Karen Pence is the wife of Vice President Mike Pence. Before becoming the second lady of the United States in 2017, Pence worked as a schoolteacher and a painter. She was also the first lady of Indiana during her husband’s time as governor between 2013 and 2014, as reported by The Sun.
Pence Is A Schoolteacher
Born Karen Sue Batten on January 1, 1957, at McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas, Pence moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, with her mother following her parents’ divorce. She was a talented student, graduating as valedictorian from Bishop Chatard High School before continuing her studies at Butler University. She graduated with both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in elementary education.
She remained in Indianapolis while pursuing her career as an elementary school teacher, working at John Strange Elementary, Acton Elementary, Fall Creek Elementary, and the Orchard School. Following her husband’s election to the House of Representatives, Pence continued her teaching career in Virginia. She worked as an art teacher at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield for the 12 years the future vice president served as a congressman. When the Pences returned to the Washington, D.C., area as he assumed the role of vice president, she returned to Immanuel Christian School and began teaching art once again in 2019.
Pence is also a talented painter, often utilizing the medium of watercolor. She typically paints portraits of houses and historic buildings, completing as many as 35 paintings a year for commissions and to sell at art fairs. She is also a trained pilot.
She started her own business, called That’s My Towel! Charm, while serving as the first lady of Indiana in 2015. The business focuses on producing metal charms that are connected to towels, making them easier to identify. Following her husband’s nomination as the Republican vice presidential candidate, she put the business on hold.
Pence Was Previously Married
Before meeting her current husband, Pence was previously married. She met her first husband John Steven Whitaker while attending high school and the pair would wed on August 4, 1978. At the time Whitaker was studying medicine. However, the marriage was short-lived.
Several years later, Pence met her future husband at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, a Catholic church in Indianapolis. They dated for about nine months before getting engaged in August 1984. The couple married on June 8, 1985, and went on to have three children together: Michael, Charlotte and Audrey. The couple converted from Roman Catholicism and became dedicated evangelical Christians in 1995.
When Pence became the second lady of the United States, she dedicated her position to raising awareness of the discipline of art therapy. She first discovered the practice when visiting a hospital during her husband’s time in the House of Representatives and is a strong advocate of art having a role in the healing process. She visited Florida State University in Tallahassee in October 2017 to bring attention to the school’s art therapy program, one of the oldest in the United States. Pence also served as the illustrator of her daughter Charlotte’s children’s book Marlon Bundo’s A Day in the Life of the Vice President, released in 2018 to raise money for a variety of charities that include a program dedicated to art therapy.