Karen Wilson Thissen, Paul’s wife, grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. She went to a small Catholic high school where both her mother and grandmother were alumnae, and then headed to Washington, D.C. to attend Georgetown University.
Karen was active in student government, did a lot of volunteer work in the inner city, and worked at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Her passion for community service led to her spend two years in Latin America, doing both social work and human rights research in Argentina and Peru. Karen’s time in Latin America had a lasting impact. She continues to use her proficiency in Spanish on the campaign trail with Paul, sharing ideas and concerns with the Latino communities of Minnesota.
After returning from Peru, she attended the University of Chicago Law School, where she met Paul. They married in 1993, and Karen moved to Minnesota to start their life together. Since then, Karen has spent time involved in both the public and private sector. She spent the first part of her legal career at the Minneapolis law firm Faegre & Benson, where she became a partner in 2001. Like Paul (and sometimes with him), Karen has been involved in numerous community organizations including the Minneapolis Public Library, the Minnesota Historical Society, Womenwinning, neighborhood boards, the James Sewell Ballet Board, and their community school. She joined Ameriprise Financial in 2004 and currently serves as Senior Vice President. Karen spends her “free” time now being a mom and working on the campaign.
Karen and Paul have three children, Emily, Griffin, and Evan. Emily, the eldest, a 15 year-old, is an avid soccer player, golfer, and school journalist. And like her mother, she speaks Spanish. Griffin, a 12 year-old , loves playing basketball and other sports and plays piano. Evan, age 10, the comedian of the family, loves hockey, soccer and practical jokes.