About Karen

After an early career in local, regional and national nonprofit organizations followed by seven years of full time consulting (1994-2001), Karen most recently spent thirteen years in senior positions with AARP and the National Human Services Assembly while continuing to work with select consulting clients. After honing her executive experience and using her consulting skills internally and with partner organizations, in 2014 Karen returned to running Heller Key Management Consulting full time in order to partner with a diverse set of organizations whose work focuses on powerful positive social change.

Karen’s career path has evolved from advocacy to management and executive roles to work in consulting and advisory capacities – a journey guided by her commitment to both purpose and methods – and their interconnection.  Karen cares deeply about both means – building highly effective, agile organizations that are expert at delivering skillfully on their missions – and ends –justice, fairness and equity – in the larger society and in how we treat each other in our work and lives.  She feels privileged to have had such rich and varied opportunities to become highly skilled at partnering with organizations — executive teams, boards, leaders and communities— to work toward three main aims: organizational effectiveness, building organizational cultures consistent with mission and values, and advancing methods and practices that have the potential to drive positive change.

Karen’s professional experience also includes roles at United Way of America (now Worldwide), the American Red Cross, Leadership America and the Legal Aid Society of New York. She holds a Master’s in Human and Organization Development from Vanderbilt University and a BA from Barnard College, Columbia University. She lives in Washington DC with her husband Mark Hoelter; they are avid pastel painters and ballroom dancers.

Karen Heller Key

Founder