Driven by an interest in supporting positive change, Karena has implemented, evaluated, and grown a range of civic engagement initiatives internationally and domestically. While at CIVICUS and the Charities Aid Foundation Southern Africa, she worked to build knowledge around the impact of local volunteer efforts as a means of shifting traditional philanthropic and programmatic practices within the international development sector.
Cultivating youth leadership has been a focus for Karena throughout her career. Through research, advocacy, and convening, she has helped design numerous youth volunteering and grantmaking programs. With 20-plus years of experience in civil society and higher education, she has guided strategic collaborations with governments, intergovernmental organizations, and corporations, including at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the Club de Madrid.
Karena leads research for PLUSSED’s Thrive initiative, where she investigates the potential of curiosity, purpose, and belonging to positively impact equity, learning, and wellbeing within school communities.