EXTRAordinary Women 2023
Karen Chen is the Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), a 45-year-old grassroots civil rights organization. Karen's training began as a 10 year-old when she immigrated to the US and became de facto interpreter and advocate for her immigrant working class family, later honing her leadership and organizing skills as a youth intern with Coalition of Asian and Pacific American Youth and the Chinese Youth Initiative, a paralegal at Greater Boston Legal Services' Asian Outreach Unit, and Tenant Service Coordinator at the Castle Square Apartments in the South End.
At the Chinese Progressive Association, Karen led campaigns to win retraining funds for dislocated electronics workers, bilingual ballots for Boston and Malden's Chinese and Vietnamese voters, Massachusetts' first unionization of a private home care agency, organized residents to fight against gentrification and displacement, as well as grassroots political efforts in support of trailblazers such as Suzanne Lee, Andrea Cabral, Lydia Edwards, Rachael Rollins, Ayanna Pressley, Michelle Wu, and many more.
Karen was recently recognized by Boston Magazine as one of Chinatown's New Power Brokers and one of the 100 most influential Bostonians by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women as one of its Unsung Heroines of 2019. She serves on Mayor Wu’s Housing Stabilization Advisory Committee, and several powerhouse boards, including Massachusetts Community Labor United, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), and the Asian Pacific Islanders Civic Action Network (APIs CAN!).