...Community in Dialogue
Who We Are
Karen Krasner Allen, MBA, PMP
I spent my childhood with my parents, brother and sister at home in King of Prussia, PA. In sixth grade, I transferred from public to private school where I met a kindred spirit, Mr. Twersky. He was a devout Jew and gruff Bible teacher, and a gentle man who froze pints of chocolate milk for me at lunch. He left me with a fighting spirit and the freedom to ask questions and pursue answers.
I studied psychology at The George Washington University (GWU); and earned an MBA in Change Management and Business Planning. At the Center for Contextual Therapy, I worked side by side with Sue MacDonald, Austin Joyce, and Barbara Krasner, and was steeped in trust-based theory and therapy.
I lived in Washington DC for 17 years. My first job out of college was working for a non-profit
educational organization. I then joined the Columbus Division of Battelle Memorial Institute. After seven days, I was moved from a hall cube to a private office, my first promotion. Later, I worked with the military at the Pentagon and around the country when I transferred to Battelle’s Pacific Northwest Division. My mentors there were an Air Force Major (Joe Price), an Air Force Colonel (Tom McSwain), and a retired Navy Rear Admiral (Tom Fox). Joe pushed me: “You never ask questions. How is anyone supposed to know who you are?” In a graduate school paper, I used Tom McSwain to demonstrate the difference between a leader and a manager. Tom Fox was a man of power who invited me to become a peer.
After Washington, I moved to Charlotte, NC, to be near my brother, his wife, and their sons. I hadn’t yet found my professional niche, nor had I found a niche with my brother, who left for college when I was ten. So I set out to find him. In Charlotte, I spread my wings to work as an independent management consultant. Then jobs dried up.
I moved to Cary, NC, and spent ten years managing projects in the pharmaceutical industry. Over time, I found roots in Cary with Kelly and Claude – my cats. In the midst of a “corporate restructuring”, I found another mentor, Al Guerrero – a former marine, an engineer with personality, and my about-to-be new boss. Without preamble he asked if I were willing to work with him. “In a heartbeat,” I said. Our roles quickly became interdependent; we learned to speak our minds, to build trust between us, to back each other up, to use a wicked sense of humor, and to expedite the work.
Around that time, a colleague’s house burned down. He and his family lost their material possessions, their house was looted, and well-ordered lives dissolved into chaos. Who was there to help?
More recently, a friend called in shock; she just learned she had gastric cancer. Then a fellow Rotarian fell on ice. Her jaw was reconstructed. She almost died. Yet another friend tripped, was admitted to the hospital and misdiagnosed. He was alone. Who could have helped him? I could have. I did. I do.
A way had opened up that was uniquely mine. The tools were there. I could help people under duress take hold of vital legal, financial, and medical documents and information. I was reinforced by certifications in LifeDocuments and Health Information Organizing, and started a company, Phoenix Resource Management Specialists, LLC.
I am standing at a new twist in the road. I can build on everything that came before. It is time for me to step into the breach – prepared, ready and able. I sometimes wonder whether I was put here to pursue my passion for helping people advocate for themselves when they need it the most.