Karen is called scrappy, determined, and resilient. She credits these qualities, along with her faith, with helping her to navigate the ups and downs of life and achieve success in business and in public service.
At 17, Karen fled an abusive home. She found a way to finish high school and graduate with her class. But her dream of college would have to wait, as real-life demands of a job became the priority. Never one to let a setback hold her back, Karen was determined to make the most of herself and life.
Karen worked her way up from clerk typist to executive roles with several global companies, including KPMG and the eyecare unit of Novartis. Karen would eventually land the role of CEO of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, one of Georgia’s largest chambers. Karen’s leadership skills would be tested early on – the chamber was nearly bankrupt. Karen led the organization back to solvency and out of debt, while helping to create tens of thousands of jobs in North Fulton.
Despite her business achievements, Karen felt called to something more – to serve her community and her country.
After serving as Deputy of Chief of Staff to Governor Sonny Perdue, Karen was elected Chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, the first woman to hold the office. Displaying sharp financial acumen, Karen turned a $100 million deficit into a balanced budget without raising taxes. Karen took on a corrupt sheriff and forced her out of office after she stole $7M in taxpayer funds. She secured passage of strict new ethics rules and led the way in the formation of North Fulton’s cities.
The people of Georgia elected Karen as their 26th Secretary of State. Despite liberal protests and lawsuits, Karen successfully implemented photo ID for voting. She executed an agency-wide modernization initiative, while cutting the department’s budget by nearly 20%.
In 2017, Karen won an 18-way special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, defeating Jon Ossoff in the run-off of what is the most expensive congressional race in U.S. history. Karen was sworn in as Georgia’s first Republican woman ever elected to Congress. Karen quickly distinguished herself as one of the hardest working members of the House, serving on the Judiciary and the Education & Workforce Committees, as well as the bi-cameral Joint Economic Committee.
During her time in Congress Karen focused on tacking difficult issues like human trafficking and opioid addiction, successfully working for the passage of H.R. 1865, which shut down scores of sex trafficking websites and gave our law enforcement more tools to investigate, arrest and prosecute traffickers. Karen also worked with President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – the largest tax cuts in decades. To find out more about Karen’s work in Congress you can visit our issues page here(link). Karen and her husband Steve have lived in GA-06 for over 25 years. They share their Roswell home with their seriously spoiled Cavalier Spaniels, Abbie and Sadie.