Karen Harper

Ms. Harper is currently the Executive Coordinator the STEM Diversity Campaign initiative for Building Engineering and Science Talent (BEST). She is responsible for the development and execution of activities that encompass strategic communication and messaging, “move the needle” educational pilots, and evaluation efforts to measure outcomes and distill lessons learned. Ms. Harper supports local and national collaborative partnerships that advance STEM Diversity objectives of Increasing Awareness, Building Skills, and Creating Career Pathways.

Prior to Ms. Harper’s recent retirement from NASA, she was the Director, STEM Integration in the Office of Diversity Management and Equal Opportunity at the Office of the Secretary of Defense.  During this assignment, Ms. Harper coordinated and managed DoD’s first STEM Diversity Summit addressing how DoD can better position itself to establish a diverse STEM workforce.  Ms. Harper was principally responsible for the creation and launch of the STEM Diversity Campaign.

During Ms. Harper’s 10 years at NASA Headquarters, she served in management positions in the Offices of the Chief Information Officer, General Counsel, Agency Administrator, and Institutions and Management.  Ms. Harper served as the Legislative Liaison Officer at NASA Glenn Research Center for 9 years and spent nearly 14 years at Wright Patterson Air Force Base as a Human Resource Management Specialist and Management Analyst. 

Ms. Harper launched a mentoring initiative for women and girls, “Pearls of Wisdom: Our Braided Lives”,  created to foster strong mentoring relationships between experienced professional women and middle and high school girls. As an advocate for mentoring and coaching, Ms. Harper created the Cleveland Federal Community Leadership Institute designed to promote leadership development and community service skills now in its 18th year. 

Ms. Harper has a Masters in Administration from Central Michigan University and Bachelors in Communication from Wright State University.