Karen Munson ’88

karen_munsonKaren Munson ’88 M.S., Industrial/Organizational Psychology, will be the first to tell you that working for a family business is not without challenges. The rewards are immeasurable, though. She also will tell you that the educational path others might have expected her to take was one that she would circumvent in order to get to where she is today.

As vice president and third generation owner of Connecticut’s largest retail chocolate manufacturing company, Munson abides by the standards and values of the company’s founders, her grandparents. Ben and Josephine Munson began their business – originally called The Dandy Candy Company – in 1946, in Manchester, Conn. Soon after, they moved the operation to a horse barn, converting it into a kitchen and a retail store.

The delectable chocolates they made there soon became legendary.

Today, Munson’s Chocolates, based in Bolton, Conn., has 11 retail outlets throughout the
state and employs more than 200 people. In addition to overseeing every aspect of the business operations, Munson is creative director and in charge of product development. Her father, Robert, serves as the president and CEO, and her husband Jim is the vice president of sales.

Munson was born and raised in Bolton and studied at the University of Connecticut where she developed a passion for psychology and business. As she thought about pursuing her master’s degree, she looked for a course of study that would allow her to combine her love of both fields. Her advisor at UConn told her about a new master’s program called industrial/organizational psychology. The University of New Haven was one of the few educational institutions that offered it. Munson pursued her degree here while working full time in the family business.

When it came time for Munson to develop her final thesis, her UNH advisor urged her not to write about her family business. It would be a pivotal point in her life, as she stepped outside of her comfort zone and received a challenging internship at The Hartford Insurance Company. She calls it “the single most valuable experience” she had while attending UNH.

“I believe that my studies at UNH played a critical role in shaping the professional path that I ultimately chose to take,” she says. “The education, the guidance and the people I met along the way were integral in helping me become the business woman that I am today.”

Reference:

Alumni Spotlight: Sweet Success. (2010). University of New Haven Alumni Magazine. 30-30. http://www.newhaven.edu/107030.pdf

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