By the 1970s, some saw home economics degrees as cream puff material. Food, nutrition, family life and child development did not a hard-charging career make. Or so folks thought.
Karen Haren ’71 says it was her comprehensive education in that very major that prepared her for a career running one of the largest food banks in the Midwest. Haren retired in June from a 27-year career with Harvesters Community Food Network in Kansas City, Mo., an award-winning organization that feeds thousands of people a week. It was named Food Bank of the Year by Feeding America, the nation’s leading food bank network, which also named Haren executive director of the year.
As she reflects on her tenure at Harvesters, from which she retired as president and CEO, Haren says it all began at Chapman University, where she arrived in the late ’60s from Montana.
“Fortunately I had a well-rounded liberal arts education that prepared me to move into lots of different areas that really became my career,” Haren says.
Indeed, it’s her commitment to education that has helped Haren become a leader in the food relief world, says Mary McClure, a longtime Harvesters volunteer and former board chair.
“She’s a lifelong learner who constantly embraces new concepts,” McClure says. “She has worked hard to encourage other leaders to be visionary.”