May 24 2016
By Steven Olender, Originally published in TODO Austin
A self-described "bull in a china closet," Karen Manson is the sort of person who tracks down a high-level CPS administrator because adoption paperwork for her CASA youth is moving too slowly. So when her husband suggested she retire and devote herself to volunteering, she resisted. "I'm not relying on anyone for a paycheck," she said. "I don't want to explain to anybody why I buy fourteen bottles of red nail polish."
If there is anything Karen is known for, it's tenacity, a tenacity built on the self-reliance of an Air Force brat and strengthened throughout a storied career in the computer industry. Karen worked her way from entry-level admin to building a 200-person team and, upon hearing the division would close just weeks before Christmas, refused to accept her employees would lose their jobs. She worked through backchannels to get them hired at Dell, then started a consulting branch for a new firm.
Once she finally came around to the idea of retiring, Karen brought this tenacity to CASA. "If something needs to be done for children, don't tell me it can't be done. I will get it done," she explains. Whether climbing corporate ladders or digging through adoption home studies to find a family for children deemed "unadoptable," over fifteen years, advocating for eighteen children, she's proven time and again that whether working or volunteering, she means business.
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