Karen Howell

Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Chicago Business Unit

Karen oversees Clayco’s Diversity and Inclusion for the Chicago Business Unit and working hand-in-hand with our Office of Government and Community Affairs to ensure consistency in our corporate policies, procedures, and programs being implemented nationwide. With 20+ years of experience specializing in compliance monitoring of construction contracts with extensive expertise in MBE/WBE inclusion from project conception through facility occupancy, she brings a depth of community relation strategies to increase MBE/WBE participation as well as local hiring initiatives, constructive hiring workforce policies and alternative dispute resolution.

Karen began her career as an independent consultant recognizing as organizations and society become increasingly diverse there was the need for compliance requirements with all public and private MBE/WBE services. The understanding of intergroup relations and processes when it comes to diversity and inclusion is why she fervently researched, designed and implemented successful reporting systems to determine the effectiveness of MBE/WBE plans. With the success of these mechanisms, she eventually becomes a liaison for employers, government entities and community organizations alike. She was able to capture the myriad of processes that may interfere with the value of diversity and change that dynamic for the clients aiding them in a considerably essential growth and management of MBE/WBE talent.

As her career evolved, she spent a considerable amount of time as a Strategic Management Consultant for a prominent diversity and inclusion firm that specializes in procurement and workforce policies. One of her most prominent projects was the Cook County Central Campus Health Department project, where she served as the Compliance Project Manager and Clayco, Inc. was the developer and design/builder. Karen utilized her expertise with MBE/WBE compliance to further the outreach of inclusion within the communities she served with staunch campaigns to attract more diverse and contractors in bidding opportunities – ensuring established goals were being met.

During her tenure at the University of Chicago, Karen championed the strategies toward embedding diversity in all aspects of the university’s design and construction projects.

As the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Clayco, Karen’s experience within the construction industry and inclusion expertise will assist in the progressive strategic direction, leadership and community outreach for our Chicago office.


Master of Science in Human Services Administration | Spertus College of Jewish Studies, Chicago, IL

Bachelor of Science in Career Counseling | Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, IL

Associate of Applied Science in Construction Management | Kennedy King College, Chicago, IL