Karen has extensive executive management and legal experience, primarily in municipal and non-profit environments of various sizes with a range of challenges. Karen has been brought on board in City Attorney, City Administrator, County Administrator, non-profit CEO positions, and as a Consultant for organizations that had substantial financial and a variety of significant legal issues and/or deeply rooted organizational challenges. Karen’s transformational strategies, problem-solving skills and legal expertise were instrumental in creating and implementing cost effective change initiatives, navigating to successful conclusion a myriad of legal issues and lawsuits, and facilitating strategic community engagement initiatives, all to re-establish organizational stability, health, and respect.
With Karen’s appointment as the Chief Legal Officer for the City of Flint, she successfully addressed a costly City of Detroit water calculation error, handled various lawsuits to include union issues, class action suits on personal injury and a 10 year application of an erroneous retirement average compensation calculation, and various discrimination issues. She oversaw all City of Flint contracts and agreements, addressed and advised Emergency Manager on many complex legal issues that arose under the City’s declared financial emergency, conducted several complex racial, gender and sex discrimination investigations and successfully recommended diversity training for the over 1000 City employees using a community based program. Karen’s reorganization of the City Attorney’s Office provided multi- million dollar cost savings. She took on the City’s delinquent collection work, facilitated beneficial lawsuit trials and settlements, and created multi-disciplinary task forces that solved a variety of issues, including establishing the 68th District Court’s municipal civil infraction program.
Karen spent several years in private practice with Neal, Neal and Stewart where she was lead counsel in wrongful discharge, business torts, defamation, constitutional torts, civil rights, sexual harassment, condemnation, contract disputes, professional negligence cases, drug asset forfeiture actions, Section 1983 police brutality cases and was the legal consultant to City of Flint businesses and non-profits on employment and business issues, including the drafting of personnel policies and employee manuals. This built upon her previous 6 years as an Assistant City Attorney defending the City in Title VII, Elliott Larsen civil rights, personal injury, and inverse condemnation cases in both State and Federal Courts. Karen also handled District Court matters, drafted the City of Flint’s Policy and Procedure on Discrimination, taught at the Police Academy, provided training to over 1000 City employees on this Discrimination Policy, and developed and established the first municipal Victim Advocacy Program in the State of Michigan and successfully wrote grants to support the Program.
Additionally, Karen worked with an Emergency Manager in two Downriver Communities , overseeing all litigation, creating innovative settlements, handled all legal matters, drafted ordinances, Employee Policy Handbooks, Council policies, obtained FEMA funding, facilitated and wrote grants for highly successful community engagement initiatives. Karen also successfully represented the City in complex MERS hearing, MIOSHA hearings, UIA hearing, MDCR, and other Administrative Law hearings.. She also worked on several inter-government consolidations including a District Court Task Force writing the Management and Operation Agreement which consolidated 26th District Court into the 25th District Court. Karen also worked on a multi-faceted bond consolidation project and also worked with developers to sell City properties and move City Hall Administrative and Police services,
Karen has served on numerous boards including DDAs, Pension Board, EBRAs, Economic Development Boards, Housing Commissions, and Advisory Boards.
B. M. Michigan State University – J.D. Cum Laude
Thomas M. Cooley Law School – a Merit Scholarship winner
Cooley’s Dean’s List
Honor Roll and chosen to participate in Cooley’s Advanced Trial Workshop
Member of the Bar Association