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Karen Spillar, JD

Karen Spillar, JD

Vice President, Human Resources and Chief Human Resources Officer, UTHealth Houston


Karen Spillar, JD, serves as vice president of Human Resources and chief human resources officer at UTHealth Houston.

Working closely with established teams within Human Resources, Spillar leads the university’s employment, recruiting, compensation, employee relations, training and development, Equal Employment Opportunity, and assistance programs for staff, faculty, fellows, and residents.

Implementing strategies that put employees first and positioning UTHealth Houston as a workplace of choice are priorities. Key areas of Spillar’s focus include initiatives that continue to attract, develop, and engage employees; increase retention; and promote employee health and wellness.

Prior to May 2023 when she was appointed to the top position in Human Resources, Spillar served as vice president of enterprise risk management and chief compliance officer.

Spillar joined UTHealth Houston in 2005 as director of institutional compliance, and has also served as associate vice president for planning, working in the Office of the President. In each of her roles, she has developed and facilitated high-priority projects and initiatives with impacts across the university.

Prior to working for the university, Spillar served for six years as in-house legal counsel for a group of nine Mental Health and Mental Retardation Authorities throughout East Texas. In this capacity, she assisted in the development of their compliance programs, coordinated procurement activities and contracting processes, and provided legal counsel to executive leadership and operational programs.

Spillar received a bachelor’s degree in behavioral science from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from South Texas College of Law. She is licensed to practice law in the state of Texas.

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