Karen Pérez

Dr. Karen Pérez serves as a leader for systems improvement for English learners and equity at Education Northwest. Karen brings more than 20 years of experience in K–12 education at the school, district, and state levels. As a highly skilled bilingual educator, teacher mentor, scholar, and district administrator, she has led innovative approaches to culturally responsive teaching, parent and community engagement, teacher preparation, student supports, and administrator coaching.

In her role as the equity, instruction, and partnerships administrator for a large, urban district, Karen gained invaluable experience in diversifying the workforce and deconstructing and reconstructing a system to better address the needs of English language learners, migrant education students, LGBTQ+ students, students experiencing homelessness and/or poverty, and racially and ethnically diverse students and staff members.

As an adjunct professor in the Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling, Karen has taught a course on culturally responsive teaching in linguistically diverse classrooms and co-facilitated leadership retreats for the educational leadership doctoral candidates around equitable systems and anti-racist policies. Karen has also facilitated and co-facilitated sessions on equity and policy at several state-level conferences.

Karen has a doctorate in educational leadership from Lewis and Clark College and a master of education in elementary education and special education from Portland State University, with K–12 endorsements in English for Speakers of Other Languages and bilingual education. Karen holds an Oregon administrative license, serves as the vice president of the Oregon Association of Latino Administrators, and is a member of the Oregon Department of Education’s Emergent Bilingual Workgroup. She previously served as a member of Oregon’s English Language Task Force, which develops statewide initiatives for the success of multilingual students, families, and staff members. Originally from El Salvador, Karen is a first-generation immigrant, doctor, and educator who is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.

Karen is a member of the Preschool for All Washington County Infrastructure & Administration Workgroup, which is conducting an analysis of infrastructure needs to scale a universal preschool program in Washington County. This work includes developing criteria for the competencies of Preschool for All Washington County’s potential administrative body; proposing a set of strategies aimed at creating systemic supports for providers to navigate the regulatory environment; developing a deeper understanding of potential partners and existing funding streams for infrastructure development; and using grants, incentives, and capital growth tools to support the program.

Areas of expertise: English Language Learners, Migrant Education, Diversifying the Workforce, Supporting BIPOC students and staff, Equity Analysis and Supports Across Educational Systems

As a brown-skinned-Salvadoran-first-generation American-cisgender female-mother-daughter, I draw strength from the strong women who have come before me and those who have walked with me to get where I am today. It is with their strength, integrity, and passion that I approach my work of deconstructing and co-constructing educational systems for more equitable outcomes.



Seize the Opportunity to Shift Culture: Serving Latinx Communities in Comprehensive District Learning

Karen Pérez and Shelly Reggiani address culturally responsive education for Latinx communities in this professional learning webinar for school leaders.

Native Boarding Schools: The Lasting Impacts on Today's Native Students and Families

How do past boarding school practices and policies affect our Native students and families today? Learn from several educators in the Western region who are successfully partnering with our Native communities.

Leader for Equity and System Improvements

Areas of Work: 

Blog Posts

Unpacking the “Hispanic” in Hispanic Heritage Month


October 5th, 2020

As a self-identifying “brown-skinned Latina, first-generation immigrant,” Karen Pérez reflects on the meaning of Hispanic Heritage Month and how we can celebrate Latinx heritage.