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Meet Karen Smith

July 07, 2022 SSAI Spotlight Series, SSAI in the News

For our July Spotlight, we sat down with Karen Smith to learn about her and the many hats she wears at SSAI. Though she doesn’t talk about it here, Karen is an avid Packers fan, likely because of her mid-west roots. A nature lover, Karen spends a lot of time watching wildlife and recently moved to an area where she gets to see a lot more of it.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Bloomer, a very small town of approximately 3000 people in northwest/central Wisconsin. My mom moved us there from Chicago to be closer to her family after my dad died of cancer when I was seven because my sisters and I were still very young.

What did you want to be when you were a kid?

A veterinarian to help heal animals, but then I also realized that I didn’t want to see animals suffer, so I changed my mind.

What kind of summer jobs did you have growing up?

I did a lot of babysitting during my high school years, but I also had a job at the local dairy store during the Summer (imagine that, a dairy store in Wisconsin…SHOCKER!). In college I worked in the kitchen of my dorm building, setting up the salad bar, doing dishes, etc. at $3.10/hr!

What is your current role at work?

Travel Admin, Assistant Facility Security Officer, go-to person, POC for questions anybody may have about anything, friend, teammate, social butterfly, team-builder, planner, etc.  

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Live life to the fullest.

Share something that not many of your colleagues might know about you.

I almost lost my life in a serious motorcycle accident in Sep 2012. I suffer from memory loss because of it, which makes me call everyday items by the wrong name; for instance, I might call silverware “furniture.”

In honor of my dad, stepdad, and so many other family and friends I’ve lost to various cancers, I have a lavender-colored cancer ribbon tattoo on my right wrist.

What is the most important lesson you feel you’ve learned?

Time doesn’t wait for anybody; don’t wait to express how you feel.

Who or what inspires you?

People who display selfless acts of kindness and seeing elderly couples who’ve been together for a very long time.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be and why?

Well, as they say in the movies: ”go west, young man.” I would love to live in Colorado. The beautiful countryside, the snow (LOVE the snow!) I could go snowmobiling 6-months out of the year, wide open spaces, lots of nature.

What do you like to do with your spare time?

I like to listen to 70’s & 80’s music (80’s mostly) and go out with friends. I also enjoy spending time outside in nature; listening to different varieties of birds singing, watching the foxes and deer cut through my yard, and sitting by my firepit at night.

Have you ever had any nicknames and what’s the story behind how you got it?

When I was in high school, my older sister’s friends started calling me “Squid” (they still do…), but I have no idea how I got that name. lol

Before I came to SSAI, I worked at Verizon Wireless Headquarters, everybody there called me “Radar” like the guy in MASH. If you know the show, then you know the reason.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Live life to the fullest.