Karen Ann Brown

Karen Ann Brown, Ph.D.

Karen Ann Brown died Aug. 21, 2016, of pancreatic cancer. She was born March 19, 1949, the oldest of five children of Betty Ann (Preston) Brown and Robert Benton Brown.

Her family lived in Seattle’s Bryant neighborhood during the early years, spent summers on Sunlight Beach on Whidbey Island, and then moved to Kent.

She graduated from Kent-Meridian High School in 1967 and went on to the University of Washington, where she joined Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. During her sophomore year, she served as the 19th Seattle Seafair Queen.

Karen graduated from the UW in 1971 with a BS in dental hygiene. After graduation, she was hired by Northern Arizona University. She began her MBA studies at NAU while serving as dental hygiene department chair.

In 1977 she moved back to Seattle and transferred to the MBA program at the UW, graduating in 1979.

After completing her Ph.D. degree, Karen accepted a tenure-track position in the Albers School of Business at Seattle University, and advanced to the rank of full professor.

In 1998, Karen taught at IESE in Barcelona, Spain, as a visiting professor. She also began her 15-year relationship with the China-Europe International Business School (CEIB) in Shanghai, where she led executive seminars.

Karen’s personal life revolved around her children, son Preston and stepdaughter Kippy. She was grateful for Don Shaffer, Preston’s stepfather, who played a key role in their lives.

In 2000, Karen accepted a full-professor position at UW, Bothell. Thunderbird School of Global Management lured her back to Arizona in 2006.

“Managing Projects: A Team-Based Approach,” co-authored with Nancy Lea Hyer, was published during her time at Thunderbird, as were many research findings in professional journals.

She retired from Thunderbird as Professor Emeritus in 2014 to devote herself full-time to battling her pancreatic cancer.

Karen’s extensive climbing adventures included summiting Mt. Rainier and Mt. Kilimanjaro. The Grand Canyon was her favorite; she hiked into Phantom Ranch and rim-to-rim-to-rim, countless times.

In 2014, Karen married David Wolford, her soulmate and companion of the previous six years.

Karen was preceded in death by her brother David, mother Betty Ann and father Robert. She is survived by her son Preston Clark; grandson Oliver Clark; husband David Wolford; siblings, Gail Brown Quigg (John), Robert Benton Brown and Russell Preston Brown (Jan Davis); and her stepchildren, Kippy Irwin (Scott), Heather Wolford Personne (Matt), Scott Wolford (Heidi) and Jackie Wolford Christensen, along with their seven children.

Her family suggests donations in her memory to the Honor Health Research Institute, 8125 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale, AZ 85258.

Celebrations of life for Karen will be held from 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11 at The Sanctuary, 5700 E McDonald Dr., Paradise Valley, AZ 85253 in Phoenix, AZ, and 2-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2 at the Washington Athletic Club, 1325 6th Ave., Seattle, WA.

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