Karen Pittman is a sociologist, leader, and educator who specializes in positive youth development. In the late 1990s, she created a motto for this approach to working with children and young people: "Fully prepared doesn’t require being problem-free."
The motto highlights the core of the Positive Youth Development Concept, which is to focus on developing young people's strengths rather than improving them. In the end, positive potential is key to successfully integrating young people into independent life.
Throughout her career, Pittman has worked hard to ensure that the principles of the Positive Youth Development Concept are well-known, accepted, and applied in different areas of education and social work. We'd like to share more about this remarkable woman.
Karen began exploring the benefits of active learning and integrated child development as a young college student and camp counselor.
Once Karen received her degree, she delved into social services for students and young families. Later she worked at the Children's Defense Foundation and directed her efforts towards creating and introducing a plan to prevent teenage pregnancy.
In 1990, Karen became Vice President of the Academy for Educational Development with the goal of emphasizing skill-building over discipline. She established and oversaw the Center for Youth Development and Policy Research.
She took charge of directing the President's Council on Juvenile Delinquency Prevention in 1995, and by 1998, she had created The Forum for Youth Investment.
The Forum has been in existence for over 25 years and has become a worldwide stage for creating partnerships, supporting change-makers, and improving policies for youths.
In 2022 Karen Pittman suggested that it's vital to expand the original motto to emphasize the importance of developing institutions that can provide a full range of support that is visible and accessible at all times to vulnerable young people and their families:
"Being fully prepared doesn’t require being problem-free, just resilient — ready to assess, handle or get support for life’s challenges."
The concept of positive development is at the heart of our foundation's work and we will continue to tell you more about it.