Karen was born in Danbury, Connecticut on February 10, 1977 to proud parents Jim and Evelyn Dahl. She was a preemie and her family says she has spent the rest of her life making up for the one time she was early. She has one sister, Cheryl, who is four years older, and was one of Karen's biggest idols growing up (Karen continues to look up to Cheryl in a bazillion ways...but shhhh, don't tell Cheryl). Karen spent her first 18 years living in the same house on Oak Ridge Gate in Danbury. She attended Great Plain Elementary School, Broadview Junior High, and Danbury High School. When not studying, playing soccer, or working at Mail Boxes Etc. (she could tell customers how many stamps they needed on an item without even using a scale!) Karen, the senior class president (ahem) could be seen at student government meetings, planning class trips, dances, and variety shows, and figuring out ways to get Homecoming pranks sanctioned by the school.
After Karen's graduation speech, entitled, "It's the Journey, not the Destination," (how original) she headed off to the University of Connecticut where she decided to major in English. Because of communication trouble with one of her French professors who refused to speak English, Karen wound up adding French as a second major. While in college, Karen continued to study hard, played intramural soccer like it was her job, became captain of the women's club soccer team, edited a student literary magazine, and partied with friends, new and old. She spent the spring of her junior year "studying" in Paris and traveled to eleven countries in Europe. She made it as far east as Budapest and as far south as Crete and the island of Santorini. It was quite an amazing trip.
Karen spent the summer after her graduation from UCONN working at the university as an Upward Bound teacher of English and French and as a resident advisor and tutor for high school students in the college preparatory program. She applied for AmeriCorps and was accepted to serve as a VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) at Jumpstart for Young Children in New York City. Defying many of Karen's friends and family who thought she would have to live in a cardboard box in Manhattan because of the limited funds that AmeriCorps provided, Karen was able to convince her friend Darshana to move into a tiny studio in the West Village with her for the year.
Two weeks before her term of service ended, Karen's friend (and one of Cheryl's friends from high school) Josh Lahey emailed Karen to see if she would be interested in volunteering at the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles. She would have to pay her own way and work for free but it would be a "once in a lifetime experience." Karen's parents were starting to question when her "experiences of a lifetime" would turn into paying jobs! Karen flew to L.A. and worked (thanks to Josh) with the Vice President's speechwriters in a little office behind the podium. This may have actually been the first time that Karen & Brian were introduced to each other, but both were too involved in their work to remember if they actually met or not (I think they did). Two weeks later Karen found herself living in an apartment in Nashville, Tennessee as the assistant to the Communications Director on V.P. Gore's campaign.
After 2 months in Nashville and the most historic election night in history, Karen was sent to Washington D.C. to continue to work with the press during the infamous recount. Karen's days were filled with a lot of, "we have nothing to report at this time," and in the evenings at the office she learned how to shop for holiday presents on-line. It was during this time, when the whole world was turned upside down, that Brian took her on their first date (please see "The Story"). After a few unsuccessful attempts to move in to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Karen moved back to New York (Brian moved to New York to go to Columbia at the same time...lucky for us) and back in with Darshana who was patiently waiting for her in their newly acquired 2 bedroom!! apartment...still in the West Village of course. After a month of job searching Karen became the assistant to the president of MSNBC and shortly thereafter became researcher and associate producer for their special projects unit. She worked on the following specials: "Headliners & Legends: Timothy McVeigh," "The Making of Pearl Harbor the Movie," and "Inside the real West Wing: A Day in the Life of G***** B***." The theme for our production unit was: scary things that no one really wants to know too much about.
When President Clinton moved into his post-Presidential headquarters in Harlem, Karen joined the team as Deputy to the Communications Director, Julia Payne. A great friend of Brian and Karen's, Julia played an integral role in getting the two together. After an exciting and demanding year of work and amazing learning experiences, Karen decided to head to graduate school. She spent the last year at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education (Brian & Emily were hired to design and build the program's new website) and recently earned her Master's Degree in Education and her certification to teach high school English. She taught this year at Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School and at Media and Technology Charter High School. Karen is taking the summer off to plan the wedding with Brian and figure out what's next.