Karen Bond: What’s in your purse?

karen-bond-verticalIn each issue of Path to Excellence, we as a successful woman, “WHAT’S IN YOUR PURSE?” 

Karen Bond, Executive Alliance President and Boys Hope Girls Hope Executive Director

Her family calls her the “Bag Lady,” and this particular number, a woven Calvin Klein handbag fringed in scaly black fabric, is her summer favorite.

Bond, the leader of two Maryland nonprofits, found it in a T.J. Maxx in Los Angeles while on the West Coast for a work engagement.

“I had to convince the TSA person to let me carry it on the plane,” she said.

She loves shopping at the bargain outlet whenever she travels. Her favorites are in Rhode Island, she said, and she enjoyed stopping there before visiting her daughter, who attended Wellesley College.

“While I was trying to get over being an empty nester, I loved looking for deals,” she said.

Bond doesn’t use it much when she’s on the go, since it lacks a zipper, prohibiting so called “clumsy moments,” but she lauded it as “a chance to show more of me.”

For Bond, “me” means assuming multiple roles. She is the executive director of Boys Hope Girls Hope, which focus on youth empowerment and education, and the new president for Executive Alliance, which advocates for women’s leadership on corporate boards.

“I’m also part storyteller,” she said. “I’m telling the story of the life of a student who, by virtue of their zip code, is at a disadvantage.”

Bond, Executive Alliance’s first African-American president, hopes to focus on welcoming minority women into the fold.

“I remember growing up in Baltimore and riding the bus with my grandmother, a college-educated woman who couldn’t get a job in her field. She was a day lady,” Bond said.

As she’s moved throughout the public, private and nonprofit sectors, serving on boards from the Baltimore Museum of Art to Meals on Wheels, the relationships she’s built are what she remembers most.

Bond said she makes a point of giving personalized handwritten notes and inspirational quotes to her friends and coworkers.

“I look for different things because everyone emails. Relationships really matter to me, and I don’t think it’s a good day unless I’ve written four to five people,” she said. 



  1. Horse belt buckle: “I’m looking for a belt that matches it, so I’ll be ready for the Preakness next year.”
  2. Duke University magazine, lanyard. A Duke alumna, Bond said she’s “always interested in what’s happening there.”
  3. Elephant pin: represents the sorority she joined as a student at Duke University — Delta Sigma Theta.
  4. Executive Alliance pin: as the organization’s new president and the first African American to hold the role, Bond is looking to focus on diversity and inclusion on corporate boards.
  5. Book: “Excellence Gaps in Education,” by her Johns Hopkins colleague Jonathan Plucker. “Education is such a hot topic,” and an important one in her role helping youth at nonprofit Boys Hope Girls Hope.
  6. Princeton University Art Museum postcard. Reminds her of the first student she helped during her time at the Baltimore Educational Scholarship Trust, who went on to attend the university.
  7. Pen and purse: While gold is her favorite color, she chose this red purse for its bright color that would make it easier to find. “Red is a good color for prosperity,” she added.
  8. Quote cards: “For when I need to cheer someone up.”
  9. iPhone with her favorite photo of her mother and daughter. Her daughter Jenna, a Wellesley grad and former employee of President Bill Clinton, lives in New York City and works in social media. “She helps me stay current. She’s left me behind on Facebook, and now she’s on Instagram.” Her 94-year-old mother is her “inspiration.”
  10. Her favorite pair of sunglasses, which she found on Gilt, an online designer shopping website her daughter introduced her to. “I love sunglasses,” she said. They’re just another reason she loves summer, which she dubbed a time to “express Karen.”
  11. Notepad: “I don’t think it’s a good day unless I’ve written four to five people.”
  12. The Links pin. Bond is a member of this African American service organization, which she values dearly.

This article is featured in The Daily Record’s Path To Excellence: A Woman’s Guide To Business. The mission of the Path to Excellence magazine is to give our readers the opportunity to meet successful women of all ages, backgrounds and beliefs and learn how they define success. Read more from Path to Excellence.

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