Commissioner Allen was born in Louisburg, North Carolina. After attending Duke University and Meredith College, graduating from Meredith College with a BA in English, she taught middle school language arts. Subsequently, she served eight years on the Franklin County Board of Education.
Allen was Mayor of Louisburg for 16 years. Louisburg owns and operates its municipal electric system and is a member of both the North Carolina Eastern Municipal Power Agency and Electricities. Allen represented Louisburg as a member of the Electricities Board of Directors and was active in Power Agency matters. She was President of the League of Municipalities (1999-2000) and active in the National League of Cities.
She was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in 2002 for the first of four terms. There she most recently was Chairman of the Environment Committee for two terms. In addition she served as a co-chair of the Environmental Review Commission.
Governor Beverly Perdue appointed Allen to the North Carolina Utilities Commission on April 12, 2010, to fill a term that expires on June 30, 2013.
Allen is active in many community, civic and public service roles. She has three sons: Sonny, Hill and Stuart; three daughters-in-law, Willa, Julie and Haven; three grandsons: Felix, Henry and Parker, granddaughter Mary; and a dog named Hunter.