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2019 EU Distinguished Alumna: Karen Best

Name: Karen Best

Graduation Year: 1981

Major: Elementary Education

Current Position: Real Estate Salesperson

City and State: Branson, Mo

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

My career has been like a roller coaster with many anticipated and unanticipated twists and turns. I have been a political influencer, politician, educator, motivational speaker, publicist, business owner, and real estate agent.

I just completed serving as two-term Mayor of Branson, Missouri on April 9, 2019. During my tenure, I was invited to speak at the following: 1) Capitol Hill Senate Committee Hearing regarding afterschool funding, 2) The White House regarding workforce development, infrastructure, economic development, and the opioid epidemic, 3) Washington DC Panel on immigration. State Committee testimonies also included: 1) Public Safety and 2) Tourism Tax. While Mayor, I served on the National League of Cities Board of Directors and as Vice-President of Missouri Mayors United for Progress. I am very proud of the progress made in the City of Branson during my tenure and am looking forward to my next run for public office in 2020. In the meantime, the Governor of Missouri is planning to keep me busy working on a project to be announced in the near future.

I am currently serving as the Co-Founder of The Best Team of Keller Williams Tri-Lakes. We have been blessed as a top-selling team in the Tri-Lakes area for multiple years. Our most notable sale was the Grand Palace, which will be opening in 2020 as The Aquarium at the Boardwalk. We are very active in the commercial and residential market in the Tri-Lakes area.

Prior to my career in politics and real estate, I was an elementary teacher for ten years and an elementary principal for ten years. I had the privilege to teach in private and public schools, wealthy and poverty schools, and city and suburban schools. Molding and shaping children’s lives for the future is one of the most rewarding callings on earth.

One of the most fun jobs in my career was working as Special Events and International Publicity Coordinator for MGM Studios in Los Angeles. It was our job to make sure our films and television shows were top achievers at the Golden Globe Awards Show. In addition, songs from these shows and movies were also considered for Grammy Awards, Billboard Awards, ACM and CMA Awards.

As stated in the beginning, God has blessed me with a roller-coaster career. I wouldn’t trade any moment of any job because it has made me into the person I am today.

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

My favorite memory from Evangel was growing up the only girl living in Krause Hall. Dad became the Resident Counselor at Krause Hall when I was in seventh grade. I spent my junior high years living in Krause with over 200 big brothers. Throughout the years, my path has crossed with many of the guys who protected me as their little sister. They taught me to reach for my dreams.

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?

Evangel taught me the foundation of my faith. They helped me to develop spiritually and to learn to lean on God for direction in my life. When life brought challenges, they taught me it was important to trust in God to bring me through the fire. They also taught me when God closes a door, He always opens another door or a window and my job is to walk through the door or climb out the window. No matter what, He is faithful!

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

My experience at Evangel taught me how to develop and nurture life-long relationships. Being successful in life is all about relationships. My friend Yakov Smirnoff always says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This was evident during my tenure at Evangel. Professors cared. Resident Counselors cared. Administration cared. They all taught me how to care.

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way while you are a student at Evangel. You never know when you will need to draw on that opportunity once you enter the workforce.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

I would look for someone who was fully engaged while they were a student at Evangel. What extra things did the student do while they were in college? Who inspired them and who did they inspire? How did they give back to their community?