Karen attended Gustavus Adolphus College, graduated from the University of Minnesota, and worked with the Cuningham Group, Smiley Glotter Architects and The Architectural Alliance before forming her own private practice, which has since merged with Miller Hanson Architects. Her area of specialization is in adaptive reuse, historic restoration, and residential design.
She received a Minnesota and a St. Paul Heritage Preservation Commission award for her condo conversion of The Leithauser Building, a once-vacant late nineteenth century brick storefront building in Saint Paul’s East Side, whose demolition had been approved by the Saint Paul Heritage Preservation Commission; and a Minneapolis HPC award for the restoration of The Band Box Diner, the oldest operating diner in the Elliot Park neighborhood of Minneapolis, both in collaboration with Design for Preservation. She was a long–time member of the Board of Directors of the Healy Project, which offers guided tours, talks, and community events aimed at educating the public about historic architecture and advocating for protecting the places and buildings that tell the stories of Minneapolis’s past. Most recently, she was the architect for the apartment conversion of the 1884 Amos B. Coe House, a Queen Anne residence, built in 1884, on the corner of Third Avenue South and East 17th Street, Minneapolis.