Karen McLeod

Deputy Director



3029 Cordley Hall

Corvallis, OR, 97331

Karen believes that if we want to create lasting and meaningful change in the world, we need to start with ourselves. She is passionate about empowering scientists to more fully realize their potential as leaders of social and environmental change through a combination of personal development and strategic engagement. She’s worn many hats since she joined COMPASS in 2003—coach, facilitator, fundraiser, mentor, organizational leader, strategist, synthesizer, trainer, and Interim Executive Director in 2017. And she’s currently pursuing a yearlong professional coaching certification through New Ventures West in San Francisco.


Karen serves as courtesy faculty in the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University (OSU) where she teaches a graduate course on science communication. Trained as a marine ecologist, some of her most formative experiences happened underwater during the thousands of hours she spent immersed in the beauty of coral reefs. She earned a Ph.D. from OSU, an M.S. from the University of South Florida, and a B.A. from Franklin and Marshall College. She is a firm believer in the power of synthesis to create something larger than the sum of its parts, and has led numerous efforts to synthesize science in support of more robust decision-making, including co-editing Ecosystem-Based Management for the Oceans (Island Press, 2009) with Heather Leslie (University of Maine). Karen draws inspiration from nature, and loves backpacking, hiking, trail running, and soaking in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two daughters.

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