Katie Carlson is a gender specialist working in international development as a technical consultant, and founded a small non-profit social enterprise, Paper Crown Institute. Her work exists to create social change that lasts and breaks the intergenerational cycle of gender inequality, by engaging adults and adolescents in critical conversations about issues that affect us all, including gender norms, power dynamics, social justice, violence, discrimination and privilege.
We asked Katie to tell the Tribute community a bit more about her, and why she's dedicated her life to this cause.
How old are you?
34 years young!
Where were you raised?
The lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada.
What you want to be known for?
I want to be known for my passionate conviction and technical expertise. I want to be known for being undoubtedly the “real deal”.
What made you decide to start your venture? Tell us about YOUR WHY.
I wanted to be a change maker about something which I care deeply about. It seemed to me to be one of the most rewarding and purposeful things I could do with all the energy and passion I have as a person. I mean, why not? What is life for if not to leave the world a little better than you found it? I had always been an outspoken and very passionate person, and I took the time to really understand the issues I cared about, which is so important – I knew I could influence others in a positive way if I had the space to do so. I also believe so much in the power of young people, and I knew that if I could influence young minds, it would help to break the cycle of these social mindsets that create violence and harm, and slow down social and economic growth.
Did you leave a cozy Corporate job? Or start a side hustle?
Gosh, I have multiple hustles! I’m not sure if I would even be happy with only one hustle…? Sounds crazy, but the longer I do it, I think it’s true. I work as a high-level technical specialist in gender and development, consulting for various NGOs, governments, the UN and businesses, and I also run a small non-profit social enterprise that has various different projects and activities going on at any one time. Many different hustles! But the diversity of what I do makes my expertise even more honest and rich, so I think both sides benefit from the other hustle, and they keep me grounded in the grassroots realities on one hand, while also being able to influence at a higher structural level on the other.
What inspires you to keep going when the going gets tough?
The impact we make always keeps me going. Sometimes I think it would be easier to remain a solo consultant and stop all the other things we do. But when I look at the young people we’ve influenced for the better, and the tremendous impact it’s made on them, especially the girls who go from speaking their names in a barely audible voice to proudly and openly sharing their own thoughts and opinions without fear or shame, to really believing in the value of their own voices, I just can’t imagine giving it all up. I mean, what we do really WORKS and in recent months it’s become even clearer to me that we cannot just give that up (even when it’s tough)!
And finally, we asked Katie to answer these three questions.
My favorite self-care routine is
Sunday nights! Hair mask, face mask, bad reality TV, early bedtime. Bliss!
The last book I read was
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
My best advice to fellow female founder is
Know what you do, inside and out, so you can speak with authenticity and conviction at any moment. Be real! Never give in to the temptation to rely on jargon or trending ideas to package what you do – some people may buy into that, but if you’re trying to make a real impact, no matter what your business is, know it, live it and breathe it so well that people know when they speak to you, you are the real thing, and your work is not just a passing phase or hobby. That generates sincerity and trust, which is worth its weight in gold in any market!