About Karen

KAREN GROSS
Short Speaker Bio

I am an author, educator and higher education consultant based in Washington, DC where I serve as Senior Counsel for Finn Partners.  I also taught in Spring 2016 at Bennington College (VT) and sit on the Advisory Council of the Penn Center for MSIs at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.  I also work as a Senior Fellow on College Promise, part of the non-profit Civic Nation.

For 8 plus years (until 12/31/14), I was the President of Southern Vermont College, a small, private, affordable, four-year college located in Bennington, Vermont.  The College offers a career-launching education with a liberal arts core, and many of the College’s students enter the fields of healthcare, criminal justice, entrepreneurship and social service.  More than 65% of its students are the first in their families to go to college and approximately 50% are Pell eligible.

From 2011 – 2013, I serve part time and later full time as Senior Policy Advisor to the US Department of Education in Washington, DC. In that capacity, I served as the Department of Education’s representative on the interagency task force charged with redesigning the transition assistance program for returning service members and their families, working closely with the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Labor.  I also was involved in implementing the President’s 2020 Initiative to increase college access and success.

Prior to becoming a college president, I was a tenured law professor for more than two decades. My academic area of expertise is consumer finance, over-indebtedness (including student debt) and community economic development.  I served as a consultant to governmental and non-profit organizations (which I still do) and prior to entering into government service, was on several boards, including Campus Compact (a national service learning organization), The Sage Colleges and Association of Vermont Independent Colleges, Executive Committee.

Considered a national and international expert, I have served as a scholar, teacher, administrator and community leader dedicated to improving the lives of those less privileged.  I speak frequently and write regularly about education issues for various audiences and in a wide array of publications such as Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Hechinger Report, New England Journal of Higher Ed, Diverse, Road2College, National Journal, Diverse, InsideHigherEd and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

I am the author of an award winning book, Failure and Forgiveness, published by Yale University Press. I have a forthcoming book on vulnerable student success across the educational pipeline titled Breakaway Learners to be published by Columbia Teachers College Press (April 2017 pub date). (www.breakawaylearners.com) I am also the author of a children’s book series titled Lady Lucy’s Quest; further information is available the books’ website: www.ladylucysquest.com.  My co-authored book on the post-inaugural march signage and its meaning was released on Feb. 20, 2017:  Teach Our Children Well.

Raised in New England, I am a cum laude graduate of Smith College where I was elected to Phi Beta Kappa (and spent my junior year at Dartmouth College in its first year of co-education) and a cum laude graduate of Temple University School of Law, having spent my final year of law school at the University of Chicago. Prior to entering legal academia, I taught at the high school and college levels and practiced law in Chicago and New York.