Karen was born in Calgary Alberta, and was educated at the University of Calgary where she earned her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Law degrees. She was called to the Bar in Alberta in 1984 and practiced law in the litigation department of Burnet, Duckworth, and Palmer in Calgary. In 1987 she earned a Master of Law degree from Cambridge University in Cambridge England. In 1991 she became a member of the Law Society of British Columbia. Karen has practiced law in Parksville British Columbia since 1991.
Karen has been active in the Parksville-Qualicum Community as a former member and director of District 69 Hospice Society. She is a member of the Parksville Chamber of Commerce and of the Vancouver Island Opera chorus and currently sits on their board of directors. Karen is an avid recreationalist, enjoying hiking, skiing, canoeing and travelling. Karen is married to Brad Bird, author and journalist. They live in Parksville with their 3 cats.