Karla Lea Drenner (born September 10 in Charleston, West Virginia) is an American academic and politician from Georgia. A Democrat, she is a member of the Georgia House of Representatives representing the state's 85th district in Avondale Estates, DeKalb County.
Elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2000, Rep. Karla Drenner (D-85) has worked to protect Georgia’s environment, economy, and families. Rep. Drenner has a record of supporting Georgia businesses, introducing legislation that would require state and local government to consider the impact on employment in Georgia as a factor when selecting vendors (HB 881, 2011-12 legislative session and HB 562, 2013-14 legislative session. She believes in the power of buying local, supporting the “Buy DeKalb! Initiative” and sponsoring a resolution recognizing the initiative (HR 1447).
In addition, Rep. Drenner is an advocate against poverty and for human rights. For the 2013-2014 Legislative Session, she drafted House Bill 427, the Fair Employment Practices Act of 1978, which changes certain provisions relating to the Act and prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Karla is a voice for sensible and responsible environmental policy, utilizing her educational background and her experience as an executive in the environmental health and safety industry as a member of the House of Representatives’ Natural Resources and Environment Committee. As the ranking member of the Energy, Utilities and Telecommunications committee, Karla supports an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy, using all methods available to generate power for the state. She is also a member of the chamber’s Health and Human Services committee, Rules, and Special Committee on Small Business Development and Job Creation committees.
As a leader in the effort to preserve and protect Georgia’s environmental assets, Dr. Drenner has worked to inhibit forces that seek to deteriorate Georgia’s environment ultimately endangering the health, welfare and quality of life of the state’s residents. Her encouragement of High Performance Healthy Schools unites her concern for the environment and the impact it can have on health with her concern for children and desire for better schools in Georgia. Rep. Drenner has a record of encouraging the use of diverse methods of generating power, recognizing there is no “one-size fits-all” option for providing power to Georgians in an efficient, fiscally responsible manner. She has sponsored bills supporting energy efficient systems every legislative session since her original election to the House.
As the founding principal at Timber and Stone Corporation, she focuses her talents on environmental and energy services and organizational design for improving adaptive management challenges. In addition, Rep. Drenner has been an Adjunct Professor at a number of for-profit colleges and universities, where she has taught a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses and currently serves as full-time Graduate Professor at Kaplan University teaching in the Public Administration program.
Rep. Drenner continues her own education as a policymaker and public servant. In 2013, she was selected to attend a course at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute at the University of Arkansas Center for Advancement of Leadership Skills. In 2012, she was chosen as a Toll Fellow by the Council of State Governments’ National Leadership Center. Also in 2012, Drenner participated in Cambridge Leadership Associates’ Adaptive Leadership Program, and the Institute for Georgia’s Environmental Leadership Program. Rep. Drenner is a 2011 alumna of the Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government, Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. Additionally, she has attended the Carl Vinson Biennial Institute, Legislative Leadership, since her election in 2000.
Based on her involvement with the Toll Fellowship, Rep. Drenner was appointed and currently serves on the Energy and Environmental Public Policy Committee of the Southern Legislative Conference of the Council of State Governments.
Representative Drenner is a nine-time winner of the Georgia League of Conservation Voters’ Environmental Leadership Award (including in 2013), has been named a "Diva" by Business-to-Business magazine, and Legislator of the Year by the Organization of DeKalb Legislators. In 2014, she was selected as Legislator of the Year by the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors. Other honors include Excellence in Partnership from the Community Action Program, and Legislative Hero, AIDS Survival Project. As the first openly gay member of the Georgia General Assembly, Rep. Drenner is also an advocate for equality. She has been recognized by various organizations in Georgia including the Voices of Note Award 2013 from the Atlanta Gay Men’s Chorus and the Champion for Equality Georgia Equality in 2011.
Karla has served on numerous boards, including Keep DeKalb Beautiful, Emory Northlake Regional Hospital, Scottdale Childcare and Family Development Center, DeKalb County Greenspace Program, and the Georgia Women’s Democratic Caucus. She is also a member of several professional associations including the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, the Health Physics Society, the Air and Waste Management Association and the National Safety Council.
Dr. Drenner earned a Bachelor of Science degree from West Virginia State University, an M.B.A. from Fontbonne University, a Master of Science from Southern Illinois University and a pair of PhDs from LaSalle University and St. Louis University.