Karen Dolan is a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Karen holds an M.A. With Highest Distinction in Philosophy and Social Policy from the American University in Washington DC.

Karen joined IPS in 1996. Her public scholarship and activism at IPS has linked community-led organizations with social movements and policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels. The focus of her work is on anti-poverty issues, juvenile justice, criminal justice reform, and transgender rights with a focus on race, gender, and gender identity. Karen currently directs the Criminalization of Race and Poverty project.

Some of Karen’s publications include: Mothers at the Gate: How a powerful family movement is transforming the juvenile justice system; The Poor Get Prison: The alarming spread of the criminalization of povertyClosing the Inequality DivideBattered By The Storm: How the Safety Net is Failing Americans and How to Fix itWe’re Not BrokeOur Communities are Not for SalePaying the Price: the Mounting Costs of War in IraqForeign Policy Goes Local; and she was a contributor for Mandate for Change.

Karen blogs for Huffington Post and regularly appears in other media outlets. Karen serves on the boards of The Participatory Budgeting Project, The Liberty Tree Foundation and Jobs With Justice Worker Rights Board.

Areas of Expertise

  • Progressive movement, policymakers
  • Poverty, economic hardship
  • Criminalization of race and poverty
  • Juvenile justice; criminal justice reform
  • Gender and gender identity; transgender rights
  • Cost of war and militarism at home


Rope-A-Dope Revives the Hope

Mitt was no wimp, and Obama was no progressive, but Obama had the better plans, the better attacks, and the better handle on the truth.

The Biggest Losers: Big Bird and the American People

The first presidential debate of 2012 was an exercise in ridiculousness that produced no insight, no plan, no inspiration, no leadership, and no truth.

Record Poverty Persists While Gap Between Rich and Rest of Us Increases

Sadly, those who “occupied” Wall Street and city squares across the country in 2011, were right: All of the income gains have concentrated at the top, while the rest of us saw a deterioration or stagnation in our wages and income.

Chief Justice Roberts Saves the Day

The individual mandate won’t get the axe; the Court just affirmed that the key is the tax.

Ending Poverty in America, a Discussion with Peter Edelman

Karen Dolan speaks with Georgetown Law professor Peter Edelman to discuss his decades of anti-poverty work and his new book, “So Rich So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty In America.”

A Ditty on Newt Gingrich: The Apogee of a Would-be Nominee

We’ll carry on with Barack and Mitt, but we lament that you called it quits.

If Health Care Reform Falls, Look in the Mirror

It didn’t have to be this way. We had the power to make things different. In fact, we still have the power to make things different.

Paul Ryan’s 2013 Budget Slashes Social Safety Net, Gives Tax Breaks to the Rich

Paul Ryan’s 2013 budget shows not only that the GOP is wildly out of touch with average Americans, but that they lack the ability to lead us anywhere but off a cliff.

Populism and Pain in Obama’s 2013 Budget Proposal

Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from a budget proposal where Obama is letting the 1 percent off rather easy, while the rest of us, especially the poor, shoulder the pain.

A Better Way of Measuring Progress in Maryland

GDP doesn’t measure most of what’s necessary for a good life.

A Holiday Ditty from IPS

‘Twas the night before the New Year

2012 Won’t Be the Same without Herman Cain

The Institute’s deadline poet bids farewell to the former GOP front-runner’s entertaining presidential bid.

Since the Super Committee Failed, Now The Rest Of Us Can Succeed

The Super Committee’s failure to produce a deal gives us all breathing room to construct a successful path forward for America.

If the Super-Committee Fails, America Wins

Any agreement that would come forth from the SuperCommittee will inevitably be disastrous for domestic social programs.

The Wolf, The Wool and The 99%

IPS’ Karen Dolan sheds light on who is crying wolf and trying to pull the wool over our eyes, the 99%.

A Dagger Pointed at Maryland’s Peace Movement

There’s nothing in Montgomery County’s local, non-binding peace resolution about firing Lockheed’s employees or tossing any corporations into the Potomac River.

Karen Dolan speaks at “Taking Back the Budget Debate” Town Hall

Karen Dolan spoke to 500 Marylanders at a Town Hall to address issues raised by the economic recession and the budget deal passed by Congress in August — and the need to significantly cut military spending as a key way to cut the deficit.

Mr. President, Maybe You’ve ‘Got This’ After All

After that Rose Garden speech, it looks like maybe I didn’t dance for you in vain.

With Poverty on the Rise, this is no Time to Slash the Safety Net

The tea party and its ilk offer us only cold cups of bitter tea while serving up fountains of champagne to the super-rich, Wall Street, and big corporations.

A Cold Cup of Bitter Tea

It seems the only federal monies the right wing in this country likes to see spent is for state-sponsored executions and subsidies for corporations and the wealthy.

Project Director

Criminalization of Race and Poverty

Email this expert


Community Policing, Criminal Justice, Families of Incarcerated, Juvenile Justice, Local Democracy, Mass Incarceration LGBTQIA, Participatory Budgeting, Race and Poverty, Racial Justice