Karen Hanson-Flowers ’75, Distinguished Southwestern Service
- Carlos Barron
Ask any friend of Mrs. Hanson-Flowers and they will tell you that her loyalty to her alma mater is as strong today as it was when she was a student. Her husband, Joe Flowers, says that “nothing gives her more pleasure than writing recommendations for students wanting to attend Southwestern.” In decades past, Karen has given her time to the University as chair of the Annual Giving Board, Alumni Assembly member, Class Agent/Relations Chair, and on the SU Development committee.
It seems that every time a role or opportunity to support Southwestern presents itself to Karen, she takes it. And sometimes she creates her own way to benefit the school. A few years ago, Karen saw the need for a scholarship at Southwestern to fill the gap left between school loans and traditional university scholarships. She approached the school to create this scholarship, which now allows one student each year to continue their education without having to search for additional funding.
Perhaps Hanson-Flowers feels a deep connection to SU because she is a classic liberal arts operator, skillfully engaging diverse skills—math and technical expertise, writing and communications, data analysis, empathy for the human condition—to do her life’s work, both paid and not-for-profit. A former co-worker and friend of Karen’s explains that “whether she is managing an HR function for a major telecom company, volunteering to bring free financial literacy classes to 6,000 women and girls per year, or helping her friends navigate the gauntlet of ‘real life,’ she approaches each challenge with energy, focus, and empathy.” This friend adds that Mrs. Hanson-Flowers “has a knack for leadership. I have seen her grow and give in many roles—landman, contract administrator, head of HR, Junior League volunteer, credit union director, nonprofit board director, wife, mother, and godmother.”
It is clear that Karen’s love for Southwestern is contagious, as several of the people close to her have been persuaded to become Pirates thanks to her enthusiasm. In addition to her brother and daughter, several friends such as Elizabeth Drake Wheeler ’76 also give her that due. “Karen is largely responsible for my decision to attend Southwestern and 100% responsible for me joining her in sisterhood in Zeta Tau Alpha,” says Wheeler. The tireless way in which HansonFlowers donates her time began while she was still in school. She served as President of her sorority, a member of both the Laura Kuykendall and Kurth House Councils, a Kappa Alpha Little Sister, and a member of Cardinal Key.
After graduating with a major in German and a minor in English, she pursued a career in the oil and gas industry. Karen became a landman, staff landman and senior landman over the years. Ultimately, she shifted her career focus towards contract administration and human resources. In 1983, she married Joe Flowers and they had a daughter, Rebecca, who carried on her mother’s legacy by graduating from Southwestern in 2013.
When not working or donating her time, Karen enjoys traveling, hunting, and fly fishing. Her husband says he has always admired how comfortable his wife is in a wide range of situations. From deer hunting camps to art museums, she fits right in and has a great time.”
For her energetic dedication to the University, its alumni, and the community that surrounds her, the Southwestern University Alumni Association presented Karen Hanson-Flowers with the 2017 Distinguished Southwestern Service Award.