Karen Fleshman, Esq.

Karen FleshmanFounder of Racy Conversations.

Her mission is to inspire the first antiracist generation in the United States. She teaches people what racism is and how to relate across difference as equals, respect and learn from each other, raise antiracist children, and create interracial sisterhood. She speaks, facilitates workshops and town-halls, teaches online courses and webinars, coaches individuals, mediates between parties, and writes content about diversity, inclusion, and belonging for Huffington Post, Moguldom, and the GED Section.

Karen’s lifelong passion for community organizing and social justice began in elementary school in the all white community where she was raised. A Latin American Studies major as an undergrad, her early career experience was in the immigrants rights movement in Austin, where she completed her Master’s degree at the University of Texas Moody College of Communication. She was recruited to serve in the Giluiani administration, where she co-founded Citizenship NYC, a City service that helped 50,000 New Yorkers apply for US citizenship. While working full time, Karen attended New York Law School at night, graduating cum laude in 2003. She is admitted to practice in New York and served as an Assistant General Counsel to a New York City agency. In the Bloomberg administration, Karen shifted her focus to workforce development in response to reports that 50 percent of Black men in NYC don’t have a job and 170,000 young adult New Yorkers, almost entirely Black and Latinx, are not working nor in school. She cofounded Ladders for Leaders, a private sector summer internship program for young people now its twelfth year of operation. She was a founding team member of Year Up New York, a nonprofit organization that prepares young people without a college degree for corporate careers in tech, where she grew its budget from $1.4 MM in 2007 to $7.2 MM in 2012.

In 2012, Karen relocated to San Francisco, and began consulting for nonprofit organizations serving young people of color. By 2014 her mentees’ stories of workplace discrimination coupled with the non-indictment of Darren Willson for killing Michael Brown inspired Karen to shift her focus to antiracism education. In 2015 SFPD executed Mario Woods, and Karen became a police accountability activist, cofounding San Franciscans for Police Accountability and serving on the workgroup charged with overseeing US Department of Justice recommendations for ending bias at SFPD.

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