Science education advocate and community volunteer Karen Marie Meyer died in her West Berkeley home on Aug. 14, 2013, after battling brain cancer. She was 45.
Karen graduated from UC Berkeley in 1991 and soon after began working with Dr. Isabel Hawkins of UC Berkeley’s Space Science Laboratory. While at SSL and in partnership with NASA, Karen led strategic planning and management of NASA education programs at UC Berkeley, fueled by a vision to make science accessible to all.
Karen brought this passion for science education to her children’s school, Rosa Parks Elementary. She pioneered solar education days and helped write a $250,000 grant that brought solar panels to the school. The panels generate a third of all the energy needed to power the school.
“Karen was an amazing parent advocate for kids and the environment,” says Rosa Parks principal Paco Furlan. “I like to remember that the computers the children use and the lights they read by are being powered by Karen’s efforts to bring solar to our school. She was an amazing part of our community.”
Karen was a founding member of Church Without Walls (CWOW) and deeply committed to her West Berkeley neighborhood. She and her husband, Rich, worked with CWOW to establish summer movie nights, which provides a free, outdoor, family-friendly movie and snacks to the neighborhood. Summer movie nights have become a gathering place for West Berkeley neighbors, regularly drawing more than 200 enthusiastic movie watchers.
“True to our church’s name, Karen wanted to break down walls of race, class, faith and other barriers that so often separate us,” says Pastor Dana Cunliffe of Church Without Walls. “She lived that out in her West Berkeley neighborhood. Her kindness, generous spirit and genuine curiosity was a balm to many.”
Karen’s memorial service was held at 1:00pm on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at First Presbyterian Church, 2407 Dana Street in Berkeley.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Rosa Parks Elementary School. Make an online gift here or send a check to Rosa Parks PTA, 920 Allston Way, Berkeley, 94710 with “Karen Meyer memorial fund” in the memo line.