July 16, 2019

Board Perspectives

An Interview with Karie Conner

We are excited to start a new series introducing the members of our Board of Directors. We got to talk with one of our newest board members, Karie Conner, who is the vice president and general manager of the Men’s Division for Jordan Brand at Nike.

Why did you join the board of Friends of the Children?

I first heard about Friends from a coworker. After reading up on the organization, I connected immediately on so many different fronts. I was blown away by what they stood for—the model where you pay the mentors, it’s amazing. The ability to give back and nurture, while providing access and opportunity to youth drew me in right away.

What are you most excited about accomplishing through your role on the board?

I value the access and opportunity I was given during my childhood so for me I’m interested in being a connector. As Friends of the Children expands across the country, there are many different networking opportunities I can bring to the organization to help bring more access for the children and the mentors. I’m really about the community and being of the community—unlocking what is at their doorstep.

Why were you interested in Friends of the Children?

As a working mother of two, I realize that there is a finite amount of time, and I wanted to be part of an impactful organization. I was excited to be a part of something that is bigger than me.

How do you see your role as a board member aligning with the mission of our organization?

I’m in this for the long-haul. I don’t join anything just to say I’m a part of it, to be there a couple years and walk away. I’m about sustainability and being a pillar and nurturing youth is super important to me. I’m very excited to learn and figure out where I can be best utilized and give the most impact where it is needed.

What inspires you about Friends of the Children?

The people and the work—it’s super inspiring and motivating especially when you see it first-hand. I was able to attend the Portland chapter’s Friendraiser back in May 2019 and was so inspired. Just hearing the stories of the mentees, and knowing that there are children who are beating the odds. Also, when I see how the Friends of the Children model is expanding across the country, it’s great that there are focus areas based on the city. It’s not just a cookie cutter approach, it’s customized to the needs of the city, and the community.

Have you had any mission moments?

I haven’t been in the trenches that long yet, so I don’t have one that’s coming to mind. But what does resonate with me is seeing people give—and give so freely—that they’re so committed to the mission of Friends of the Children. I’m glad to be here and a part of this.

More About Karie Conner

Conner was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN and is the youngest of three girls. Education was a priority in her family and her parents exposed her and her sisters to music, sports, travel, and many other experiences throughout their childhood. She participated in the INROADS program, which helps prepare minority students for corporate leadership, starting in the eighth grade. Conner later attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she received her B.S. in Business Management, with a focus in organizational leadership, and played for the women’s basketball team. After graduation, she launched her career as a Territory Sales Manager for Philip Morris U.S.A. in sales in Pittsburgh, PA. She later moved to Cincinnati to work for Johnson and Johnson as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative. In 2004, she joined Nike and has held a number of roles between offices in New York City, NY and Beaverton, OR. In her free time, she loves to travel with her husband and two children. She also prides herself on mentoring those who aspire to achieve their career goals.