This is one of 12 finalists for the Herald Business Journal’s Emerging Leaders award, which seeks to highlight and celebrate people who are doing good work in Snohomish County. The winner will be named at an event on April 11. Meet the other finalists.
Name: Sumit Karn
Profession: Health aide specialist, Steps Toward Independence Inc. in Marysville
When Sumit Karn’s mother became a widow at age 20, she had three children, no job and no prospects.
At that time, women in Bihar, India, were not allowed to work, Karn said.
So she moved her family — 5-year-old Karn and his two younger siblings — to another country: Nepal.
There she found a job at a village school.
It was a huge leap of faith, Karn said. But “she wanted to be brave and give us a better life.”
“Many times she didn’t eat, but she never let us go to sleep hungry,” Karn said.
“That’s where I get my courage,” he said.
Growing up poor, and watching the struggles of his family and neighbors as they tried to create a better life for their children, instilled in him a deep passion, he said.
“It motivates me to research and act for the betterment of the society I live in,” Karn said.
Karn, who has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Delhi, came to the United States in 2012 on a Fulbright Scholarship and studied journalism at Everett Community College.
At EvCC, he served on a committee to find alternative ways for needy students to pay for their textbooks.
In spring 2013, he interned at The Daily Herald.
Karn continues to help others as a full-time health aide specialist, full-time student, volunteer, and advocate for seniors.
He figures he gets about three or four hours of sleep each night.
At Steps Towards Independence in Marysville, where he’s worked since 2016, he assists people with developmental disabilities find work and housing.
“I believe Sumit makes a difference being on our team supporting people with disabilities,” a nominator wrote, adding “he shows leadership with his devotion, attention to details and direction.”
As secretary of the Rotaract Club of Snohomish County, a Rotary-sponsored nonprofit, Karn has helped organize charitable events for cancer patients and the homeless, and is coordinating a trip to Guatemala to install more efficient stoves for villagers. The group will pair with Hands for Peacemaking, an Everett nonprofit group that promotes self-reliance in rural Guatemala.
Karn expects to graduate this spring from Washington State University Everett.
“Snohomish County has been my home for the last seven years,” Karn said. “This community has offered me a lot and I have been trying my best to give back.”
Janice Podsada; firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods