and adequate resources to fulfill our mission.

Tell us about a recent success your company has had.

Just ended our fiscal year providing over 15 million meals to our communities served.

What advice would you give to young emerging financial leaders?

Never compromise your integrity; be curious and seek excellence; lean in to your job and consider it part of your ongoing education.

How do you think your business will change in the next five years?

We will continue to grow to meet the needs of the communities we serve as we have funding to support that growth.

What is a decision you wish you hadn’t made? What did you learn from it?

This is where a parallel universe would come in handy. I have been fortunate that decisions I have made have not resulted in regret. I am, however, always adjusting to current conditions based on past decisions and choices. Along the way, the ability to hit the rewind button would be appreciated from time to time.

What is your most memorable business experience?

I can confidently say that my time at the Redwood Empire Food Bank has been the most impactful and memorable experience to date.

What is your greatest business success?

My movement from the for profit to the nonprofit world was a surprising adjustment. Developing systems and costing methodologies to address fund and functional allocation requirements was both challenging and rewarding.

What was your toughest business decision?

I have managed Human Resources in addition to Finance for the bulk of my work life. Decisions impacting the lives and careers of others has always been the most challenging.

Tell us about your community involvement activities.

I consider my time at the REFB to be part professional and part community. Additionally, I have volunteered with Forget Me Not Farms for the last six years.

Paula Handelman

Director of Finance

Redwood Empire Food Bank

3990 Brickway Blvd., Santa Rosa


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