Karen Olson is Founder and President of Family Promise (formerly known as National Interfaith Hospitality Network) in Summit, New Jersey, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence and to redress the underlying causes of poverty and homelessness.
The organization Olson began in 1986 in her home state of New Jersey grew to become Family Promise, and has expanded to 40 states and involves more than 130,000 volunteers and 4,500 congregations of all religious faiths. It is recognized nationally for its innovative and effective work in mobilizing volunteers.
Under Olson's continuing direction, Family Promise has expanded its mission beyond providing immediate assistance to homeless families to include a family mentoring homelessness prevention program along with initiatives to address the underlying causes of homelessness. Family Promise has also developed a multi-media community education program, Just Neighbors, to raise awareness about poverty-related issues.
Olson serves on the Family Homelessness Task Force of the National Interagency Council on Homelessness. In 1992 she was awarded one of 21 National Points of Light Awards from a field of over 4,500 nominees for her work in mobilizing volunteers. She has been profiled in Family Circle magazine and The New York Times, and she is featured in the book Courage is Contagious, Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things to Change the Face of America, written in 1999 by Ohio Congressman John Kasich.