I thought I would tell you a little about me and my family. I have 2 older brothers, Dr. Steve, and Dave, and one younger sister, Linda. Linda and I were both born in Seattle, where our dad was a CPA for a Big 8 Accounting firm. He had an opportunity to start a branch office for a Nebraska accounting firm, so our family moved to Kearney, Nebraska, a small town. He died of a heart attack, so we moved to Lincoln, Nebraska where my mom’s parents lived. My mom was a teacher, and was able to get a teaching job in Lincoln. It was wonderful having grandparents so close, and we had lots of relatives, both in Nebraska and Washington state. I started piano lessons at 6, and my first job at 13. My goal since I was a child was to create world peace.
I graduated with a Business Degree in Finance from University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and planned to own a bank. My Junior year I went to University of Seville, Spain, and traveled throughout Europe for 5 months by myself. IBM said I could have all the banks as my accounts, if I joined them. I worked for IBM for 6 years, then owned, started and grew businesses for 14 years in Nebraska. At 25, I married the wrong man for me, but it took me 6 years to end the marriage. I decided not to remarry or have children. I survived Domestic Violence by going to professional counseling. It is dangerous to be in a domestic violence relationship, but it is even more dangerous to leave. I was held down, punched, and in 1991, strangled to unconsciousness, and almost died.
I founded the Karen Dunning Fund Endowment at the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 1995, was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 1996 and served on Nebraska Governor's CEO Roundtable, and attended international trade missions to Japan, Hong Kong and China. I have spoken at numerous Entrepreneurial conferences, and served on the boards for numerous non-profit organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, Voices of Hope (Domestic Violence), Nebraska Arts Commission. In addition, I was appointed by the Mayor of Lincoln, Nebraska to serve on the Lincoln Lancaster County Status of Women Commission.
In 1997, I sold my projection equipment business, Business Media, and in 1998, moved to Los Angeles, CA, to study acting, music, standup comedy, songwriting, and singing. I loved it all so much. I played the role of a Cardiologist on the TV show, "Chicago Hope," and have been in many movies and TV shows including "Madmen," "ER," and "Pursuit of Happyness." Then, I moved to San Francisco and sang in the Glide Gospel Ensemble, and various groups, while earning an Associates of Music degree and tutoring music students at the College of Marin. I worked as a Professor of Practice of Entrepreneurship for American University in Yola, Nigeria. When an opportunity shows up, I usually say “yes”. I have been asked to run for public office in Nebraska and in California, but chose not to.
In 2000, I was working for a dot.com company in San Francisco, California, when I became exhausted and incapacitated. It turned out I had Lyme Disease, but it was undiagnosed until 2008. Music kept me going and saved my life. I purchased a Bosendorfer Imperial 291 Concert Grand Piano and a new guitar. I founded a Peace Song Contest to add to world peace.
In 2013, I started splitting time between Lincoln, Nebraska and the west coast so that I could help my mom. I am grateful for the extra time I was able to share with her. While in Lincoln, the man who strangled me in 1991 tried to find me. This was the first time that I spoke publicly about my abuse and strangulation. The police, counselors, and others trained in domestic violence, all helped me on my healing journey, but also warned me that I was not safe in Lincoln. Abusers never quit.
In 2016, I took acting classes in New York City and wrote a monologue about my experiences.
My beautiful mom died in 2020 at age 97. The day before she died, I was diagnosed with stage IV liver cancer, which was mis-diagnosed in May of 2019 with a negative biopsy. I told my doctor I needed to go home and write my book.
My life has been full of adventures and lessons. I bless my past as it has turned to wisdom. I love and forgive myself and wish for all humans to have inner peace. I am whole and complete and so are you.