West Virginia District Office | Leadership Biographies

Karen Friel, District Director

Karen FrielKaren Friel is the district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s West Virginia District Office and has been employed by the agency for the past ten years. During her tenure with SBA she has held multiple positions including administrative officer, business development specialist, lead business development specialist, deputy district director and acting district director. Karen is responsible for the delivery and leadership of SBA’s financial and business development programs throughout the state of West Virginia.

Karen’s top priority coming into the role as district director was to lead the West Virginia District Office to build strong relationships with federal, state, and local agencies and organizations. This initiative has proven successful and resulted in the office meeting the needs of more small businesses in West Virginia and has led to the team exceeding the agency’s targeted goals and measures each consecutive fiscal year.

Some of the major accomplishments of the office under Karen’s leadership include:

  • Increased the number of SBA approved lenders to provide access to capital
  • Obtained an active statewide CDC provider
  • Expanded the territory of the state’s active microlender
  • Secured multiple agency grant initiatives, including: Women’s Business Center, STEP, and Growth Accelerator
  • Championed four consecutive national small business week award winners
  • Introduced the Emerging Leaders Program to West Virginia
  • Increased the focus and number of certified HUBZone small businesses within the state

Karen attended Fairmont State University and obtained bachelor degrees in marketing, management, and business administration. She has nearly 25 years of experience in banking, business, marketing, event coordination, and management. Prior to joining the SBA, Friel was a commercial loan processor for ten years with multiple banking institutions in West Virginia.

Karen is a West Virginia native, growing up on the slopes at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. She currently resides in Bridgeport with her husband and two children. Karen is active in the community where she works closely volunteering in her children’s educational and athletic school activities.