Karla is a committed and dedicated professional with over 25 years of management experience in the federal government, state government, and non-profit sectors. Prior to joining Whole Child Strategies, Inc., she served as Programs Officer for the Assisi Foundation of Memphis, Inc., a private foundation that has awarded over $200million to non-profit organizations in the Greater Memphis area. Before joining the Assisi Foundation, she served as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development where she championed strategic planning and organizational change, including successfully leading the 2000-employee department through an extensive “top-to-bottom” review, which resulted in reduced waste, cost savings and improved productivity. Prior to that, she was director of Urban Strategies Memphis HOPE, a non-profit social service agency in Memphis, TN. Before moving to Memphis, she was with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago, IL where she served in a number of management-level positions.
Throughout her career, Karla has focused on serving individuals and communities in need, most often in distressed urban areas. It is through these experiences that Karla developed a passion for service and, more specifically, helping others to reach their goals. From leading organizations whose objective was to help individuals and families in poverty move toward self-sufficiency to directly helping employees find their passion and strengths, Karla has truly enjoyed being part of efforts aimed at helping people become their “best selves.” She has been most effective in this regard by embracing a servant leadership approach; that is, seeking to serve first and focusing on the growth and well-being of people with the hope that those she encounters will flourish and be inspired to serve others.
Karla holds a bachelor’s degree in bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master of Arts in Servant Leadership from Viterbo University. She is also an Inaugural Fellow of the Aspen Institute Ascend Fellowship Program and holds a number of awards and certifications. She and her husband, Terence Davis, live in Memphis, TN.