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Karen Maria Alston

Brand Strategist and CEO & Founder, The Spectrum Circle

Embarking on a journey with boundless vision and unyielding determination, Karen Maria Alston stands as an example of limitless potential in the arena of business and innovation. Karen is affectionately described as a change maker. She is a cultural and lifestyle expert, dynamic entrepreneur, filmmaker, and brand strategist. For decades, Karen has built a career working on impactful branding and marketing campaigns that touch the lives of millions of consumers.


An executive, marketer, brand manager, entrepreneur, strategist, storyteller, innovator, women’s advocate, and thought leader, Karen is an award-winning proven expert. The core of Karen’s career has been in executive leadership, marketing, finance, and social impact.  She works with equity-focused organizations to help them realize their vision of advocacy. She thrives to help them be in service to communities in ways that lift up, save, and change lives.


Karen is the Chief Marketing Officer for Eagle Academy, a network of charter schools in Washington, DC.  She is responsible for all communications, marketing, outreach, and public affairs. In addition to her professional career, Karen is the CEO and Founder of the executive women’s professional development, gender parity and wellness community, The Spectrum Circle (


Throughout her career as a founder and senior executive, Karen has had the special honor of building and managing inspiring teams, coaching and mentoring managers, leading teams through key operational transitions, and facilitating a continuously welcoming workplace of passion She works with equity-focused organizations to help them realize their vision of advocacy. She thrives to help them be in service to communities in ways that lift up, save, and change lives performance, expertise and execution, equity, inclusion, and belonging.



Karen grew up in West Philadelphia in a middle-class family of accomplished African American entrepreneurs and college graduates. Among the family’s most cherished possessions is the framed diploma from Tuskegee University, Alabama belonging to Karen’s great-grandfather. Karen was significantly influenced by her grandfather, Wallace C. Nash, who initially embarked on a military career through a program initiated by Franklin D. Roosevelt to promote racial diversity in the U.S. military. Rising to the rank of major, Nash transitioned to a successful business career in Philadelphia after his military service. Ensuring his children pursued higher education, Wallace Nash’s legacy extended to Karen’s mother, Faune Watkins.

Karen earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Finance from Howard University, an Executive Education Certificate in Branding and Design from Harvard University, and an Executive Education Certificate in Non-Profit Management from Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University. Recently, Karen received a certificate in Business Excellence from Columbia Business School. 


“Recently, I saw the trailer for Beyonce’s new movie Renaissance,” says Karen, “and she has a quote that moved me. She said, ‘time is my biggest obstacle.’ I immediately understood what she meant. I look back at my life and my decisions and wish I had arrived at this stage of life with this level of clarity sooner.”


Karen urges entrepreneurs to explore their passions, chase their dreams, and break through the barriers that may hinder personal and business growth. By living a life without limits, business leaders will push beyond their comfort zones, embrace uncertainty, and envision a future filled with infinite horizons.

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