Karen VanHouten


Research and Design


Over 20 years in UX have left Karen a tiny bit unhinged, kind of sweary, and intensely committed to designing better ways for teams to work together. After years working in enterprise software, for some reason she decided that work wasn’t difficult enough, and is now tackling user experience in the government sector. Little did she know when she took a break from her graduate work in literature many, many years ago that she would find the perfect balance of joy and frustration working in a field that barely existed at that time (nor that she would have so many opportunities to reference Plato’s Allegory of the Cave in her work). Her goal is to design more ethical, more inclusive, and more sustainable solutions in government.

She believes all problems are design problems, all technical problems are symptoms of foundational human problems, and she likes to give radically honest talks about the messy human side of our work. She usually gets her best ideas on hikes with her dog or in the shower, and the truly brilliant ones usually come roughly at three in the morning. She then gets up and starts furiously scribbling on post-its in the middle of the night. (This is true. There are pictures.)

Despite the fact that she is sometimes loud and always, always snarky, in truth she has a large amount of affection for her work and, more importantly, for her teammates. She can be easily won over with a nice red wine, quality bourbon, 85% dark chocolate, or 80’s alternative music.