Karen is a shareholder in the Sacramento office and Chair of the West Coast OSHA Practice of Ogletree Deakins. Karen is originally from the state of Georgia, and after graduating with honors from the United States Merchant Marine Academy, she worked for Chevron Shipping Company for ten years – sailing as a ship’s officer on oil tankers, rising to the rank of Chief Officer with her Unlimited Master’s License as well as San Francisco Bay pilotage endorsements. She served as an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserve from 1987 to 2000. Karen was the highest ranking woman in the Chevron fleet when she left her seafaring life for law school. This maritime, heavy industry, and petroleum experience is unique among employment lawyers and brings a “real world” approach to working with management and achieving workplace safety objectives and litigation goals.
The last eighteen years, Karen specialized in defending employers in the workplace safety arena, responding to catastrophic incidents, and defending sexual harassment and wrongful termination lawsuits for California employers including construction companies, manufacturers, transportation companies, wineries, and media companies. Recent notable successes include a trial and appeal victory for a large national employer cited by Cal/OSHA for serious accident-related citations, catastrophe management at a remote worksite in California involving an electrical induction accident, and positive and critical win in Sacramento Superior court with a writ involving the independent employee act defense.
Karen was appointed to the Board of Pilot Commissioners for the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun by Governor Gavin Newsom on January 13, 2021. In January 2023, Karen was elected President of the Board of Pilot Commissioners to serve a two year term. Karen has been a community leader in Northern California taking leadership positions in a number of school boards and community organizations including schools, libraries and professional organizations. She is the founding counsel for the Committee for Equity in Women’s Surfing, which brought prize equality to women’s surfing by working closely with the leading big-wave women athletes and the California Coastal Commission and State Lands Commission from 2016 through 2019.