President & CEO
Karen Niemi oversees and directs all of CASEL’s activities to enhance and expand evidence-based social and emotional learning, including practice, research, communications, policy, and development. She is an accomplished business leader with a long track record of success in the education sector. By blending a deep understanding of school systems and pedagogy with solid business practice, she has successfully led education companies through all stages of growth. She has helped schools advance their educational mission by making research and best practices accessible and actionable by teachers and administrators alike. She has brought learning tools and strategies to school systems and students nationwide, having led the creation and dissemination of professional development programs as well as assessment and supplemental instructional solutions in the fields of social-emotional learning, literacy, and special education.
Karen has served in executive management positions in all business functions, including professional development, product development, sales, marketing, and operations. Prior to CASEL she was the CEO of ScholarCentric, a company focused on social-emotional learning and resiliency. Before that she was president of Cognitive Concepts, Inc., a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin Company and a leader in early literacy.
She is also a former speech language pathologist. She has served pediatric and adult populations at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital, Resurrection Medical Center, and Children’s Memorial Hospital, all in the Chicago area. Born in Niles, Ohio, she graduated from Rush University with a master’s degree in speech language pathology. She received her bachelor’s degree from Augustana College. She is a student of yoga, health, and nutrition. She and her husband have four children aged eight to nineteen.