Karen Knudsen has worked in politics, public diplomacy, public affairs and communications in a multi-ethnic and international environment. She has traveled widely throughout the Asia-Pacific region including multiple trips to Burma/Myanmar.
As Director of External Affairs and Interim Director of Development, Ms. Knudsen oversees and directs the Center’s development efforts; region-wide news and information operations; alumni relations; arts outreach program; briefings for government officials and military (local, national and international); and community and public relations. She also serves as the East-West Center’s military liaison and lead contact/specialist on Burma/Myanmar.
Concurrent with her position at the East-West Center, Ms. Knudsen recently completed 20 years of service setting statewide education policy as an elected member of the Hawaii State Board of Education. Previously Ms. Knudsen served as Pacific-area specialist with the Pacific and Asian Affairs Council; as outreach coordinator for the University of Hawaii’s Center for Pacific Islands Studies; in Public Affairs at the Hawaii State Judiciary and as public relations executive for a major advertising agency, Milici Valenti DDB Needham. She is also a former Peace Corps Volunteer in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia.
She has served on numerous community boards - currently serving as a director on the Japan-America Society in Hawaii and the Air Force Civilian Advisory Council (AFCAC). She is a founding member and former corporate secretary for the Suu Foundation, a non-profit entity established to further the humanitarian efforts of Burma’s Nobel Prize recipient Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ms. Knudsen holds a Master’s degree in Pacific Islands Studies from the University of Hawaii.