Karen Alexander is the founder and President of KKA Architecture in Salisbury, North Carolina since 1988. She is a recipient of the Gertrude S. Carraway Award from North Carolina Preservation for a body of historic preservation projects in Salisbury completed over a decade which also garnered her esteemed Edward Clement Cup from Historic Salisbury Foundation.
Her projects have been published in numerous national magazines, including a cover of House Beautiful, and Better Homes and Gardens. . The Center for the Environment building at Catawba College is the subject of the PBS documentary, “Environmental Partners”, and Karen received the AIA-Charlotte Honor Design Award and AIA-Charlotte Merit Award for Sustainable Design for her work as well as a National Design Award on the same project. She has presented her projects at AIA National Convention, and AIA Charlotte and AIA North Carolina Continuing Education events as well as the AIA Charlotte, Women in Architecture. She has mentored many architecture students who attended UNCC Charlotte.
Several medical, civic and historic preservation projects have won Salisbury Community Appearance Awards from the City of Salisbury, and Historic Preservation Awards from the Salisbury Historic Preservation Foundation. Profiled in the Charlotte Business Journal, Karen was honored as a Charlotte Business Journal: Women in Business winner in 2001.
Her passion, a specialty area of her practice, is consulting with, acting as expert witness for and designing projects for Special Needs Clients. Starting with creation of a special and safe place for an autistic child over a decade ago, Karen has consulted on and designed projects across the region from the mountains to the coast, for all ages of types of victims, ranging from accident victims, medical malpractice victims to conditions from birth. Karen has given lectures in Austin, Texas at the International Conference of Lawyers who specializes in administering Trust for Special Needs Clients and presented internet based programs with a NC Attorney, specializing in Special Needs Clients.
A graduate of the College of Architecture at UNC-C with a Master of Science in Architecture, where she currently serves as a Trustee on the UNCC Foundation Board. She has also served on the UNCC College of Architecture Advisory Board and Appalachian State Architecture Technology Advisory Board. She has served on the Board of Visitors of Livingstone College and the Development Council of Hood Theological Seminary. She was honored with the Second Annual Bishop James Walker Hood Humanitarian Award for service to the Community. She is a past President of AIA Charlotte, and Board Director of AIA North Carolina. She is a board director of Wells Fargo Bank. In 2018 she was bestowed a Doctorate of Letters from Invertis University, Bareilly India.
She is a former member of the Board of Trustees and served as Vice-President of the Historic Salisbury Foundation. For the last 25 years, Karen has served as Secretary of the Board of the Salisbury Community Development Corporation where she provided pro bono designs for affordable houses, for first time home buyers. The designs were based on the neighborhood vernacular in Jersey City, West End, and Park Avenue neighborhoods. For this work she was awarded the Sister Barbara Sullivan Humanitarian Award for North Carolina and a National Neighborhood Award.
A member of the Vision 20/20 Strategic Planning Committee for Salisbury and a former member of the Sustainable Community Development Commission appointed by the Rowan County Commissioners, she volunteers her expertise in creating a more livable and sustainable community for all citizens. Karen has worked tirelessly in supporting positive initiatives that protect and support the most vulnerable in our community regardless of race, gender or age advocating for accountability and respect to all. As an avid civic leader she has served as Chair of the Salisbury Historic Preservation Commission and Chair of the Salisbury Planning Board.
A long time supporter of the arts, Karen was President of the Board of the Waterworks Visual Arts Center for a decade where she lead the Arts Center through Accreditation in the American Museum Association. She brought the Salisbury Symphony: Violins of Hope project to Salisbury. Her firm, KKA Architecture, PA, has been a producing partner for more than 7 plays for the Piedmont Players, over the last decade.
In January of 2013, Karen was appointed by the Mayor and City Council to fill Susan Klutz’s seat when she became Secretary of Cultural Resources in the Governor’s Cabinet. In November 2013 she was re-elected to the Salisbury City Council, where she continues to serve as a City of Salisbury Councilwoman. In 2015 she ran for re-election and as the top vote getter was elected Mayor of Salisbury for a two year term. She served as Salisbury City Councilwoman 2017 - 2019 and is now Mayor of Salisbury for 2019-2021 terms.
She is a member of First United Church of Christ, serving on the Pastor/Staff Committee, Special Projects and the First United Church of Christ Foundation Board that has given over $1,000,000 to non-profits that provide human services to our community. On November 1, 2019, Karen was honored with a Key Woman Award from the Church Women United Board signed by the local President and the National Board President at the World Unity Event.
While Community Service is in her DNA, when not serving the community, Karen enjoys spending time with her husband, Henry, her son Daniel Almazan and his family, her three grandchildren, Tyler, Isabella and Mason, and of course, Elijah, her 5 lb. Yorkie, who is her constant companion and a special member of the family.