Karen Spencer founded Whole Child International in 2004 with the aim of improving the quality of care for vulnerable children worldwide. Targeting the largely overlooked emotional needs of society’s most at-risk children, Whole Child’s cost-effective, sustainable and replicable program provides the tools they need to become productive members of society.
As founder and CEO of the organization, Spencer leads an international team of trainers, researchers and other staff to change systems of care, to advocate and influence policy and to conduct related research. Whole Child programs are currently being brought to scale with funding from the Korean government through the Inter-American Development Bank and other donors.
Spencer has co-authored articles published in the peer-reviewed “Infant Journal of Mental Health and Perspectives in Infant Mental Health,” contributing important insights and realistic solutions to the public debate. In September 2015, she was elected as an Ashoka Fellow for her innovative work as a social entrepreneur by the Ashoka Foundation, which honored her for identifying and filling a gap in care for orphans and vulnerable children. In 2016 she was made a Fellow at the University of Northampton in the United Kingdom.