Photo by Peter Vanderwarker

Karen Schwartzman

Karen Schwartzman is the founding principal of Polaris Public Relations, formed in 1999 to provide strategic counsel and communications services to clients seeking a senior advisor to guide them when their initiatives or concerns involve the public arena. With three decades of experience in communications, crisis management and public affairs, Karen formulates and executes strategies to help clients either advance their projects or counteract efforts by others to impede them. Karen brings a solid understanding of government operations and regulatory functions; strong investigative, advocacy and leadership skills; and good political instincts to an array of clients who rely on her to help them manage multiple public constituencies and build and/or maintain relationships as they move projects forward.

Karen has represented more than 200 organizations and individuals since founding her firm. Because the nature of her work in all cases involves organizational risk, she works most closely with executive management and trustees or directors. Where crisis in involved, Karen adds leadership and confidence to a crisis management team and clients tap Karen’s experience to help them as they communicate with key audiences – internal and external.

A former senior vice president of Fleishman-Hillard, Inc., Karen provided litigation support, crisis management, and general public relations services to a diverse mix of corporate and institutional clients. She joined the firm after eight years with BankBoston Corporation (1991-1998) where, as director of media relations for Boston’s then-biggest bank holding company, she served as the Company’s chief liaison to the press, protecting BankBoston’s reputation through mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, employee misconduct, stock market turbulence, and management reorganizations. She also led the Company’s campaign to gain national recognition for its program of community banking, volunteerism, and corporate giving.

Karen spent the first 13 years of her career in public service to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts – three as director of media relations for the new and much-heralded child support enforcement effort (1987-1990); two as assistant press secretary to Gov. Michael Dukakis (1985-1987); five as an investigator and spokesperson for the State Ethics Commission (1980-1985), and three with the Boston Finance Commission (1977-1980).

Karen provides pro bono public relations counsel to many not for profit organizations. She serves on the boards of Pine Street Inn, Stop Handgun Violence, and is also an advisory board member of Excel Academy Charter School.

A graduate of Boston University in 1975 with a BA in psychology, Karen also holds a master's degree in urban planning and public administration from New York University (1979). She operates her consulting practice in Boston where she lives with her life partner, Bob Melia