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Karen Sonleitner

Board Member

Karen spent more than 4 decades of her working life in high profile positions of public trust in Austin.

Her dad’s job with Shell took their family from Los Angeles to San Francisco, Cleveland, Westport CT — and then to Houston. She moved to Austin in 1973 to attend the University of Texas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and graduated with honors in 1977. Karen became an award-winning broadcast journalist with KVUE-TV, covering city, county and state government for 18 years.

Karen left broadcasting in 1994 to run for public office, becoming part of the first Travis County Commissioners Court with women in the majority. During her three terms as Precinct Two Commissioner, she was a tireless advocate for the creation of four Metropolitan Parks and efforts to complete the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. She co-sponsored the proposal that merged Austin Emergency Medical Services System into Austin/Travis County EMS. Karen served 12 years on the Downtown Austin Alliance Board of Directors and CAMPO, the regional board for transportation planning. After leaving the Court, she spent 10 years as a Senior Planner in the Travis County Auditor’s Office.

She is retired from full-time work but continues to volunteer on the Travis County Leadership Advisory Board for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension and with St. David’s Episcopal Church’s Café Divine. She's a Lifetime Member of the UT Ex-Students’ Association. Karen has lived in the Crestview neighborhood in Central Austin since 1982. She remains uninterested in any and all offers to sell her mid-century home.

Karen Sonleitner
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