Director – AutoNation, Telenav, Nauto, CircleGraphics, Dynamic Signal
Karen C. Francis is a Strategic Advisor, Board Director and Investor based in Silicon Valley. As an experienced CEO who has bridged manufacturing, marketing, and technology industries throughout her career, she brings broad expertise and perspective to the emerging business opportunities being created globally through innovation and technology. Karen’s extensive board and corporate governance experience has spanned public, family-owned, private equity and venture capital portfolio companies as well as numerous non-profits, industry association, and membership driven organizations. This vast perspective enables Karen to bring best practices, actionable advice, and thorough oversight to each board assignment. Additionally, she has deep domain expertise in the automotive, marketing, advertising, and technology sectors.
Karen currently serves as Lead Director and Chair of the Compensation Committee for Telenav (NASDAQ: TNAV), the leading technology provider for embedded vehicle navigation systems. She also serves as independent director for Nauto, an AI driven telematics company in the autonomous mobility space, for Dynamic Signal, whose software platform empowers employee communications at Fortune 500 companies across industries around the world, and CircleGraphics, the leading on-demand digital print eCommerce platform for wall décor, billboards and business signage. Karen previously served as a director on the corporate boards of Hanover Insurance Group, Pella Windows, AutoNation, and Covisint. Karen is a Certified Board Leadership Fellow with the National Association of Corporate Directors and maintains a cutting-edge perspective on key and trending issues facing boards including Cybersecurity, Innovation & Disruption, Executive Compensation, Risk Management and Talent Development.
Her business career includes executive positions at Procter & Gamble, Bain & Company, Berol Corporation, Internet Capital Group and eight years in Detroit with executive positions at both General Motors and Ford Motor Company. While at GM, Karen led the Chevrolet Venture minivan business and served as General Manager of the Oldsmobile division. While at Ford, Karen was President & CEO of ConsumerConnect, the technology investment division which pioneered acquisition and development of industry relevant technologies. Later, Karen served as Chairman & CEO of Publicis & Hal Riney, a marketing agency in the Publicis global advertising network. Most recently, Karen was the Chairman & CEO of AcademixDirect, an education technology and marketing company in Silicon Valley. Karen was named Advertising Age “Woman to Watch” in 1998 and one of the “100 Most Influential Women in Advertising” in 2012, one of the “Top 100 Chief Executive Officers” in the country by ExecRank, Automotive News “Top Newsmaker”, and recognized by the San Francisco Business Times as one of the Most Influential Women in Business in 2005,2006, and 2007. Karen is a frequent speaker on technology innovation and board governance.
Karen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in economics from Dartmouth College where she also served on the Board of Trustees from 2000-2009. Karen is also on the non-profit boards for Positive Coaching Alliance and the PGA Reach Foundation of the PGA of America. Karen is an avid wine collector and owns her own vineyard in Healdsburg, CA.