Episode #62 The Power Of Social Enterprise To Address Complex Social Issues with Karen Lee

The Power Of Social Enterprise To Address Complex Social Issues

Our guest on the podcast this week is Karen Lee, Chief Executive Officer of Pioneer Human Services, Karen leads one of the nation’s largest nonprofit social-enterprise organizations in the United States. Under Karen’s leadership, Pioneer successfully operates several revenue-generating businesses that provide living-wage jobs to mission-related employees and help fund its mission of empowering people who have been involved in the legal system to build healthy, productive lives. Headquartered in Seattle, Pioneer serves over 10,000 people a year through its diversion, treatment, housing, and job training programs. Karen is a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Today Karen shares her experiences of being an African/American woman in America, the discrimination she suffered from early childhood and how that instilled in her a desire to dedicate her life to fight racism directly and really make a lasting change in society. Karen shares some shocking statistics that we may often assume there is equal policing and equal punishment and she asks the all important question of how we can be more forgiving and loving, to change attitudes particularly around incarceration and race.

Listen in as we discuss the challenges that exist. Karen speaks with a passion about how discrimination is personal, it’s not a generalized issue; how the complexities of our societal systems perpetuate an unnecessary fear in society that makes people afraid of ‘difference’. She makes it clear that we need to change and Pioneer Human Services, where she is CEO, is helping to make that change reality with their incredible work in the state of Washington. This was such an insightful conversation for me, and I felt so humbled by Karen’s perspective and work giving people a real chance for change. If you’re interested in a fairer future for all, I think you’ll really enjoy our conversation.

Key Takeaways

  • Karen’s perspective on discrimination, how it is so personal and experience.
  • The opportunities for change, to commit to systemic changes and big picture, sustainable solutions.
  • The need for the basic human rights of fairness, equality, and access, to change the outcomes of so many who live underneath the poverty line.
  • What we can do to change attitudes in the hearts and minds of every American citizen.

Memorable Quote

"We need to get to the root of why people don’t behave the way society expects because everyone can be successful if given the right opportunity and support. there’s hope in creating safer communities that impact families and generate positive outcomes.”—Karen Lee, CEO, Pioneer

Episode Resources:

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