A Catholic you want to know: Karen Flake

Why you want to know Karen Flake: For six years, Karen Flake has been the president and CEO of Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock. In the late 1990s, she was co-owner of Flake-Wilkerson Market Insights and sold it in 2007. She founded Karen Flake & Associates of Little Rock in 2009. In 2000, she and her husband John, chairman of Flake & Kelley Commercial, gave back to their community and the Church, including setting up a $2.5 million trust to support Catholic schools after their death.

Flake and her husband will begin the yearlong planning process as chairs of the 2019 Little Rock Heart Ball for the American Heart Association. On Aug. 30, she will be inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame. 

Name: Karen Elizabeth Goodhart Flake

Parish: Our Lady of the Holy Souls

City: Little Rock

Age: 71

Family: Husband John of 48 years; two daughters; six grandchildren.


In her own words

What feeds you spiritually?
I find that taking time to read Scripture and to read a reflection on that Scripture … has become a habit for me over a period of years. I feel that gives me time to reflect. It’s not what I consider really engaged prayer time, so that’s a little different, but that does give me the Scripture reading and insight into the things I’m doing in my life compared to what I see Christ doing in his life.


What does it mean to be inducted into the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame?
I’m extremely honored. I’m amazed at being a part of that group. I know that those women have been able to do something special for others and worked hard to do what they do and so I’m very honored.


When you were a student at Mount St. Mary Academy, what was the biggest lesson you learned?
Like many of the young women today, I had a sense of confidence … when I went off to co-ed university, I just was able to speak up and answer just like the boys were and didn’t feel like I had any less value than any of the men. I think as you go through business that was very important as well.


What is your favorite part about leading MSM?
It’s knowing that these young women have a future ahead of them and realizing the education here plays such an important part in helping them become the best person they can be. … Something that makes me stop and think is when we have Ash Wednesday and I am putting ashes on their foreheads and they are young and lovely people, and I’m asking them to think about their mortality. I see that that is something those young faces haven’t really grasped and yet that’s where they’re headed at some point is to learn those lessons of life that this is a temporary place … we’re here in order to prepare to go to heaven.


What lesson do you hope students take with them after graduating?
One of the things I ask them is to make Jesus their best friend. … As they go out into the future, they’ll make new friends and lots of other people come into their lives and it’s very easy to get caught up in whatever is happening in the next stage of their life. So I hope they continue to see Jesus as their best friend.


Best advice for young women as they’re starting their careers?
I think it takes a lot of work to be successful in your career. I think you try not to think so much about yourself as you try to think about what it is that results in a good job. What are you doing that leads to results. So working, but working with the goal in mind that you’re going to accomplish and doing it.


What are your hobbies?
I just love playing with grandchildren. It’s not exactly a hobby, but pretty magical. I’ve become a storyteller with them. … We travel pretty extensively. We just went to Portugal over Christmas and next year we’ve signed up to go to Machu Picchu and the Galapagos Islands, so we’ve got that already in our sights as something special. Traveling has always been something; we’ve taken our children on trips as fairly young children so now we’re doing some of that with the grandchildren.

Aprille Hanson Spivey

Aprille Hanson Spivey has contributed to Arkansas Catholic as a freelancer and associate editor since 2010. She leads the Beacon of Hope grief ministry at St. Joseph Church in Conway.

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