Dr Karen Parry

I’m Karen and I’ve lived in the North East since 1992 when I came up to go to university. I love the North East and I’ve never wanted to leave.

My career has all been shaped around equality and inclusion, with my focus mainly being disability equality. I have worked in the statutory and voluntary sectors and am currently the CEO of a regional development organisation that promotes the inclusion of all people with a learning disability or autism and their families.

I completed my PhD in 2001 which looked at intersectionality and the ways it is embodied in different women’s lives.

My current passion is wild swimming, especially winter swimming. There are so many physical and mental health benefits and I love the community of people all around the world who I have met. I find wild swimmers to be a welcoming, non-judgemental, inclusive group of people. I think it is important to our sense of belonging to find the communities where we feel at home and we can find these in unexpected places.

I wanted to become Chair of the Board of Directors of Company of Others as soon as I read the information about the company. It spoke to me so clearly that I could have written it myself – it was so written in my language and resonated with the ways that I see and experience the world, that it instantly felt like another place where I might belong. I immediately felt that my skills and experiences could be of use to the company and I was excited about the opportunity to be involved and make a contribution.