NutraWomen Wednesday: Karen Howard, Organic & Natural Health Association CEO

By Danielle Masterson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: nutrawomen wednesday, Vitamin d deficiency, Organic & Natural Health Association

After spending over three decades working with Congress, state legislatures and healthcare organizations to develop healthcare policy and programs, Karen Howard eventually moved on to animal health, serving as president of the National Animal Supplement Council (NASC) until 2014.

“I started my career basically, in Washington DC at the age of 23,” explained Howard. “When you made a mistake, what you learn from that mistake is that you should never make any more mistakes. It's not a very forgiving place and it certainly wasn't very welcoming for young women at the time. It was actually in some ways, very dangerous.”

Howard has since found herself in safer territory, as the CEO and executive director of Organic & Natural Health Association. Initially, she said she thought it would be a short-term project. 

“Everyone said we didn’t need another trade association,”​ laughed Howard.

She explained that a group of lawyers, activists and others got together in hopes of starting an association and issue a seal around the word ‘natural.’

“So I was recruited to come in for a day and have this conversation with this illustrious group and at the end of the day, what I realized was the commitment yes, it was to define ‘natural’ and issue a seal, but it was really to the consumer,” ​said Howard. “When I realized that was actually their indirect objective for everything, I signed up and said if that's what you want to do, I'm in.”

Now in its seventh year, the Organic & Natural Health Association is keeping Howard busy. She’s especially proud of the group’s grassroots educational effort, “Get On My Level” campaign​, which focuses on vitamin D deficiency among African Americans. 

Howard said a major key to her success has been surrounding herself with strong women with integrity. 

“The other thing that I would want to say, especially to a young woman that's working on finding her way up the ladder is know what gets you up in the morning when you put your feet on the floor,”​ said Howard. “If you're doing what makes your heart sing, that serves the generations that have come before you and the ones yet to come, you'll stay on the path that you're meant to be on and you'll carry that fierceness.”

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