My heart was heavy when I heard several months ago that Karen Renk, long-time Incentive Marketing Association executive director, was fighting cancer. She passed away surrounded by her family on Sunday, July 27, 2014. Karen had just celebrated 43 years of marriage with her husband, Thomas. They had three children together: Courtney (Derek) Brinkman of Rockville, Md.; Michael Renk of Gilbert, Ariz.; and Katherine Renk of Austin, Texas; as well as two grandchildren, Logan and Taylor Brinkman.

Two years ago, I interviewed Karen for an article in our magazine. Her answers offer a glimpse into the life of this inspiring, intelligent, and highly respected industry leader:

MeetingsNet: What is your greatest strength?
Karen: The desire to learn about all perspectives around a challenge

MeetingsNet: Who inspires you?
Karen: Truly, the volunteers I work with who lead our industry associations

MeetingsNet: If you could be a superhero, what superpower would you want?
Karen: The ability to read people’s intentions

MeetingsNet: When your life story is made into a movie, whom should they cast as you?
Karen: Meryl Streep has had a long-term career based on her hard work as much as her talent. I would like to think the same is true of me.

See the complete interview here. Services will be held on Saturday, August 16 at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in Sugar Grove, Ill. More information is available at Karen’s Caring Bridge site.