Karen Rustad Tolva


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Karen Rustad Tolva

Mountain View, California



UI Engineer, Materialize

Sept 2021 - Dec 2022

I was the first frontend hire and first employee with a design background, building the Materialize Cloud web UI almost from scratch. Regularly I took vague feature requests from stakeholders and turned what was at best a rudimentary sketch into a polished, thought-out feature. I championed UX best practices and was the primary person giving feedback on work from our external design agency, including company t-shirt designs. From a rudimentary set of mocks made by a contractor before I joined, I made a complete 50-900 color palette and designed and implemented light and dark mode styles for the web app.

Frontend Engineer, Humu

Jan 2020 - Apr 2020

I worked on HR business partner tools for demonstrating our product's value using Typescript, React, Apollo, GraphQL, and SVG-based infoviz. I also worked on web performance with better chunking and content hashing of static assets using webpack. I was laid off due to COVID-19-related financial problems.

Software Engineer, Upstart

Aug 2018 - Dec 2019

Frontend Engineer, Plangrid

June 2017 - Aug 2018

UX Engineer, AeroFS

Apr 2014 - June 2017

I was the designer and frontend developer at a small security-focused enterprise startup. Until we hired a full-time designer, I designed the team's t-shirts and entire web product UI. I prototyped a new desktop app UI using React, flexbox, and Electron; this work became the tech stack for the company's pivot to a chat collaboration tool called Amium. I also wrote AeroFS's parental leave policy and standardized our engineering and design interview processes. While I was there I helped grow the UI team from just me to 5 engineers and a designer.

Product Software Engineer, Disqus

June 2012 - Mar 2013

Head of Research and Design, OpenHatch

June 2009 - Oct 2009


M.S. Information Management and Systems

University of California, Berkeley; Berkeley, CA; 2012

B.A. Media Studies, magna cum laude

Scripps College; Claremont, CA; 2008


Volunteer designer and rustacean.net maintainer, Rust language

2014 - present

Art director, Berkeley Mystery Hunt

2015, 2016

Art director, MIT Mystery Hunt


PyCon US talk review committee

Chair: 2016, 2017; Member: 2012, 2014, 2015