Karen Gross

Senior Counsel for Finn Partners and Senior Fellow at College Promise

Headshot of Karen Gross

Karen Gross is an author, educator and higher education consultant who serves as senior counsel for Finn Partners. She has taught as a visiting professor at Bennington College in Vermont and is a visiting scholar and professor in residence at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Gross also sits on the advisory council for the Penn Center for MSIs at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and works as a senior fellow for College Promise, part of the nonprofit Civic Nation. Since 2015, she has also been a visiting teacher at Molly Stark Elementary School in Bennington, Vermont.

For more than eight years, Gross was president of Southern Vermont College, a small, private, four-year college, also located in Bennington. The college offers a career-launching education with a liberal arts core, and many of its students enter the fields of healthcare, criminal justice, entrepreneurship and social service. More than 65 percent of students at Southern Vermont College are the first in their families to attend college and approximately 50 percent are Pell Grant eligible.

From 2011-13, Gross served as senior policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Education. In that capacity, she served as the department’s representative on the inter-agency task force charged with redesigning the transition assistance program for returning service members and their families, working closely with the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and Labor. She also was involved in implementing President Barack Obama’s 2020 Initiative to increase college access and success.

Prior to becoming a college president, Gross was a tenured law professor for more than two decades. Her academic area of expertise is consumer finance, over-indebtedness (including student debt) and community economic development. She served as a consultant to governmental and nonprofit organizations. Prior to entering government service, Dr. Gross was on several boards, including Campus Compact and the executive committee of The Sage Colleges and Association of Vermont Independent Colleges.

Considered a national and international expert, Gross has served as a scholar, teacher, administrator and community leader dedicated to improving the lives of disadvantaged individuals. She speaks and writes often about education issues. She is the author of several titles, including Failure and Forgiveness, Breakaway Learners, a children’s book series called Lady Lucy’s Quest, and is co-author of Teach Our Children Well.