Revolutionary Woman: Karen Toering

In honor of Women’s History Month, we will present essays throughout the month by local authors documenting, honoring and celebrating powerful women who inspire us in South Seattle and beyond.

by Hodan Hassan

In this month of celebrating women, our accomplishments and contribution to history, I want us to remember that history hasn’t always treated all women equally. Racism has played a major part in creating distances between women and standing in the way of true connection.

I want to kick off the celebration of this month with one of my favorite people. Someone who inspires me to be my best self, Karen Toering. Karen is one of the most authentic and honest people I’ve ever met. You know the kind of person you just connect with from the first moment of meeting them? So much so that you can’t pinpoint when or how you met them? It just feels like you’ve known them your whole life?

That’s how I feel about Karen.

Karen works for the Social Justice Fund, a foundation that is working towards social change. What is very special about SJF is the radical way they fundraise by getting people together, teaching them how to successfully raise funds, providing them with a racial justice analysis, and encouraging them to learn all they can about the organizations SJF funds.

So basically, in her role, Karen (and folks at SJF) is transforming the landscape of fundraising, foundations and funding work that is changing the lives of people in their community all throughout the Northwest. Outside of that, Karen, who’s a proud South Seattleite, also works with Langston Hughes African American Film Festival supporting Black filmmakers and Black films.

She does all this and so much more. My favorite part of knowing Karen is the way she welcomes people into her life. She’s so graceful and kind and makes you feel like you can tell her anything. She’s the kind of person who brings up your spirits after just a few minutes of talking with her.

In a world that’s so chaotic where everyone is always in a frenzy, it is important to recognize the people who hold space for us, ignite our spirits and create a community that we can bring our whole selves to.  

Heroes don’t always wear capes and fly, sometimes it’s the person who makes you feel most like yourself, and who makes you laugh. Sometimes it’s the person that brings a smile to your face. Karen Toering is a hero. She’s my hero.

Featured images by Naomi Ishisaka