Below is Karen’s biography —
Karen R. Mertes turned a life altering tragedy into a life purpose with her organization, Fulfill Your Destiny. Karen is a Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) from our United States Air Force, serving as the Squadron Commander in two back-to-back command tours as well as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a $169 million dollar budget at an overseas base.
In 2007, Karen’s car was struck by a drunk driver traveling over 100 mph on I-75 resulting in Karen suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Facing the consequences of this life-changing injury, this would be the genesis which led her to create Fulfill Your Destiny. Its signature program awards ‘Business Builder Grants’ to local entrepreneurs desiring to take their businesses to the next level.
Karen holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from Boston University. During her career as a military officer, she earned an MBA from Strayer University. Lt Col Mertes earned a second MS degree in cost estimating and analysis from the prestigious Air Force Institute of Technology.
Karen uses an entrepreneurial model to advance her non-profit organization, raising money for Fulfill Your Destiny in 25 different ways, several of which involve her offering a professional service or product for donation.
Having designed this proven, successful organization, WEDU honored Karen and Fulfill Your Destiny in 2014 with their Be More Entrepreneurial C1 Bank Engaged Philanthropist Award. Some of Karen’s other notable honors include being named a 2015 Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida, INSPIRE 2015 Woman of the Year for the Iconic Woman Awards, Tampa Bay Business Journal 2014 Heroes at Work Honoree, the 2014 Spirit of Philanthropy by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and Tampa Bay Business Professional Woman of the Year in 2012. The Tampa Bay Lightning also honored Karen in 2012 as one of their inaugural Community Heroes.
Karen is a highly regarded Professional Speaker; Award Winning, Best Selling Author; Certified Entrepreneur, Leadership and Business Consultant all to benefit Fulfill Your Destiny. Karen is the creator of Fulfill Your Destiny’s annual premiere event, Spring Chari-Tea held each year in March.
Karen’s book, “Plaintiff 101 The Black Book of Inside Information Your Lawyer Will Want You to Know”, debuting as a #1 Amazon Best Seller, is a survivor’s story which educates all drivers, inspires injured victims and assists them through litigation. Co-authored with a retired attorney that has been part of million dollar verdicts and settlements, Plaintiff 101 answers the common question, “I’ve been in an accident, what do I do now” by providing 50 Takeaways and Checklists that will save you time, money and energy. It’s a must read for every driver! All proceeds are donated to her charity.
Karen has appeared in local and national TV markets including WTSP’s ‘On the Road’ with Bobby Lewis, ABC’s ‘Positively Tampa Bay’ with Lissette Campos, Bay News 9 ‘Everyday Heroes,’ as well as on the nationally syndicated show ‘Daytime’. She’s been the featured guest on a number of local and national radio shows. Karen’s work and book were also recently showcased by the Huffington Post.