Behind the Resume #4 – Karen Ehnat

Karen EhnatWhat is your title at EvCC, and what will you be doing in your day-to-day endeavors at the College?

I am the Director of the Center for Disability Services, and I provide leadership and manage the day to day operations of the department as well as work directly with students. My job is to ensure that students with disabilities are free of discrimination and given the same opportunities as all other students. This doesn’t happen in a vacuum, and one of my favorite parts of my job is collaborating with and supporting others on campus in providing a barrier-free environment.


Tell us a little about your professional background.

I am a proud Husky, having earned my BA in Psychology and Master’s in Social Work from the UW. Prior to working in higher education I served as a juvenile probation officer, a counselor of teens and their families, a director of a group home and foster home licensor. My first experience in a college environment was at the Art Institute of Seattle serving in a variety of roles for over 22 years. My greatest accomplishment there was to advocate for and develop their first disability services office.


What was your first job?

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At 17 years old, my first job was tutoring and supervising the other tutors serving underserved children. It really was a strange situation since I had no supervisory experience.


How do you commute to work? What is your favorite radio station/ program to listen to on your commute (if any)?
I drive from Shoreline and usually listen to KIRO radio to be aware of any traffic issues and catch up on the news. On the way home, I frequently talk to a friend on my hands-free phone.

What is your favorite hobby or pastime? 

I have a tiny cabin on the coast and love to walk on the beach, read and play with my dog Shasta and cat Zoe. (Shasta is at the cabin in the photo below.) I have been a Seahawk fan since the 80s, and sat through many losing games until the end when only the diehards remained in the stadium. So exciting to see them on top!

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If you could have any super power (flying, time travel, etc.), what would it be?

If I could have any power, it would be to eliminate hate and discrimination on the planet. Imagine a world always at peace, and everyone treated respectfully and equally- the possibilities of that world are endless and amazing!


What are your goals/ ambitions in your position at EvCC?

Of course, I want EvCC to be in compliance with the civil rights laws protecting those with disabilities. To do so, my major goal is to establish EvCC as a cultural leader in always designing and providing accessible electronic materials (such as websites, instructional materials and software) for students, employees and the community.

What are you reading right now/ what was the last book you read?

The Boys on the Boat about the UW crew team who won the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. This is an inspiring story about underdogs overcoming barriers and the author cleverly paralleled the events in Germany to provide the context.

Who is your hero/ heroine? Why?

I was blown away by Barbara Jordan when she gave her speech at the Democratic Convention in 1976 and spoke of “equality for all and privilege for none.” She was the first African American woman from a southern state to serve in Congress and a powerful and eloquent leader in the civil rights movement. She embodied how and who I wanted to be: passionate about justice, live by my values and a voice to help others to be heard.

Karen 4What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? Why?

“Choose your battles” has been helpful in both my career and personal life. It goes along with the question, “How important will this be in 5 years?” It is important to determine and start with those that are truly important and evaluate the situation to decide which approach to take. It definitely focuses me and helps me to stay sane!

One thought on “Behind the Resume #4 – Karen Ehnat”

  1. Welcome Karen, and thank you for share information about yourself. I really appreciate your approach and sharing the best piece of advice you received. I have to pick my battles everyday and make sure the real important ones get taken of no matter what else is thrown at me.
    It is my hope and desire to work towards “equality for all and privilege for none.”
    Welcome to EvCC, and hope we get to work together on a few challenges.

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