Karen Swanson's interest in and commitment to education have always gone far beyond the school. Swanson is involved in the education community both locally and nationally. Swanson was the Chairperson of the Iowa Tech Prep Coordinators from 2009 to 2013. In this role, she oversaw a group of community college coordinators for high school programs and technical preparation groups across the whole state. She has been a part of several state-wide groups and has held all of the officer positions in the Iowa Association of Career and Technical Education (IACTE), which works to improve education that helps prepare young people and adults for careers.