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Executive Vice President and General Counsel

Karen Johnson Shaheed joined Bowie State University in 2007 and currently serves as Executive Vice President and General Counsel.  She is responsible for providing legal and policy advice to the President, members of his cabinet, other administrators and overseeing all legal matters on campus.  She also coordinates local, state and federal government relations for the university.  Ms. Shaheed served twice as Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs for Bowie State.

Ms. Shaheed has nearly 25 years of experience in law, higher education and public administration. Prior to joining to Bowie State, Ms. Shaheed served as General Counsel and Vice President for Government Relations at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, MD.  Ms. Shaheed also served as Secretary of Higher Education for the state of Maryland and chief executive officer for the Maryland Higher Education Commission, the statewide coordinating body for postsecondary education. As Secretary of Higher Education, she worked to secure operating and capital funding increases for Maryland's public and private four-year institutions and community colleges; led a statewide task force that examined college readiness for disadvantaged students; worked to increase need-based financial aid; and helped negotiate a five-year partnership agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights aimed at eliminating the vestiges of segregation in public higher education in Maryland.

Prior to her appointment as Secretary of Higher Education, Ms. Shaheed served as deputy chief of staff under Governor Parris N. Glendening.  She has also served as Assistant Attorney General and Assistant Secretary for Regulatory Policy and Programs for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation where she was responsible for over twenty licensing and regulatory boards and commissions including the Real Estate Commission, Racing Commission and the Financial Regulation Commission.

In 2008, Governor Martin O'Malley appointed Ms. Shaheed to the Prince George's County Hospital Authority, a seven-member board established by law to oversee the process of securing new ownership for the Prince George's County health care system.  The Governor appointed her to the Maryland Public Employees' and Retirees' Benefit Sustainability Commission in 2010.

Ms. Shaheed began her career in private law practice in Baltimore. She received her bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and juris doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law.  She has been a member of the bar of Maryland since 1988.  Throughout her career, Ms. Shaheed has been a frequent lecturer on public policy and higher education issues and has taught legal writing and oral advocacy as an adjunct law professor.  She has served on various boards and received numerous awards and honors, including twice being named one of Maryland's Top 100 Women by The Daily Record.  She was recently recognized as one of 25 Influential Black Women in Business by The Network Journal.