Jim Evans

Jim Evans

An endowed scholarship in the VCU School of Business honors the memory of local entrepreneur Karen Riefner Evans (B.S.’83). The fund was created in 2018 by Evans’ husband, Jim, while Karen was in treatment for a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

“Karen’s treatment options were increasingly limited as her illness progressed, so we spent some time talking about the legacy she wanted to leave behind,” Jim says. “She loved the idea of helping business students with entrepreneurial aspirations.”

After graduating from VCU with a degree in finance, Karen worked in the corporate world for several years before following her true calling: entrepreneurship. Over the next 35 years, she started and managed four successful small businesses, including Karen Evans LLC, an accounting and bookkeeping business.

“Entrepreneurs are risk-takers,” Jim says. “It takes courage to forge your own path the way Karen did.”

Jim hopes that the award will inspire students to take risks in their career pursuits. “If this scholarship can provide an incentive for students to take that leap and pursue entrepreneurship, they may discover that it can pay off,” he said. “Karen’s career is proof that it can be done.”


The Karen R. Evans Endowed Scholarship received memorial gifts from more than 50 donors in the months after Karen’s death in January 2018. The scholarship is awarded annually to a full-time School of Business student with a demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship. It’s renewable for up to three additional years if the recipient maintains a 3.0 GPA in School of Business courses.