Principal & Co-Founder, New York Office
Affiliations & Achievements
With deep expertise in real estate development and strategy, Karen excels at helping clients do the thinking and analysis needed to find the right pathway forward for their institution. Having served as lead project manager to Cornell University for the planning and development of Cornell Tech on Manhattan’s Roosevelt Island, as well as to Columbia University during the planning phase of its Manhattanville campus, Karen is also experienced in helping clients execute their vision. Karen is currently advising on Princeton University’s Lake Campus graduate housing development, a new bioscience innovation project for Rice University, and a variety of campus expansion initiatives for the American Musical & Dramatic Academy.
Prior to co-founding U3 Advisors in 2014, Karen launched K. Backus & Associates in 1998, developing a unique and successful real estate consulting practice focused on serving universities and nonprofits. She also served as Vice President, Retail Development, for Forest City Ratner Companies and managed a variety of major projects and transactions at the New York City Economic Development Corporation over the course of a decade. An enthusiastic traveler, Karen also loves gardening and spending time with her husband in Fire Island.
Karen earned a BA in Letters and History, magna cum laude, from Wesleyan University and an MBA from Yale University. She is a licensed Real Estate Broker in New York State. Karen is also on the Board of Directors of the Corbin Hill Food Project and serves as Vice Chair for the Urban Land Institute’s University Development & Innovation Council.