Carnegie Mellon University

Karen Lightman

Executive Director, Metro21 

Karen is an internationally recognized leader in building and supporting communities based on emerging technologies.  At Metro21, Karen leads the strategy, outreach and programming of the institute, enabling the deployment of CMU technology in collaboration with municipal and equity partners throughout the region.  Karen has expertise with commercializing academic research, building industry-based consortiums and strategically leading teams to explore market-based opportunities.  Her diverse background spans the consumer, military, healthcare, manufacturing, and automotive sectors.  Karen is ranked by EETimes as one of the top 25 “Women in Tech” and is in the SEMI/MSIG "Hall of Fame" for her achievements in the MEMS industry.  She is a passionate advocate and spokesperson for technology solutions to real-world problems and has held several board positions locally and nationally and is currently treasurer on the board of the MetroLab Network. In addition to her role at Metro21, Karen was appointed interim Executive Director of CMU's US DOT National University Transportation Center, Safety21, in August 2023.

Karen has a BA from the University of Vermont and a MS in Public Policy and Management from CMU's Heinz College. Mom to two great young adults, Karen lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and dog.

“Metro21 takes the 21st century technology research and developed at CMU and deploys it with our municipal and equity partners to solve real-world problems.” — Karen Lightman, Executive Director, Metro21