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Hello, I'm Karen and I'll be your guide!

I'm Karen Lee Willemsen, Ed.M. , a certified professional development leader for the nationally respected education organization Teaching Tolerance, part of the Southern Poverty Law Center. I was honored to be invited to join the first cohort of trainers certified by Teaching Tolerance. I am passionate about creating customized teacher, administrator, and family programs that help educators empower and engage their students by focusing on best practices approach to culturally responsive teaching.


My professional development partners include Seattle Public Schools, Pajaro Valley Unified School District, and the Washington State and National Council for Social Studies.


Prior to beginning this work I created the position of Education Specialist for Define American, a media and culture organization founded by Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist, filmmaker, and immigrant-activist Jose Antonio Vargas. I developed curricula for two of Jose's films: Documented: A Film by an Undocumented Immigrant, and the MTV/Define American co-production White People, and exploration of how five young Americans viewed identity and privilege. I'm also a PreK-8 teacher and parent educator with sixteen years of experience teaching in California and Washington.

I received my Education Masters in Risk & Prevention from Harvard Graduate School of Education, completed teacher training in the Counseling Psychology and Education program at Santa Clara University, and earned her B.A. in American Studies at U.C. Santa Cruz. She has presented at both the National Council of Social Studies and Washington State Council for Social Studies conferences.


My twin passions? I'm particularly interested using intersectionality to help ALL students to see themselves in the curriculum, and to understand both their rights and their responsibilities as part of a larger community. Each child has the opportunity to become an ally for others and an advocate for themselves and their communities. Teaching them to dig deeper, be curious, and explore more about what it means to be American, to practice citizenship, and to act with compassion fuels me! I believes in the power of Social Studies to be interdisciplinary and engaging at any age!


I'm on a mission to train educators in the best practices in social justice education. The need to teach social justice in a thoughtful, engaging, empowering way feels urgent now. Our students want and need to understand their connection to our history, in order to engage in their communities and our country in a way that will lift them up and empower them to create and shape our future." 

Ready to bring a Teaching the Dream workshop to your families, students, teachers, district? 

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