Page semi-protected

Karen Pence

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Karen Pence
Karen Pence official portrait 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2019
Second Lady of the United States
In role
January 20, 2017 – January 20, 2021
Vice PresidentMike Pence
Preceded byJill Biden
Succeeded byDoug Emhoff
(as Second Gentleman)
First Lady of Indiana
In role
January 14, 2013 – January 9, 2017
GovernorMike Pence
Preceded byCheri Daniels
Succeeded byJanet Holcomb
Personal details
Karen Sue Batten

(1957-01-01) January 1, 1957 (age 65)
McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Steve Whitaker
(m. 1978, divorced)

(m. 1985)
Children3, including Charlotte
EducationButler University (BS, MS)

Karen Sue Pence (née Batten, formerly Whitaker; born January 1, 1957) is an American schoolteacher, painter, and was the second lady of the United States from 2017 to 2021. She is married to the 48th vice president of the United States, Mike Pence. She was the first lady of Indiana from 2013 to 2017.

Early life and education

Pence was born as Karen Sue Batten[1] at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas[2][3][4] on January 1, 1957,[5] the daughter of Lillian (née Hacker; 1931–2004)[6] and John M. Batten (1931/1932–1988), a United Airlines official.[7] Her parents divorced when she was very young, and her mother married Bernard Barcio in 1967.[8] She grew up in the Broad Ripple Village neighborhood of Indianapolis, where she graduated as valedictorian from Bishop Chatard High School.[9][10] Pence attended nearby Butler University where she studied to become a teacher, and minored in art.[11] She received both a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and a Master of Science (M.S.) in elementary education from Butler University.[3]


Pence has taught at John Strange Elementary, Acton Elementary, Fall Creek Elementary, and the Orchard School, all in Indianapolis.[11]

After the birth of her first child, Pence took a class in watercolor painting. This led to a career painting portraits of houses[11] and historic buildings.[12] She has completed as many as thirty-five paintings a year, some on commission and selling others at local art fairs.[3]

While her husband was in Congress, Karen worked at Immanuel Christian School, a private Christian school in Springfield, Virginia, as an arts teacher for twelve years.[13]

First Lady of Indiana

Karen Pence, the First Lady of Indiana, attending CPAC 2015 in Washington, DC.

Pence was the first lady of Indiana during her husband's term as governor of the state from 2013 to 2017. In her first year of the role, she established the Indiana First Lady's Charitable Foundation to "promote individuals and organizations that encourage children, families, and the arts", also offering grants and scholarships.[3]

In 2015, Pence started a small business named "'That's My Towel!' Charm" which makes metal charms for attaching to towels so they can be more easily identified when among others. The business was put on hold when Mike Pence became a vice presidential candidate.[3]

A honey bee conservation advocate, Pence had a beehive installed at the Indiana Governor's Residence while first lady of the state.[14]

Second Lady of the United States (2017–2021)

Pence's first official portrait
Mike and Karen Pence with Gold Star Wives of America, April 2017

Pence became the second lady of the United States on January 20, 2017, succeeding Jill Biden. She hired Kristan King Nevins as her chief of staff; Nevins had served in the same position under former First Lady Barbara Bush.[10][15] As second lady, Pence worked to raise awareness of art therapy, to which she was first exposed when visiting a Washington hospital during her husband's tenure as a congressman.[12][16] In October 2017, she visited the campus of Florida State University to highlight the university's art therapy program, which dates back to the 1990s.[17]

Pence continued to raise awareness of honey bee habitat destruction and the importance of pollination in 2017 by having a beehive installed at the official vice presidential residence, Number One Observatory Circle.[14]

2019 return to teaching

In January 2019, it was reported that Pence was returning as a part-time art teacher for Immanuel Christian School,[13] and she said in a statement that she was "excited to be back in the classroom and doing what I love to do," and that she had "missed teaching art."[18]

The school had previously been criticized and accused of homophobia for not admitting LGBT students, posting a policy wherein it is permitted to turn away students who engage in, uphold, or accept "sexual immorality, homosexual activity, or bisexual activity", with the policy also applying to parents and employees.[19] Pence was criticized in the media and by LGBT advocates and advocacy organizations in the days following the announcement.[20] Vice President Pence defended his wife's profession and decision, accusing her critics of attacking religious education. He said that he and his wife were "used to the criticism", but that he was angered over the criticism of his wife, opining that "to see major news organizations attacking Christian education is deeply offensive to us", and that it "should stop".[21]

Family and personal life

While in high school, she met her first husband, John Steven Whitaker. They were married on August 4, 1978, in Brewster County, Texas, and later divorced.[22][23][10] Whitaker was a medical student during their marriage.[10]

Karen met Mike Pence while she was playing guitar at Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church,[11] a Catholic church in Indianapolis they both attended.[24] Their first date included ice skating at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.[25] After about nine months of dating,[25] they became engaged in August 1984[11] and married on June 8, 1985.[11][26][27] They were both Roman Catholic and later converted to evangelical Christianity by 1995.[10] The couple has three children: Michael (serving in the U.S. Marine Corps),[16] Charlotte, and Audrey.[11][3] Pence has lived most of her life in Indiana, though the entire family moved to Washington, D.C. for the twelve years that husband Mike was a congressman from Indiana before his election as governor of Indiana.[3][12] She is a trained pilot.[11][3]

Pence is known for her dedication to promoting art as a way of healing.[28] She provided the watercolor illustrations for her daughter Charlotte's 2018 children's book, Marlon Bundo's A Day in the Life of the Vice President, the proceeds from which are given to charities, including an art therapy program.[29]


  1. ^ "Karen Pence: Holding political office always important to Mike Pence". The Republic. January 13, 2013. Retrieved July 24, 2016.
  2. ^ Remarks by Second Lady Karen Pence to Military Spouses:Fort Carson, Colorado
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Maloney, Maggie (March 29, 2017). "7 Things to Know About Karen Pence, VP Mike Pence's Wife". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved June 11, 2021.
  4. ^ Bixenspan, David (October 4, 2016). "Karen Pence's secret first marriage". Politics. Death and Taxes. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  5. ^ "Meet the Future Second Lady". Trump for America. Archived from the original on November 29, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  6. ^ "Lillian R. Barcio Obituary". Tributes. Tributes, Inc. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  7. ^ "John Batten dies; ex-airline official". The Indianapolis Star. March 6, 1988. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  8. ^ Neal, Andrea (August 1, 2018). Pence: The Path to Power. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9781684350384.
  9. ^ "Karen (Batton) Pence, '75, Indiana's First Lady". Bishop Chatard High School. September 19, 2016. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  10. ^ a b c d e Parker, Ashley (March 28, 2017). "Karen Pence is the vice president's 'prayer warrior,' gut check and shield". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 28, 2017.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Rudavsky, Shari (December 12, 2013). "Karen Pence is right at home". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c Superville, Darlene (February 17, 2017). "Karen Pence, the vice president's wife, aims to raise awareness about art therapy". The Washington Times. Associated Press. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Rosenberg, Eli (January 16, 2019). "The school that hired Karen Pence requires applicants to disavow gay marriage, trans identity". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 30, 2019. the second lady had taught at the school for 12 years previously when Mike Pence was a member of Congress.
  14. ^ a b Hoffman, Ashley (June 6, 2017). "Karen Pence Unveils Beehive With 20,000 Bees at Vice Presidential Residence". Time. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  15. ^ Klein, Betsy (February 7, 2017). "Second Lady Karen Pence hires chief of staff". Politics. CNN. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  16. ^ a b Klein, Betsy (April 14, 2017). "Karen Pence highlights art therapy with Asia-Pacific trip". Politics. CNN. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  17. ^ Rohrer, Gray (October 18, 2017). "2nd Lady Karen Pence unveils art therapy initiative at FSU". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 20, 2017.
  18. ^ "Karen Pence Returns to the Classroom to Teach Art". (Press release). January 15, 2019. Retrieved January 11, 2021 – via National Archives.
  19. ^ "Second Lady Karen Pence is stepping back into the classroom at a school that bans gay students". USA Today. January 15, 2019. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  20. ^ O'Reilly, Andrew (January 16, 2019). "Karen Pence slammed by LGBT activists for taking job at school that bans gay teachers". Fox News. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  21. ^ George, Kavitha (January 17, 2019). "How Mike Pence Defended His Wife Karen's Job At An Anti-LGBTQ School Will Baffle You". Bustle. Retrieved January 23, 2019.
  22. ^ "Texas Marriages, 1966–2010". Retrieved May 5, 2017.
  23. ^ "Indiana, Marriage Certificates, 1958–2005: Michael Richard Pence". Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  24. ^ Boorstein, Michelle (July 18, 2016). "What it means that Mike Pence called himself an 'evangelical Catholic'". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  25. ^ a b Chokshi, Niraj (January 20, 2017). "Who Is Karen Pence? A Brief Introduction to the Second Lady". The New York Times. Retrieved June 23, 2017.
  26. ^ "Pence-Whitaker [marriage announcement]". The Columbus Herald. June 21, 1985. Retrieved December 13, 2016.
  27. ^ Glum, Julia (July 14, 2016). "Who Is Karen Pence? Meet Mike Pence's Wife, Potential US Second Lady From Indiana". International Business Times. Retrieved July 15, 2016.
  28. ^ Stark, Liz (August 12, 2016). "How Indiana First Lady Karen Pence Came to Champion the Healing Power of the Arts". ABC News. Retrieved August 16, 2016.
  29. ^ Roberts, Roxanne (March 14, 2018). "He's Bunny of the United States. And now he's the hero of a children's book, too". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 19, 2018.

External links

Honorary titles
Preceded by First Lady of Indiana
Succeeded by
Janet Holcomb
Preceded by Second Lady of the United States
Succeeded byas Second Gentleman