Karen J. Walker was educated at Passaic County Community College in Paterson, NJ and is a Licensed Practical Nurse and NJ State Certified HIV Counselor and Tester. Ms. Walker has been in her current position as Director of HIV Services and Community Outreach at Paterson Counseling Center, Inc., a Methadone Substance Abuse Facility, since 1989. Starting as a Methadone medicating nurse, Ms. Walker became one of four HIV Counselors and Testers in the State that were located in a drug treatment facility, ultimately transforming her position into a full service HIV program.
For over 20 years, Karen has been immensely involved with the HIV community in the counties of Passaic and Bergen as well as the state of New Jersey. She has served as a commissioner of the Ryan White planning council since its inception in 1995. After much advocacy, Ms. Walker applied for and received private foundation grants to initiate a pilot Sterile Syringe Exchange Program in the City of Paterson to serve intravenous drug users. She also successfully obtained a $1.2 million dollar grant from the New Jersey Department of Human Resources, Division of Addiction Services to open a pilot Mobile Drug Treatment Unit which offers free Methadone or Suboxone treatment to heroin addicts.
Ms. Walker has served on many corporate, local, state and national boards and committees including National CAEAR Coalition (Communities Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief); NJ AIDS Partnership Foundations; NJ Orphans of AIDS Committee; NJ Statewide Coordinated Statement of Need Task Force and CLAS Task Force (Cultural & Linguistically Appropriate Services); and Advisory Task Force For Univ. of Boston & UMDNJ. She is a founding member and officer of Manhattan Business & Professional Women, Founder and First President of Christian Day School Parent Teacher Association, and serves on the First Commission for the Status of Women in Passaic County. She is a Church Council Elder, and Coordinator for a homeless sheltering program. Karen also serves on the Finance Committee for State Assemblywoman Nellie Pou. From 1989 – 2009, she was Executive Vice President and Principal of M & W Marketing, Inc. of Paterson, NJ, a nationally recognized consulting firm matching minority and women owned businesses with major corporations.
She previously worked with the Children’s Aid and Adoption Society in Hackensack, NJ by recruiting and training other foster parents while directly parenting 26 foster children. When her four-year-old foster daughter was diagnosed with AIDS in 1984, Ms. Walker became a dedicated advocate for AIDS treatment, policy and funding working tirelessly at state and federal levels.
She had been married to Mr. Charles Walker for 48 years (and 8 mos.), until his passing in 2018; together they have four children, four grandchildren and one great-grandson.