A female math whiz overcomes gender discrimination to achieve success in the stock options market and invests her profits in supporting struggling communities across the globe only to be attacked by the SEC and loses her fortune to defend her honor.
Karen Bruton’s story is the tale of a woman who pioneered her way to corporate success through tough cultural and economic times and now seeks to encourage and strengthen women around the world who face dire poverty.
From a young age, Karen Bruton simply wanted to do her best at school, get into a good college, and start a career. While pursuing her first job during the early 1970s, she was confronted with the harsh reality of being a woman in the male-dominated corporate world. But she persisted—becoming the first female professional at several firms and ultimately rising to the rank of vice president and corporate controller at two different companies. Once at the top of the corporate ladder, she had a number of international experiences that revealed the plight of the desperately poor. Karen sensed a calling from God that led her to leave her prestigious position and devote her life to offering hope to these destitute populations.
Karen founded Just Hope International in March 2007. During her initial projects, she had a nagging sense that the usual approach to charitable work was not effective. She realized there was a better way to alleviate entrenched poverty—by offering a hand-up rather than a handout. Her organization began equipping willing workers in the Global South with economic principles and entrepreneurial practices that allowed them to build their own businesses, save and invest money, and take control of their lives—gaining dignity in the process.
During the course of her financial career, Karen spent a decade learning to trade on the stock market. After leaving her executive position, she continued trading stocks in order to create an income for herself and her nonprofit projects. Her surprising success attracted the attention of her friends and former colleagues, who asked her to invest their funds as well. In response, she launched a private hedge fund whose earnings allowed her to underwrite all of Just Hope’s overhead and operating costs. After unprecedented returns, Karen was shocked when she came under investigation by the SEC, which accused her of fraudulent practices. Her deep faith, quiet confidence, and the staunch support of her investors upheld her throughout this dark time.
In the midst of the SEC investigation, Karen and her team continued their humanitarian endeavors. After working in several countries in South America, Asia, and Africa, Karen and her team witnessed how essential women are to the success of their projects. Though women are the hardest, most dedicated workers, Karen grieves how little support and encouragement these women receive. She finds herself deeply inspired by these courageous women and sensed a fresh calling to devote her energy toward encouraging and strengthening women specifically in the years ahead.