Karen Clark Cole Transitions from Tech CEO to Animal Sanctuary Founder


Karen Clark Cole, previously the CEO and co-founder of Blink, is now focusing on her latest venture, an animal sanctuary on Washington’s San Juan Island, following her recent retirement. Clark Cole, who helped pioneer the virtual legal document digitization system for LexisNexis and turned down multiple acquisition offers for Blink before its $94 million sale in 2021, is taking a considerably different path by dedicating her post-retirement life to caring for rescued animals.

Key Takeaways:

– Karen Clark Cole retired recently as CEO and co-founder of Blink, coordinating the firm’s $94 million sale last year.
– Cole’s next venture is an animal sanctuary on Washington’s San Juan Island, which is home to over 100 rescued animals.
– She is working on a business model to make the sanctuary financially sustainable and plans to develop education programs focusing on farmed animal’s impact on the climate.

From Digital Innovator to Animal Sanctuary Leader

Recollecting her journey with Blink, Clark Cole emphasized that her focus was always on innovative project designs and adaptations. Looking back on the initial internet revolution, she compared it with the impending surge of AI and how it will potentially revolutionize our lives. Clark Cole’s innovative thinking made Blink a formidable player in the tech industry and the same spirit will carry forward in her new mission for animal welfare.

Saving the World, One Animal at a Time

Hailing from a tech background, Clark Cole’s shift to running an animal sanctuary is a change of pace. After moving to Washington’s San Juan Island a year ago, what started as a few rescue geese quickly grew into over 100 animals including pigs, sheep, goats, donkeys, llamas, ducks, geese, chickens, and cows. Clark Cole is completely drawn to her non-profit, Heaven on Earth Animal Retirement Sanctuary. She is striving to make the sanctuary self-sustaining financially and is developing educational programs based on climate impacts of animal farming.

Emphasizing Real-World Engagement

Beside this, Clark Cole is planning to leverage her experiences by joining corporate boards and making meaningful contributions. She is currently chairing the board of her all-girls alma mater in Victoria, B.C. and has plans for writing a book about her business journey. Despite this busy schedule, she is primarily focusing on her animal sanctuary and thrives on the physical labor involved.

Prudent about her future endeavors, Clark Cole has consciously decided to distance herself from the tech world and engage more with the physical world, a commitment where getting dirty and being tired at the end of the day are seen as signs of fulfillment.

The Insights of a Successful Leader

Reflecting on her time at Blink and as a leader in the tech industry, Clark Cole offers valuable advice to upcoming leaders. She emphasizes on the power of being intentional and aware of the impact of your actions or inactions. From her experience, the journey to success inevitably includes failures, but these failures shape resilience and enable leaders to be wiser and stronger.

In her transition from a tech CEO to an animal sanctuary owner, Clark Cole exemplifies a trend of redefining retirement and leveraging entrepreneurial skills for the betterment of society. Her remarkable career trajectory is a testament to her dynamic leadership, offering plenty of lessons to leaders and entrepreneurs.

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