Karen qualified from Lancaster University in 1990. After a brief spell working in London in the publishing industry, Karen returned to Lancaster to qualify with aCQSW/post graduate diploma in social policy. She worked for 4 years as a probation officer, specialising in working with sex offenders and domestic violence perpetrators. She worked as an adoption and fostering social worker, and then worked in the homeless field where she managed services for homeless young women. She won an organisational management award for her work and during this time qualified with a Masters in Public Sector Management from Birmingham University. She then went to the Audit Commission as a performance management specialist, and then on to be Director of quality and performance for Birmingham and Solihull Connexions Service.
In 2005 she moved to work for Birmingham City Council, initially as senior manager for the deprived Ladywood Constituency. While there, in conjunction with a colleague from the Heart of Birmingham PCT, she set up the award winning pilot Gym for Free. This later rolled out as a city wide ‘be active’ programme. Karen was asked to project manage the city wide scheme on behalf of partners across the city. The scheme went live on 1st September 2009 and has now won national and international awards and acclaim. She then went on to establish the Active Parks and the Big Birmingham Bikes initiative.
Karen is now Head of Birmingham Wellbeing Services. She works with the LGA on member training sessions, and is a regular speaker at conferences and training sessions on the links between health, wellbeing and sport. Karen is a magistrate and chair of governors at a local school. A keen runner and cyclist, with a passion for equality and communities, Karen established and chaired Kings Heath Running Club, chaired Birmingham LGBT Pride, established Birmingham LGBT organisation (which now has England’s first Wellbeing centre open in Birmingham), and now works as a volunteer in her local community where she lives. Karen has two lovely children.