Hon. Karen Middleton

  • School of Public Affairs

A nationally recognized non-profit leader, Karen has led Cobalt, a reproductive rights organization, since 2013, building the organization into its current position as a powerhouse advocacy, public policy, and political operation. Karen previously served as the president of Emerge America, a national organization that trains women to run for elected office. She served as the majority caucus chair in the Colorado State Legislature from February 2008 through 2010. Before serving in the General Assembly, she represented the 7th Congressional District on Colorado’s elected State Board of Education. Karen passed significant legislation in expanding access to K12 and P-20 education including creating the statewide Office of Dropout Prevention and establishing the Colorado School Counselor Corps Program.

Karen serves as a member of the Adams State University Board of Trustees.  In 2023, she was honored with the 2023 University Distinguished Service Award issued by University of Colorado Board of Regents for her contributions to Colorado communities as a legislator, nonprofit leader, and advocate of education and public service. Additionally she was recognized by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce as a “Top 25 Women in Business.”
Karen has a decade of experience teaching political science courses at Metropolitan State University of Denver and Community College of Aurora. She served as a trainer for the candidates seeking elected office, and creating the bipartisan Colorado Legislative Women's Caucus. She worked for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), eCollege, and as Assistant Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. While at WICHE, she established the North American Council for On-Line Learning, an international association of online K-12 schools. In Washington DC, Karen was the Manager of Development Programs at the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs.

Karen holds a BA degree from Mount Holyoke College in Women's Studies and Politics, an MA in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Denver, and an MA in Higher Education Governance from the University of Denver. 

School of Public Affairs

CU Denver

Lawrence Street Center

1380 Lawrence Street


Denver, CO 80204


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