“I remember having a conversation with my dad one afternoon. I was maybe nine or ten, in grade school for sure. We were sitting in his yellow Ford and I believe we had just picked up some seed or something and were headed back to the farm. I can’t remember the context of the conversation, but I’ll never forget these words:
“You’ve been given a free country in which to live and a free education,” he told me. “It’s your responsibility to give back.”
Karma took his words to heart.
When she was in high school she was bit by the public service bug. Karma looked around and noticed the people she really looked up to were teachers and union workers. They were the people making things happen: the people who made sure the plumbing worked, who made sure that we got educated, who made sure our farm products got to market. So, she learned the ropes of volunteering and eventually moved on to focus on other things.
Karma earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Idaho and worked as a writer for broadcast news and as a local journalist. She also writes fiction and non-fiction and is a published author and the winner of many writing competitions.
She has spent the better part of the last 25 years raising three amazing and kind children. She was “that” mom – youth leader, Girl Scout leader, 4H and FFA mom, band mom, team mom. She cooked the dinners, made the cupcakes, and cleaned the uniforms. Karma loved it all.
Time for a plot twist.
Karma read two books that changed her attitude about life.
“The first was The Sweet Potato Queens Book of Love by Jill Conner Browne. It's an irreverent book about living boldly and embracing your bad-ass self. The second book was Queen of Your Own Life, by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff. It's about celebrating who you are and letting go of the expectations of others.”
The combination of these two books inspired Karma to start evolving past the expected roles of wife and mother into her fully realized and authentic self.
Opportunity came just as her youngest was graduating from high school and her oldest from college: the COVID pandemic global shutdown.
She, like many of us, felt helpless. She couldn’t stand it. So, she rallied her friends and together they mobilized to serve their communities.
“We made masks and isolation gowns; we wrote letters and made cookies and reached out. That work rekindled a fire in my belly: Service.”
“The last two years have brought me out of my public service retirement. I think our communities are craving service leadership, and that’s what I do. I serve to lead and lead to serve.”
Going from feeling helpless to feeling empowered, Karma continues to work to make people’s lives better.
Here are some examples of Karma’s work:
In 2020, she co-founded the Lincoln County Youth Commission (LCYC), where she currently serves as Board Chairwoman.
“Over the past three years, our team has worked diligently to create a safe and inspiring place for Lincoln County kids to go after school. We’ve raised about $1.3 million in grants and donations to buy a building, pay for staff and programming, and find ways to serve the incredible kids who live in Lincoln County. We also opened a preschool and have plans to create a daycare as soon as possible. Just six months into operation, we serve a minimum of 30 kids each day ages 3 and up.”
She spearheaded the efforts to create Lincoln County Connections in 2021 where she currently serves as Director. She also serves as the Chairwoman of the Lincoln County Transportation Commission.
“In our work to create the youth center, we acquired four commuter vans. We use them to transport kids when the center is open. But during the day, the kids don’t need the vans – so rather than letting these taxpayer-supported assets sit idle, we started a public transportation program. Lincoln County Connections provides on-demand service to help residents get where they need to go: a ride to the doctor; a run to pick up parts for area farmers; a trip to the store. While we are still in the pilot stage, it’s clear this service will be a great resource for our residents.”
To help better the LCYC, she founded The Ledge business incubator for young entrepreneurs.
Thanks to a grant from Chobani and the Idaho Community Foundation, she and her team opened a business incubator called The Ledge. The program is currently in phase one, which provides a 12-week workshop for kids in grades six and up to learn how to run their own business. At the end of the session, the kids are eligible to receive up to $500 in startup costs. Next, the program will be open to kids in grades 1-6. Phase Two opens the incubator to adults in Lincoln County who would like to open an ag-based business. Karma expects to enroll adults at The Ledge soon.
“On the rare occasions that I’m not working in my community, I love to spend time with my friends and family. I enjoy quilting, reading and being outside. I am flawed and imperfect, but compassionate and sincere.”