Karen Holley Horrell, divisional president of corporate services for the Great American Insurance Co., is the new chair of the Berry College Board of Trustees. She is the first woman to be elected chair of the college’s senior leadership board. She presided over her first meeting in late May.
Berry has a strong tradition of female leadership, dating back to founder Martha Berry herself. Other trailblazers include the late Dr. Gloria Shatto, the first female college president in Georgia.
Horrell is one of three women – all Berry alumnae – to be tapped for major leadership positions in 2010. She is joined by Celeste Greene Osborn, the new chair of the Berry College Board of Visitors, and Barbara Pickle McCollum, incoming president of the Berry Alumni Association.
“We are fortunate to have such highly capable alumnae accept the responsibilities of leadership for their alma mater,” said Berry President Steve Briggs. “Martha Berry would probably enjoy that all are female, but I think it must please her most of all that Berry graduates of both sexes have displayed the commitment, wisdom, vision and heart to help Berry continue its educational mission into the future.”
A trustee since 1999, Horrell recently claimed the 2010 Distinguished Achievement Award presented by the Berry Alumni Association in recognition of her career accomplishments. She takes the reins as board chair from W. Glenn Cornell, who stepped down after three years of distinguished leadership. His service as a trustee will continue.
Cornell was the first member of Berry’s alumni community to chair the Board of Trustees, and Horrell is pleased to follow in his footsteps.
“We have great momentum now at Berry,” she stated. “We should maintain the strengths of today and build on them. I believe in growing stronger step-by-step, and we can do that by building on the work of Glenn Cornell and those before him.”
Horrell graduated summa cum laude from Berry College in 1974. She later earned her law degree from Emory University in Atlanta. She joined the Great American Insurance Company as an entry-level attorney in 1977.
The 1987 winner of Berry’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award, Horrell was the first woman to hold the title of general counsel for the now $4 billion insurer group. At the age of 33, she became the company’s first female senior vice president. Today, she is a member of the executive leadership team with responsibility for 225 employees and an annual budget of $35 million.
In addition to her professional accomplishments, Horrell has an extensive record of community service. Her involvement includes service as a board member and key officer for the YWCA of Cincinnati, which has honored her as a Career Woman of Achievement; Tri-Health Inc.; The Children’s Home of Cincinnati; Seven Hills School; and the United Way & Community Chest of Greater Cincinnati.
She also served on citywide campaign cabinets for the United Way and Fine Arts Fund and was selected, in 2006, for the “One Hundred Wise Women Program,” sponsored by Deloitte & Touche. She currently chairs the Hamilton County (Ohio) Hospital Commission.
Horrell lives in Cincinnati with her husband, Jack. The couple has one daughter, Holley, who is currently studying law at Stanford University.