Founder

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Founder

Karen Kalish created Operation Understanding DC in 1993. She was inspired by a similar program in Philadelphia started by The Honorable William H. Gray III, then a U.S. Congressman, and George M. Ross. 

Karen knew the Washington metropolitan area, like Philadelphia, had large African American and Jewish communities, but they rarely interacted, much less joined forces to create a more cohesive community. Working tirelessly from her home office, Karen formed a coalition of Civil Rights, religious and political leaders to educate and inspire Black and Jewish young leaders to build a better future. 

Her seemingly simple dream of breaking down barriers by having students get to know each other on a meaningful level has created a legacy of invaluable experiences, extraordinarily open exchange of ideas and rare friendships that we are dedicated to carrying forward. 

Thank you for your vision and tenacity, Karen!