Karen McBride met her first orchids and fell in love with them in a room full of orchid displays at the 1993 Minnesota State Fair. She joined the local orchid society that set up those displays the next month and never looked back.
Her previous horticultural experience had been limited to taking turns with her younger sister mowing the family’s lawn in Des Moines, Iowa and watching her grandparents tend their peonies when she and that same sister went to visit them.
Born on an Air Force base in Fresno, California, Karen spent her early years doing the typical military-family trek across the country with stops in Maine and North Carolina before spending the rest of her growing up years in Des Moines. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in math with a minor in economics and business from St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, she became a pension actuary and co-founded Pension Consultants, Inc. a Minneapolis company specializing in the design and administration of pension plans, serving as its Vice President and Treasurer for twenty-five years. In 2003, she and her partners sold the business to its new owner. She continues to work for the company as Vice President and Consulting Actuary.
Karen has served as 2nd Vice President, 1st Vice President and President of the Orchid Society of Minnesota and has also chaired and exhibited at local shows and brought society exhibits to regional and national shows. She was Treasurer of the Mid-America Orchid Congress for five years, chaired its Budget Committee and served on its audit and nominating committees. She has served on the AOS Information Committee, the Nominating Committee, and the Special Funding Committee, chairing the latter for four years. In 2004 she was appointed to fill a vacant AOS trustee position and was elected trustee for her own three year term beginning in 2006. At about the same time, she was appointed to the Finance Committee and continues in that role. She has been a member of the Executive Committee since 2006, serving until the spring of 2009 as the Assistant Treasurer and since then as Secretary.
When she couldn’t resist any longer, she became a student in the judging program and became an AOS Accredited Judge with the Chicago Judging Center in 2007. She has judged at AOS shows around the country and three times in Taiwan and has trekked more than once to South America to see her beloved orchids in the wild. Her current orchid mission is helping to promote AOS membership for that committee at shows around the country.