Karin Walser is known as a social entrepreneur, political communications director, and the founder and long-time executive director of Horton’s Kids. Late one night in 1989, Karin met some homeless children at a gas station and — inspired by their promise — founded the DC nonprofit Horton’s Kids to help them succeed. Under her leadership, Horton’s Kids grew into one of the most respected social service organizations in Washington, serving hundreds of Ward 8 children with remarkable academic and social outcomes and an annual budget of over $1 million.
In 2009, after 20 years as Horton’s Kids’ executive director, Karin successfully transitioned the organization to her successor and protégée, who is currently continuing the organization’s remarkable successes: Horton’s Kids won the Washington Post Award for Nonprofit Excellence in 2011.
In addition to social service expertise, Karin has 12 years of congressional communications and electoral campaign experience, including handling press for a Florida member who went to jail. She served as the longtime press secretary and speechwriter for Representative Joe Moakley (D-MA), chairman and ranking member of the powerful House Rules Committee, where she created the House Democratic Press Secretaries’ Manual that is still in use today.
For her work, Karin has received a number of honors and awards, including the WJLA-ABC-7 Working Women Award, the Washington Times Person of the Week, the Bryn Mawr School Young Alumni Award, and the National Caring Award. She was chosen as WETA’s Hometown Hero in April 2005, featured in National Journal and on NBC Nightly News’ “Making a Difference,” as well as TNT’s “Dramatic Difference.” In 2003, she was chosen to brief President George W. Bush on mentoring.
Karin earned her bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs from the University of Virginia and a cértificat from the Sorbonne in Paris. She speaks fluent French and survival Spanish, which serve her well when she drags her husband and three children on inexpensive trips to exotic locales. Karin loves children, dogs, scuba diving, French pastries, and dirty jokes.
Karin advises on a range of topics including: start-ups, organizational transitions, program development, crisis management, and media training.