Karen Kaiser has been a leading global freedom of expression and press freedom advocate for 25 years.
Karen currently serves as SVP, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, and Corporate Secretary of The Associated Press. In that capacity, Karen is responsible for overseeing all the legal operations of the company globally with particular emphasis on press freedoms, journalist safety, crisis prevention, digital rights and online harassment, and governance, risk and compliance. Karen has put into place a variety of risk management measures at AP including a robust sanctions compliance program (covering locations such as North Korea and Russia), crisis management, digital security, rights management, ESG, FCPA, and data protection and privacy. Karen has spearheaded and leads AP’s crisis management initiative for journalists in high-risk situations globally, which includes conducting routine global threat assessments, training on emergency preparedness, diplomacy, and swift crisis response. She has successfully navigated crisis situations in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, including the successful release of journalists from prison in China, Sudan, Myanmar, and Ethiopia in recent years, and she oversaw the mass evacuation of staff from Afghanistan in 2021 and Russia in 2022. Karen leads efforts to make AP an industry leader on issues of freedom of expression and journalist safety, and she has championed freedom of information rights throughout her career. Her work on freedom of information was highlighted in a 2010 New York Times article, and her FOIA work was honored with the SPJ Eugene Pulliam First Amendment award in 2011. In 2015, Karen testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of stronger FOIA reforms. Karen also handles all governance matters for the company and the Board of Directors.
In both 2014 and 2022, Karen was instrumental in reforming the U.S. Department of Justice Guidelines on Subpoenas for Members of the Press. For the last decade Karen has served on the Department of Justice News Media Task force where she meets regularly with the Attorney General to discuss press freedom issues. Karen is on the Steering Committee of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Publications Officer of the International Bar Association Media Law Committee. Karen also serves as Chairman and President of the AP Emergency Relief Fund, a 501c3 that provides emergency assistance to staffers worldwide affected by disasters and crisis situations.
Prior to joining the AP, Karen was senior counsel at the Tribune Company, and prior to that, a senior litigation associate at Cahill Gordon & Reindel, where she worked on landmark First Amendment cases such as the Valerie Plame leak investigation and the Wen Ho Lee case. Karen clerked for the Honorable Kevin Thomas Duffy in the Southern District of New York.
Karen is a frequent speaker, lecturer and panelist at numerous international conferences on issues of international press freedom standards, including the criminalization of reporting, digital rights and national security laws. Karen has twice been honored as one of “America’s 50 Outstanding General Counsel” by the National Law Journal for championing First Amendment rights. She trains journalists across the industry on global press freedom standards, restrictive reporting laws, online harassment, digital security, and safety preparedness.
Karen holds a B.A. in Philosophy and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania, and a J.D. from Fordham Law School. She also holds a certificate in Crisis Leadership from Columbia Business School.