Adjunct Faculty, member of the Board of Directors of HMN Financial, Inc.
Karen has been a member of the Board of Directors of HMN Financial, Inc. (NASDAQ:HMNF), a Rochester, MN based public bank holding company, since 2005. She currently serves as Chair of the Board’s Compensation Committee and previously served on the Governance and Nominating Committee.
Described as a versatile, results-driven dynamic leader, Karen has served in executive positions in the property-casualty insurance industry, in health care and in higher education. Early in her career, she also worked in the natural gas industry and served as a policy adviser to the Governor of Nebraska.
From 1985 to 2002, Karen worked for The St. Paul Companies rising through the ranks from Senior Government Affairs Manager to Senior Vice President for Corporate and Government Affairs. In that role, she advised the Chairman and executive team on corporate reputation management and led the company’s government relations, corporate communications, advertising, and corporate philanthropy functions. Her leadership at The St. Paul was profiled in the book Swim with the Dolphins: How Women Can Succeed in Corporate America on their Own Terms.
From 2004-2006, Karen served as Executive Vice President and President of the foundation at Children's Hospitals and Clinics where she led the hospital's foundation, government affairs, and communications functions. She had previously served as a member of the hospital’s Board of Directors.
From 2007 to 2011, Karen served as Vice President for University Relations at the University of Minnesota, leading the University’s branding, marketing, public relations, communications, government and community affairs functions. She had previously served the university in a volunteer capacity as a member of the Humphrey Institute’s Advisory Board and the School of Journalism’s New Media Task Force.
From 1990 to 2006, Karen appeared as an on-air host for Twin Cities Public Television. Karen moderated the 1990 and 1994 Minnesota gubernatorial debates. More recently, Karen served as host for TPT Minnesota Channel programs on a variety of topics.
Raised in Chicago, Illinois and Columbus, Nebraska, Karen manages a family farming business dating to 1882. She graduated with a B.S. (cum laude) in Business Administration and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Karen is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary, with a concentration in ethics.
Among her current volunteer activities, Karen is a director of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, a director of the University of Nebraska Foundation, a director of the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota, a director of Crossways, International and a member of the council of Normandale Lutheran Church. Karen served two four-year terms as a Supreme Court appointee to the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection. She was elected the first female president of the Minneapolis Club and also served as the Chair of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.
Karen has volunteered for numerous non-profit organizations throughout her career and has been a dedicated mentor to those launching careers or moving through transitions. A frequent public speaker, Karen is well-known for her ability to build bridges between the business and non-profit worlds.
Karen and her husband John Himle have two daughters, Lauren (23) and Kirsten (19) and reside in Minnetonka.