by LIZ ONUFER

Active and Outdoors

When Chris and Karen Connelly and their son Dustin relocated from Virginia to Rancho Bernardo four years ago, they knew of the excellent schools and sports programs. What they didn’t realize, though, was just how welcoming the community would be. “We have made an abundant amount of friends in a short time, and that is a tribute to how inviting this community is,” Karen shared.

family_connelly2The couple originally met in Virginia Beach when Chris was in the Navy. Chris, born and raised in Los Angeles, joined the Navy after high school and was stationed in Karen’s home state of Virginia. Chris’s career in the military has included serving as a Combat Search and Rescue swimmer in the Navy and a helicopter pilot in the Reserves. Once out of the military, Chris decided to pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a firefighter. Today, he is the Regional Federal Fire Chief for Navy Southwest Region. Chris’s position was the catalyst for the family’s move to San Diego.

“We have made an abundant amount of friends in a short time and that is a tribute to how inviting this community is.”

Karen has worked in a number of fields during her career. She began in the medical field and has since worked in hospitality, real estate, and insurance. Today, she puts her diverse experiences to work as an account executive for ZCode Magazines. She also volunteers as the president of the Gridiron Club, the booster club for the Rancho Bernardo High School football team. Their son, Dustin, plays on the football team and runs track.


Parents: Chris and Karen Connelly
Child: Dustin Connelly
Community: Rancho Bernardo since 2014
Parents’ Hometowns: Chris – Torrance, CA; Karen – Virginia Beach, VA
Parents’ Occupations: Chris – Regional Fire Chief for the Federal Government;
Karen – Senior Account Executive for ZCode

Pets: Casey and Summer – St. Bernards
Favorite Place to Visit in 92128: Bernardo Winery


Time together for the family involves being outside and active, from paddle boarding and surfing to Friday Night Lights. “Our most favorite pastime is watching my son on the football field on Friday nights,” Karen said. The gym is also an important part of their family time. Chris and Karen actually met in a Virginia Beach gym. “As a family we enjoy working out together; our son has pretty much been brought up in the gym so he enjoys working out with us,” Karen acknowledged.

The Connelly family lives life “like an open book,” Karen explained. “Try to smile more than frown and keep a positive vibe as much as possible.”