Founding CEO of Agile City
Karen Barnes is a mega-connector, visionary, ecosystem builder and Founding CEO of her sixth startup, Agile City Winston-Salem — a nonprofit innovation consultancy focused on designing and building entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystems through a suite of offerings. Prior to founding Agile City, Barnes served for three years as the Founding Executive Director of Venture Cafe Winston-Salem, where she and her team convened the ecosystem weekly, launched a Minority and Women’s Business Center, and created a public-private partnership to launch a startup recruiting initiative. Previously, she was a founding partner for an applied artificial intelligence startup; Vice President of Insights for a research and advertising agency completely focused on sustainability; the founder of her own marketing and communications consulting firm; and strategic lead for several advertising agencies working with Fortune 100 clients, including Boeing, ConAgra Foods, MillerCoors, Johnson & Johnson, Steelcase, Georgia-Pacific, Toshiba, Hanes, General Mills and Lowe’s Home Improvement. Barnes has a master’s degree in journalism and public affairs from The American University, and a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Hollins University. She’s a devoted partner to her artist wife, doting dog mom to a spoiled rotten Golden Retriever and a pretty decent golfer.