Karen St. Clair

Karen St. Clair
Karen enjoying beachside in Bucerias, Mexico 9/2023

Last updated on January 22, 2024.

It’s time to say THANK YOU and HASTA LUEGO to our Karen St. Clair.

2014 was a very good year for Santa Fe’s Parkinson’s community. Karen and moved from Portland, Oregon to Santa Fe.  Rob was severely afflicted by Parkinson’s Disease and they thought Rob would do better in warmer weather. Karen and Rob were fortunate to have been active in a PD support group in Portland. Once they moved here, they immediately tried to find a support group in Santa Fe, only to learn that one didn’t exist.

Karen contacted the NM Parkinson’s Disease Coalition in Albuquerque who suggested that she consider starting one here. Karen quickly accepted the challenge. In 2014 Karen was contacted by who, along with her husband, , kindly offered to host the PD Support Group in their living room. The group quickly grew and we needed a larger space for our meetings and Karen found that Christus St. Vincent Holistic Health and Wellness Center would allow us to use their space. Our PD Support Group continued to grow to about 25-30 folks who enjoyed the interesting speakers, sharing and community.

Karen worked closely with the Parkinson’s Foundation to organize 3 Walks for Parkinsons which started in Santa Fe in 2021with the help of many volunteers. Our third Walk for PD was at the Montecito and raised about $50,000 for the effort. A hardworking team of volunteers came together to create the 1st PD Conference at Hotel Cascada in Albuquerque in September, 2015. In 2016, the 2nd PD Conference was held at the larger Sandia Resort, with speakers and vendor tables providing information about a multitude of useful topics. This conference was wildly successful with several hundred people in attendance. At the 3rd PD Conference in October, 2017 Karen spoke eloquently about PD and the upcoming Parkinson’s Day at the Round House to hopefully attract more neurologists who are specialized in Movement Disorders.

It was our good fortune that was in the audience. He is a former NM State legislator and spent years on the Board of Regents of UNM. He also understood the lack of Movement Disorder doctors in NM. Karen’s talk moved him to introduce himself to her and said he’d like to help. hosted a small lobbyist group who began to call, write and meet with different committees and the legislature about the need. Several members of our PD Support Group stood up and spoke at various committee meetings at the Round House. Incredibly, the effort proved successful and a Memorial was drafted saying in part, “Be it further resolved that the Board of Regents of UNM be requested to report its plan for creating a Movement Disorders Center at UNM to the legislative health and human services committee by Nov. 1, 2018.” It was also to provide curriculum to train medical trainees in movement disorders and to provide treatment of those afflicted with movement disorders. It passed both the Senate and the House.

Fast forward to November 5, 2019 when we attended the ground breaking ceremony of the Nene and Jamie Koch Comprehensive Movement Disorders Center at the UNM Health Services Campus. Another example of Karen seeing a need, having a vision and making it a reality.

November 1, 2022 Karen and others attended a ceremony marking the opening of the Movement Disorder Center. Sadly, Rob passed away on September 17, 2022, and was unable to see the project completed.

Karen has a special gift and endless energy that is reflected in her almost 10 years of selfless work for our community. Your idea of creating a fun PD Clubhouse at Rock Steady Boxing proved to be another important gift to our community. We were so pleased to see that you were recognized by the Santa Fe New Mexican as one of “10 who made a difference.”

Karen, to say that you made a difference in Santa Fe is simply an understatement. We all say it’s going to take a village (or at least a Steering Commitee) to replace you.

We understand your move is fulfilling a need you have to experience new sights and explore new parts of the world. We are all very lucky to keep your efforts alive for the benefit of our Parkinson’s community. We wish you happiness and good luck in your move.