Karen Quarles

Director, Government Affairs

Karen Quarles is America Forward’s Government Affairs Director, where she is responsible for leading our Higher Education and Appropriations policy and advocacy work and partnering on emerging policy issues (from juvenile justice to child welfare).

Karen has spent more than twenty-five years in both the public and private sectors advancing public policy at all levels of government.

Most recently, Karen was the Executive Director for Legislative Affairs at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) where she led the organization’s efforts to enact key child protection bills. Before NCMEC, Karen spent over four years as the Director of Federal Affairs at the American Red Cross.

Before the Red Cross, Karen served as Deputy Director in the Washington office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, where she advanced California’s priorities on education, immigration, and agriculture.

Karen served in the Administration of George W. Bush including as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative and Congressional Affairs in the U.S. Department of Education.

She began her career in Washington working for U.S. Representative Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-CA-25) where she was responsible for managing his legislative team and initiatives. In that role, Karen was the Congressman’s senior representative to the House Education Committee when he served as Chairman of the Subcommittee on Higher Education.

Karen grew up in Southern California and graduated from UCLA before moving to DC. She now lives on Capitol Hill with her husband, Kam, and her teenage daughter, Cate. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, joining her neighborhood running group, book club meetings, following DC sports teams, and a good margarita.