Karen Larson is the chief financial officer for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, a leading nonprofit dedicated to strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. She is responsible for all finance and accounting functions, purchasing and business technology. Prior to joining the Y, Karen held leadership positions at a number of organizations, including as chief financial officer for the National Arthritis Foundation, chief executive officer for the Upper Midwest Region of the Arthritis Foundation and a number of senior leadership positions for the Star Tribune. Karen holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a master’s degree in finance from the University of St. Thomas. She has served on the boards of the MS Society-MN, Children’s Museum and the Minneapolis Downtown Council. 

Why the Y?

“I joined the Y in 2016 excited to serve with a team that is committed to making a difference in our community in demonstrable ways. I’ve learned quickly that the Y impacts lives within and beyond its four walls. For example, the Y’s innovative youth work includes nontraditional formats like before and after school programming in low-income apartment complexes.

In Minnesota, more than 200,000 young people in kindergarten through 12th grade have no safe place to go after the school bell rings. Studies have shown that students achieve more when they are engaged before and after school, but many do not have access to the programs they need. The Y’s apartment programs help bridge the opportunity gap by offering educational and enrichment opportunities for young people right in their homes.

I love Ionna’s Story because it demonstrates how the Y’s out of school programming meets kids where they are and helps them build the confidence they need to succeed. I am inspired every day by the way our Y serves WITH the community to build a better us for everyone in the Twin Cities.”