July 6, 2020

As a FUSE executive fellow, Karen Holst (2014-15) worked with California’s superintendent of public instruction to transform and improve teaching and learning in the state through better use of technology. She engaged educators, education advocates, and technology leaders around the state to develop a strategy for creating education technology (ed-tech) policies and implementing the California Education Technology Blueprint. Currently, Karen is an intrapreneur, helping companies with launching new products and innovation.

How did the FUSE fellowship impact you?

It taught me why human-centered design really matters. A main goal of our fellowships is to bring innovation into government in order to make a lasting impact. For me, that meant re-imagining ed-tech and designing programs that are centered on students, teachers, parents, district leaders, and policy makers. When done well, a human-centered approach fuels the creation of services and programs that resonate deeply with the community.

What are you working on now?

My work covers the gamut, from business strategy and product innovation to strategic partnerships and marketing communications. The through-line? I love to create technology with a broader impact. Most recently, I wrapped up a project leading innovation at Autodesk, and I also did a short engagement with the U.S. Special Operations Command, where we brought together warfighters and technologists to explore the future of special reconnaissance and direct action. I’ll soon be working with an organization that supports libraries to help them rethink the opportunities that libraries have to secure new funding and go beyond literacy into voter engagement and overall community wellness.

What are you hoping to achieve in the next 6 to 12 months?

Having just launched my book, Start Within, I am focused on empowering others to innovate within their nonprofits, startups, government agencies, corporations, and organizations. I firmly believe each of us has the power to change from within, and it’s about having the right tools and resources to help in the journey. With the COVID-19 pandemic and spotlight on our systemic injustices, I’ve been digging deep to evaluate myself. I want to leverage my greatest gifts and skills to make the most significant impact and work with organizations that are ready and open to change, helping them buck the status quo and innovate. 

Related work and press:

Coauthor of Start Within: How to Sell Your Idea, Overcome Roadblocks, and Love Your Job

LinkedIn course: Product Innovation for Product Managers

Photo Credit: Gabriel Sollmann on Unsplash