Karen Pena

Alumni of the Year

Karen Pena loved learning from the start. Growing up in Paterson, NJ, with immigrant parents from Peru, English was not her first language. She was the first in her family to graduate from college, earning both an Associate’s and Bachelor’s degree from Berkeley College over a span of 16 years. She went on to obtain her M.B.A. last year and anticipates earning a Ph.D. in Management.

In addition to her love of learning, Karen gives back to the community through volunteer efforts that promote her Peruvian heritage and helping others. In 2015, she founded Our Way to H.O.P.E., which stands for Helping Out People Everywhere, an organization that assists families who have experienced domestic violence, and provides food, clothing, and school supplies.

Karen has volunteered and served as an officer for numerous charity and civic organizations and received many awards for her service. She was the first person of Hispanic heritage to be elected to the Elmwood Park Board of Education.

Karen is a member of several professional organizations and serves as an accountant and property manager for her family’s real estate firm. She began her own accounting firm in 2015.

Karen cites her education and raising four children as a single parent as her greatest achievements. Her mother, children, and grandson are her inspiration.