Utah’s business community is full of strong women who’ve shown up, done the work, and inspired us all. And since it is Women’s History Month we’re taking the opportunity to highlight women-owned businesses throughout Salt Lake City and the leaders who help make it happen. One of our standouts is Karen Gunn who has been a member of Salt Lake City’s Business Advisory Board since 2016.   She represents District 6.  Here’s more about Karen:

Karen has over 35 years’ experience as an educator, corporate manager, and business owner.  She currently is principal strategy consultant for Gunn Consulting Cooperative, LLC.   With partners in Utah as well as other areas of the United States, Karen facilitates local, national, and international strategic initiatives for both private and public-sector clients, which includes a targeted interest in small business creation and development.   Prior to starting Gunn Consulting Cooperative, Karen served as Associate Provost for Economic Development at Salt Lake Community College, overseeing programs associated with workforce and economic development, global entrepreneurship, small business development, and women’s business development.   In that role, she also served as the Executive Director for Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program a premier public/private partnership with the Goldman Sachs Foundation to provide training, mentoring and capital access for small businesses to grow along the Wasatch Front.

Karen is the recipient of SBA, Refugee Services, and Chamber awards as a champion for women-owned businesses. In 2015 Karen won the ATHENA Award from the Salt Lake Chamber, a national award given to those who demonstrate excellence, creativity, and initiative in business, provides valuable service by devoting time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community, and assists women in reaching their full leadership potential.

From the 2015 Salt Lake Chamber Athena Awards:

Karen has a special interest in global advocacy for women and girls targeted to education, enterprise, and economic advancement. She has established academic and economic development projects in India, Brazil, Ukraine, and China. She is a board and executive member of local organizations advocating equity for women in education and the workplace.

Q & A with Karen Gunn

What are you excited about in District 6? Why? District 6 has always been a vibrant community for entrepreneurs and small business owners; it is exciting to see more diversity in type and size of businesses coming to the area.


What changes would you like to see happen in District 6? Because of geographic boundaries, District 6 business owners don’t often get a chance to gather together for round table discussions about common challenges and successes.  I would love to create greater opportunities for owners to periodically gather at each other’s establishments to share ideas.


What is your favorite place to hang out in the District 6 neighborhood? A tough question—I have several!  Eggs in the City for great omelets; The Kings English with a good book top my list. 


What do small businesses in Salt Lake City need more help with? Understanding the resources available through the City and, other public and private sector partners in a way that helps them navigate those resources effectively and efficiently through the life cycle of their businesses.


What do women-owned businesses in Salt Lake City need more help with? Women-owned businesses often have specific challenges (not unique to Utah) In addition to navigating available resources, women business owners need a strategic framework which helps develop advanced leadership, technical, and networking opportunities to take their companies beyond start-up and initial growth stage.


What is Salt Lake City doing right for business?


Three critical things come to mind—a; creating a solid economic/workforce development strategy and action plan; b: working to streamline sometimes cumbersome and lengthy processes impacting businesses and their owners; c: advocating and promoting an environment which embraces diversity to welcome business owners regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, or gender


What is the first word or words that come to mind when you think of Salt Lake City? A “global” city—we have the ability to leverage local business and community resources to become an international economic hub.


Anything else you would like to add? It is a privilege to be part of the Business Advisory Board and work with an exceptional economic development team serving Salt Lake City!

Thank you, Karen, for bringing your experience and tenacity to Salt Lake City!