Karen Carter Richards is a native Houstonian and is the CEO and Publisher of the Forward Times Publishing Company, the South’s largest independently owned and published newspaper, and she has recently been recognized by the Texas Executive Women (TEW) as one of their 2016 Women on the Move honorees.
Since 1979, the membership of Texas Executive Women (TEW) has included some of the most powerful and successful professional female executives from many different professions and industries in Houston. In 1985, Robert Sakowitz’ family was one of the most successful business dynasties in the state, and he was a businessman who felt strongly that the city’s businesswomen should be recognized. That same year, the TEW brand grew to include its innovative Women on the Move program, which recognizes ten (10) exceptional women each year. From the beginning, Sakowitz insisted that the finalists and women who were ultimately named each year would be the best of the best, and there were high expectations, not just for professional achievements, but for community service as well. That legacy continues this year with the naming of the newest members of the Class of 2016, as well as the recipient of the Rising Star Award, who will all be recognized at their annual luncheon.
“Each nominee was amazing in her own right, exuding strong leadership, impressive career achievement and an exceptional heart for service,” said Debra Ibarra Mayfield, a co-chair of the 2016 WOM luncheon. “Our judging committee had a challenging task in selecting only ten of these phenomenal women to honor at this year’s luncheon.”
The annual Women on the Move luncheon is the primary source of funding for their TEW Scholarship Fund and mentoring programs. Since inception, the Women on the Move group has come together to network, share experiences, share professional resources and become actively involved in the community, as thousands of young girls’ lives have been forever changed through scholarships, field trips and individualized mentoring.
Karen is a native Houstonian, and her parents instilled in her a strong work ethic and the importance of community. Karen’s parents always stressed the importance of the Black Press and the value of its consistent voice. At the age of seven, her father and Forward Times founder, Julius Carter, put a basket on her bicycle and she had to deliver the newspaper in her neighborhood. Thanks to the foresight of her father, Karen was exposed to a world of politics, culture and business that would have a lasting impact on her emotional growth and professional development, and he also made sure his daughter developed a strong work ethic and sense of “timeliness” early on.
“My father was a visionary,” said Karen. “He believed that Houston needed a newspaper that positively reflected the African American community, while also reporting the hard truths about what was happening in our communities on the local, state and national level. I was fortunate to sit among some of the great leaders, civil rights activist and legends of our community in Houston and across the world.”
Karen was often told by her mother, Lenora “Doll” Carter, that her father would often say he died on a Monday, bury him on Tuesday and get the paper out. For Karen, those prophetic words from her father came true, and impacted her family and business on two separate occasions.
“Forward Times was known for reporting the truth without fear of favor, which was not always popular,” said Karen. “In 1971, we reported a story that was not so favorable to the ‘powers that be’ and subsequently our building was bombed. From all of the pressure, my father died of a massive heart attack 4 days later.”
And keeping in line with the words of her father, Karen and her mother, “Doll” Carter, did not miss the next issue. She began working full time at the company in 1983, and she states how her mother was like a drill sergeant, making her arrive early and stay late. She had to learn everything front door to the back, and at the time, she did not realize that her mother was preparing her and grooming her for the most devastating event in her life – the unexpected and sudden death of her mother, as a result of a massive heart attack on April 10, 2010.
After the untimely death of her mother, Karen took over daily operations and immediately turned the business into a multi-media powerhouse that continues to remain one of the strongest and most trusted voices for African Americans in the city of Houston.
Karen has made a profound difference in the community. In her capacity as a servant-leader, Karen recently founded the Julius and Lenora Carter Scholarship & Youth Foundation, which benefits low-to-moderate income Houston high school seniors and college students interested in various areas of journalism. Since 2010, the Foundation has provided internships to high school and college student in order to prepare them for a career in their prospective fields of study, through a practical learning experience in Journalism, Printing, Broadcasting and Digital Communications.
In addition to her foundation responsibilities, Karen is 1st Vice Chair of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), which consists of more than 200 African American newspapers across the country. Karen was selected as an inaugural member of the International Women’s Forum (I.W.F.) – Houston Chapter. The International Women’s Forum is a singularly unique organization comprised of more than 6,000 dynamic women leaders in thirty-three countries and seventy-four forums around the world. She served as Chairperson of “Go Red Girlfriend,” an African American Awareness Initiative for the American Heart Association, and is a recipient of the National Council of Negro Women’s Mary McLeod Bethune Impact Service Award. There have also been numerous women, youth, senior citizens, community organizations, businesses and churches that have benefited from Karen’s overall dedication, support and training.
“Although I am humbled by the things that we have accomplished, my pride comes in continuing the legacy of my parents,” said Karen. “They instilled in me a pride and commitment to our community. That is what they expected and it is the mandate that they left me to carry on. I am very proud that this year we celebrate 56 years in business.”
You can meet Karen and the other amazing Women on The Move honorees, while helping raise scholarship funds for girls and young women who truly need it by attending the 2016 Women on the Move Luncheon. Karen will be joined by Maria W. Boyce; Katy Caldwell; Wendy Dawson; Janine Iannarelli; Amy Lynn McGuire; Paula Mendoza; Mia Mends; Carrie Potter; Laura Robertson; and the Rising Star Awardee, Nicole Soussan.
The luncheon will be held on Tuesday, November 15 from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Houston’s Bayou City Event Center, 9401 Knight Rd. 77045. For additional information regarding Texas Executive Women or the special event, visit www.texasexecutivewomen.org.
We ask you to join the Forward Times staff in helping congratulate our humble and dedicated visionary, Karen Carter Richards, as well as the other honorees, on their well-deserved honor.