Board Member, Strategic Advisor, Investor
Karen C. Francis is an experienced CEO, board director, strategic advisor and investor with a strong track record of successfully building companies and businesses across multiple industries and size. She is a visionary leader with strong strategic, marketing, technology, and leadership skills. Karen embraces the opportunities that technology disruption creates across all industries. Her most recent executive positions were as Chairman & CEO of AcademixDirect, a leading technology innovator in education and as Chairman & CEO of Publicis & Hal Riney, an advertising and
digital marketing agency within the Publicis network. Her career has also included executive positions at Procter & Gamble, Internet Capital Group, Bain & Company, Berol Corporation, as General Manager of the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors and then as Vice President of Ford Motor Company, where she was responsible for the corporate venture capital group which pioneered acquisition and development of industry relevant technology companies, as well as global e-business strategies, customer relationship management and worldwide export operations. In 2019, Karen was named one of the “Top 100 Women of Influence in Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal, selected as one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Advertising” by Advertising Age in 2012 and named as one of the “Top 100 Chief Executive Officers” in the US ranking 8th among female CEOs by ExecRank. She was recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of The Most Influential Women in Business in 2005, 2006, and 2007.
Karen is the Lead Director and Chair of the Compensation Committee of Telenav (NASDAQ: TNAV) which provides embedded navigation systems for major automotive maufacturers. She has previously served on the AutoNation Board of Directors, Audit, and Technology Committees and The Hanover Insurance Group Board of Directors, Audit, and Compensation Committees. Ms. Francis is also an Independent Director for private equity and venture capital funded companies in Silicon Valley including Dynamic Signal, an employee engagement software company, Nauto, a data analytics company in the emerging autonomous space, and Wind River, which delivers software for embedded intelligent connected systems. Karen is a Certified Board Governance Fellow, was named “Top 50 Corporate Director in 2019” by the National Association of Corporate Directors and maintains a cutting-edge perspective on key and trending issues facing boards today including Cybersecurity, Innovation & Disruption, Executive Compensation, Risk Management and Talent Development. She has completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business Director’s Consortium and was a founding member of Women Corporate Directors of Silicon Valley. She is a frequent speaker on corporate governance for
NACD, Rock Center for Corporate Governance, KPMG, PWC, and Deloitte and on the future of the automotive and technology industries for CES, Web Summit/Lisbon/Toronto, Deloitte Smart Cities, and Automotive News among others.
Karen’s extensive board and corporate governance experience over the last twenty years has spanned public, family-owned, private equity and venture capital portfolio companies as well as numerous national non-profits, industry association and membership driven organizations. This vast perspective enables Karen to bring best practices, actionable advice, and thorough oversight to each board assignment. Karen’s previous Board Director roles also include Pella Windows Corporation, Wingcast (telematics joint venture between Ford Motor Company and Qualcomm), Covisint, American Advertising Federation, San Francisco Ad Council, Adcraft Club of Detroit, Executive Women’s Golf Association, and the Board of Governors of The Commonwealth Club of Northern California and Trustee of the World Affairs Council of Northern California.
Karen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a B.A. in economics from Dartmouth College, where she served as a Trustee from 2000-2009 and is a charter member of the philanthropic Centennial Circle of Alumnae. She was selected as one of the Top 100 Harvard Business School Alumnae in the Bay Area in 2013. Karen is on the national board of directors of Positive Coaching Alliance, a national non-profit organization which provides education to enable a positive character-building experience for youth athletes and PGA Reach which is the foundation through which the PGA creates access to the game of golf for military, youth and diversity audiences. Karen resides in Atherton, CA, is married with two stepsons, and owns a zinfandel vineyard in Healdsburg, CA. (www.linkedin.com/in/karenfrancis)