Karen Lousa

DU Prison Arts Initiative Literary Arts Consultant

Professional Biography

Karen Lausa has introduced engaging literature to hundreds of incarcerated readers through her work as executive director and founder of Words Beyond Bars, a nonprofit, evidence-based book discussion program operating in the Colorado prison system from 2011-2019. Karen holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Antioch College as well as a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from SUNY/Albany. She has over twenty years experience as a reference librarian and is certified as both a Great Books Facilitator and Restorative Justice practitioner. In June 2013, she became certified in the Inside-Out Training Institute prison education program. In her previous position in Research and Public Policy at the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center, the creation of the Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman office is a direct result of her work with a coalition of legislators and stakeholders in the Colorado’s child protection community. Karen has participated in the prestigious Aspen Institute Justice and Society Seminar in July 2016 as a Halle Scholar. Her goal remains focused on a sustainable model for a literature curriculum that is inclusive and represents a generous sampling of genre. In her discussion communities all disciplines emerge and incorporate literature, history, philosophy and social science through reading and discourse.