Karen Wilken joined The Kern Family Foundation in September 2002 as the first program staff member. She has been a part of everything from early strategic initiatives to the development of the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network and our partnership with Project Lead the Way. Wilken now works with the Entrepreneurial Engineering Program where she focuses on streamlining processes within the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network, growing its strength and influence, and building effective models to scale its impact.

Prior to joining The Kern Family Foundation in 2002, Wilken enjoyed a long career in fundraising and was honored in 2008 as a “Woman of Influence” by the Milwaukee Business Journal. She is a board member of the Wisconsin Philanthropy Network and a member of the American Society of Engineering Education. Wilken earned her bachelor’s degree in economics and business management from Ripon College and her MBA and her master’s degree in non-profit management from Southern Methodist University.


Bachelor of Arts, Economics and Business Management, Ripon College, Ripon, Wis.
Master of Business Administration, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas
Master of Arts, Non-Profit Management, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas

Organizational Affiliations

Wisconsin Philanthropy Network – Board Member
American Society of Engineering Education – Member