Karen Topakian, owner of Topakian Communications, is a writer, speaker, communications consultant and activist. She writes for executives, professionals and business owners and consults with organizations and small businesses. She draws from more than 30 years of experience in the advocacy wing of the non-profit world.
Her most recent work experience, as the executive director of the Agape Foundation–Fund for Nonviolent Social Change, taught her about the communication needs facing grassroots organizations. Her years as a nuclear disarmament campaigner for Greenpeace illustrated the importance of a well-designed and executed communications plan and strategy. Her work at the public relations firm, Abernathy Anderson, showed her the value of story pitching and clear messaging.
As a foundation director, Karen frequently spoke on panels of social justice grantmakers and nonprofit executive directors including at the Craigslist Foundation Nonprofit Bootcamp from 2005 to 2007 and regularly at the Foundation Center – San Francisco.
SPIN Academy includes her as a guest consultant providing communications advice to activists from across the country.
Karen’s op-eds and articles have appeared in The Oakland Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle, and “The Grassroots Fundraising Journal” and in books and blogs published by the Foundation Center. Her personal blogs appear regularly on her blog site, Tour de Farce, and at the Red Room. Karen writes the Store Trek column in The Noe Valley Voice about new businesses opening in the neighborhood.
She honed her leadership skills while serving as the 2003 co-chair of San Francisco’s Fundraising Day, on the 2002-2004 event committee for San Francisco’s National Philanthropy Day and on the 2006 fundraising and organizing committee for the Raising Change Social Justice Fundraising Conference. Karen served on the board of the Western States Legal Foundation and the Women’s AIDS Network and is currently the chair of the board of directors for Greenpeace Inc.
With an MFA in filmmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute, Karen always keeps one eye on the visuals.