I love my job because creativity is the means and social justice is the end. What could be better?
Karen grew up in Portland, Oregon before it was hip. For reasons that baffle many who experience the laidback lifestyle, natural beauty and delicious coffee of the Pacific Northwest, Karen made her way east for college and never looked back. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005 with a major in communications from the Annenberg School at Penn. Karen then moved to Washington, D.C. to pursue a career in political communications. Her first gig was as a desk assistant for PBS’ NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (now minus the Jim Lehrer).
Next, she focused on the written word, working as a reporter for Government Executive magazine, a National Journal publication focused on the business of government. Karen worked for the website as well as writing long-form magazine pieces. She made her jump to the non-profit advocacy world becoming a communications manager for the Save Darfur Coalition, where she managed video production, celebrity engagement, print materials and more. In 2008, Karen followed her now-husband to New Haven, Connecticut where she became communications director for ConnCAN. It was at ConnCAN that Karen caught the education reform bug, though her education policy analyst sister might have also had something to do with it.
Before becoming Senior Vice President of Campaigns for 50CAN, where she manages the organization’s national communications, research and policy work, Karen served for two years as 50CAN’s VP of Communications. Karen lives with her husband Robbie and their son Micah in Brookline, MA. She holds a master's degree in public policy from the University of Chicago, where she was an Irving B. Harris Fellow.
I aspire to be like Raphael Lemkin. Here's why:
Raphael Lemkin, a Polish émigré to America, a Holocaust survivor and a lawyer, spent his life campaigning for legal safeguards to protect the world’s most vulnerable groups against persecution. But he knew that his legal research alone, however brilliant, would not be enough to move people to action. As Samantha Power describes in her book, "A Problem from Hell," Lemkin heard Churchill call the Holocaust “a crime without a name.” So Lemkin coined the term genocide, from the Greek for “race” and the Latin for “killing.” Now that the crime had a name, Lemkin combined the power of that word with the strength of his legal analysis to persuade the United Nations in 1948 to adopt the Genocide Convention. He understood that by marrying solid research with effective communications, you can help to stop even the most heinous of social injustices in their tracks. As 50CAN’s Senior Vice President of Campaigns, I aspire to do the same.
Why I love my job:
I love my job because creative thinking is the means and social justice is the end. What could be better?
My connection to public schools:
I’m a product of public schools that put me on a path to college and a successful life. (Shout out to Bridlemile Elementary School, West Sylvan Middle School and Lincoln High School.) They taught me about Jane Austen, Japanese internment, topic sentences and derivatives. Every kid deserves a Bridlemile, West Sylvan and Lincoln.
What I'm bad at:
Even though I travel a lot for work and life, I’m still a really nervous traveler. I always feel unsettled until I’m sitting on my hotel bed or turning the key to my house. I’m that woman who is sitting at the airport gate a full 60 minutes before departure just in case, every time.
The image that represents why I work at 50CAN:
I believe that America is still the shining example of human rights and freedom for the entire world. If we don’t figure out how to transform our public schools for the 21st century and fulfill our promise of the American Dream for every kid, we’ll let the whole world down.