About Karen S. Young Community Organizer, Educator, and Advocate
Karen is the founder, artistic director, and primary instructor of The Genki Spark. Since 2010, Karen has developed an ensemble of 20+ women and girls and has overseen the facilitation of numerous community and educational programs conducted in schools, universities, community organizations, and events.
Prior to founding The Genki Spark, Karen was a founding member of Odaiko New England (ONE), New England's premier performing taiko group located in Woburn, Mass. As a former ensemble member of ONE, Karen spent over a decade entertaining crowds in venues such as the Boston Dragon Boat Festival, Fenway Park, the Boston Children's Museum, and First Night Boston. Through ONE, she conducted dozens of educational programs for K-8 students with Young Audiences in schools across the Commonwealth.
Through the generosity of Karen's first instructor and ONE founder, Elaine Fong, Karen was introduced to the North American taiko community and had opportunities to learn from renowned artists such as, Grandmaster Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko Dojo, Kenny Endo of the Taiko Center of the Pacific, Tiffany Tamaribuchi of the Sacramento Taiko Dan, PJ and Roy Hirabayashi of San Jose Taiko, and Marco Lienhard of Taikoza. Karen has traveled to Japan several times, most recently to take part in workshops held by the world-famous Kodo drummers and to serve as residency staff and participant with the international touring group SHIDARA.
In addition to her role as a performer and arts educator, Karen is a determined trailblazer and entrepreneur, having her hands in launching advocacy projects such as Youth on Board at YouthBuild USA, The Corporation for National Service, and MAP for Health. After receiving her BA in Human Ecology at Humboldt State University in California, Karen’s first job involved traveling the United States advocating for the inclusion of student voice and training 1,000’s of college activists before arriving in Boston in 1993. With over twenty years of experience having helped launch five social enterprises, Karen has used her skills as a trainer, counselor, facilitator, and consultant to address issues of education reform, public policy, oppression, and youth development on a local, national, and international level.
Examples include engaging students in school reform with the Boston Public Schools, conducting youth leadership trainings throughout Thailand with the US Department of State, and facilitating discussions with those incarcerated at the Tule Lake internment camp with United to End Racism. She currently serves on the board of the Asian American women's organization ASPIRE and is a passionate advocate with the Asian/Pacific Islander arts collective, Boston Progress.