Karen has never shied away from her progressive values — even in one of the reddest states.
When millions of federal aid remained unspent and communities stood in disrepair, Karen held state government officials accountable until families started to receive meaningful assistance to rebuild years after Hurricane Katrina. Today, new homes sit in place of blighted and gutted homes, and neighborhoods have started to return.
When Gov. Bobby Jindal refused to expand health care in Louisiana, Karen, a member of the Obama White House Health Care Taskforce, led the charge and demanded the state expand Medicaid to save lives and improve health outcomes for the working people. Today, over half a million Louisianas are now covered by health insurance, have more access to primary care, and pay lower out-of-pocket health care costs.
Louisiana has one of the worst criminal justice systems in our country, but Karen’s leadership led to the passage of the most historic overhauls in Louisiana: reducing the prison population by investing more in rehabilitation, reduced mandatory minimums, overhauls nonviolent crimes with allowing lighter sentences, and limit how often juvenile offenders can receive life without parole sentences.
When Louisiana faced an anti-choice “heartbeat” bill that made it illegal to have an abortion even in the instances of rape and incest, Karen fought to protect a woman’s right to access quality, affordable reproductive care even against some leaders of her own party. As she has throughout her career, Karen has always been a champion for women.
Karen and her husband Dana live in the Freret Street Neighborhood. Karen was born and raised in New Orleans, the daughter of Ken and Gwen Carter. Karen’s father was the first Black American to become Tax Assessor in New Orleans. Peterson graduated from Mercy Academy and in 1991 received a bachelor’s degree in international business and marketing from Howard University Peterson then returned to New Orleans to receive a J.D. degree from Tulane University Law School.