About Kaara

I am an experienced content consultant with a unique capacity for seeing systems and connecting dots. I am committed to supporting organizations that work for a just, sustainable world. My goal is to identify and cultivate the best content for your clients and staff. This might mean polishing what you've already got, creating templates and guidelines for your team, or strategizing a new set of offerings. 

I am also an instructor in the Design Thinking and Communication (DTC) program at Northwestern University. In this exciting course, co-taught by engineering and writing faculty, students develop human-centered design solutions for a real-world client through a rigorous combination of engineering, communication, project management, and teamwork skills. In 2020, I co-developed a sustainability focused option for the course. I am delighted to be able to help young engineers recognize their role in the crucial global shift to sustainable practices and principles. 

Prior to embarking on my independent consulting work in 2012, I was the editorial head of school programs at the Great Books Foundation, a non-profit organization known for its excellent literature-based discussion curricula and professional development for K-12 classroom teachers. Earlier in my career, I taught high school English and Spanish.

I live in Chicago with my husband Henry, our magical toddler, and our cats. I am a teacher, learner, dancer, botanizer, and, I've learned since having our daughter, a prolific creator of customized song lyrics. My happy place is marveling at the rhythm and texture of such disparate things as prairie plants, music, and the written word. 

 

Client testimonials

Bianca Laureano
Education Director, Scenarios USA

You will find no better candidate in terms of intellect, leadership, and dependability than Kaara Kallen. In the relatively short period of time I worked with her Kaara showed an unwavering passion and dedication to social issues and inequalities in education and how they affect various communities.


She has a wealth of personal initiative and spent the individual time necessary to learn and digest a large amount of material as she inherited a program in Chicago that was only three years old. Equally impressive was Kaara’s ability to integrate this material into well-organized and strategic workplans which is a strong aspect of her work ethic. Kaara takes pride in her work and this is revealed in the relationships she creates and the work she produces.


Overall, I believe Kaara is one of the most self-directed and grounded educators I have had the good fortune to work with and support. Kaara asks the hard questions because she cares about what can and needs to be done to create the change young people in Chicago, and the US, say they want. She is astute and embraces a positive youth development philosophy, and puts those qualities into practice when engaging and working with youth.


[On content work]

Kaara’s editing support and critical eye for detail and clarity made the curriculum incredibly strong. Throughout the editing process Kaara asked important questions about the goal and objectives for each lesson plan, provided examples and feedback on making definitions for challenging and new topics accessible at an 8th grade reading level, and helped with the overall grammatical edits of the curriculum. Kaara was an invaluable component of completing the curriculum we have today…Our other 24 films do not have this level of depth and inclusion for educators. Having Kaara as a member of our Education Department meant having a wider reach, stronger content, and useful tools for educators through our curricula and films.


[On outreach work]

The Chicago Manager position relies heavily on personal initiative and outreach to administrators, educators, and organizations. Kaara excels at making each personal encounter and connection authentic and meaningful. She uses her background in education and the arts to facilitate important conversations about social and emotional learning, media literacy, media justice, and a variety of social justice issues Chicago students encounter with a keen eye on the intersections of race, gender, class, and power.  

Susan Brooke
Editorial Director, Phoenix International Publications, Inc.

I hired Kaara for a temporary project editor position and she was amazing! The children's book projects were varied and complicated, with aggressive deadlines. Kaara quickly wrapped her arms around each project's objectives; analyzed, synthesized, and organized huge amounts of information; and wrote engaging, age-appropriate, license-appropriate manuscripts with educational heft. She worked thoughtfully and thoroughly without a lot of direction, and she was well-liked by the creative teams. Kaara is great to work with!

Lisa Del Torto
Co-Director, Design Thinking and Communication, Northwestern University

Since Kaara began teaching with us in Spring 2017, she has become a favorite instructor among students, a respected colleague among our faculty, and an engaged contributor to our program and curriculum. Kaara is expert in curriculum design, educational content development, research, and editing, and she is thoughtful and critical about writing and writing pedagogy. We can always rely on Kaara to be insightful, effective, creative, collaborative, and thorough.

Claire Podulka
Managing Editor, ThinkCERCA

Kaara has been a go-to consultant for ThinkCERCA for years on a wide range of editorial projects, everything from resource development to content editing to research projects. We've relied on her particularly for more open-ended projects that require the consultant to see the big picture and fill in the more granular details to provide guidance to others, because we trust her expertise, precision, and thoughtfulness. For example, when we began a massive project of reviewing and revising all of our ELA lessons, Kaara was the first person we turned to to work through a sample grade level to provide not only insightful edits but also guidelines and best practices for all other editors to follow. The processes and resources she developed set us up for great success on that project. Kaara's close attention to detail, knowledge of student and teacher needs, and dedication to finding solutions to any issues that arise make her one of our favorite freelancers to work with.

Nancy Carr
Senior Editor, The Great Books Foundation

Kaara is a knowledgeable editorial professional who can balance many projects simultaneously while doing excellent work on each one. She has in-depth, up-to-date knowledge of the K-12 educational landscape, and can tailor her work to specific classroom needs. Her writing and editing skills are superb. Kaara also knows the full editorial process, from conception to production, in detail, and works well with a variety of colleagues to create excellent work.

Ari Frede
The Orange School, Founder

Kaara instituted a public roundtable discussion to examine persistent questions in education. Kaara directed us presenters to frame our work as a through-line to a set of questions. This gave the controversial topics we covered their day in the sun, instead of obscuring them with pitch and spin. Kaara's passion for attending to idea development through communal analysis will benefit us all.