Karen Williams was first elected to serve as the Ward 7 Representative to the State Board of Education in November 2012. Serving as the Board’s most recent Vice President, Karen was unanimously elected to serve as President on January 18, 2017.
Karen Lee Williams is a 5th generation native Washingtonian. She attended DC Public Schools and graduated as class President from Frank W. Ballou Senior High School. After leaving Ballou, she attended the University of Maryland for a year then transferred to George Washington University where she graduated with a degree in Elementary Special Education.
Karen began her career as a special education teacher at St. John’s Child Development Center. After teaching for a few years, her career took a dramatic change when she was selected to be one of the first female officers appointed to the United States Park Police (USPP). Karen served in a variety of roles at USPP including as patrol officer, communications dispatcher, course developer, and instructor in the Training Branch. Upon creating the Community Relations Unit, she facilitated a partnership with D.C. Special Olympics. Karen was able to continue her passion of working with children with special needs by volunteering with the D.C. Special Olympics as Winter Games Director, Program Director, and as a Vice President of their Board of Directors.
After leaving the USPP, she worked for The Washington Parent Group Fund (WPGF) where her chief responsibility was approving and administering grants to DC Parent Student Associations (PTA) to finance enrichment programs in their schools. While working with these parents she saw a need for a series of Parent Training Workshops, which she developed with the insight of her parents, and became the primary instructor. After leaving WPGF she was recruited by their parent organization, The Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (WLCCRUA). While her main responsibilities were as an Executive Assistant, she worked with WLCCRUA Education Program to establish law firm partnerships with many DCPS. She left WLCCRUA to return to DCPS as an Elementary Special Education teacher.
Karen was recruited by a life-long friend to leave DCPS and become Director of an Early Childhood Education Center and to lead them through the process of achieving their Nation Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) accreditation. The center located in Ward 8, where the need to develop early intervention programs has been well documented posed a new challenge for Ms. Williams, and she quickly saw the value of providing structure, security, and support for DC’s youngest citizens. The center has maintained its accreditation for the past 9 years. While leading her center through the accreditation process 3 times, she also served as President of the Hillcrest Community Civic Association for 8 years.