Karen Austrian leads Population Council projects designed to empower girls in east and southern Africa. She develops, implements, and evaluates programs that build girls’ protective assets, such as financial literacy, social safety nets and access to education. Austrian is the principal investigator of two large, longitudinal, randomized trials evaluating the impact of multi-sectoral programs for adolescent girls – the Adolescent Girls Initiative – Kenya and the Adolescent Girls Empowerment Program in Zambia.
Austrian has provided technical assistance on girls’ programs and policies to the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Girl Hub, the Nike Foundation, and international, national, and community organizations. Before joining the Council in 2007, she co-founded and directed the Binti Pamoja Center, a program to empower adolescent girls in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya.
Austrian has an MPH from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, where she was a Sharp Scholar and specialized in reproductive and adolescent health. She has a PhD in public health and epidemiology from Ben Gurion University in Israel. She speaks English, Hebrew, and Swahili and is based in the Council’s Nairobi office.