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


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.

Glee and the Dems Get in a Funk

The Glee kids still have the talent, the good intentions, diversity, idealism, tolerance on their side–and so do progressives.

The Midterm Elections and What They Will Mean for the Progressive Movement

Will the Democrats lose the House? How many seats might they lose and why? View the opinions of three experts from the Institute for Policy Studies.

Let’s Strengthen our Safety Net

One in seven Americans–a record high of 43.6 million people–was poor last year.

Bring the Money Home Tool Kit

With the cost of the war projected to exceed $3 trillion, it’s time to demand that the money being spent on continued occupation in Iraq be spent at home in our own communities now!

Local Jobs Resolution Toolkit

The tools you need to lobby your local city council to promote job growth in your community.

Unemployed Become a Political Football

GOP hysteria throws goodness, and American families, under the bus.

Tough Times; Troubling Trends

While ordinary Americans suffer from the recession, the super-wealthy are doing just fine.

The First Cut is the Deepest

The GOP has turned our budget, with its critical safety net programs, into American Idol.

What Obama is Getting Wrong About Economic Recovery

Obama needs new, bold ideas to get Americans back on their feet and out of recession.

Battered by the Storm: How the Safety Net Is Failing Americans and How to Fix It

The economic crisis is still on the rise for millions of Americans, while at the same time the social safety net is failing to support many of them.

We’re Doing a Heckuva Job Helping Those Devastated by the Economic Meltdown

Like the levees in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the safety net is failing Americans battered by the ‘Great Recession’ of 2008-2009.

Let’s Get America’s Health Out of the ER

As a nation, we’re in the emergency room in desperate need for someone to stop the bleeding.

Hey Progressives, Join Forces to Fight the Health Insurance Industry!

Single-payer and public option advocates are fighting each other. We must remember that we’re on the same side.

Human Rights City Toolkit

Transform social awareness in your city to address human rights issues on a local level.

Obamas Victory

Four experts discuss the significance of Obama’s presidential win and some of the challenges that lie ahead for U.S. progressive movements.

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