Haines City - For this month's community leader of the month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ms. Karen Knipling, and this is what she shared with us:
NEPG: Tell us a short story about yourself and how that experience inspired you to become who you are today.
Karen: I’m not a leader. I’m just a person, a member of the GFWC Four Corners Junior Woman’s Club. I’ve always been interested in service to others. I went to Catholic schools from pre-school to college. My first job was a civil service position in the local library in New Rochelle, NY.
When my husband, Al, and I moved to Florida in 1980, I went to work for Walt Disney World. At that time, guest service was the primary value to the company. I moved throughout the company in several divisions. I joined the library at Imagineering to help with the Epcot project. I provided research to the designers to finish the Park. At the Information Technology Library, I assisted programmers and database designers while moving from the mainframe world to PCs and networks. I was welcomed into the Entertainment Division where I headed the Resource Center where I supported Show Directors, Producers, Costume Designers, and a myriad of other creative professionals. I enjoyed a career focused on service. Until I retired in 2009, I had very little time to focus on community service.
NEPG: What are your main responsibilities as a member of the GFWC Club?
Karen: As a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Four Corners Junior Woman’s Club, I am part of a team that helps the community of the Four Corners area through volunteering and fundraising. We join forces to locate non-profits that need support. The Club has been focused on women’s and children’s needs primarily. In the past, the Club supported Veterans and animal support groups. My main responsibility on the team has been to keep the community informed of our activities and how neighbors can join with us to help.
NEPG: How do you manage the different personalities among the people you work with to be able to make an impact not only in their professional lives but also in their personal lives?
Karen: As a former New Yorker and a retiree, I tend to be succinct. I give advice freely and often. Greet everyone with a smile! I am grateful for all the support I receive from Club Members. I am grateful for all the community support we receive! Just leave this world better than the way you found it, and have fun doing it!
NEPG: Tell us a little bit about your family and how you manage your professional and personal lives without allowing one to affect the other.
Karen: My husband and I have one daughter (Emily), two grandchildren (Lilly is 6 and Parker is nearly 2), and their father is Donovan. Emily spent many hours along with me at work, in daycare, studying ballet, and attending school. Now my husband and I get to spend lots of time with our grandchildren while their parents build their careers.
NEPG: What message would you like to pass to other leaders, who like you are trying to make an impact in our community?
Karen: Think about the one-, five-, and 20-year plans with the same vision. Grasp the value of research and future demographics. Remember that people are people.