Roswell, Georgia , United States
|| April 30, 1962
May 10, 2017 07:10pm
|Info||A dedicated and experienced leader in public service and the private sector, Fulton County Chairman Karen Handel is widely recognized as one of the most effective and influential political leaders in the State of Georgia today. |
As the first woman Chief Executive of the state's largest and most populous county, Fulton Chairman Karen Handel has brought a candid, common-sense, do-the-right-thing approach to addressing the often difficult issues facing Fulton County. Karen has brought real, honest and meaningful changes to Fulton County by demanding accountability and tackling the status quo. Karen has addressed budget deficits without tax increases, cut nearly $35 million from the county budget, uncovered corruption, and passed the strongest ethics laws for any local government in Georgia.
Karen Handel has also received state-wide and national media attention for exposing corruption in the Sheriff's department, an effort that led to the eventual resignation of the incumbent Sheriff. Karen is also fulfilling another of her campaign promises by opposing any effort to raise property taxes. She was also a strong advocate for a referendum to freeze sky-rocketing property tax assessments. Karen has led efforts to bring outside, independent audits of Fulton County operations to improve the delivery of services to Fulton taxpayers and save money. In her own office, Karen has returned tens of thousands of dollars to the Fulton County General Fund. Karen's record as Chairman has led her to be named 'One of the 100 Most Influential Political Leaders in Georgia' by Georgia Trend; one of 'Georgia's 14 Divas' -- an award recognizing the state's leading business women by B2B Magazine; one of "Georgia's Most Influential Political Leaders" by James Magazine, and as one of the 'Most Influential Atlantans' by the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
In early 2002, Karen Handel was recruited to run for Fulton County Commission by Republican Party leaders and elected officials. In her first run for public office, Karen Handel's common-sense, conservative message of no tax increases and ethics reform nearly led to an upset of a 20+ year veteran of Atlanta politics, losing by 2% in a county in which Sonny Perdue and Saxby Chambliss received less than 40% of the total vote.
After the historic 2002 elections, Karen Handel was chosen to serve as a member of Governor Sonny Perdue's Transition team and later joined Governor Perdue's staff as a Deputy Chief of Staff. In this capacity, Karen had many responsibilities including overseeing constituent services, the Governor's Mansion, and general administrative services.
In 2003, with the encouragement and support of dozens of elected officials and Republican activists, Karen Handel again answered the call of fellow Republicans, taking a leave of absence from Governor Sonny Perdue's staff to run for Fulton County Chairman. With the support of Governor Sonny Perdue and then-Congressman Johnny Isakson, Karen received nearly 60% of the vote in a four-person election, beating two former Commissioners, including the initial favorite, by nearly 40 points apiece. Karen was also later selected by state Republican leaders to represent them at the Republican National Convention in New York and to serve as an official 'elector' for President George W. Bush in the nation's Electoral College.
Before joining Governor Perdue's staff and running for public office, Karen Handel served as the President and CEO of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. As the CEO of one of the state's largest Chambers of Commerce, Karen put her financial and management skills to work to lead the organization from the brink of bankruptcy to a position of stability with a growing membership base. Additionally, Karen was directly responsible for working with state and local leaders, as well as national and international corporations, to bring job growth to the North Fulton area. Karen's efforts helped lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs for Georgia citizens. Karen Handel has also served as a business executive for several Fortune 500 companies, managing international communications and holding several other management positions with the global eye care company CIBA Vision. Karen also managed government and community relations for KPMG and worked in government affairs for the Hallmark Company.
During the administration of President George H. W. Bush, Karen received an appointment and worked for Vice President Dan and Marilyn Quayle. As the Deputy Chief of Staff, one of Karen's principle responsibilities was to assist Mrs. Quayle in her efforts to increase national breast cancer awareness. As part of Mrs. Quayle's initiatives, October became National Breast Cancer Month, the National Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was established, federal funding for breast cancer research was increased, and the Office of Women's Health was established at the National Institutes of Health.
Karen Handel was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Upper Marlboro, MD. Karen and her husband Steve -- an executive with Georgia-based CheckFree Corporation, live in Roswell, Georgia, with their two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Maggie and Mia.
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