Karen A. Ashley

Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer


Innovator in establishing vision, creating strategic plans, and organizational alignment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion goals. Known for “making a difference.”

As Chief Diversity Officer for Providence, Karen is responsible for developing and leading Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategic initiatives that advance Providence’s vision of Health for a Better World.

Prior to joining Providence, Karen was the Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer for American Electric Power (AEP) based in Columbus, Ohio. She served as advisor to the CEO, senior leadership team, and business leaders across AEP’s eleven state territory. She led the enterprise Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) vision and strategy as well as overseeing compliance with Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity regulations.

With over 20 years of Diversity and Human Resources experience in the health, energy, construction, and retail industries, Karen has held positions of influence in the following companies: Georgia Power, Ashland Paving and Construction, San Antonio Water System, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Texas Med Clinic, and QVC.

Karen is a native of San Antonio, Texas. She received a Master of Arts degree from Webster University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of North Texas.

Karen was named one of twenty Trailblazing Women in Healthcare by Reuters in 2024. The 2024 awardees are women who have shown remarkable influence, impact, and leadership in the healthcare sector, and who inspire others with their work. Karen received the National Black MBA Association – Columbus Chapter Diversity & Inclusion Person of the Year Race for Excellence Award. The National Diversity Council named Karen one of the Top 50 CDOs for leadership and personal accomplishments. She is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and enjoys spending time with her family, mentoring, cycling, traveling, golfing, and shopping at local boutiques. She has been the guest on podcasts to include: CMO Podcast DEI mini-series; MDRG Healthcare Podcast: What Consumers Want; and StoryCorps Podcast with Mike Drummond. Karen is currently authoring a book that will chronicle her life’s journey.