Karie Kirschbaum is the former mayor of the City of Gary and one of the founding members of the NCEDA. She is the fifth generation born and raised in Gary. In 1980 she moved west and after 30 years returned to her hometown. While out west, she was an ISO9000 consultant and a top sales and marketing person for a national packaging company.
She and her husband were inner-city community activists networking with government, churches and non-profit entities to restore families, helping those with addictions, transitioning the homeless back into society and working on over all community development for over 20 of those years. She also spent many months on the mission field in Africa, the Philippines, Mexico, Europe and others.
Her experiences away from Norman County and rural life gave her a deep appreciation for her rural roots and the many positive aspects of Minnesota life. Since her return in 2010, she helped found Gary Cares in 2011, a non-profit serving the Norman County area and is a navigator for Shock & Awe youth philanthropy. Combined, since 2011, the organizations have brought over $300,000 in to Norman County. As mayor she worked with the city council to update city parks and streets as well as creating a recreational area in the Gary Pines.
As former chair of the NCEDA, she led efforts with the NCEDA board, area residents, city administrations, and local farmers, to bring industry in to Norman County. In 2021, over $100,000,000 in building began, bringing 70+ jobs to the communities. Her motto is when we work together and listen to one another, good things happen.