Students graduating from Montclair State University’s College of the Arts go on to pursue successful careers as actors, dancers, directors, choreographers, technicians, producers, filmmakers, teachers and arts administrators, among others. Among them is Karen Horne, who graduated with a BA in Speech and Theatre, with a concentration in Broadcasting, from the College of the Arts in 1985. Horne will receive the Leonardis Distinguished Alumni Award at the College of the Arts’ Convocation on May 13.
Horne is currently vice president of Diversity Programs for NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. She is responsible for overseeing primetime diversity programs for NBC and Universal Television. Prior to that, she was appointed to the newly created position of director of Entertainment Diversity Initiatives, at NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios.
Horne’s lengthy résumé includes a variety of disciplines and contacts. She has served as Creative Consultant for Loud Paint Entertainment, was director of Creative Affairs at IDT Animation, was an executive consultant and designed, implemented and oversaw Nickelodeon’s Writer Fellowship Program at Nickelodeon Productions in Los Angeles and worked at HBO as a co-producer for the Emmy Award-winning animated series Spawn.
Horne was also the director of Writer Development & Special Projects (as well as Studio Liaison) for the Walt Disney Studios Fellowship Program at Walt Disney Network Television while remaining as co-producer of Spawn, and served as West Coast director for the Black Filmmaker Foundation in Los Angeles. Her early career includes stints at ABC, Inc., in Los Angeles as an executive assistant to the President, ABC Entertainment, as well as positions at ABC Television Network Group and ABC Sports.
Horne said she enjoyed her undergraduate years at Montclair State and credits her education with preparing her for the work world, specifically, to “ learn how to interact and ‘work-well’ with others.”
“I loved my time working on productions within the Broadcasting Department,” she recalled. “This taught us to work together, to support our classmates and to ultimately become better at our craft.”
It also taught her to be receptive to "the new."
“[College] teaches you to expand your horizons, she said. “[Professor] Dr. [Christopher] Stasheff taught us that there is your way of doing things, the other guy’s way and the right way. He taught us to be open to trying things beyond what we know, which has served me well.”
Thus, she, in turn, advises students to be willing to veer off their chosen career path.
“Don’t wear blinders,” she cautions. “When I graduated, I thought I would work in one area and my career took me to a completely different place. Be open to new experiences. Take the left in the road when you think you wanted to go right. Often times, that way will lead to things that you may never even knew existed – and things that are ultimately where you will excel.”
Horne, who currently resides with her family in California, lamented that she was so far away, geographically, from her alma mater, but hopes to become more engaged hereafter.
“I moved to Los Angeles not long after I graduated and have really been removed from the University," she said. “I look forward to becoming more involved.”
Horne will receive the Leonardis Distinguished Alumni Award at the College of the Arts’ Convocation on May 13. Named for Tom Leonardis, an esteemed alumnus, the Leonardis Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes the accomplishments of alumni who have gone on to achieve significant success.