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Karen Wylie

Policy & Participation Manager

Picture of Karen Wylie with shoulder length hair and a black top

Karen is GDA’s Policy & Participation Manager. She has been involved with GDA for many years, firstly as a volunteer then Personal Assistant in her holidays from her day job of teaching. In March 2020, when we went into lockdown due to COVID-19, Karen joined a band of GDA supporters who undertook a massive wellbeing engagement exercise, calling GDA members to check-in on them and make sure they were able to access supports.

During this time, we had to suspend our successful delivery model of face to face, highly participative and interactive learning sessions and, in June 2020, Karen was successful in becoming GDA’s first online Learning Manager. This allowed her to put her educational skills to good use in establishing and developing GDA’s online learning programme. By late 2021, we were able to restart the face-to-face learning programme while continuing to offer online sessions, ensuring maximum opportunities to participate. During 2022 and 2023, GDA’s learning programme has offered an exciting and diverse range of online and in-person learning for members, enabling peer support and progression opportunities including having their voices heard on a range of policy and service areas which impact on disabled people.

During her time as Learning Manager, Karen became involved in supporting members to establish GDA’s policy positions and to promote these to public partners and the Scottish Government. These included Community Learning and Development, Climate Change and Just Transition. Karen also led GDA’s input on a gender budgeting project on the impact of the cost of living crisis on disabled women. This project has been co-delivered with Scottish Women’s Budget Group. Karen then took up the role of GDA’s Policy & Participation Manager in January 2024.

Previously, Karen was a Modern Studies teacher in secondary schools in Glasgow for 4 years and, before that, an academic researcher for 8 years on human rights related projects at Robert Gordon University and the University of the Highlands and Islands. Areas of research included children and young people’s rights, particularly on their right to have their voices heard; child trafficking into and within Scotland; and the asylum and refugee determination system and processes.

In her spare time, Karen enjoys reading, hillwalking, music and films.