over 100 events a year, the GSH offers unparalleled opportunities to volunteer and
network with like-minded people.
The GSH would not be able to function were it not for the two paid staff that maintain the GSH office and support all of the GSH activities. Karen Blakeman and Kathy Sanvido, are very dedicated to the GSH and often go beyond the call of duty to help ensure that our organization functions well in every aspect. They both volunteer time and effort well beyond their paid time, and we want to recognize their volunteer efforts today. In this article we will recognize Karen; check next month to find out about Kathy.
Karen Blakemanwas born and raised in Midland, Texas. She grew up in a home associated with the petroleum industry, as her father was a petrophysicist for The Superior Oil Co. and then for Mobil after the merger. The family moved to Houston, the heart of the US petroleum industry, when her dad was transferred here. Karen remembers that most of the family vacations when she was growing up were geological field trips. Her sister, Janie Schuelke, is a geologist and a member of the HGS. Her brother-in-law, Jim Schuelke, is a past president of the GSH. Though she started out in a different work environment, it seems that it was inevitable that she would eventually end up working in association with our industry.
Karen's involvement with the GSH began in 2012 when the GSH moved into its own office that had previously been shared and staffed with the Houston Geological Society. Available due to a downturn in the building industry, Karen was a great fit for the position due to her vast experience with volunteer organizations and volunteer work and to her having run her own business. Karen fitted out the office utilizing her design experience. She acquired the furniture very economically; she actually owns some of the furniture and art work. The office was described as "looking like a frat house before Karen fixed it up". Karen then organized and developed the business workings of the organization, which had previously been handled by the HGS. It took quite an effort to identify and overcome the "hairballs" (issues that had to be addressed to make the office functional). During this initial period, she frequently worked late into the night. Once, she even celebrated her birthday with others in the GSH office with a puzzle and Chinese food. Assuming the role of Office Director, Karen organized the financial records (with the existing Treasurer, Barry Rava) and still maintains them. She handles most of the GSH banking interactions, invoicing, outgoing checks, credit card operations, etc. Her list of responsibilities for the GSH far exceeds what can be covered in this article. To name a few: Karen acquires most of the advertising and some of the sponsorship for the GSH; she works with most of the event chair persons in the preparation for social and technical events; she is the first line of communication with most of the contractors/contracts for the GSH; in the world of continuously changing people in officer positions and committee chairs, Karen developed and provides guidelines to help ensure that events run smoothly from year to year; she oversees and maintains the office space, equipment, and supplies; partially due to her interest and skills in graphics, Karen prepares many of the ads and announcements for various media; and many other things. She is probably most visible to most of you when she attends and handles check-ins at various social and technical events; at these events she is very capable in recruiting new members and advertising. Or you may have talked to her on the phone at the GSH office, where she endeavors to help members who call in for assistance.