Organizer Profile: Meet Karen Monahan

Cross-posted from the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability.

What’s the one piece of advice this organizer would give you? Fuel your organizing with love, not anger.

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Meet Karen Monahan.

Karen is a community organizer with the Sierra Club, a grassroots voice to preserve and protect Minnesota’s environment. Karen’s passion for organizing is rooted in the relationships she cultivates with community members. She enjoys empowering community members to exercise their voice concerning environmental justice issues plaguing their communities. For Karen, relationships are the key to organizing because they help organizers establish trust with the community.

One of the barriers that Karen faces in her organizing work is helping people to prioritize environmental justice matters, when there are so many other challenges they face in their daily life. However, Karen feels that when people see that environmental issues are directly connected to race, class, health and educational barriers, they more readily take action.

Karen has not always been an organizer. Initially, Karen went to school to become a social studies teacher, but became disillusioned with the political process after the 2000 presidential election. She became cynical towards electoral politics and believed that the only way to create change was through more issue-based organizing. Karen then joined the Wellstone Fellows Program, which provided her with organizing training to get her started in a new career.

Karen admitted that much of her early organizing work was rooted in anger. Yet she has come to realize that anger often does not yield desirable results, but rather perpetrates the same injustices that people fight to overcome. She began to see that to be a leader in the community, she had to do deep internal work, and replace the tendency to be angry with love.

The Alliance for Metropolitan Stability is proud to have Karen on its board of directors. Thanks to Karen for your work in creating a more environmentally just and sustainable Twin Cities region!

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