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Our team

Karen Harrison - Associate

Karen is an independent consultant specialising in economic and community development, and in particular in promoting innovation in strategic management in the public and non-governmental sectors.  She is also a skilled facilitator and trainer.


Her current work profile includes providing direct long-term support to the Dr JS Moroka local and Ugu district municipalities through the undertaking of economic and social analyses, institutional analyses, the design of development strategies and the implementation of projects.  This work involves extensive stakeholder engagement and management processes.  She has also worked on multi-disciplinary teams as the economic and social development resource, and has been sub-contracted to participate in government programme reviews, such as the Expanded Public Works Programme, the Co-operative Support programme in the Western Cape, the Decentralization Framework for the Western Cape, and the Integrated Sustainable Rural Development Strategy.  Karen works closely with an associate, Jacqui Boulle, and together they have built up relationships with non-government sector clients that involve ongoing management support, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and training.


Prior to establishing her own consultancy, Karen was Executive Director: Community and Developmental Services of the Cape Winelands District Municipality. She was responsible for delivery of personal primary health care services, municipal health services, social development programmes, and the promotion of economic development.  She also managed the process of transforming and extending a lay health worker programme into a social development programme that is fundamental to the Cape Winelands human security interventions, covering TB prevention, alcohol abuse prevention, HIV/AIDs prevention and management, food security and early childhood development. 


She managed the development of a Growth and Development Strategy for the Cape Winelands and designed and implemented programmes addressing small business development, tourism marketing , product development and business opportunity identification,  and skills development..


Karen’s previous work experience includes the Department of Provincial and Local Government, Pretoria (Local Economic Development, and Capacity Building); management of projects to decide on the division of ministerial powers and functions in municipalities; the University of Natal, Durban, independent consultancy work in Kwazulu Natal; conflict resolution with the Natal regional office of the National Peace Accord; the University of Cape Town Community Health Department, and an NGO working with refugees.


She has published various papers on issues such as the problems women face within and when entering small businesses, globalisation and the clothing industry, economic development and health management.  


Karen obtained a Master of Development Studies (MA) Cum Laude at the University of Natal, Durban, and won the prize for the top Masters student in the year 1995-96, and received a prize to further her doctoral studies.  Previously she did a BA(Hons) in African Studies at the University of Cape Town, and a BA at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.  She did various other short courses including conflict management, project management, strategic planning, and the Executive Management Development Course, University of Stellenbosch.

She has been involved in leadership positions in various community initiatives including women’s issues, rape crisis centres, and addressing current social, economic and political issues.