Karen Sue Pence 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 at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas on January 1, 1957, the daughter of Lillian (née Hacker; 1931–2004) and John M. Batten (1931/1932–1988), a United Airlines official. Her parents divorced when she was very young, and her mother married Bernard Barcio in 1967. She grew up in the Broad Ripple Village neighborhood of Indianapolis, where she graduated as valedictorian from Bishop Chatard High School. Pence attended nearby Butler University where she studied to become a teacher, and minored in art. She received both a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and a Master of Science (M.S.) in elementary education from Butler University.
Pence has taught at John Strange Elementary, Acton Elementary, Fall Creek Elementary, and the Orchard School, all in Indianapolis.
After the birth of her first child, Pence took a class in watercolor painting. This led to a career painting portraits of houses and historic buildings. She has completed as many as thirty-five paintings a year, some on commission and selling others at local art fairs.
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.
First Lady of Indiana
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.
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.
A honey bee conservation advocate, Pence had a beehive installed at the Indiana Governor's Residence while first lady of the state.