Village Trustee Karen Hartshorn Hilton

Karen Hartshorn Hilton has worked throughout her entire career to improve her community through her involvement with government, non-profits and political organizations.  

Karen currently serves as Chair of the Village’s Finance Committee and serves as a member of the Recreation and Cultural Affairs Committee as well as the Public Works Committee.  Karen also serves as liaison to the South Orange Public Library, the Senior Citizen Advisory Committee, the Citizen Budget Advisory Committee. 

Previously, Karen was a consultant for Growth for Good providing strategic planning and fundraising planning services.  Karen was the founding executive director for Emerge New Jersey, a progressive organization offering training programs for women seeking public office. She led the organization in developing the training, recruiting potential candidates, managing the board of directors and fundraising. She also managed the launch of Emerge Pennsylvania ( and assisted Emerge Michigan ( serving as an advisor to Emerge’s national organization.

Karen’s work in government began in the Massachusetts State legislature, where as staff to the Ways and Means Committee she was responsible for fiscal and legislative issues relating to social services, children, and public health. She later assumed responsibility for fiscal issues related to special education within the Massachusetts’ Department of Administration and Finance.

She has been an active in South Orange throughout her career. She chaired the board of trustees of the South Orange Public Library for more than a decade, and she was a co founder of the library’s foundation. She has been a member of the Junior League for more than thirty years, and is a past president of the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills. She has been active with the South Orange and Maplewood public schools as well as the Girl Scouts.
Karen worked with Women’s Way (, a non-profit focused on issues related to women and girls in greater Philadelphia, and Planned Parenthood in Philadelphia. She began her career as a ranger in Rock Mountain National Park.

Karen received her B.A. from William Smith College and her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Massachusetts. Based in South Orange New Jersey for 25 years, Karen and her husband are current empty nesters and are the proud parents of four grown children.