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Karen Barnes works for Baltimore County Public Schools as principal of the Southwest Academy Magnet School for Science and Engineering. At the science and engineering magnet school, students develop 21st-century skills needed to succeed in college and careers.

In 2014 Barnes received recognition as the Maryland National Distinguished Principal of the Year and she won the 2015 Women of Color STEM Award for K-12 Promotion of Education.

She is passionate about encouraging girls of color to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). To that end, Barnes started a program designed to provide students with information about STEM careers and role models in scientific and technical careers.

Barnes has a focus on student achievement and STEM. As a result of her efforts, dozens of school leaders have gone on to serve in a variety of leadership positions throughout Maryland. Barnes is a fellow with the America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers and Principals.

At America Achieves, the vision is that one day every young person in the U.S. gets access to a world-class education and has the opportunity to lead and succeed in a changing world.

Barnes completed post-graduate work at Harvard University. She studied Turnaround School Leadership and received Advanced Principal Mentor certification from Columbia University. Before returning to the Baltimore public school system, she worked for New Leaders for New Schools as a Baltimore coach and National Director of Leadership Coaches.

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