Board Member Spotlight: Karen Naumann, APR, PMP

WWPR Board Member Karen Naumann, APR, PMP, is a multifaceted, seasoned practitioner with more than 25 years of communication experience. She is an educator, executive, and author with a focus on national security. She excels as an educator, executive, and author, focusing on national security. Currently serving as a graduate professor at West Virginia University’s Defense Information School cohort, Karen trains information warriors in crisis communications. Her background includes roles as a Senior Strategic Communication Planner in South Korea and Senior Instructor at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Information School. Karen finds pride in serving as a communicator for two different countries and in mentoring teams and students. As a WWPR Board Member, she brings her passion for communications and management to an organization dedicated to empowering women in the field. Outside of work, Karen is actively involved in the National Press Club and enjoys virtual reality workouts, hiking, and cooking New Orleans dishes.

Tell me about your background and what drew you to your current position.  

I have the honor and privilege of training the communicators for our country’s fleet in the field as a graduate professor for West Virginia University’s Defense Information School cohort. I develop and instruct these information warriors to proactively and continually practice crisis communications. 

My role builds upon other national security-focused roles that I have recently held. Namely, in 2022, I worked in South Korea as a Senior Strategic Communication Planner and Team Lead in support of the four-star-led UN Combined Forces Command at U.S. Forces Korea, where I developed communication strategy recommendations for command-wide and Republic of Korea allies.

Before this, I was a Senior Instructor at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Information School for several years, where she had the privilege of training hundreds of public affairs officers for the United States fleet and field in topics ranging from Complex Adaptive Systems Thinking to Strategic Foresight and Issues Management and Disinformation. 

What is the most exciting or rewarding project you’ve done recently or in your overall career?  

Professionally, I’m proud of the trust that has been placed in me to serve as a communications strategist for two different countries (the United States of America and Israel). 

Also, I’ve been fortunate to manage talented teams and teach motivated students over the years. Hearing from former team members and students who feel I contributed to their growth and accomplishments is incredibly fulfilling. Their ongoing gratitude and updates on their achievements bring me a deep sense of accomplishment and pride.

What do you love about being a WWPR Board Member? 

I am passionate about communications — evident by holding two degrees in the subject, and earning an accreditation in the field, as well as being a published author and recognized subject matter expert in it. 

Additionally, I love team and program leadership. So, I have earned the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and the SCRUM Master designation, which I use in managing teams.

In an Operations function for WWPR, I have the opportunity to use my communications and management background toward an amazing organization dedicated to area women working in our shared field. 

Is there any book you would recommend? 

So many books, so little time. The book I am reading now, which is perfect for communicators, especially in an election year, is How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Belief, Opinion, and Persuasion by David McRaney. 

It is an investigation of why some people never change their minds and others do. Uncovering what made a prominent conspiracy theorist YouTuber finally see that 9/11 was not a hoax or why some people left Westboro Church was fascinating. Probing how do voter opinions shift from neutral to resolute? It delves into the latest research of psychologists and neuroscientists, the book explores the limits of reasoning, the power of groupthink, and the effects of deep canvassing.

What do you do outside of work?

I am active in the National Press Club sitting on both the Headliners Committee and the Communicators Committee. 

Otherwise, I enjoy working out in virtual reality, hiking area trails, and cooking dishes from my hometown of New Orleans.