After having served as CEO, on July 1 Karen Kalish assumed the role of Director of Philanthropic Partnerships at Home Works! The Teacher Home Visit Program, which she founded 14 years ago. The program has trained and paid hundreds of teachers who have made tens of thousands of home visits in 116 schools since its inception. These teachers work with parents to help improve their children’s classroom performance.
A native St. Louisan, Kalish lived in Washington, D.C. for 27 years, Chicago for five years and Cambridge, Mass. for two years. She taught school for six years at Sidwell Friends School in Washington before becoming the consumer and investigative reporter for CBS-TV there. In 1978 she had the same beat for ABC-TV in Chicago, and then was the Washington reporter/producer for “Entertainment Tonight.”
In 1987, she started Kalish Communications to teach clients how to talk to the media without putting their foot in their mouth and how to write and give dynamic, interesting speeches and presentations. She has served on the boards of directors of many nonprofits from the NAACP to the Jewish Community Center in Washington and has won many awards for her community service including a Purpose Prize Fellowship and the NCCJ Brotherhood and Sisterhood Award.
In 1994, she started Operation Understanding DC in Washington. This yearlong leadership program, for Black and Jewish high school students, teaches them about their own and each other’s race, religion, culture, and history.
In 2001, Kalish returned to St. Louis (after being gone for 34 years), where she continues to work on education transformation and establishing a level playing field for the minority community, especially African Americans. She began several programs here including:
• HOME WORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program, which trains, supports and pays teachers to go to the homes of their struggling students to get their families engaged in their children’s education. HOME WORKS! teachers build trust and relationships to partner with parents to improve academic achievement, attendance, classroom behavior, and homework completion.
• Books and Badges, which partners with St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department recruits and other reading partners with St. Louis Public Schools (SLPS) elementary students to improve reading and language skills.
• Cultural Leadership, which is a yearlong educational leadership program for high school students to teach them about civil rights, social justice and democracy, and how to be activists, advocates and change agents to rid America of racism and all forms of discrimination to make the United States a country with justice, equity, and opportunity for all.
Kalish, who lives in Clayton and attends Central Reform Congregation, is the author of “How to Give a Terrific Presentation, Dealing Effectively with the Media,” and “I’ll See You On The Radio.”