Karen Parfitt Hughes (born December 27, 1956) is a Republican political adviser from the state of Texas. She served as the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs in the U.S. Department of State with the rank of ambassador. She resides in Austin, Texas.
Born in Paris, France, she is the daughter of Patricia Rose Scully and Harold Parfitt, the last U.S. Governor of the Panama Canal Zone. After graduating from W. T. White High School, Hughes received her bachelor's degree from Southern Methodist University in 1977 where she was a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority. She worked as a television news reporter from 1977 to 1984. As a reporter, Hughes followed the 1980 presidential campaign. In 1984, she went to work as the Texas press coordinator for the Reagan-Bush campaign in the 1984 election. She later became executive director of the Republican Party of Texas.
Since 1994, Hughes has worked with George W. Bush, first as director of his campaign for the office of governor of Texas, and then as a counselor from 2001 to 2002, while he was President of the United States.