Karen Shannon’s roots grew from Eric Christianson— her father and role model. Eric Christianson demonstrated throughout his life that dreams, visions and goals were achievable through focused, hard work. Karen’s father immigrated to the U.S. from Sweden in the 1920’s. He embraced the American Dream and saw the U.S.A. as the Land of Opportunities. In the 1930’s when faced with the challenge of a family members access to education, Eric created Michigan’s first transportation system for individuals with disabilities which continues today. Eric supplied the “Missing Piece”, insuring that all individuals with disabilities had equal access to an education. Following in here father’s footsteps, Karen devotes herself to helping individuals achieve their goals and dreams. Karen became an advocate for children with life threatening conditions by identifying the “Missing Pieces” in the health care system that left individuals lacking knowledge about and access to medical services and support. Karen discovered these challenges when she faced keeping her own infant daughter alive. Karen created a Non-Profit Foundation in the early 1980s called SKIP (Sick Kids need Involved People). This experience led Karen to a Capitol Hill Fellowship in Senator DeConcini’s Washington DC office where she provided testimony on the “Missing Pieces” in our health and educational systems. Karen’s work during this period was instrumental in the creation of the Infants and Toddlers Educational Program and the Medicaid Model Waiver for Children. Karen then found herself facing another catastrophic event when she learned in the fall of 2011 from her son that he had stage four colon cancer. Yet again, Karen discovered more “Missing Pieces” relative to the medical care and resources profoundly needed by her son and others in his situation. Fate handed Karen another challenge when her other son experienced a horrific fall in 2017 that severely jeopardized his future. From her father’s work in the 1930’s that led to a transportation system for persons with disabilities, through her more than 25 years of professional and personal experiences, Karen has and continues to uncover “Missing Pieces” for those in need of critical services and support in our U.S. health care world.
Karen is currently creating “Mike’s Place”, a 501(c)(3) foundation names for her son and her children. “Mike’s Place” will serve individuals facing Catastrophic Life Altering situations by identifying those “Missing Pieces” and services through a National database. It will be searchable by key words, diagnosis, locations, and more. “Mike’s Place” will help to ease the burden and support the journey of individuals and families by connecting them to a HealthCare Concierge when finding themselves facing catastrophic medical situations. In short, “Mike’s Place” will provide a path to a new (better, more manageable) normal for their life and the lives of their families and love ones.
Through her foundation, Karen and supporters of her philosophy will help make it possible for others to embrace her philosophy of living life to the fullest, making every minute count and sharing (paying forward) one’s gifts with others.