Karen Lundquist, Executive Director

Karen LundquistJoining the American Cheese Society in April 2020, Karen Lundquist leads the organization as the Executive Director. As a young child in Minnesota, Karen and her siblings would visit her dad at the Associated Press. The pounding of teletypes sharing the news of the day was the background to absorbing the importance of stories and community, of learning and curiosity. She dove into school, served as a yearbook editor, a soccer goalie, and as the pianist for the school musical, graduating as a National Merit Scholar.

She graduated Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota, with a BA. Her first jobs included working as a musician and taking on the marketing for ChartHouse, a video production company that worked with business experts like Peter Senge and Deborah Tannen. Her career grew, with roles at SmithKline Beecham and Coda, a software technology company. She headed the communication team at Ottobock, a German prosthetic company, for nearly 17 years. She was responsible for events, communication of every kind, online sales, training, and advocacy. She continued to play the piano, joining the Ottobock band The Extremities. She also supported Ottobock’s relocation to Austin, Texas, rebuilding a new team and ensuring that brand and culture stayed consistent and relevant.

Karen also focused on giving back, serving on boards that include the Orthotic and Prosthetic Activities Fund and the South Dakota Afterschool Network.

After a decision to return to the Midwest, she worked remotely as the Chief Communication Officer at the Amputee Coalition, a nation-wide nonprofit that serves people living with limb loss through education, peer support and advocacy. She managed a large conference, magazine, online education and resources, increasing the engagement and usage of these materials.

Most recently, she served as the CEO of EmBe, a nonprofit in Sioux Falls South Dakota focused on empowering women and families through leadership programs, youth development, and quality childcare. She was part of founding the South Dakota Nonprofit Network and the Food Sustainability Council, ensuring that the state’s safety net is solidly connected and well utilized.

In her leisure time, she is passionate about reading, enjoying everything from John Irving to Sinclair Lewis to Robert A. Heinlein. And everywhere she has lived she has left behind a garden.