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Executive Vice President, General Counsel & Chief of Staff to the President

Karen Johnson Shaheed joined Bowie State University in 2007 and currently serves as Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief of Staff.  She has also served on an interim basis as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. As Executive Vice President and General Counsel, Karen manages all legal matters for the University, providing advice and counsel to the President and campus administrators on various legal and policy issues affecting the operations of the university.  She also oversees government relations, working to advance the university’s mission and interests as the principal liaison to local, state and federal agencies and officials.  As Chief of Staff, Karen works closely with the President on a variety of high-priority projects and initiatives and serves a key advisor.

Karen has nearly 30 years of experience in law, higher education, legislative affairs and public administration. She began her career in civil litigation as an associate at a major law firm in Baltimore and has served as Maryland’s Secretary of Higher Education (CEO of the Maryland Higher Education Commission), Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor, Assistant Attorney General and Assistant Secretary for Regulatory Policy and Programs at the Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation.  Prior to joining Bowie State University, she served as Vice President for Government Relations and General Counsel for the National Labor College.  

Throughout her career, Karen has frequently lectured on public policy and higher education issues and has taught legal writing and oral advocacy as an adjunct law professor. She has also served on various boards and commissions including the Board of Trustees for the Fountain Baptist Church in Baltimore, the Board of Directors for the Women’s Law Center of Maryland, the Prince George’s County Hospital Authority, and the Maryland Public Employees’ and Retirees’ Benefit Sustainability Commission.  Among her many honors and awards, she was recognized as one of 25 Influential Black Women in Business by The Network Journal and inducted into The Daily Record’s Circle of Excellence for being named three times to its list of Top 100 Women in Maryland.  She is a member of the National Association of College and University Attorneys.

A native of Baltimore, Karen received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and her J.D. from the University of Maryland School of Law.