I have lived in Leicester since attending Leicester University in 1975 to study Philosophy. I started work in 1978 as a youth worker for the County Council and then became Neighbourhood Development Officer and Race Equality Officer at the City Council. I was also a founding member of the Peepul Centre. From 1988-2000 Karen worked as a senior lecturer at De Montfort University and became programme leader for the MA in Community Education.
From 2000-2005 I worked nationally managing a charity. In 2005 I was presented with an award from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust for a ‘visionary with ideas for a just and peaceful world’. With this award, I founded Equanomics UK with an initiative concerning economic equality. I was also awarded the ‘Woman Warrier – Trailblazer Award’ at the Rainbow Push Coalition New York Wall Street Economic Summit in 2008.
I am currently a Tutor Organiser for the Workers Eductional Association in Leicester.
“My life’s work has been to make a difference for people who may be disadvantaged or who experience inequality. It is important for me to work for the benefit of people in my hometown, which I love. Healthwatch offers a fantastic opportunity for championing consumer rights in health and social care and it’s my job to make that a reality”.
I am married with two children, four Grandchildren and two Great Grandchildren and.have lived in Leicestershire all my life, for the last forty years in the City of Leicester.
My first job after leaving Quorn Grammar School, was in an administrative capacity at Leicester Royal Infirmary. As my daughters grew older and started to school I was an ancillary at a Primary School in Wigston Magna mainly involved with art and craft work. I am now retired.
During the last thirty years I have required the services of the NHS for a number of different medical reasons and this was the principal motivation for me to become involved, as a volunteer. It began with me joining my local surgery Patient Participation Group ( PPG), which I chair and I was Chair and co-founder of the Leicester City Patient Group Forum from 2010-2016.
My participation evolved as I was invited to join other local health groups including Leicester LINk, which was the forerunner of Healthwatch Leicester City. I hope that my small contribution will assist in improving all health and social care services for the people of Leicester City.
I am a qualified accountant with many years experience at Board level, working with companies of different sizes and cultures, in different parts of the country and also abroad. In addition I have several years experience working in the voluntary sector.
My experience includes all aspects of governance and financial management including statutory and management reporting, establishing financial disciplines and controls, budgeting, reporting, working capital controls, compliance and guidance.
I was originally trained by Courtaulds PLC, after which I became partner / director of a Leicester company employing about fifty people. Following a year as the Finance Director of a company in north Portugal I started a consultancy business and worked for a number of companies including Healthcall, Altrix Healthcare and 3M – advising on financial issues.
In addition to my business life from 1982 until 1994 I planned and taught weekly evening classes in bookkeeping and accounting at Judgemeadows Community College where I was also a member of the college Management Committee. During some of these years I also advised the Leicester Federation of Tenants Associations.
As a lawyer, I began my career with the Commission for Racial Equality in 1978, gaining the strategic knowledge base on which my later career was built. I was a Councillor for Leicester City Council and chaired the Housing Committee and appointed a Justice of the Peach in 1983 and now chair the Leicester Race Equality Council..
My career has taken me into to a diverse range of different organisations including BBC Television, the Littlewoods Organisation and European Director for Ford Motor Company leading the European Team. I took up my post as the first National Director for Equality and Human Rights at the Department of Health in October 2004 and have worked in the Diversity field for over 30 years, gaining a reputation for success and excellence along the way.
Other roles I have held have been as a Commissioner at the Equal Opportunities Commission, Co-Chair of the Conference Board European Work Life and Diversity, a Trustee of the National Space Centre and Chair of the Governing Council of the Health and Social Care BME network..
I am a member of the Ministry of Defence Panel, the Equality Advisory Group at the Department of Business and Innovation Skills, Council Member of Aston University and member of the Global Advisory Council at Novartis AG in Switzerland, where I am a consultant to the company on Diversity and Inclusion.
I was awarded Honorary Doctorates degrees from Birmingham City University, De Montfort University, Honorary Professorships from the University of Wolverhampton and the University of Manchester Business School and elected to the Board of Trustees in June 2013.