NEA Women in Business: Karen Powers Liebhaber

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Class of 2019 Women in Business Karen Powers Liebhaber Vice President for Institutional Advancement Black River Technical College (BRTC), Pocahontas

Residence: Pocahontas
Education: B.A. English, M.A. English from Arkansas State University; ABD (all but dissertation) Ed.D. in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning from University of Arkansas
Professional background: Liebhaber has been in higher education for almost 20 years as an English instructor, distance education director, and vice president of Institutional Advancement. She has held a variety of writing and web design roles for local schools, nonprofits, and other business friends. She was also a technical writer for system administrators at a software company.

What inspired you to pursue the career you are in? I have always loved school … and especially loved college, but I actually never wanted to teach. However, after receiving my master’s degree in English and accepting a job as a technical writer for Arksys, now Euronet Worldwide, I began teaching English part time at the Little Rock Air Force Base to earn extra money and loved it.

I moved to Pocahontas to get married where I started teaching English at BRTC. And eventually, because of my love of the college and higher education in general, moved into my current position to help students on a larger scale.

What has been the most fulfilling moment of your career so far? I taught career communications for our tech students. One student who had long hair and would hardly speak in front of the class told me no one in his family supported his coming to college, but he wanted to go to school so one day he could own his own auto body shop.

At the end of the semester, I had students do practice interviews with me. This student walked in the classroom with short hair, new khakis, and a button-down shirt. After his interview — which was great — he told me he already had a job waiting on him when he graduated. This student is just one example of how lucky I have been throughout my career.

What advice can you offer to women who want a career in your industry? As a female and one who had hoped to have kids in the future, there is no better family job than being a college faculty member. It is the epitome of flexibility, reliability, and personal satisfaction. Don’t stop at a bachelor’s degree. Go on and get your master’s so you can be prepared for more opportunities.

As a writer, just write and don’t let criticism deter you. Listen to all criticism, but discard it if you feel it does not apply. Above all, never take criticism personally, don’t let a week go by without writing something, and always send something out into the world without worrying about that piece’s success.

What’s the next big challenge you plan to take on? Complete my doctorate.

How do you spend your time away from work? Apparently, I love basketball. My 15-year-old son Clay plays as does my 12-year-old daughter, Abby. Right now, I’m pretty much at their beck and call. However, my favorite hobbies are writing, reading, yoga, and riding horses.

Do you feel like we’re getting closer to gender equality in the workplace? In higher education, I think so. It is certainly getting better. For example, just last year, at one time all of the senior administrators at my college were women. Across the state, more women are higher education presidents and chancellors and a significant portion of the vice presidents are also female. Further, more females attend college than males, which will eventually force the issue.

What’s your favorite app at the moment? KAIT Region 8 Storm team. I love storms!

If you have a bucket list, what are the top three things on it? Go to a United States Eventing Association competition or some other professional horse eventing competition, take my kids with me on my next trip overseas, and just make sure I live the best way I can!