Karen Gadbois

As Interviewed by Bryan Sak, March 13, 2013
"Our efforts were very successful. I mean, there were specific instances when people told us they had stopped demolitions because of the blog. There were also instances when different people who worked at the city would go and read the blog and advocate for these houses to be torn down."
Karen Gadbois

Introductory Profile: About Karen Gadbois

Karen Gadbois is journalist/activist living in New Orleans, Louisiana. She moved to New Orleans in 2001 after working as a textile artist in Mexico. In New Orleans, she was diagnosed and eventually cured of breast cancer. Mrs. Gadbois soon became an important part in the New Orleans community.

In 2005, the city of New Orleans was faced with Hurricane Katrina, a disastrous storm that killed almost 1,500 people. A massive levee breach flooded many parts of the city. Many houses were destroyed with this levee breach, due to immense flooding. After the storm, the condition of many neighborhoods was poor, and with that came “relief” from the federal and local governments. This relief was not what it was supposed to be. Houses that could have been repaired by the city were instead destroyed. Families lost their homes. Then, Ms. Karen Gadbois began a blog called Squandered Heritage.

Gadbois created Squandered Heritage as a way to show the citizens of New Orleans the corruption of New Orleans housing demolition, whether related to FEMA or the city. She became more and more successful in her efforts to do this, and she gained national media attention after corporate networks like NBC put the spotlight on her.

Fast forward a few years. New Orleans conditions are improving every day, but there is still more work to be done. Karen Gadbois co-founds The Lens with some colleagues of hers. The Lens is what Squandered Heritage was, but with broader topics and a much larger scale. The Lens reports on everything social in New Orleans, including criminal justice, education, and local government issues. It’s what you might call a journalistic powerhouse.

Today Karen Gadbois remains with The Lens. She attends city meetings to plan the future of New Orleans, and lives life in New Orleans with her Jack Russell. In 2012, she was awarded the Ethics in Journalism award from the Society of Professional Journalists. She has won some of the highest honors in journalism, including a Peabody Award.