In the winter of 2002, I was feeling wounded by a series of traumatic national events. The shootings at Columbine High School, the murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming, the dragging of James Byrd behind a pickup truck until he died, and, finally, the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center. These events first devastated me, then kindled a new and powerful resolve. I went looking for a way to help — to restore my faith in human kindness. The result was a book, The Difference a Day Makes: 365 Ways to Change Your World in Just 24 Hours, and a companion web community called Benevolent Planet, both providing simple, no-cost actions people could take in the course of a day to live their values and create a brighter future.
My research for these projects immersed me in inspiring initiatives and practical solutions for protecting animals, nurturing our environment, providing shelter, feeding the hungry, elevating education, buying wisely, and so much more. I was excited about how much good could be achieved through small change on a mass scale.
I also came to see that doing for others brings a joyous rush, not because it makes us feel virtuous, but because it affirms our common humanity, our innate connectedness. “…what I do unto others, I do unto myself,” writes Marc Ian Barasch in Field Notes on the Compassionate Life, a small but significant twist on the familiar Golden Rule. Every day, we each get a chance to alleviate someone’s pain, lighten another’s load, strengthen the chain…and by doing so, alleviate our own pain, lighten our own load, strengthen our connection. Passed from one to another, that’s a powerful notion, and it’s at the very heart of humane education.
When I understood the sense of purpose such an education could convey, the potential to reclaim our influence and our vital role in a world we can change, I found IHE and saw where my future would be. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than bringing as many like minds as possible along on this path with so much promise, and to see what comes to be.
Karen Jones joined IHE in 2013 as Director of Marketing. Karen has a professional background in social entrepreneurship, marketing communications, nonprofit management, and education promotion. She has a degree in journalism from Penn State University. Most recently, Karen served as assistant director of media relations at Susquehanna University, a nonprofit liberal arts college in north central Pennsylvania. She produced promotional materials as a staff member of Marriott International Inc. and Encore Marketing International in Washington, D.C., before moving in 1996 to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, and founding her own marketing communications business, with clients including the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Science Foundation.
She also served for a year as director of Safe Haven Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit effort to construct a “green,” no-kill sanctuary for dogs and cats in Georgetown, Delaware, and published articles on humane and holistic practices in Woman’s Day, Natural Health, Body + Soul and other magazines. In 2003, as founder of the web-based Benevolent Planet, Karen developed online resources, e-courses, e-newsletters and other “practical strategies for purposeful living,” creating an international community of “everyday altruists.” Her book, The Difference a Day Makes, was named one of the Best Spiritual Books of 2005 by Spirituality & Health magazine and a Reader Favorite by Real Simple magazine. She has spoken about transformative, compassionate action on radio programs nationwide.
Karen lives in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, where walks along the scenic Susquehanna River are a routine pleasure. She likes independent film, live jazz and blues, engrossing novels, arts festivals, and visiting the southern Delaware beaches where she lived for 12 years. She dabbles in photography and jewelry-making, and shares her home with a rescued, shamelessly affectionate cat named Jazz.