VAYA Health State Coordinator – North Carolina
Karen Luken has more than 35 years of experience in disability and health, recreation therapy, and grants management. Karen is the project director for the “Medical Health Homes for People with Developmental Disabilities” initiative, funded by the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities and awarded to Easter Seals UCP NC and The Arc of NC. From 2002 through 2013, Karen was with the NC Office on Disability and Health working to ensure that individuals with disabilities were included in ongoing state disease prevention, health promotion, and emergency response activities. Prior to her work in public health she was the Associate Director of the Center for Recreation and Disability Studies at UNC-CH, teaching and developing innovative services for people with significant disabilities living in the community. Karen received her BS in therapeutic recreation from the University of Illinois-Urbana, and her MS degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies and certificate in public health from UNC-Chapel Hill. Karen worked as a recreational therapist in community mental health, in-patient and out-patient psychiatry, and long-term medical rehabilitation She has published on cancer screening for women with DD, cardiovascular disease and adults with disabilities, community design and active living, retirement options for adults with developmental disability, and creating inclusive environments for people with disabilities.