Karen became the Harrisonburg/Rockingham Organizer in the summer of 2022. Before that she had lived in Rockingham County for 13 years. Karen comes from a Hispanic/Latino household, has four sisters, and is newly married. She graduated from Eastern Mennonite University in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, peacebuilding, and global development. During her years of study, she volunteered at an after-school program for Covenant Presbyterian Church, was a substitute teacher for Harrisonburg City Public Schools, and taught English as a Second Language to community members.
During her undergrad education, Karen studied for a semester in Washington D.C. as an intern for CASA, campaigning for immigrants at the state level. During the internship she spent her time researching immigration policy, but that was where she realized she would like to be a community organizer. “I saw the organizers at CASA and liked what they were doing. I wanted to be the individual who motivates other people to speak up,” she says.
Karen likes the Virginia Organizing model. “At Virginia Organizing we don’t speak for people. It is the members who choose what they want to work on. The change I want to make comes from them.”