An Inspired Friend: Karen Kalish

“He was the mensch of all time. It was who he was.”

Karen Kalish is describing her friend, the late Bill Danforth, founding chair of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.

Karen got to know Bill after she returned to St. Louis in 2001. For three decades, she had worked as a teacher and then a journalist for major news networks in Washington D.C. and Chicago. Karen has a passion for education and racial equity, and a talent, seen in her consulting business, for coaching others in talking to the media. Through a mutual friend, she landed on the committee administering the St. Louis desegregation bussing program. Bill was co-chair, along with Frankie Freeman.

“When Bill told me the history of the Danforth Center, and the central part he played, I wanted to support it,” continues Karen. “I knew if Bill saw the need, it was important and purposeful—and it is.”

Karen has enjoyed Danforth Center events over the years because “It was always interesting, sometimes something that I didn’t understand, but that’s good for your brain.” In addition to her support of the Danforth Center, Karen has dedicated herself to closing the academic, opportunity, and achievement gaps in public schools by founding several nonprofits, most recently HOME WORKS! The Teacher Home Visit Program. “Bill was an interested, generous donor,” she adds.

She is also a new member of the WHD Legacy Society, having included the Danforth Center in her estate plans. “When it came time to think about ‘Where do I want to leave my little nest egg?’ The Danforth Center was on the list because it has to do with Bill.”

The Danforth Center makes a difference. It helps people around the world and here in St. Louis. And it keeps Bill Danforth’s memory alive—and that’s important to me.

Karen Kalish


Creating a Legacy

When you make a planned gift to the Danforth Center, you create a legacy of hope for people around the globe. For more information, contact the Development Office via email or call 314.587.1234.


A version of this story originally appeared in the WHD Legacy Society newsletter, the free twice-annual mailing of the WHD Legacy Society. Learn more about gifts made through your estate on our Planned Giving site. Click below to receive more stories like this straight to your inbox: