Karen is Vice President of Network Engagement. She leads CFSI’s efforts to build, nurture, and provide business value to our Network of financial services providers who strive to improve the financial health of all of their customers. Since joining CFSI in 2008,she has built CFSI’s programming for innovative small banks and credit unions, grown and led CFSI’s signature Innovators Roundtable program for the largest scale financial services players in the United States, served as interim Director of Research, and led and contributed to multiple engagements for CFSI consulting clients.
Karen is deeply committed to the idea that the challenge of improving consumer financial health requires profitable business models. She is deeply invested in advocating for CFSI Network companies’ interests, insofar as those interests ultimately align with consumer success. She thrives on helping companies drive closer and closer to that magical point of intersection between business and consumer interests, and she gets particularly starry-eyed when she has the opportunity to broker new and unexpected relationships between industry players.
Raised by her self-taught investor father to be an avid fan of financial markets in general (and of Louis Rukeyser, in particular), Karen put her Series 7 and 63 licenses to good use early in her career. She spent several years traipsing about the United States on behalf of both Strong Funds and later Wells Fargo, teaching English- and Spanish-speaking workers in the break rooms of plastics extrusion factories, feed lots, hotels, and, best of all, slaughterhouses about the finer points of a 401(k). Somewhere in the air between Tulsa and Tampa, and midway through Dr. Mohammed Yunus’ Banker to the Poor, she realized that when it came to their financial lives, the workers she spent time with every day had an awful lot in common with the Bangladeshi clients of Grameen. They were right here, in her own backyard – and they needed a lot more than a 401(k). And thus, her life was changed.
Karen is an enthusiastic Midwesterner and Big Ten fan, having lived in every state that borders Lake Michigan. She spends most of her time chasing her toddler son around her current hometown of Champaign, IL, but after 8 pm, she enjoys paddling, cooking, and sitting down with a glass of wine to chip the rust off her piano skills.
Karen holds M.B.A. and M.P.P. degrees from the University of Michigan. She also holds a B.A. in Spanish and Art History, with a minor in Mathematics, from Indiana University.