Karen Johnson Shaheed, Esq.
Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs
Bowie State University
Karen Johnson Shaheed, Esq.’s, two-decade career in law, public administration and higher education began and blossomed in her native Maryland. Its high point was in 2002, when then-Governor Parris Glendening appointed her secretary of higher education, the first African-American in that role. “It fueled my passion for education,” she says. Today, she is interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Bowie State University in Bowie, Md., having joined the president’s Cabinet in 2007 as executive vice president and general counsel.
Shaheed’s career carries such roles as general counsel and vice president for government relations at the National Labor College in Silver Spring, Md.; deputy chief of staff under Governor Glendening; and assistant attorney general and assistant secretary for regulatory policy and programs for the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Reflecting on her journey, she quotes an anonymous source: “I am thankful for the adversities that have crossed my path and taught me tolerance, perseverance, self-control and some other virtues I might have never known.”
Shaheed has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law; and numerous awards and honors, including being named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by The Daily Record. She enjoys mentoring young women. “I try to serve as a positive role model for them through the exhibition of hard work, integrity, excellence and service, with the hope that they will be inspired to set goals that will help them achieve educational and career success.” The mother of a 5-year-old son, she also enjoys writing and perhaps will write a book about her life. “My life has been filled with many interesting experiences and triumphs, all of which I have embraced with humor and humility,” she says.