TAR HEEL BORN
Karen was born, raised, and educated in Chapel Hill. She has fond memories of grabbing an orangeade at Jeff’s before visiting her dad on UNC’s campus where he taught. Together, the two spent hours stuffing envelopes for Howard Lee’s campaign in the old NCNB building. She was on Franklin Street when the Tar Heels won the NCAA championship in 1982.
Karen attended public schools growing up and earned her undergraduate degree from UNC Chapel Hill. As a student, she worked as a server in legendary Chapel Hill restaurants like Pyewacket and the Flying Burrito. Karen briefly moved to Boston to earn a Master’s Degree, but returned home where she has continued to enjoy all of the wonderful aspects of Chapel Hill, including its music scene, great restaurants, running trails, and natural beauty.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Karen serves as the Director of Business Development at IntraHealth International, a Chapel Hill based non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that people around the world have access to quality health care. Developing innovative strategies for funding is one of the key components of her work. Under Karen’s leadership, the organization brought in over $200 million in the past year from donors such as USAID, CDC, and a variety of private foundations. Her experience with donor cultivation, partnership development, fundraising, and strategic planning will be an asset to the Council.
Prior to her work in global health, Karen served as the Program Manager at the Orange County Family Resource Centers, a non-profit that provided family support programs in public housing and low-income neighborhoods in Chapel Hill. The organization had a modest budget, and Karen became adept at leveraging resources, identifying funding, and forging partnerships on a local, state, and federal level.
While there are many liberal voices in Chapel Hill, those who know Karen will tell you that she is a true progressive who puts her values into action. Her entire career has been dedicated to the public interest; from local initiatives in Chapel Hill’s public housing communities to global work to improve health care in developing countries.
Karen has served the Town as a longtime member and Chair of the Chapel Hill Public Housing Advisory Board. Additionally, she was an Advisory Board Member for the Town of Chapel Hill HUD Resident Opportunities and Self Sufficiency (ROSS) program. Karen has served as a mentor for the Blue Ribbon Mentor-Advocate program, which provides leadership development and college preparation for students of color in Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools. She has received recognition for her public service, including the North Carolina Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, the Orange County Key Volunteer Service Award, and the Neighbors United Community Service Award.
Here are a few examples of Karen’s quiet but effective leadership style. About ten years ago, a resident of the South Estes public housing community was struck by a car as she attempted to cross a dangerous intersection at Highway 15-501 and South Estes Drive. Karen organized community residents to petition the Town Council to pursue, and ultimately approve and install, a new pedestrian-friendly stop light and traffic pattern, ensuring a safer community. More recently, when the local Book Harvest was seeking ways to collect books for children, Karen, in her role as the neighborhood PORCH coordinator, recognized that volunteers could gather books from neighbors’ homes and deliver them to a central location using the system that was already in place to deliver food for the hungry. She connected the two organizations, enabling them to serve those in need more efficiently. In summary, Karen has a history of engagement in local, state, and national issues and demonstrated leadership on issues of social and political justice that impact residents of Chapel Hill.
In 2003 Karen met Alyson Grine when they participated in the AIDS Ride, a fundraising event in which they rode bikes from Raleigh to Washington, DC. The two had a commitment ceremony in 2005, and were legally married in 2015. Alyson is an attorney who teaches at North Carolina Central University School of Law and engages in scholarship on criminal and racial justice.
Karen and Alyson have two children, Hazel and Wyatt, ages 11 and 8, who attend some of the same Chapel Hill public schools that Karen did. Karen is actively engaged in their education and recently served as Co-Chair of the School Improvement Team for Ephesus Elementary.
Whether they are cheering on the Tar Heels, playing sports themselves, attending services at the Community Church of Chapel Hill, or fostering dogs in need of rescue, the family enjoys an active role in community life.
LEARN ABOUT KAREN’S PLATFORM