We had the good fortune of connecting with Karen Sugar and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Karen, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
The idea of risk, taking risks, assessing risk can be debilitating. It creates doubt, fear, and ultimately can derail hopes, dreams and success. Considering risk is a very ‘western’ practice, many people around the world don’t have the luxury of considering risk, choosing a safer option; most people are forced to take risks, often with their lives every day. We should also consider this reality.

For me, starting Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (WGEF), was a huge risk, both personally, and professionally, but I knew that what I was creating could potentially have a transformative impact for women globally. Because I was willing, or one could argue naive, to take risks, to believe in something bigger than my fear, WGEF became fully operational.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My career is based upon the belief that poverty is entirely imposed and possible to eradicate. My fight against injustice began as a teenager, and everything I have done has sprung from this commitment.

I had a family very young which presented me with a different path; raising two young girls while working or volunteering for reproductive justice. I had the opportunity to move to Atlanta which changed my life; I worked for several years at a homeless shelter for women and newborn babies where I learned the oppression of systemic racism, the struggles of being unhoused, and how we continually set people up for failure, making it entirely impossible to thrive. It was this job that taught me that women are all connected by our unique experiences walking the planet as women: misogyny, access, equity, safety, human rights, and raising health children. While our lives may be dramatically different, our common experiences connect us.

It is this understanding that gave me the courage to create an international NGO, working in East Africa. The women I work with in Uganda, have taught me many lessons about tenacity, courage and resiliency of the human spirit; they also showed me the meaning of sisterhood.

Working in Africa is an incredible opportunity to understand history, humanity, poverty, conflict. Understanding the human condition from a global perspective offered me the possibility of making a difference and empowering women and communities. WGEF is a unique nonprofit providing economic, social and political opportunities for women and families, is a vehicle for creating sustainable human development in this region in an intimate, meaningful way from the ground up.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Living in LA makes this question easy! I would choose a few surf spots, including Malibu and Santa Monica, there would be time for several beach days, sunsets, bike along the beach, stopping for a cocktail along the way.

We would have to stop in Erewhon for health food and people watching, food at Butchers Daughter, drinks at the Misfit, a day at Little Beach House Malibu, and dinner at Soho House in downtown LA.

Now if I was entertaining in Uganda, my second home, it would the Equator Lounge in Kampala, the Bohma in Gulu, best place to watch a soccer match!

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Here is a shoutout to my dad, Jack, who told me every day I could do and be whatever I wanted; to be kind and respectful to all, to enjoy life, laugh and have fun every day.

Website: www.wgefund.org

Instagram: @wgefund

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karensugar/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wgefund

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/wgefund

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