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


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.

IPS Statement on the Congressional Bailout of Wall Street

Congress needs to address the bailout’s unfinished agenda and fix our broken financial system.

How My 7-Year-Old Learned About Pre-Marital Sex from John McCain

I wholly believe in educating my child about contraception. But given that he is 7, I could have waited a few years for that particular talk.

U.S. Mayors Mobilizing Against a War with Iran

Thirty-two U.S. mayors have signed a resolution saying “No” to invading Iran. Will the federal government listen?

Has Your Town Declared Peace Yet?

Tired of being ignored by the feds, citizens pass city laws declaring peace.

No War with Iran Resolution Toolkit

A look at how to effectively petition to end the war in Iran.

Bring the Troops Home Now Resolution Toolkit

A look at how to effectively petition to bring troops home from Iraq.

Time’s Up: Bring The Guard Home

Vermont lawmakers are trying to bring members of the state’s National Guard home from Iraq.

Your Time Is Up, Mr. President the National Guard Is Coming Home

The wisdom from Main Street U.S.A. continues to be vastly better than the

Foreign Policy Goes Local

The heart of the municipal foreign policy movement remains the opposition to the Iraq War.

Cities with Peace Resolutions

In a growing movement, there are hundreds of cities who have declared they are for peace.

Towns Are Urging Peace

This op-ed ran in the Lake Worth Herald (Lake Worth, FL) on March 2, 2006.

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