Karen Clark Cole
Chief Executive Officer & Co-founder • Blink
Karen is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Blink. She is primarily focused on company vision and developing strategies to get there. She has a long history of execution and implementation, in combination with innovative, big picture thinking.
Karen’s leadership philosophy is founded in Blink’s design principles, starting with research, then prototyping and gathering feedback to stay relevant, fluid, and guide the company.
In support of Blink’s mission, to enrich people’s lives, Blink is a positive, values-driven environment for both employees and clients, with a high standard of excellence. To measure and maintain Blink’s culture, Karen implemented a cultural framework, with six pillars to ensure employees leave at the end of the day feeling valued, and ready to create a bigger impact in the world around them.
Karen began her career studying fine arts in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. She holds a degree in fine arts from the University of Victoria and is a graduate of the Information Technology & Multimedia program at Capilano University in Vancouver. Karen is currently working on her Ph.D. in the values-driven leadership program at the Benedictine University, IL.
Through her work at Blink, Karen was a winner of the 2016 Enterprising Women of the Year award and a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2015. In 2016, Blink was listed on Forbes Magazine’s Best 25 Small Companies in America list.
Karen writes a column for Forbes.com on the Entrepreneurs channel discussing many topics including how UX is Revolutionizing Business. A 2020 biography talks about her leadership through chaos, in Seattle’s tech authority, Geekwire. in 2016, Karen was featured in a small-business commercial for MetLife, which aired internationally over two years.
In 2020 Karen was appointed to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of the National Ombudsman, Regulatory Fairness Board, which represents small businesses’ voice on regulatory fairness issues.
Karen is a member of the Small Giants Community, the International Leadership Association (ILA), and is the Executive Director for the nonprofit organization she founded in 2014, Girls Can Do. GCD is an event series for girls with the mission to inspire a generation of possibility thinkers and ignite a vision for equal opportunity. In 2016, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a keynote video address, and Karen received a thank you letter from President Obama for her work with girls.
Karen speaks at conferences and loves to talk to groups of entrepreneurs and students whenever she can such as Seattle’s Franklin High School and the Canadian League of Innovators. In June 2019, she spoke on the keynote panel at the global Women and Leadership conference, and she is often a guest on radio and podcasts. In August 2019, she was interviewed on “Patricia Kathleen Talks with Female Entrepreneurs” a mentoring podcast, and appeared later that month on Startup Grind San Diego. In 2017, Karen was interviewed on Sirius radio’s Mind Your Business, by the Wharton School of Business. In 2020, Karen became a regular member of the weekly podcast called “The 21 Hats” sharing candid business experiences with entrepreneurs.
Karen lives in Seattle, Washington, and was born and raised in Victoria, Canada. She loves to trail run, garden, backcountry ski, kitesurf, and hang out with her amazing daughter.