A Profile of the Second Lady
Karen Pence, the wife of former Vice President Mike Pence, assumed the role of Second Lady of the United States when her husband took office on January 20, 2017. While the position of the Second Lady is largely ceremonial, Karen Pence utilized her platform to focus on issues close to her heart—including art therapy, military families, and education.
Born Karen Sue Batten on January 1, 1957 in Kansas, she grew up in Indiana and later attended Butler University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Karen met Mike Pence at church, and they were married in 1985. The couple has three children: Michael, Charlotte, and Audrey.
Before becoming Second Lady, Karen Pence was already an experienced educator. She taught at various schools and worked at an art gallery in Indianapolis. Her passion for education, coupled with an interest in the healing power of art, laid the foundation for her advocacy work.
One of Karen Pence’s significant initiatives as Second Lady was the promotion of art therapy. With a master’s degree in art education from Indiana University, she had a deep appreciation for the transformative impact of art, on individuals facing mental health challenges. Karen actively worked to raise awareness about art therapy, highlighting its positive effects on veterans, individuals with mental health issues, and cancer patients.
In 2017, she launched the art therapy initiative, “Healing with the HeART,” as part of her broader advocacy for art therapy. This initiative aimed to showcase the benefits of art therapy and encourage greater access to these services for those in need. Karen Pence’s commitment to art therapy reflected her belief in the power of creativity to heal and improve the well-being of individuals facing various life challenges.
Additionally, Karen Pence showed a keen interest in supporting military families. She recognized the unique challenges faced by military spouses and children and sought to use her platform to bring attention to their needs. Her involvement included visits to military bases, participating in events that celebrated and supported military families, and engaging with organizations dedicated to assisting those connected to the armed forces.
Education was another focal point for Karen Pence. With her background as an educator and her master’s degree in art education, she had a deep appreciation for the importance of quality education. During her time as Second Lady, she advocated for policies that supported teachers and emphasized the significance of art in education. Her efforts aligned with broader national discussions on education reform and the well-being of students and teachers.
While the role of the Second Lady is often overshadowed by that of the Vice President, Karen Pence used her position to make a positive impact. Her advocacy for art therapy, support for military families, and dedication to education showcased a commitment to addressing issues that mattered to her personally and that had the potential to benefit the broader American public. As with many individuals who have served in this role, Karen Pence played a vital part in shaping the public narrative and contributing to important conversations during her tenure as Second Lady.