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


Ruin by Recklessness

It is the height of recklessness for the current crop of uncompromising Republicans in Congress to play political games with our nation’s economic soundness.

Republicans Find the Culprit

It turns out that Mitt Romney is that lazy, too-good-for-your-minimum-wage-job unemployed guy GOP lawmakers have in mind when they try to cut off unemployment benefits.

GOP Unveils Radical New Budget Gutting Medicare, Medicaid — Taking from the Poor, Giving to the Rich

From start to finish, this budget is a smoke screen obscuring a dangerous far-right agenda.

Who’s Buyin’ Ryan? Only the Rich Can Afford To…

Under the guise of debt reduction, the chairman of the House Budget Committee’s budget proposal would take from the already poor, give to the already rich.

Move Your Qi. Save The World.

In a troubled world, we can find peace and harmony.

The High Road to Profitability in the Restaurant Industry

Local summit on the restaurant industry shows us that the choices that restaurant owners make affect not only their workers, but the rest of us as well.

Liberation of a Nation: a Timeline

A series of links symbolizing the key moments that led to victory for the people of Egypt and to honor their inspiring call for democracy. From desperation to celebration!

SOTU: Glossing over the Pervasive Suffering Caused by Joblessness

The freeze on the funding of discretionary domestic programs would choke off vital assistance to a shrinking middle class and growing numbers of poor and low-income families.

A Short Response to the Tragedy in Tucson

Phyllis Bennis and Karen Dolan offer a few words about the tragic shooting of nineteen people in Tucson, AZ that left six dead and United States Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in critical condition.

Sarah Palin: Liable or Libeled?

For the life of me, I couldn’t find anyone accusing Sarah Palin of being Jewish.

No Ordinary Cross Hairs

A neighbor thought that Rep. Giffords’ community event would be of interest to this young, budding public servant.

Not Much to Celebrate with Obama’s Tax Deal

It could spell trouble for Social Security.

‘Tis The Season For Gay Rights

Finally, a long-overdue step forward for civil rights achieved.

Obama’s New Christmas Carol: Deck the Halls with Windfalls for the Wealthy

A breakdown of what was gained (not much) and what was lost (a lot) in the Obama Tax Compromise.

Conservative Attack on Christmas

Scrooge and the Grinch are Christmas angels compared to conservative lawmakers.

OMG! Glenn Beck is onto Something!

Beck can scapegoat us all he wants, but IPS and other independent organizations will continue to fight the good fight.

Ain’t No Stopping A Progressive Agenda: Part 3


Who Gives A Rat’s Behind that Progressive Lawmakers WON?

Here’s why the Congressional Progressive Caucus matters more than a rat’s hindquarters.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus Maintained Their Seats. Does It Matter?

IPS Fellow Karen Dolan explains the significance of the largely intact Congressional Progressive Caucus.

Buck Up People…Progressives WON!

The veil of a happy Democratic governing majority is finally lifted.

Project Director

Criminalization of Race and Poverty

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