Meet Karen S. De Bartolome

By:Adam Cohen Issue: Global Trade Section: Advisory Board

Executive Director, Institute of International Education, Rocky Mountain Regional Center

Meet Karen deBartolome

Contact Karen S. de Bartolomé

475 17th Street, Suite 800 Denver, CO 80202

p: 303.837.0788 F: 303.837.1409 E:

Karen directs the activities of the Rocky Mountain Regional Center of the Institute of International Education, an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1919 that administers international scholarships and educational and cultural exchange programs for public and private sponsors. The Institute also provides resources to the higher education community. The Rocky Mountain Regional Center is one of twenty Institute centers creating change around the world.

With a budget of $1.3 million and a staff of 10, the Rocky Mountain Regional Center’s varied portfolio includes the Denver World Affairs Council, the Denver International Visitor Leadership Program, privately sponsored teacher and professional exchanges, Young Professionals Organization and GlobaLiteracy, an international education outreach to middle and high schools. The Center’s largest activity is administering international educational and leadership exchange programs--notably Fulbright, the National Security Exchange Program, and teacher exchanges--in 16 states from Minnesota to Texas and from Montana to Arizona. “Sixty former participants in the Institute’s programs have received the Nobel prize in their respective fields. The work we do here at the Institute, while quiet and rarely publicized, is changing the world as we know it, one handshake at a time,” said de Bartolomé.

Prior to joining the Institute, Karen had a consulting business in leadership development and marketing. She also directed the International Center for Administration and Policy at the Graduate School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado at Denver where she organized policy discussions with Mexican and Brazilian officials on infrastructure privatization and published studies on financing international infrastructure projects.

Prior to moving to Colorado, Karen worked for 14 years in the areas of planning, finance and executive management at the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey. “Starting off as a planner for reclaiming derelict waterfront areas in the New York Harbor was just the kind of challenge I needed out of graduate school,” de Bartolomé said, “And working for an organization as professional and well-respected as the Port Authority gave my career a great start.” She participated in the executive leadership development program at the Authority, and moved quickly through a variety of posts. “One day they caught me with a calculator, and off I went to work for several years for our very talented CFO.” In her final position as Director of the Office of International Business, she managed a global marketing network for metropolitan New York and New Jersey’s seaports, airports and the twin towers. In this role, she also directed an in-house export trading company and the World Trade Institute. “This was my chance to get back to work on my life-long interest, international relations. It was also fantastic training for the role I now have in international education.”

Karen was a White House Fellow in 1987-88 (Reagan Administration), and served as Special Assistant to U.S. Trade Representative Clayton Yeutter. She returned to the White House briefly in 1992 to lead the transition team for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (Clinton Administration). She actively encourages rising young leaders to apply for this prestigious yet humbling opportunity to serve and learn at the highest levels of our government.

Karen is currently a member of the board of the National Council for International Visitors and chairs its Program and Services Committee. She recently completed two board terms with the World Affairs Councils of America. She is a graduate of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the School of International Service at American University.