Karen Staser

Karen with Ayla at her Birth

Karen is founder of the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) in Washington, D.C.

Inspired by diverse travel and living experiences, coupled with post-graduate education and corporate practice in managing change within complex systems, Karen founded NWHM to serve as a catalyst for cultural change on a national basis.  She believes that appreciating women’s place in history builds respect and confidence, and might lead to less violence, poverty and discrimination against females (and children).

Equipped only with her 1995 “white paper” explaining the need for a national women’s history museum, Karen began by arranging space in her basement for an office. Next she established a not-for-profit entity around which she could align political, academic and business leaders. She realized that the sweeping and complex change she sought must start by educating the power elite. She reasoned that the best place to start educating our political leaders would be in the symbolic heart of the nation by attempting to restore an historic statue of female leaders from the dark “Crypt” to the bright “Rotunda” of the U.S. Capitol. In doing so, she challenged 76 years of Congressional indifference to honoring our foremothers along side the male leaders enshrined there. These were women the lawmakers didn’t know too much about, to the detriment of their lawmaking.  

Her successful national grassroots campaign, 1995-1997, restored the suffragists Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. It required her to master the art of non-profit activism. During that time she recruited the founding NWHM boards and academic committees; recruited and supervised staff; testified on behalf of NWHM before Congress and the White House; spoke to various women’s organizations and Fortune 500 companies across the country; launched the award-winning NWHM Cyber-museum (www.nwhm.org) and the NWHM newsletter, “A Different Point of View;” conducted membership drives; and oversaw major events and fundraising initiatives. Karen served as NWHM President from 1995-2000 and remains the “honorary” spark that ignited and continues to light the way.

Ms. Staser holds a Master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from San Francisco State University. She completed graduate work at the Organizational Effectiveness School and Center in Monterey, California, the “Haus Risen” Institute in Hamburg, Germany, and at Stanford University. Her undergraduate studies in economics and psychology were at the University of Georgia and Methodist College in North Carolina.

Since the 1980’s Karen has conducted award-winning organizational development interventions with enterprises ranging from the San Francisco District Corps of Engineers to the Alaska Humanities Forum. Her entrepreneurial endeavors include an innovative child development center in Anchorage, Alaska, which was inspired by wanting the best early development opportunities for her daughter Sara – now a mother herself. Ms. Staser has served in various corporate, civic and professional leadership positions. She is the Senior Consultant for Organizational Effectiveness and Development, as well as the lead on all Non-profit Sector work within the Staser Consulting Group.

Karen is married to Jeff Staser, and lives in Anchorage, Alaska, near granddaughter, Ayla, and grandson, Sage.  The Stasers are the proud parents of two exceptional young women, Sara and Katie, who have been empowered by knowing their history. Therefore both found equally exceptional, strong men, who are also learning all about women’s history.