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Karen Belsey

Business Development and Operations

What do you do at CE&I?
I am the Organizational Development Director at CEI. I focus on the internal operations of the building, overseeing Finance, HR, and Administrative divisions.

What did you do prior to CE&I?
For close to 30 years I’ve worked in the field of youth development at the public policy, grants management, and administrative levels. Highlights of my career include: staffing elected officials at the state, county, and city levels of government, being one of the central founders of Portland YouthBuilders, working for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Housing & Community Development for over 15 years, serving as the Associate Director of Open Meadow Alternative Schools, and – most recently – acting as the administrator of the Opal School at the Portland Children’s Museum.

Why do you do this work?
I walk thru the world with white privilege. It provides me access, belonging, and optimism because systems and institutions are designed to support my success. I realize that my white privilege is not shared by people of color in our society and I would like to change that. I want to be part of shifting how people relate and how systems operate so the meritocracy so many white people believe in, can be a reality for all.

What do you believe?
I believe in carrying forward the commitment to social justice that I learned from my father and mother and my grandparents before them. I believe in the Jewish notion of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. I believe that we must have multiple perspectives to have meaningful impact. I believe that race matters, that I have white privilege, and that white folks must get uncomfortable and be prepared to give something up in order to be allies in pursuit of equity for all. I believe that each one of us is strong and wise with gifts for the world; and that no one of us is better.

I believe in the power of storytelling and vulnerability as the pathway to personal understanding and transformation.

I believe that words help to connect and galvanize people and actions are what really matters.

What is a question that guides this work for you?
How far is each person able to go in confronting their fears in pursuit of their beliefs?

What is a quote that resonates with you?
“Wanting is not enough. Intent and skills are our swords and shields in the war to dismantle a system with a life of it’s own.” Debby Irving, Waking Up White