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Karen M.G. Britton

February 20, 2024

Karen Britton Obituary

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

Proverbs 31:10

Matthew 12:18 proclaims, The Heavens rejoiced when the Lord called her name and said Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!”

Karen Marjorie Gillett Britton phenomenally entered this world on September 12, 1964, at the Governor’s Island Hospital in New York to Ellen Michel and the late George Gillett. Karen was a bright and inquisitive child who grew into a brilliantly awesome, beautiful, and loving person.  She was a woman of great integrity who was always focused on ensuring that all things worked together for the good. She endeavored to make a difference in the world, and she surpassed that goal. Simply put, Karen was a quintessential woman.

During her early childhood years, Karen exhibited a voracious love for reading and excelled in grade school through high school. Her ambitious nature was demonstrated as a child who not only was incredibly intelligent, but extremely talented. Karen began piano lessons at age five and became a well-trained pianist, who won two gold trophies for having earned superior ratings in competitions held at Carnegie Recital Hall (Cami Hall). Karen continued to play throughout her adult years at various churches and assisted her daughters with their lessons. Excelling in middle school led to her acceptance into the Science Institute at Midwood High School in Brooklyn, New York.  Karen was not only an excellent student and gifted pianist, but she was also a talented track athlete and competed in track meets throughout her high school years. Her athletic abilities and academic prowess could be witnessed throughout Karen’s journey through life. As one would have it, Karen was accepted into a summer engineering preparatory program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (UMASS). That program set Karen on her career path to becoming an engineer, and led her to attend the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Karen was a passionate professional from the start who set her standards of performance and excellence always high above the rest. After graduating high school, Karen’s first summer job was working as a secretary for Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust Bank in the corporate office. While working there, she began dating William “Billy” Britton her beloved husband of 34 years.

After earning a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research, Karen began working for the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in New Hampshire. Her professional leadership journey began to soar as she climbed the government and corporate ladders earning recognition and well-deserved titles along the way.  After relocating to Washington DC, she earned the title of Deputy Command Information Officer. Also, while working at NAVSEA, Karen earned a Masters of Science Degree in Engineering Management. After over 15 years with NAVSEA, Karen’s next position (which she described as the highlight of her career) took her to the White House, where she served as Deputy and subsequently Chief Information Officer for the Executive Office of President Barack Obama! Karen was very proud to work with the Obama Administration and we were all so very proud of her!

Karen also enjoyed working as an Adjunct Professor, teaching in the Cybersecurity Technology Graduate Program at the University of Maryland for over a year. Her next ambitious career move was with Logistics Management Institute (LMI) where she held the position of Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing and Chief Digital Officer. She relished in being a leader at LMI and truly valued the relationships she developed there.  Karen’s humble spirit and willingness to mentor others who worked alongside her was demonstrated across her career. As such, it was while at LMI, Karen began her doctoral studies and was working on her dissertation when she became ill.

Karen married the love of her life, Billy, on August 29, 1989. To this wonderful union two beautiful daughters were born, Leah Justine and Ashley Olivia. Karen loved her family immensely and diligently instilled Christian values and leadership skills into her daughters, she was so proud of them! Karen’s generous and loving nature was unmatched as each day she ensured that Leah and Ashley would also know and feel the same zest for life as she did. They were directly inspired by their mother’s generous nature and often commented on how blessed they were to be her children. Karen was a true jewel in the eyes of both of her daughters and could be seen pouring into their lives up until her final days. Her unwavering spirit still listened intently to their hearts as they shared special moments of love and care that will always remain with them. 

Karen showed a rich compassion and was passionate about her family and friends. She adored them in every way and truly enjoyed playing as well as watching tennis matches with her fun-loving tennis buds (as she affectionately called them)!  She also maintained close friendships with her high school and college classmates and loved taking road trips to visit them.  She cherished her Virginia family and enjoyed their annual summer vacations. Karen developed many close friendships in the various neighborhoods where she lived in Maryland and Washington, DC.  She enjoyed family time, maintained contact, and visited many of her cousins, aunts, and uncles. She also loved her 636 Brooklyn Avenue family in Brooklyn, New York, where she developed lifelong connections.  And of course, she always looked forward to visiting and hanging out with her BEST girl, her MOM…Ellen Michel and the Port Charlotte, Florida Golden Girls, and Crew!

Karen lived her life to the fullest and accomplished so many things within her lifetime of 59 years.  She ran a marathon, participated in a triathlon and was keynote speaker at several events including at her alma mater, UMASS, Amherst. Karen also received several distinguished honors throughout her career including:  The Excellence in Government Fellows Program, The Partnership for Public Service Leadership in Action Awards, the National Women of Color in Technology Award, and the Navy Meritorious Service Award.  In addition, she served one term as President of Blacks in Government. She was extremely proud but also very humble when it came to her many accomplishments.

Karen was a dedicated woman of faith, and she loved the Lord!! She was an active and devoted member of St Martin’s Catholic Church in Washington, DC, and taught Sunday School there for several years. Karen enjoyed her visits and adventures with her father George, who preceded her in death.  Karen was the apple of her dad’s eye. Karen’s brother, Kevin, transitioned in November 2023. The two shared a special bond and always took care of each other.  She felt extremely blessed to donate her stem cells to Kevin which helped extend his life for over 10 years!

Karen was a brave warrior and battled brain cancer for a year and a half.  With such an exceptional life full of witness to God’s glory on this earth, she peacefully transitioned on February 20, 2024, with Billy by her side.  Her endless beauty, undying spirit, passionate zest for life, and unconditional love for her family and friends could not be contained as she leaves to cherish her memory, her beloved and dutiful mother, Ellen Michel; her devoted and loving husband, Billy (her “Bubs” who diligently took care of Karen during her illness); her two heartbeats, Leah and Ashley; two sisters-in-law, Barbara Tune (Rodney) and Tracey Gillett; a very special Aunt, Carolyn Roper Smartt (William); her two childhood sisterfriends, Lisa Roper and Arlene “Cookie” Britt; and many aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, beloved friends and Snowflake!

Karen, we will miss you dearly, but your light will forever shine brightly in our hearts!  Thank you for such a beautiful life well lived and for being such a great woman of purpose, grace, and strength.  May your legacy of love and service to the Lord, your family, and to others always be your testimony. You led this life as a God’s true servant and a humble “boss” who eagerly understood and accomplished your assignment. Your legacy lives on in every life you’ve touched!

“Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.

I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life” Psalm 23:6

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future” Proverbs 31:25


The Mass of Christian Burial may be viewed at:
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March 4, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church
1908 North Capitol Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20002

Mass of Christian Burial
March 4, 2024

11:00 AM
St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church
1908 North Capitol Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20002

Interment following Mass of Christian Burial
March 4, 2024

Gate of Heaven Cemetery
13801 Georgia Avenue
Silver Spring, MD 20906


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