Karen Karp is a fourth-generation food entrepreneur. Her great grandfather Morris, a first generation immigrant from Ukraine, opened a butter, eggs, and cheese wholesale outlet on Manhattan’s far west side, and later a feed and seed company on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn. In the 1930s the family relocated to Farmingdale, Long Island, where Karen’s grandfather transitioned Morris Karp & Son into Long Island’s first commercial manufacturer and distributor of fertilizer. After the sale of the company, Karen’s father Alan continued to serve the farmers of Long Island’s East End as a real estate broker concentrating on industrial and agricultural properties, and brokered the country’s first Transfer of Development Rights deal in the 1970s.
Karen grew up visiting the farms with her father, but felt the irresistible pull of New York City, where she moved in 1978 to attend Parsons School of Design. Restaurant jobs put food on the table and captured her heart, and by the age of 29, Karen had grown a trendy downtown restaurant group from one to six outlets, before setting her sights on entrepreneurship.
Establishing Karen Karp & Partners in 1990 (as Karp Resources), Karen developed interests that would soon become the company’s well-regarded niche: developing a range of bespoke strategies that explore the interconnections between agriculture, food, policy and people, and how to marry common interests of the for-profit and nonprofit sectors.
In 2001 Karen obtained a master’s degree from the University of Bath School of Management, earning honors for her thesis, “How Does Food Sustain Us?” which explored how leaders convey and impart their personal food values within their organizations, and how these communities are then transformed through food.
KK&P has grown to become a nationally respected boutique consultancy with a uniquely skilled staff and a diverse roster of clients. Karen and her team are equally adept in the boardroom, in the kitchen, or on the land – their systems-based approach is always both conceptually rigorous and grounded in practical understanding.
Karen’s real success is measured by her ability to change the way a wide range of people – corporate executives, school officials, distributors, educators, and farmers – think about how food can be produced, processed and distributed, and how she encourages them to overcome challenges and pursue innovation.