January 27, 2024

New Leadership for Friends of the Children Board

On November 9th, the Board of Directors of Friends of the Children – National unanimously elected Stephen M. Graham as Board Chair and Karie Connor as Vice-Chair.

“We are all thrilled for the opportunity to have Stephen and Karie leading our board of directors” said Terri Sorensen, CEO of Friends of the Children – National. “They bring a passion and dedication to improving the lives of children, as well as a wealth of business expertise to our organization.”

Friends of the Children provides paid, professional mentors to youth who face great obstacles in 36 locations and 650 schools throughout the United States. The National Board is focused on sustaining high quality programming and keeping the organization’s 12+ year commitment to children at existing sites while also growing the unique mentoring model to benefit more children and families in communities large and small.

“I’m eager to help Friends of the Children expand its service to youth across the country,” said Stephen Graham, new Board Chair of Friends of the Children – National. “Through the power of one-to-one relationships, our organization is making a difference in the lives of children. By 2025, our national network will be serving 4,000 children and a total of 20,000 children and family members.”

Stephen Graham served as a Fenwick & West corporate and securities partner before retiring from the partnership in 2022, becoming partner emeritus. He was the founder of the firm’s Seattle office in 2008, and the first Black managing partner of a major law firm in Seattle. Stephen has been recognized by Chambers USA as one of the top corporate and M&A lawyers in Washington. In 2011, Stephen was appointed co-chairperson of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Advisory Committee on Small and Emerging Companies and served in that position until fall of 2017. In 2019, Stephen was appointed to the SEC’s Advisory Committee for Small Business Capital Formation

Stephen is active in community affairs, currently serving on the Board of Directors, Executive Committee and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and has been a member of the Friends of the Children National Board since 2019. Stephen is the author of the book Invisible Ink: Navigating Racism in Corporate America and he received his B.S. from Iowa State University and his J.D. from the Yale University School of Law.

“I am truly inspired by the work we do at Friends of the Children,” said Karie Conner, new Vice-Chair of Friends of the Children – National. “It’s a privilege to be part of advancing our vision that every child who needs a Friend, has one.”

Karie Conner is Vice President and General Manager of the North America Kids division of Nike, based in Portland, OR. She has held various roles in her 19 years at Nike, starting as a Regional Account Executive managing $9M in annual revenue and working her way to a Strategic Account Executive on the Footlocker business which won National Sales Team of the year and managed over $1B in revenue. Karie has been recognized in Sole Collector for having made a significant impact on the sneaker industry for creating distribution and sales strategies in some of the most influential markets in the U.S. and across the globe.

Prior to joining Nike, worked for Johnson and Johnson as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative where her team grew their territory by 35% in a highly competitive marketplace. Karie joined the Friends of the Children – National Board in 2019. She’s a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she received her B.S. in Business Management and played for the Women’s Basketball Team.

The Immediate Past Chair of Friends of the Children – National is George Granger, who continues to serve on the Board. His tenure as Chair was from 2021 to 2023. Stephen Graham and Karie Connor will both serve two-year terms as Chair and Vice-Chair, respectively.