Judge Karen Fowler Ballenger was born in Mullins, South Carolina. She is the daughter of Sara Geraldine Fowler and the late R.M. Fowler, Jr.
Judge Ballenger received a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of South Carolina. She obtained her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1987.
Upon graduation from law school, Judge Ballenger began her legal career with the firm of Kennedy, Price & Dial in Columbia, South Carolina. She left Kennedy, Price & Dial when she was given the opportunity to become the judicial law clerk to the Honorable Carol Connor. After completing her clerkship with the Honorable Carol Connor, Judge Ballenger moved to the Upstate to serve as the law clerk for the Honorable William H. Ballenger, Jr., Tenth Judicial Circuit.
After completing her clerkship with the Honorable William Ballenger, Judge Ballenger became an associate with the law firm of Ross, Stoudemire and Awde, P.A. in Seneca, South Carolina. In July of 1992, she became a named partner and the firm became Ross, Stoudemire, Ballenger & Sprouse, P.A. In June of 1998, Judge Ballenger became a partner and principal in the firm of Ballenger, Fedder, Cain & Norton, LLP. Prior to being elected as a family court judge, she was a partner in the firm of Norton & Ballenger in Walhalla, South Carolina.
On May 23, 2012, Judge Ballenger was elected by the General Assembly to fill the unexpired term of the Honorable Timothy M. Cain.
Judge Ballenger is a member of various legal and civic organizations. She is a member of the South Carolina Bar and the Oconee County Bar. She also served as attorney for the Oconee County Juvenile Drug Court.
She has one daughter, Courtney, who is a senior at the College of Charleston.