Karen Hodge Thomas is a native of Gary, West Virginia, the daughter of the late Rev. U. G. Hodge and Roberta Hodge Johnson. She grew up in a Christian home attending church, Sunday School and all youth activities during her childhood, although she didn’t have a personal relationship with God until she was a college student. She excelled in school academically and interpersonally, but was a naturally shy individual who never sought opportunities to be in front of an audience. She remembers the extreme nervousness and fear she felt when expected to deliver an Easter or Christmas speech. As an eighteen year old coed at West Virginia University, Karen accepted Jesus as her personal Savior and began to seek His will in her life. After this life-altering decision, it was clear that God had given her something to say that people needed to hear. She learned to rely on the Lord to produce through her the message that He has for her audiences and to lay aside the fear that once engulfed her.
Karen earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from West Virginia University before returning to her hometown to work in social services with child abuse and neglect for a year. During that year, she began her teaching efforts with a Bible study for co-workers and neighbors wherein many accepted God’s call to salvation or to a more committed Christian life. Following this experience, she returned to school to earn a master’s degree. She received a master of education degree from Harvard University in counseling and consulting psychology. Karen furthered her academic students by obtaining a specialist certificate in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
A gifted teacher of the truths of God’s Word, and as a former psychology instructor at Youngstown State University, she facilitated women’s studies in the areas of parenting and child development. The affirmation that she received from participants expanded her opportunities to speaking engagements numerous states in a variety of venues, including churches, schools, community groups and social services organizations.
Karen holds NCDPI School Counselor License and the Educational Specialist Certificate. She is also a Licensed Professional Counselor in North Carolina and has worked in various counseling environments. These include public schools, private practice, and the mental health environment. Karen served as a school counselor on all levels (elementary, middle and high) prior to becoming an administrator for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Counseling Department. After serving as Director of School Counseling, Karen was promoted to Executive Director of Student Services for the district. In this role, Karen led all support services for students which included psychological, counseling & social work services as well as services for homeless students, substance abuse and prevention programming, and services for students in foster care. Karen was frequently recognized for her excellent work ethic and tapped to collaborate with numerous work groups that served children, families, and the community. Among the organizations that she served are: the North Carolina ACT Advisory Board, the College Board’s Southern Region Advisory Council, Teen Health Connection Drug Coalition, Advisory Board, Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Team, Mecklenburg County Domestic Violence Fatality Team, and the Children’s Alliance. Karen was honored as the 2012 recipient of the National Office of School Counselor Advocacy Award. The award recognized Karen’s district-wide leadership that made a positive impact in the graduation rate and post-secondary opportunities for high school students.
An active member of Greater Providence Baptist Church, Karen served as the Director of Christian Education for nearly fifteen years. While in that position, she developed and delivered classes on God’s design for sexuality for students three years of age through adult. The classes are developmentally age-appropriate. They begin with God’s creation of gender differences for the youngest students to dating and relationship decisions for teens to marital relationships or living as singles for the adults. Additionally, she provided classes for the entire Body of Christ, ranging from teacher preparation and training to marriage retreats to financial workshops to stress management and much more. Karen has trained scores of women on servant leadership, particularly for women who are called to serve as deaconesses in the local church. She trains churches in the development of an exciting Vacation Bible School as a major evangelistic tool within the church. Karen continues as an engaging Sunday School and Bible Study teacher at her church and is often invited to facilitate workshops or to be a keynote speaker for churches, schools, and education organizations.
Karen is married to her high school sweetheart, Chester (Ched) Thomas. They have two married children, Justin Thomas (Julie) and Courtney Evans (Gabriel).