About Karen

My Story and Qualifications


Raised in a small town in the mid-west, my love for open land is deeply engrained. I had four older brothers, and was blessed with a large yard, beautiful parks, and surrounding countryside. Recreation and exploration were natural activities. I grew up curious, eager to be out of doors, and with a keen sense of fairness. We were born to older parents who had lived through the Depression, so we learned not to waste anything of value.

Karen's Portrait Karen Holman

I credit those childhood values, and experience honed through a lifetime of public service, with my long and public track record as a champion of the environment. My endorsements attest to my strong regional reputation for environmental stewardship, deep knowledge of conservation and our open space resources, and effective leadership.

As a community volunteer and throughout my 17 years in Palo Alto as both an elected and appointed official, I demonstrated land use expertise, fiscal responsibility, and dedicated attention to the varied challenges of preserving our natural resources for habitat, sustainability and recreation. I have shown a keen commitment to community inclusion and public transparency and proven my ability to collaborate effectively to build consensus across competing interests.

It has been my privilege to invest time and energy serving the public interest, and I relish the opportunity to focus my efforts on ensuring that residents across our area have access to open space preserves that are so important for a healthy and sustainable ecology and community.

I would be honored to serve you on the Board of Directors for our Open Space District, and I ask for your support.

In the meantime, if you have not already done so, I invite you to learn more about my background and values by watching the following video.

Environmental Initiatives and Accomplishments

•  Co-chaired MROSD’s visioning group, the Citizens Advisory Committee  – completed

•  Led on dedication and addition of 7.7 acres to Foothills Park  – successful

•  Advocated for greater creek-side setbacks in Municipal Code  – successful

•  Advocated in successive years to retain a 7-year pruning cycle when budget cuts threatened – successful

•  Advocated for staff to restore water to street and park trees during the drought, as the City had cut off watering in several situations. We lost hundreds of trees during the drought  – successful

•  Proposed to Policy & Services Committee of the City Council—I was on Planning Commission and not yet on the Council—that in place of the proposed recycling center in the Baylands, the City should focus on reducing waste. The Committee agreed, and the recycling center was taken off the table. That was the beginning of Zero Waste planning in Palo Alto – successful

•  Served on both Acterra’s and Palo Alto’s Zero Waste Task Forces

•  Crafted additional standard review criteria for Palo Alto’s open space projects – successful

•  Recently led on getting an anti-idling ordinance passed by the Council – successful

•  Continue to advocate—for 13 years—for the City to implement deconstruction and salvage requirements in the Construction and Demolition Ordinance, and to change the metric from “landfill diversion” to “waste reduction” – ongoing

•  Successfully advocated for Palo Alto’s urban tree canopy to be considered part of our Infrastructure “portfolio”. It was added to the Comprehensive Plan as such  – successful

•  Supported and encouraged the renovation of the Municipal Golf Course. The golf course was redesigned to provide vital flood protections, primarily to protect residents of East Palo Alto from flooding and sea level rise. That project added vital natural wetlands habitat. At the same time, we took the opportunity to completely transform the course on less acreage while converting it to a more natural course. It now includes extensive native vegetation and habitat, has far less water use—much is reclaimed water—while nearly eliminating fertilizer and pesticide usage


•  University of Arkansas, Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Arts

Palo Alto City Council Service - partial list

•  Elected to City Council, 2009, re-elected, 2014
•  Mayor, 2015
•  Member, Council Appointed Officers Committee, 2011-13, 2016
•  Member, Council Appointed Officers Committee, 2011 (Chair), 2017
•  Chair, City - School Liaison Committee, 2018
•  Member, Finance Committee, 2014, 2016-17
•  Member, Policy and Services Committee, 2010-13, 2018
•  Chair, Policy and Services Committee, 2011
•  Member, Regional Housing Mandate Committee, 2012-14
•  Chair, Regional Housing Mandate Committee, 2013
•  Liaison, Historic Resources Board, 2016-18
•  Liaison, Parks & Recreation Commission, 2010-11
•  Liaison, Public Art Commission, 2013-14, 2016 (Alternate)
•  Liaison, Human Relations Commission, 2012
•  Liaison,Library Advisory Commission, 2018
•  Liaison, Palo Alto Youth Council, 2017
•  Liaison, Project Safety Net, 2017
•  League of California Cities, Peninsula Division, 2013-14
•  Alternate, Palo Alto Housing Corporation, 2010-11 (Liaison), 2017
•  Liaison, California Avenue Area Development Association, 2013-14
•  Liaison, SCVWD Lower Peninsula Flood Control & Watershed Advisory Committee, 2013
•  Member, Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), 2010
•  Liaison, California Avenue Business Association, 2013, 2016
•  Member, Santa Clara Valley Water District Commission, 2010-12

Community Service

•  Midpeninsula Regional Open Space Vision Plan Community Advisory Committee
•  Magical Bridge Foundation, Board of Advisors
•  Palo Alto Planning & Transportation Commission, 8 years, 2-term chair
•  South of Forest Area Plan I Working Group member
•  South of Forest Area Plan II Working Group Co-chair
•  Palo Alto History Museum, Executive Director
•  Conservation and preservation consultant
•  University South Neighborhood Association Board, former
•  Palo Alto Stanford Heritage docent and President, former
•  Palo Alto Historical Association board member
•  Palo Alto Woman's Club First Vice President, former
•  East Palo Alto reading program tutor

Professional Experience

•  Executive Director, Palo Alto History Museum
•  Land Use, Conversation, Preservation
•  Owner, Holman Graphics
•  Manager, Lena Chow Advertising
•  Manager, Hodskiins Simone & Searls


Paid for by Holman for Open Space District Board 2018
3428 Janice Way   Palo Alto, CA   94303
FPPC #1410488   Greg Schmid, Treasurer
Copyright 2018