Karen Connolly

Sr. Dir. of Workforce Development 

Karen Connolly serves as San Diego Regional Policy & Innovation Center’s (PIC) Senior Director of Workforce Development, leading PIC’s efforts to support the creation of quality jobs throughout the region.  

Prior to joining PIC, Connolly most recently served as the inaugural director of healthcare workforce programs for the San Diego Workforce Partnership, where she created pipelines and programs in healthcare and behavioral health with a specific focus on underserved populations. Connolly was responsible for securing over $12 million in grant funding and created the region’s first and only Department of Labor-registered Substance Use Disorder counselor apprenticeship.  

Connolly’s career includes more than a decade of experience in the healthcare sector, including serving as a manager for Family Health Centers of San Diego (FHCSD) – one of the nation’s 10 largest federally qualified health centers for nearly six years. In this role, she managed millions of dollars in CDC, county and private grant funding for HIV prevention programs and led over 25 full-time employees. She also directed the center’s Clean Syringe Exchange Program, HIV and Transgender Care and Support Services, and oversaw the implementation of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) navigation and research studies. During her time at FHCSD, Connolly was appointed by the County Board of Supervisors to serve as a member of the San Diego HIV Planning Group.  

Her past roles also include program manager for the Liver Coalition of San Diego – a local organization comprised of health care specialists working with those affected by liver disease – and administrative assistant in radiation oncology and administrative specialist in patient access at the Moores Cancer Center under the UC San Diego Health System.  

In 2023, Connolly earned her Talent Supply Chains badge from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, demonstrating an exemplary understanding of the Talent Pipeline Management (TPM) framework and methodology.  

Connolly is a founding board member of the San Diego Harm Reduction Coalition and is also on the board of Townspeople San Diego – a housing service organization with a focus on people living with HIV/AIDS. She holds a bachelor’s in print journalism from the University of Southern California, and both her master’s in health management and policy and master’s in social work administration from San Diego State University.  

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