Karen D. Hayes is an African-American educator concerned with increasing college access and college equity. She is currently an assistant project director at Columbia College (CC) in the Academic Affairs division. Karen is part of the inaugural team creating the TRiO Educational Opportunity Center at CC, a US federal grant program. Her charge is to support Missouri adults on the path to meaningful jobs through higher education and training. Karen has taught for over twenty years in public schools and colleges. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri. Karen’s favorite proverb is “When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”
Additionally, Karen was selected in June 2023 to serve out a vacant position on the Columbia Public Schools Board of Education. Other board memberships in which Karen is engaged are the Daniel Boone Regional Library Foundation board and the P.E.A.C.E. (People Embracing Another Choice Effectively) board. Other community work that Karen has participated in are the following: Boone County Government Children’s Services’ Upward Mobility—workforce development committee, Opportunity Pathways, the Source Summit’s transportation focus group, the Worley Street Roundtable, and the Adult Learner steering committee set up by the Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development department.
Karen is the divorced mother of a young adult daughter, Ouma Amadou. Karen has lived in Columbia, Missouri, for over 30 years. Moreover, Karen lived in two countries in West Africa—Niger and the Ivory Coast.