Karel Kew Murray, a native of Mason City, earned a full scholarship to attend NIACC after graduating from Mason City High School in 1973. Attending NIACC allowed her to consider educational options before pursuing a degree in Human Resources from Ottawa University in Kansas. As a NIACC student, Karel was involved in writing for the NIACC newspaper and participated in speech and creative writing programs. She claims these early involvements taught her how to get people to laugh and later make a career out of these skills.
Karel is the founder of Our Branch, Inc. a motivational and sales training company based in Waterloo, Iowa. She is a highly sought, nationally known motivational and leadership speaker. Her goal is to encourage her audience to increase their viability personally and in the workplace.
Author of three published books (one of them co-authored with K.C. Lundberg, her sister), featured in two more books, and with several articles featured in regional and national publications, Karel is an accomplished writer and humorist. She holds the prestigious CSP designation (Certified Speaking Professional) through the National Speakers Association. The Kansas City American Business Women Association named her Woman of the Year in 1998 and the Blue Spring Chamber of Commerce presented her with the Ambassador Award, an award (at that time) given only six times in 35 years.
Throughout her career, Karel has taken many leadership roles in professional organizations including Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce Chairperson, Director of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Speakers Association and Vice President of Education for the Heartland Chapter of Meeting Professionals International and now incoming President for the national Real Estate Educators Association.
Karel’s family has a long history with the College. Her father, Ken Kew, was a 1941 graduate and her mother Delores taught nursing at the College for 19 years. Karel and her four siblings all attended NIACC.
Ms. Murray and her husband Rick, also a Mason City native, currently reside in Waterloo. Their son Ben, daughter-in-law Ashley and grandson Cale reside in Grain Valley, MO.
Pathways to Success Student Leaders
Pictured first row from left – Moriah Wendel (Mason City), Brock Schultz (Rockwell) , Mackenzie Renberg (Rockwell), Audrey Benson (Clear Lake), Jared Wagner (Northwood), Stephanie Faulkner (Mason City), Emily Jones (Charles City)
Second row from left –Sharon Johansen (Des Moines), Lisa Moss (Manly), Rachel Martens (Belmond), Nathan Van Horn (Mason City), Diana Horn (Scarville), Robert Horn (Scarville), Shealyn Brunsvold (Glendale, CA), Matt Kleckner (Mason City), Terry Barber (Duluth, MN)
Third row from left – Michael Schoger (Mason City), Lisa Berns (Charles City), Hailey Eckstein (Green Bay, WI), Cassie Pappas (Mason City), Mikayla Smith (Mason City), Stacie Olk (Clear Lake), Josselyn Jorgensen (Mason City), Audrey Sparks (Mason City), Jennifer Gast (Mason City), Andrea Blanchard (Clear Lake), Jessica Mayer (Saint Ansgar), Kameron Kuykendall (Charles City), Sage Lenertz (Early), Tyler Van Dyke (Dumont), Kimberly Burman (Dumont), Maranda Chapin (Cedar Falls)
Fourth row from left – Amber Broesder (Buffalo Center), Candace Schamber (Mason City), Christina Chambers (Garner), Janice Waldron (Des Moines), Stephanie Olk (Clear Lake), Chloe Kline (Mason City), Abigale Koehler (Mason City), Nicole Hermanson (Mapleton, MN), Ryan Voves (Mason City), Lucas Bakker (Graham, NC), Maxwell Waletich (Fairmont, MN), Barbara Wolf (Forest City), Sara Steinauer (Mason City), Alexandria Eckenrod (Mason City)
Fifth row from left– Fredrick Roth (Clear Lake), Wayne Bell (Mason City), Brian Popp (Osage), Jerry Collins (Albert Lea, MN), Ryan Gossweiler (Rockwell), Marc Blackburn (Charles City), Tyler Pavelka (Ventura), Larry Hesley (Clear Lake), Jessica Graham (Mason City), Angela Hesley (Clear Lake), Broderick Long (Clear Lake), Tanya Beyer (Garner), Jacie Solberg (Nora Springs), Coty Thompson (Waterloo), Mikki Baker (Mason City), Randy Flaherty (Murray), Ryan Burnett (Mason City), Timothy Meyer (Forest City) , Gabriel Percy (Roswell, NM)