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Karen deGategno is a public affairs and crisis communication strategist with strong interests in sustainability and environmental issues, corporate social responsibility, and consumer-based brand reputation management. She has a diverse background in media relations, creating effective messages for both traditional media and social media, brand publicity and marketing, community outreach, and public opinion research.

Karen got her start in the field of communication more than ten years ago as a television producer in Beijing, China. Most of that period in her career, she operated her own production studio, Splendid Film, where she developed the studio’s reputation and client base from scratch. Her clients included Chinese firms, such as China Central Television and Beijing TV, and multi-national businesses such as Leo Burnett, Ogilvy, and Dentsu. She also worked as a television producer at Ogilvy & Mather’s Beijing office, serving clients including IBM, Lenovo, Kimberley-Clark and Kraft. In the United States, Karen has worked as a freelance advertisement producer. She has also served as Press Coordinator for the Smithsonian Institute’s Freer | Sackler Galleries where she handled media relations and  publicity for the galleries.

Karen recently completed her master’s degree in strategic communication from American University, where she received the AU School of Communication’s Best Public Communication Capstone Award for her master’s thesis.  Her award-winning research makes practical recommendations based on empirical research of public reactions to crisis response strategies. Crisis managers can employ Karen’s research findings when developing public communication strategies that are intended to minimize damage wrought to corporations’ reputations during crises. Karen also was nominated for Best Strategic Communication Plan Award for the crisis communication plan she developed for the Freer | Sackler Galleries.

Karen holds a bachelor’s degree in television production and direction from Communication University of China. She is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Women in Film and Video (WiFV). Karen has also volunteered her services as a videographer and photographer to support multiple local non-profit organizations.