Augusta University’s First Lady Karen Keen was born and raised in Millen, Georgia, where her passion for education began at an early age. She progressed through Jenkins County Public Schools before attending Georgia Southern University as a first-generation college student and earning a bachelor's degree in early childhood education. 

Karen Keen headshot

Karen Keen
First Lady, Augusta University

Two weeks after graduating from Georgia Southern, at the convincing of a close friend, Karen agreed to go on a “blind date” with a young man who had also recently graduated from the university. Within two years, she married Russell Keen and they set out to make a life together with hearts of service and the aim of creating a home full of faith and joy.

Karen later earned a master’s degree in elementary reading and literacy from Walden University and taught elementary school for 15 years in Effingham, Gwinnett, and Bulloch Counties. She enjoyed teaching students to read, navigate their independence and hone their critical thinking skills.

When the Keens moved to Augusta in 2015, Karen transitioned from teaching in Georgia public schools to devoting her time and energy to her family. President Keen often says that Karen’s devotion and love have made all of the difference in keeping him grounded, their family strong, and their children well-rounded, compassionate and empathetic. Dr. and Mrs. Keen approach life as a joint effort, and she looks forward to supporting him and the university at every opportunity.

Karen is honored and excited to serve as First Lady of Augusta University. She also serves on the Children’s Hospital of Georgia Philanthropy Board and enjoys advocating for AU and Wellstar MCG Health. She has a passion for advancing literacy and student success and looks forward to supporting those efforts at Augusta University.  

Karen has been married to Dr. Keen for over 22 years, and they have two children, Kaleigh and Brinson, who are both proudly enrolled at schools within the University System of Georgia.  

Karen enjoys reading, spending time at the beach and beating her husband at pickleball relentlessly.