From a very young age, Karen was fascinated with puppets and animation on TV and taught herself to draw cartoons and build and perform puppets by imitating her favorites – Walt Disney animation and Jim Henson’s Muppets.

    Numerous fan letters and a puppetry videotape sent to the New York Muppet office lead to Karen’s puppeteer audition with Muppets founder Jim Henson. He hired her to perform on Sesame Street in 1980 and later cast her as Red Fraggle on Fraggle Rock and the Worm in Labyrinth. Karen puppeteered and voiced film and television Muppet characters for 16 years, living and working in New York, Toronto and London. She also helped run a British puppet production company with fellow puppeteers Mike Quinn and David Barclay.

When computer animation started replacing film and television puppetry in the late 1990’s, Karen met Pixar founder Ed Catmull, who, intrigued by her puppet acting experience, invited her to train at Pixar as a computer animator. She started her second career as a film animator in 1997, animating on several of Pixar’s features and short films, including the Academy Award® winning Geri’s Game and Toy Story 2.

After several years at Pixar, Karen attempted to return to puppet work, but when this didn’t yield enough employment, she continued with computer animation, working at Tippett Studio in San Francisco and DNA Productions in Dallas. When DNA closed, fellow animators who had found work at an innovative video game company near Seattle encouraged her to apply there. Despite having no video game experience, Karen started her third career as a game animator at Valve in 2007.

Karen has animated on many of Valve’s recent games, most notably Portal 2. She has enjoyed learning about, contributing to and testing computer games and has found surprising connections between games and the puppet work that launched her professional life over 30 years ago. She occasionally takes time off to perform puppets with the hearty support of her peers at Valve, many of whom grew up watching the television and film productions on which she performed.