Karen Wolters, using her knowledge of 20 year of international living and her passion for cooking, started a total of 5 companies. These companies range from product design, engineering, and manufacturing in Asia to private equity. She has been a finalist of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award—2003, Inducted into The Chicago Area Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame—2007, featured in Inc. magazine as one of the fastest growing private companies in America—2011. She has also been featured in newspapers throughout the country and as a keynote speaker at summits and universities. She is a former board member of Midland States Bank. During her time on the bank board, the bank grew from $500million in assets to $2.3 billion.
In 2013 she sold the last of her companies. In 2014, she started Wolters-Althoff Investments, a family office and private-equity company, located downtown Chicago. Since that time, they have purchased 6 companies throughout the US and Italy. The majority of companies are 100% owned by the family.
Karen’s focus is entrepreneurship. She was instrumental in the formation of the first CEO (Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities) class and Chairman of the Board of that first CEO class in Effingham, IL.
The CEO class seeks to prepare high school juniors and seniors to be responsible, enterprising individuals who become entrepreneurs or entrepreneurial thinkers and contribute to economic development and sustainable communities. Students are immersed in real life learning experiences with the opportunity to take risks, manage the results, and learn from the outcomes.
She is now Chairman of the Board of the Midland Institute for Entrepreneurship, whose purpose is to take the CEO class to all corners of America. Under her leadership, the CEO class has grown from one class in IL in 2012 to forty classes throughout 6 states. She is adamant about CEO being able to not only change students, but their communities and America.
Karen believes what has made America great are the founding principles of our capitalist country. Karen is married to her high school sweetheart for 53 years and has one son and three granddaghters. She resides in Jupiter, FL and Steamboat Springs, CO.