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Karen - Decisive Path

The antidote to procrastination about your finances.
Karen Telleen-Lawton, CFP®

Karen graduated from Stanford University in engineering nearly 35 years ago, and has spent most of those years in Santa Barbara. Her career has spanned manufacturing management, local government, inventing, professional writing, and an adjunct economics professorship -- oh, and the rigors of personal financial management while raising a husband and two kids. Linking these is her keen interest in working for sustainability and the betterment of society and the natural environment.

Following the Great Recession of 2008, Karen realized she could play a more direct role in increasing people's comfort with their finances. She earned a Certificate in Financial Planning from Boston University in 2010 to help Baby Boomers find their way to retirement and young adults establish a firm foundation. Karen is sensitive to the needs of individuals who face a change in their family and financial circumstances. Young adults and new couples come to her to begin this phase of their lives with a solid plan for the future.

Karen passed the rigorous Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) exam in March 2011. She completed the experience and other requirements in October 2013 and is now a Certified Financial Planner® and a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) with the State of California.


Karen has served on various governing boards including four years on the Vestry for All Saints-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church and six years as chair of its Investment Committee. She enjoys hiking, biking, stand-up paddleboarding, swimming, reading, gardening, and cooking. With her husband David she spends much of her spare time on the Channel Islands as a volunteer naturalist for Channel Island National Park and Marine Sanctuary. They have two grown children, one son-in-law, and one grandchild.

Abbreviated vitae:

  • California Registered Investment Advisor
  • Certified Financial Planner®
  • Financial Planning Certificate, Boston University, 2010
  • Environmental Policy Certificate, UC Boulder, 1998
  • Master of Economics, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1998
  • Master of Business Administration, California Lutheran University, 1990
  • Bachelor of Science, Stanford University, 1978, Industrial Engineering

Business Experience

  • Decisive Path Fee-Only Financial Advisory -present
  • Professional columnist (Noozhawk, 2007-present) and syndicated writer (Senior Wire, 2008-present).
  • Author, Canyon Voices – the Nature of Rattlesnake Canyon, published by Mission Creek Studios, 2007.
  • Adjunct Professor of Economics, Regis University MBA 1998-2006; Excellence in Teaching Award 2004.
  • Assistant to Mayor of Santa Barbara 1988-93.
  • Sole proprietorships "A Byte at a Time" and "Musical Chairs".
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