Karen Spencer, Countess Spencer
Karen Spencer, Countess Spencer (born as Villeneuve; in 1972, Edmonton, Canada) is a Canadian social entrepreneur and former model. She is the founder and CEO of Whole Child International, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization (NGO) that works to improve the quality of care for vulnerable children in childcare institutions and orphanages worldwide.
Life and career
Lady Spencer was born as Karen Villeneuve in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the eldest of three children. Her father’s job as a national parks administrator took the family to twenty-three homes and ten schools throughout her childhood; Spencer has credited this experience as the foundation for her interest in helping children without a stable home.
While attending a parenting class in Los Angeles, Spencer was introduced to the dynamic child-rearing approach of Emmi Pikler (1902–1984), a Hungarian pediatrician and child development expert who established the Pikler Institute in Budapest for children orphaned during World War II. After visiting the Institute, Spencer was motivated to found the nonprofit Whole Child International in 2004. She sought to target the early development needs of vulnerable children in institutions using methodology developed by Pikler.
In 2006, Whole Child began working with the Government of Nicaragua to train caregivers at the El Divino Niño children’s home in Managua. The organization now has agreements with the governments of Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Haiti to help improve the quality of childcare in orphanages, integrate basic Whole Child principles into their regulatory framework, and create local capacity at both a governmental and academic level for best practices in childcare. These programs are currently being brought to scale with funding from the Inter-American Development Bank, TACA Airlines, and other donors under their 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action, which was announced at CGI’s Annual Meeting on September 24, 2009.
Marriages and children
In 1997 she married Mark Gordon, a Hollywood producer whose films include Saving Private Ryan and The Patriot. The couple, however, divorced in 2003. Together they have two daughters, aged 10 and 12.
As a result of her marriage, Karen Spencer is styled The Rt. Hon. The Countess Spencer. Through her marriage to The Earl Spencer, she is aunt of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry of Wales. On April 29, 2011 she attended the wedding of her nephew Prince William, Duke of Cambridge to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wearing a suit by designer, Bibhu Mohapatra
Earl and Countess Spencer have one child together: Lady Charlotte Diana Spencer, born 30 July 2012 (age 0).
- 1972 – 1997: Miss Karen Villeneuve
- 1997 – 2011: Mrs. Karen Gordon
- 2011 – present: The Right Honourable The Countess Spencer
- Princess Diana's brother to marry Alberta-born Karen Gordon - website Canada.com
- Kerry A. Dolan (February 12, 2007). "Adopting a Crusade". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- "President Clinton Hosts Third Day of Clinton Global Initiative | Press Release". Clinton Global Initiative. 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2010-02-09.
- Adopting a Crusade - website Forbes
- Diana's Brother Ties The Knot For Third Time - website Sky News
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- Waterlow, Lucy (6 August 2012). "One for every day of the week". Daily Mail.