Karen Gross

Karen Gross is an author, educator and higher education consultant based in Washington, DC where she works as Senior Counsel for Finn Partners.  She serves on the Advisory Council of the Penn Center for MSIs at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and works as a Senior Fellow at College Promise. She has taught as a visiting professor at Bennington College.

She is the author of an award winning book, Failure and Forgiveness, published by Yale University Press and co-author of a recent book on the post-inaugural march signage and its meaning titled Teach Our Children Well. She has written a children’s book series titled Lady Lucy’s Quest (Spanish edition and a sequel on the way) and the just released, highly endorsed book on at risk student success across the educational pipeline titled Breakaway Learners published by Columbia Teachers College Press. As one commentator wrote:

Karen Gross makes a compelling case for rethinking how we as college and university educators engage those students who come to our campuses with “curdled childhoods,” bearing burdens of poverty, inadequate K-12 educations, and dysfunctional (or absent) families.  For many of us who work outside the thin stratum of America’s elite institutions, which ironically generate the most commentary about higher education while serving the fewest people, these young (and sometimes not so young) men and women constitute a large and growing portion of our student population.  We need to pay attention to what Karen Gross says; the challenges are real, the need urgent.  Drawing on decades of experience in higher education, particularly her years as president of Southern Vermont College, and reflecting on her own experiences as a “breakaway student,” Gross develops the concept of lasticity, a coinage she uses to pull together the characteristics necessary to facilitate the success of at-risk students…

For 8 plus years, Gross was the President of Southern Vermont College, a small, private, affordable, four-year college located in Bennington, Vermont. From 2011 to 2013, she served as Senior Policy Advisor to the US Department of Education in Washington, DC. In that capacity, she was the Department of Education’s representative on the interagency task force charged with redesigning the transition assistance program for returning service members and their families.  She also was involved in implementing the President’s 2020 Initiative to increase college access and success.

Prior to becoming a college president, Dr. Gross was a tenured law professor for more than two decades. Her academic area of expertise is consumer finance, over-indebtedness (including student debt) and community economic development.  She has consulted and continues to consult with governmental and non-profit organizations and was on a series of boards.

Karen is a scholar, teacher, administrator and community leader dedicated to improving the lives of those less privileged.  She speaks and writes frequently about education issues, often with healthcare analogies, for various audiences and in a wide array of publications such as Aspen Journal of Ideas, HuffPo, InsideHigherEd and Diverse.