Karen's Bio

Here's my brief bio...

My husband and I arrived in Sacramento in 1998 as long time employees of Tower Records, a legendary company in the music industry at the time. I was a display artist; my husband specialized in new store floor plans and openings. During our careers with Tower, we opened many stores in the country and overseas. For many in far away places, Tower’s reputation put the company’s home town on the map. Even before we became residents, Sacramento held meaning for us, because in our own way, we felt a sense of belonging. Three years later and with a daughter barely a year old, we made the move to the South Natomas neighborhood we’ve called home ever since.

We consider ourselves lucky to have been able to send our daughter Zoe to the elementary school she attended from kindergarten through 6th grade. Her experiences at Two Rivers Elementary School were positive and she excelled at nearly everything she was taught. We knew having a school a block from our home certainly helped with our being close to everything she did (not to mention our involvement with the school’s activities), but we also know that what made the difference for her was the stability of strong and caring relationships she enjoyed with her teachers and school staff during her time there. Zoe is currently attending the newly renovated Leroy Green Academy, and I’ve joined its PTA.

After the closure of Tower Records, both my husband and I got involved in politics and social justice causes. I went to work as an organizer, first for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and later, for the California School Employees Association. I also became very active in the Democratic Party, getting elected to the County Central Committee, and at the State level, as Chair of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. I am currently serving my second term in that capacity. 

Though I’ve always been an advocate of public education and workers rights, little did I know the two issues would come together so hand-in-hand as it has here in Natomas. Organizing for CSEA in the Stockton-Lodi area, I was shocked at how poorly workers were treated by the administration, even if there was no personnel issue involved. Coming home to Natomas every day, I felt a sense of reassurance in the belief that nothing like I had to deal with there could happen here. As parents, we would participate in school activities from time to time and everything seemed just fine.

Reality came crashing down the day Zoe came home to tell us that her elementary school library was closing. Realizing how wrong we had read the situation, I had to find out why – and that’s when my own awakening and education regarding the many struggles of Natomas parents, students, teachers, staff and board took shape. It eventually led me to the decision to run for school board.

Some more nuts and bolts on my background: I was born on Misawa U.S. Air Force Base, Japan. I am of mixed ethnicity, just like many in Natomas (half Japanese, Latino, a tiny bit of Irish). All but 3 ½ years of my schooling took place in Department of Defense schools, mostly overseas, having been the child of a 28 year Air Force father. After graduating from a DOD high school, I attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with scholarship, and graduated with a BFA in Fine Arts (my father retired at Nellis AFB).

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line - I can be reached at KarenforNatomas[AT]gmail.com or use my contact form.