Karen Sisson, Vice President for Administration and Chief Financial Officer
Karen Sisson began her tenure as vice president for administration and chief financial officer for Caltech on October 1, 2021 where she oversees the campus budget and balance sheet and manages a large portion of the Institute's administrative functions, from Audit to Facilities to Human Resources. She is also a principal liaison to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Prior to her appointment she served as vice president for business and finance at Kalamazoo College, Michigan.
As vice president for business and finance at Kalamazoo College, Karen developed financial strategies to address the impact of COVID-19 and co-chaired committees that led to a successful reopening of campus in the winter of 2021. Prior to joining Kalamazoo College, she served for more than 10 years as the vice president and treasurer at Pomona College, where she developed and implemented the college's response to the 2008 economic downturn and modernized the college's financial systems and processes. She also oversaw the financing, renovation, and construction of two science buildings, two residence halls, the studio art building, and the recently completed Benton Museum of Art, each achieving at least LEED Gold certification.
Before assuming positions in higher education, Karen spent 17 years in Southern California local government. She worked for the City of Los Angeles as city administrative officer, deputy mayor for finance and performance management, and deputy executive director and chief financial officer for Los Angeles World Airports, which operates Los Angeles International Airport ("LAX"). In her 9 years at LAX she oversaw the implementation of a new financial system, process improvements in accounts payable and billing, and the negotiation of rates and charges with the air carriers serving LAX. She also led the team that crafted the airport's financial response to the tragic events of 9/11.
Karen earned a bachelor's degree in international relations from Pomona College, a master's in business administration from the University of Chicago, and most recently a master's in biblical studies and theology from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena.