After graduating from Tennessee Tech University with a degree in Business Management, Karen had a 30-year career at South Central Bell/BellSouth (now AT&T) in customer service and public relations. She was hired as the first female business office management trainee in Tennessee assigned in Chattanooga. After a year she was promoted to Manager of Public Relations and Service Order Control. She then moved to South Central Bell’s headquarters in Alabama. There she developed work processes and procedures for business office operations throughout the company’s five-state region – converting from paper records to computerized record systems, especially creating an address database for the computerized assignment of telephone lines and for the Emergency 911 system. She returned to Paris, Tennessee as a Regional Manager where she was responsible for customer service, community and media relations and governmental affairs in a five-county territory. When business office record computerization was complete, small business offices were closed and service was consolidated to call centers in larger cities. She stayed in Paris as external affairs manager with an expanded territory in West Tennessee. She moved to the state public relations staff in Nashville in 1986. When she retired she was the issues and media manager for Tennessee in the Regulatory and External Affairs department.
Since her retirement from BellSouth Karen has worked in communications at Christ Church Cathedral, as an independent public relations project consultant affiliated with Communications Strategies, as a community volunteer and served as Cable’s 27th President in 2005-06.
Her fondest memory as Cable President was working with a talented and dedicated board who accomplished the theme, “Achieving Remarkable Growth.” All board members were caring and creative and established a bond that she will never forget and forever cherish. This theme provided a common vision for CABLE to rally around for programs and projects during her year as President. These included rebranding with the tagline Connecting Women and Opportunity, which later became CABLE’s mission statement, holding at least one networking event every week, and reaching the milestone goal of 450 members. During her year Cable’s ATHENA nominee, Dr. Tommie Morton-Young received the ATHENA Award, and the first Power of Inclusionprogram became a community-wide celebration of diversity at the luncheon meeting which attracted 450 members and guests – the largest Cable meeting ever held. Cable ended the year in the black leaving a financial reserve for the next board.
Karen’s personal mission is helping women succeed, which she has accomplished through her active involvement in Cable and as AWA project manager at the YWCA. She has served as a Cable Board member and chair of Cable committees including Communications, Membership, Strategic Planning, Power of Inclusion, and Programs. She has also served on the Development, Awards and ATHENA committees, and as Cable Mentor for several years. Karen was awarded Cable’s Spirit of Leadership Award in 1998.
She has served on the Board of Directors of CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates in Davidson County, is a member of the Humanities Tennessee Board of Directors, is joining the FiftyForward Board, and is active in the Leadership Nashville Alumni Association.
Karen grew up in Michigan. She is married to Randy Williams and has a step-daughter, son-in-law and one granddaughter. In addition to the time she spends with her family she enjoys reading historical novels, traveling, music, and is involved in Bible study and church activities.