Name: Karen Frankenstein
External Links: http://karen4da.org
Member since: 2008
This state department kid was born in Germany, where the travel bug bit me when I took my first flight at 3 days old – to Senegal. The bug and its side effects – a love for learning and improvising – haven’t left me yet. My Chinese-German-English heritage helps to make the world my home - I’ve lived in 11 countries and I’m always looking for the next place to explore. I became an activist at age 8, when I organized the students at my school to sign a petition to prevent the removal of the arts program. I later chose to pursue a career in the arts, working in IT to fill the gaps between gigs. Surprisingly, these jobs share numerous requirements - flexibility, improvisation, intense focus, and understanding of different structures and goals. After Trump was elected, I signed up to volunteer at DA, and I hope to continue helping to keep Democrats in office in the role of International Secretary.
Describe your volunteer work with DA and cite your greatest DA accomplishment.
I began volunteering with the Global IT Team. I felt right at home rolling up my sleeves and getting involved, thanks to the professionalism and openness of the team. The introduction of new platforms at DA led to the creation of new standards and procedures and I joined the Helpdesk team, where I got to meet many DA volunteers. This also gave me the chance to find out how things in DA work, to see different global teams being built, and to understand some of the challenges and rewards that working as a volunteer at DA can bring. As Global Caucus Coordinator, I work with all 11 global caucuses to plan and execute events, build community, advocate, and coordinate with the Global ExCom. As new teams are built, I work closely with them to find their individual paths. My greatest achievement? Helping 3 new caucuses in the space of a few months to flourish – by giving them tools and information to reach their goals, and by keeping dialogue and the exchange of ideas open.
Why are you running for this office?
Enabling our volunteers and building well-supported, diverse, imaginative teams is crucial to getting out the Democratic Vote – and we can do it in numbers that we haven’t yet seen. DA should be a place of joy, excitement, and fun for the extraordinary volunteers who make things happen. As Secretary, I can help our teams get there. Our membership has grown and expanded, and our organization and teams have grown along with it – but so has the amount of work. We can simplify and improve our communications, procedures, and outreach without making our procedures burdensome and difficult. As Secretary, I plan to work with our Global ExCom to create an open environment for the exchange of ideas that also doesn’t flood our volunteers with unwanted messages. I’d like to help build out our systems so it's easier to get involved and easier to find information so that our volunteers can spend more time just doing the things that they volunteered for.
How will your skill sets and experience contribute to DA’s success?
My first job was in IT for an international company. My team embodied the spirit of cooperation, thinking outside the box to find solutions for a rapidly growing company. I developed and ran user training for both the in-house lawyers and their staff, and was a lead in the pilot program to support overseas IT departments as the company expanded. ’m still doing this – for DA. At DA, I've worn many hats. I am Global Caucus Coordinator, an IT Team member, and Global Events Team volunteer. As part of this, I've helped CCs in all regions, and aided the Global Comms and the State Teams too. I’ve worked with nearly all the organizing tools that DA uses and introduced a few as well. Success in nearly all the organizing tools that DA uses and introduced a few as well. Success in 2024 depends on enabling the teams that use these programs, maximizing the synergies of these teams and their tools, and adapting a responsive approach to ensure we meet the milestones we set four ourselves.
Should you be elected, are there any DA organizational or practical issues (not political goals) that you would like to address?
The Democratic Party is a Big Tent Party, and as we grow more diverse viewpoints enter our arena – and we should be inclusive. This is true of Democrats Abroad too. We need to find new ways to hold debate, discussion and share information in an inclusive and effective way. My priorities as Secretary will be to:
- simplify our internal communications platforms and create a virtual space for the exchange of ideas;
- help new leaders get oriented and find the tools they need – including key things like charter requirements, comms guidelines, training, and networking;
- keep dialogue within our organization open, fair, and inclusive.
Observing our charter and respecting our own guidelines and rules isn’t always simple, but these are things that can be done with the right team and set of tools, and I intend to make this all more transparent and easy to follow – for any volunteer, no matter what their level.
How can Democrats Abroad best raise our profile among American voters abroad and better work to elect Democrats?
We need a team of leaders who understand and have expertise in communications, team building, inclusivity, and planning to activate the overseas voters who are not our team building, inclusivity, and planning to activate the overseas voters who are not our members. Our leaders must understand what makes voters tick. A well-coordinated team with a solid plan based on data, analytics, and a mission can make this happen.
Endorsement from Vanessa Moore - DPCA Voting Rep (DA Lion City), Legislative Advocate (Global Disabilities Caucus)
I am very pleased to pledge my support for Karen Frankenstein for International Secretary. Karen has shown an incredible commitment to Democrats Abroad in a variety of roles over the years and demonstrated passion, creativity and a high degree of competence in all of them. In my personal experiences with Karen in IT she is responsive, organized, helpful, often gives me multiple choices of solutions which make my job easier and is always cheerful, kind and patient and makes herself available. She always goes above and beyond the scope of her duties if it an help someone else in Democrats Abroad even when it requires learning something new on the fly. I have never come across an issue Karen couldn't solve and I would love to see her bring her organizational, administrative, and technical talents to the global level in the role of International Secretary.
Endorsement from Gail Fagen - (DA-Italy), Deputy Chair DA IT Team
DA is the quintessential volunteer organization, where the success or failure of any group effort - or any project, chapter or caucus - can hinge on the efforts of a few key people who, through their special traits and talents, are super volunteers. And THE place where such super volunteers are needed is the DPCA Excom. One such person is my dear friend and IT Team colleague Karen Frankenstein, candidate for DPCA Secretary. Over the 6 years we’ve worked together I’ve been constantly impressed by:
- The way she manages to grasp a question, problem or situation, perceiving what she doesn't yet know and searching until she can see the full picture.
- Her priceless mixture of "rigor and grace" - she can be strict about things that really matter (like data privacy!!!) and imaginative when flexibility is required.
- Her readiness to step in and help out, even in the most thankless tasks.
- Her courtesy - she knows how to show people that their work is sincerely appreciated - something so vital in mobilizing and motivating
Through her work with the IT Team, caucus coordination and the global helpdesk, Karen has gained invaluable knowledge about the tools our DA leaders and volunteers need to get their work done.
All these qualities make Karen an absolutely superb volunteer for the job of DPCA Secretary!!
Endorsement from Kee Adams Evans, (DA Guatemala) DA Voting Representative
Without a doubt, Karen Frankenstein is the best candidate for the position of DA International Secretary. I have worked with Karen for years within some of her many Democrats Abroad roles, namely DA Caucus Coordinator, DA Global IT Team and DA Global Events Team. She is thorough, prompt to respond, dedicated to her work and to all DA Members. I wholeheartedly endorse Karen Frankenstein for International Secretary of Democrats Abroad.