Karen is a Founding Board Member and Director at the Wesley Clover Foundation, as well as Executive Director at Wesley Clover Parks. When the City of Ottawa and NCC decided to accept RFPs for the former Nepean National Equestrian Park and the Ottawa Municipal Campground, Karen led the Wesley Clover Foundation's proposal for the site. Her plan was to create a community and recreational hub that residents of Ottawa, and all Canadians, could enjoy. As Executive Director, Karen Sparks is the visionary behind the project and has overseen all activity and development on the site. From hiring her team, growing the programing, heading construction plans, and facilitating partnerships with other organizations who are experts in their respective fields, she has been fundamental in the growth and expansion of the project. Karen is also an accomplished equestrian and horsewoman, and competes at the Grand Prix level. As a passionate philanthropic volunteer, she currently sits as the Chair of the Jumping Committee at Equestrian Canada, on the board of the Child and Nature Alliance, as well as recently completing a full term sitting on the Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation, ending as the chair.
What achievement or contribution are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of my 4 kids of course, but professionally I’m proud creating the wesley clover foundation.
What’s one thing you can attribute to your success?
I think persistence is key. I’m not good at giving up!
What is the most surprising fact about you?
that’s a hard one. I absolutely cannot do a cartwheel. It’s sad but true!
Who is your inspiration?
I have been so lucky to have great people to learn from in my life and career. My father and Ian Millar come to mind first, they have taught me so much, but I can’t forget my mom. She’s so down to earth and keeps me grounded.
How do you celebrate your success?
What would be a good theme song for your life?
Life is a highway by Tom cochrane
What advice would you give to other women who are starting out in their career journey?
very cliche but true - believe in yourself and keep at it!
What is the one thing you knew before you started your career?
that it’s not always going to easy or work out, but if you’re learning you’re on the right path.
How do you find balance?
Remembering what’s truly important everyday!
What are you most afraid of?
Zombie apocalypse obviously.
What is your favorite thing to do when you are not working?
Fun times with family and friends. Hiking, kayaking, watching a movie - doesn’t really matter!
Which Superhero would you be?
Wonder Woman but I’ll leave that to Gal Gadot and stick with supermom!
What has been the biggest learning experience of your life?
I learned a lot, and continue to learn, from my sport of show jumping. You learn from the horses; You can’t rush the process, you can’t skip steps, keeping your cool, and you just have to get back on if you fall!