Karen Mathis is President and Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, the nation’s largest donor-based volunteer network of mentors for youth, a non-profit organization proven to help children of single, low-income, and incarcerated parents beat the odds. She joined the top-rated network in September of 2009, after completing a one-year assignment as executive director for the Central European and Eurasian Initiative (CEELI) Institute, a preeminent international non-profit provider of post graduate professional legal education in Prague.
Mathis served as the third woman president of the American Bar Association, the world’s largest voluntary professional organization, where she created the "Youth at Risk" program. She practiced law for 34 years, most recently as a partner of McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney, & Carpenter, LLP, a multi-state diversified law firm with 230 practicing attorneys.
Mathis is a collaborator with many external relationships. She has significant experience as an organizational leader, coalition builder, fund raiser, and advocate. She has partnered with the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, testified before many congressional committees, and worked with White House staff. She has addressed prestigious audiences worldwide and nationally, including the National Conference of State Court Chief Justices, Justices of the International Criminal Court, and many universities. She has worked with all five branches of the U.S. military and lobbied successfully on behalf of servicemen and women, as well as their families.
Mathis is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Denver, received a law degree from the University of Colorado Law School, and has honorary degrees from five other institutions. She has been honored by many organizations, including the National Network for Youth, the U.S. Air Force, and the National Association of Women Lawyers.