Alum of the Month

November 2010

November 2010
Karin Duncker

Q & A:

  • What is your edge (strength)?
    Optimism, tenacity, resilience, and a good sense of humor!
  • What at Hofstra gave you your edge?
    I think the encouragement of my professors to think creatively and reward creative thought, even in a scientific environment.
  • In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
    Challenging yet achievable for me, as I was putting myself through school, and proud still to this day that I did.
  • What was your major?
    Biology/marine biology.
  • What was your favorite class?
    Invertebrate Marine Biology and Calculus.
  • What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
    There are three, not in any particular order:
    • was a lab/teaching assistant in the biology laboratory, and working there with my friend Lorraine was a blast – think pizza and beer (legal drinking age was 18 way back then!) while doing preliminary pig dissections late into the night to prepare for the next day freshman biology classes.
    • The day I was told I had been awarded a graduate fellowship.
    • The Marine Bio class hosted a Seafood Fiesta holiday party for the Biology Department, and the entire menu was provided with proper genus/species names (the sangria made the pronunciation of these names a tad challenging but much more fun).
  • What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
    In addition to earning a degree in biology, I also took course work to become certified to teach high school biology. When I graduated, I applied to the Cousteau Society and was told, “We are always looking for passionate volunteers.” Not exactly part of my plan since I had to eat, pay rent, and pay back student loans. So I got a job as a public school teacher, and stuck as much marine biology as I could into the syllabus!
  • Who in your field do you most admire?
    Philippe Cousteau (in marine biology), Colin Goddard (in biotechnology).
  • What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned there?
    Teaching high school biology … and PATIENCE.
  • What advice would you give current Hofstra students?
    Don’t be afraid of hard work, and learn to be flexible. It may sound trite, but you really can achieve your dreams if you believe you can and are willing to do the work.
  • How do you balance work and life?
    Lifting my head up from the laptop, going outside into the world and walking around, looking.
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
    I just started a new business in October 2009, so in 10 years I hope we are both thriving.
  • What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
    Being the CEO of the NY Biotechnology Association and having the privilege to work with so many who are not only brilliant and visionary, but also great people and great friends.
  • Do you have a favorite quote or saying that has kept you motivated through the years?
    Know when to take life seriously but, more importantly, know when to laugh.
Karin Duncker

After applying for her dream job and being told that the only position available was as a volunteer, Karin Duncker ’84 never could have imagined that one day she would be recognized as one of the Top 100 technology leaders in New York.

From 1998 to 2006, Karin was president and CEO of the New York Biotechnology Association (NYBA) and served as vice president of membership and programs from 1994 to 1997. She built the NYBA from startup to the fifth-largest state biotech association in the United States, established high-value membership programs, created the association's branding campaign, and produced annual conference programs that maintained net profits of 35-45 percent throughout her tenure. Karin was recognized as one of the Top 100 technology leaders in New York by Crain’s New York Business (2001) and was Featured Industry Executive in Biotech Magazine (2003).

From 2006 to 2009, Karin was director of life sciences business development for an international law firm. She created the firm’s first Life Science Practice Group, organizing attorneys from all practice areas and offices to work collectively to better serve clients and expand the firm’s business in the industry. She developed marketing budgets; established programs to track ROI; identified and created new sponsorship, membership and strategic marketing opportunities; and coached attorneys on the best ways to use these opportunities to meet firm goals. As a result, Karin was able to help grow Life Science Practice’s business by more than $10 million in three years.

Currently, Karin is founder and CEO of KMS Consulting. KMS provides executive coaching and advisory services to nonprofit associations seeking increased efficacy and constituent value, and businesses seeking maximum value from strategic marketing, sponsorship and membership dollars. Karin has more than 16 years’ experience working within the life science industry with notable skills in building cross-discipline diverse working groups to achieve a common goal and creating high-value strategic marketing programs.