International Peacebuilder & Pathfinder
Dr. Karen Judd Smith has been a pathfinder, bridge builder and connector in significant settings throughout her adult life. For 17 years, she served as a distinguished UN representative for several international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Here, she works side by side with leaders from widely diverse cultures, religious and political views. “I see my work essentially as changing the conversation.” To this end, she engages the UN community in the discussion of difficult issues. For example she convened a side event at the UN’s 25th Crime Commission on “Defusing religious extremism.” She continue to encourage discussions on the role of religion in counter terrorism and is now focusing on the role of today’s tech community in defining tomorrow’s peace and security issues.
Nonprofit and For-Profit Experience
She entered this world level arena with nearly 20 years experience guiding Non-Profit and For-Profit organizations through pivotal phases of formation and growth. From these diverse endeavors, she gathered an essential understanding that whatever the mission and vision of the organization, whether to provide a service or create revenue, leaders could not succeed without clarity of purpose, and staff could not remain engaged without alignment with same purpose.
Dr. Karen’s educational pathway belies her capacity for connection, i.e., building bridges between different disciplines, people, and/or organizations. But to make those connections, she has first had to be a pathfinder—seeing patterns across the different terrains. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Physics from the University of Melbourne, then later pursued a master’s in theology that eventually culminated in a doctorate in which she authored an online “Change Leadership” education program (36 modules) for NGO Executives, Representatives, Staff and Volunteers.
Beyond academia, she has stepped into areas of work where others would not. She led large teams of international women to the Middle East during the height of animosities in 2004. In the ’80’s evolved an international ocean-based youth leadership program with a fleet of 150+ vessels to it’s peak in 1986. Pursued and earned her U.S. Coast Guard Captain’s license, passing the final exam when 7 months pregnant with her 3rd child. She has also traveled to Gaza and North Korea on fact-finding tours.
Now her focus is on the emergent issues. As the tech community keeps it’s head down focused on coding and what the can do, she is also asking the question what should they also be doing, akin to Dr. Ian Malcolm’s comment in Jurassic Park, “Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
Wherever she has gone, whatever she has endeavored, energizing, discovering, learning, changing, inventing and engaging are always happening. She rarely sits still for long, and it’s the same for those who encounter her. One of her first and possibly most fun career opportunities was leading a fleet of sports-fishing boats on the Atlantic coast, teaching captains and crews about the ocean, how to safely navigate it, wisely preserve it as a significant natural resource, and intuitively engage it as a “classroom and cathedral” of life for an international youth leadership program.
Now In The Bay Area
Karen is now bringing her experience and training to the Bay Area. She works with corporate executives and their leadership teams to push the boundaries of innovation forward in today’s fluid and often tumultuous corporate environments.
This work, given structure by the Solutions Matrix™, provides a simple yet powerful framework for transformational leadership, engaged leadership teams, and vital living. Unexpectedly, even one person or team utilizing this approach initiates a ripple effect. Small changes make a large difference both in personal and professional spheres.