Karen Barzilay

Managing Director and Executive Producer of Media and PR, WE

Role at WE: Managing Director and Executive Producer, Media and PR, 2011–2014

Current Role: Partner and Executive Producer, Door Knocker Media

While I can speak to countless impacts that I witnessed over the years, the one that actually prompted my desire to work at WE in the first place is that of the Kisaruni All Girls Secondary School in Kenya. When I traveled to Kenya before joining WE, I met the young women attending the school and immediately understood how different their trajectories would be had WE never build the school and created the infrastructure for the community to become self-sustainable. These impacts were not singular in nature, but would enjoy a generational ripple effect for these women and their families. This was the work that I wanted to be a part of—real world change making an impact both at home and around the world.

I consider my time at WE to be some of my most exciting and exhilarating professional experiences. From developing a global campaign in support of girls’ education to working with Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai to help put an end to child labor, the initiatives were meaningful and impactful.

During my time at WE, I had the opportunity to develop some incredible campaigns in support of global clean water projects. Whatever idea Marc and Craig Kielburger would have to help raise awareness and support, our team would put into action! Whether it was Spencer West climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or walking on his hands across western Canada, the ideas were big, inspiring and, most importantly, impactful.

Reflecting on what’s changed since her time at WE, Karen said, I started working with Craig and Marc Kielburger in 2005, when I was the Director of Programming at Bell Media. In meeting them, I remember thinking that I had never in my life met such shameless idealists. Their belief that they could—and would—change the world was unparalleled. While this has not changed—and never will—the organization has grown from grassroots to an internationally respected charity and social enterprise. As scale increased, so too has the incredible work that the Kielburgers are able to accomplish.

Speaking about her most memorable impact of her work, Karen said,

Hands down the most memorable impact of the work I did can be found in the tens of thousands of youth who attended the WE Day events that I executive produced. Oftentimes, I would stand outside of the arenas following a show and hear the young people talk about the change projects they were excited to embark on, and how inspired they were to do even more. We would then watch these young people and their schools embark on incredible programming throughout the year—all of which made tremendous impact in the areas of school building, clean water projects and health care.

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