Chief marketing officer, Sunnyside Communities, Harrisonburg
Karen Wigginton is a passionate mentor who encourages women to dream big. Her secret to success, she says, is boldly taking on leadership roles that push her outside of her comfort zone.
Since 2013, Wigginton has overseen marketing and sales strategies for Sunnyside Communities, which has three senior living properties in Virginia. It was a shift from her earlier career as an administrator at James Madison University and Bridgewater College.
While she was working in higher education, Sunnyside recruited her as its vice president of marketing and public affairs. After a couple of years, she left to become the first vice president for college relations at Bridgewater, but she returned to Sunnyside in 2013.
Wigginton’s career has been full of impressive leadership titles, and she has served on numerous boards in her community. But the leadership role that made her most reflective was being elected as the first woman president of the Rotary Club of Harrisonburg in 2000.
Being the first woman to lead the organization, she felt pressure to do an excellent job.
“I was one of just a handful of women in the club, so it was unimaginable to me that I would be asked to serve in that role,” she says. “It was a wonderful experience and we’ve had a number of women presidents since then.”