Prior to joining WSP USA, Karen served as deputy administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) from 2011 to 2014, and as the FRA's chief counsel from 2010 to 2011. During her tenure, she was a key participant in the FRA's $12 billion high-speed rail grant program, including the FRA's investments in California's high-speed rail system and improvements for Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. Karen also supervised the FRA's Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program, which was established to provide direct loans and loan guarantees to finance the development of railroad infrastructure. In that role, she served on the boards of the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation in Washington, D.C., and Moynihan Station Development Corporation in New York City. She is currently helping to advance the private development of Chicago Union Station. All three are major transit development projects in the country supported by commercial development revenues. 

Karen has also served as strategic advisor on a number of WSP rail projects across the country, including Amtrak’s Gateway Program, O’Hare Express Rail and California High-Speed Rail Program, and is a leader of peer-to-peer exchanges with state and local municipal officials through the Build America Transportation Investment Center Institute on various topics including alternative delivery, public-private partnerships, and station area development and financing.  

Karen holds a law degree from Georgetown University and a bachelor's degree from Harvard University.