“We made the world we’re living in and we have to make it over.” — James Baldwin
Karla leads a team that works on the Foundation’s grantmaking activities and program-related investment portfolio. She and her team focus on building relationships and supporting the organization’s priority communities—Native Americans, communities of color, immigrants, refugees, and people in rural areas—through investments.
Under Karla’s leadership, the program team strives to support nonprofit organizations advancing social, racial, and economic justice. These organizations are committed to providing the opportunity, tools, and resources that allow communities to thrive on their own terms.
During her career, Karla has been on both sides of the funding fence—pursuing grants and providing capital. She has focused on causes close to her heart, including food-related initiatives for low-income rural entrepreneurs, cooperative ownership, small-town revitalization, immigrants and refugees, and anti-poverty organizations. In addition to being a small-business owner herself, she has worked in community development for several organizations, including West Central Wisconsin Community Action Agency. She was managing director of one of the country’s first community development financial institutions, Northcountry Cooperative Development Fund (now known as Shared Capital Cooperative).
She holds an MBA in finance and administration from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN, and a bachelor’s in international relations with a focus on cross-cultural communications from the University of Minnesota.
Karla’s passion for rural economies stems from her own life experience. She has lived the majority of her life in rural areas and understands the challenges these areas face. Currently, she lives in rural Wisconsin with her husband. She grows her own herbs and asparagus, and buys all other in-season produce from local farmers. You can also find her deep diving into books and articles about economic justice and ways to reimagine economies in ways that advance prosperity, however communities define it. While her focus is on local economies, she has gained a bit of global acclaim . . . for the “funky fiber” hats she crochets.