Karen Isble

Karen Isble
Vice President for College Advancement

Karen Isble (she/her/hers) joined Kalamazoo College as vice president for college advancement in September of 2020.

Roles and Responsibilities

Karen oversees fundraising, alumni engagement, and marketing and communication for the College. She provides vision and leadership around strategic planning, goal setting, reporting and communication for both campaign and annual fundraising goals. In partnership with faculty and College leadership, Karen directs efforts to connect donors with fundraising priorities, support and expand the donor base and encourage broader engagement by students, alumni, parents and friends.

Professional Experience

Before coming to K, Karen was associate vice chancellor and campaign director for university advancement at University of California, Irvine. Karen joined UC Irvine in 2017 and led the planning and execution of the university’s $2 billion comprehensive multi-year campaign, “Brilliant Future.” In this role, she worked with campus leadership, deans, unit directors, faculty members, foundation trustees, volunteers and advancement staff to foster partnerships, create awareness, and coordinate the activities which support the university’s campaign fundraising goals.  

Prior to joining UC Irvine, Karen served as assistant vice president for development at the University of Michigan. During her 11 years at Michigan, she oversaw the prospect development, data and technology infrastructure for the 600-member development staff community, covering 36 schools, colleges, units, and the academic medical center. Karen also played an integral role in the university’s $5.3 billion “Victors for Michigan” campaign, coordinating multiple aspects of campaign planning and working with campaign counsel, volunteers, donors and university leadership. 

A Detroit native, Karen worked in arts administration and fundraising roles at the Chamber Music Society of Detroit, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Goodman Theatre prior to joining University of Michigan. She served for five years on the board of Apra, serving as president in 2013-14. She has been a speaker and author, regionally and nationally, with Apra, CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) and AFP (Association of Fundraising Professionals), among others.  


  • Bachelor of Arts, music, Harvard University 
  • Master of Music, voice performance, University of Michigan 

Why K?

“I chose K for the opportunity to work with and learn from an incredibly strong leadership team. That aspiration has been met – and then some! I also chose K because I knew that I would have a chance to be closely involved in every part of campus life, get to know students and faculty, and see first-hand the impact we can make through strong alumni engagement, creative and timely communications, and inspirational philanthropy from donors and friends who care deeply about the College.” 

Life Outside of the College

“Moving to Kalamazoo was great for me as I have family in Detroit, Chicago and north of Grand Rapids. I love the proximity to Lake Michigan and I am still exploring all Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan have to offer. Following my musical roots, I joined the board of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra in 2021. An avid choral singer, I’m excited to join the ranks of the Bach Festival Chorus this year! My husband and I have two adult children and share our home with our two very spoiled rescue pups.”