Longtime CEO of The Arc of Lehigh

and Northampton Counties to Retire in 2024

The Arc of Lehigh and Northampton Counties’ Board of Directors announced today (July 24) that Chief Executive Officer Karen Shoemaker has decided to retire effective Sept. 1, 2024, after 25 years leading one of the Lehigh Valley’s top non-profit organizations serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Under Karen’s tenure, The Arc has grown to a $28 million organization with nearly 60 full-time and more than 850 part-time employees.  As the local chapter of the world’s largest community-based organization of and for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their families, The Arc serves nearly 1,200 individuals and families in Lehigh and Northampton Counties.

When Karen became the top executive at The Arc in 1999, the organization had 24 employees and an annual budget of $850,000. The Arc has continually expanded and diversified its services and supports to reflect the changing needs of the Lehigh Valley’s IDD community. It moved to a new, larger building on Avenue A in Bethlehem in 2002, and more recently Karen successfully led The Arc through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and ensured that people with IDD and their families continued to have access to services they needed.

Over her career, Karen greatly enhanced the regional chapter’s standing at the state and national levels through her service on the boards of The Arc of Pennsylvania and The Arc of the United States, and leadership roles with the Pennsylvania Conference of Executives of The Arc of PA, the National Conference of Executives of The Arc of the United States. She has also been a longtime member of the Muhlenberg College Board of Associates, currently serving as President.

Karen has over 38 years of experience in management positions of non-profit disability organizations including at The Arc.  Karen is invested in advancing the independence of people with IDD and has a deep commitment to advocating for and with people with disabilities and their families in all aspects of their lives.

Contact: Chris Kaklamanis, (610) 849-8076, ext. 346


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