Dr. Karen Francis

Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer

Company: American Institutes for Research (AIR)
Role: Session Presenter

2022 Conference Session: The Power of Reciprocity: How Reciprocal Mentoring Makes for a More Inclusive Organization (S1-C)

Dr. Karen Francis is vice president and chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) officer. In this role, she leads AIR’s overall DEI efforts through the implementation of the DEI framework and strategic pillars focused on workforce and work environment; cultural and linguistic competence; identity, brand, and thematic research; and growth and sustainability to advance AIR’s mission. Additionally, Karen focuses on developing internal and external partnerships to drive AIR’s global DEI presence. She provides oversight for the DEI Office, employee resource groups, the DEI Council and the Cultural and Linguistic Competence Workgroup. She partners with senior leadership and staff across AIR to drive organizational accountability around inclusivity, equity, and fairness at all levels.

Karen received her doctorate in medical sociology and social inequality from Howard University. She was a principal researcher in the former Professional Services division at AIR. She brings more than 25 years of experience working in diverse communities and across multiple human service systems with expertise in the areas of strategic planning, research, cultural and linguistic competence, and the utilization of data-driven approaches to her DEI role that has evolved at AIR. She continues to lead and champion AIR’s internal metrics-based growth and sustainability of DEI and AIR’s external presence of DEI in the field.

She has authored and coauthored several publications that focus on cultural and linguistic competence and its practical application for service delivery. Karen also represents AIR and serves as an expert panelist for the 2021 Global Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Benchmarks.

Karen is active in her community, as evidenced by her service on the Montgomery County (Maryland) Commission on Juvenile Justice. As a commissioner on the Maryland Governor’s Commission on Caribbean Affairs, she led initiatives to promote health literacy and access to health and behavioral health services. She currently serves on the Montgomery County Caribbean American Advisory Group, Office of Community Partnerships.

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