Godmother of the MNUDL, Karon Garen, has been honored with the name of our new endowment fund.

Karon Garen was a former debater, and she credits it with giving her the skills to succeed. The single parent of four sons, she suggested that her oldest son try debate at The Blake School. He loved it, and his brothers followed.

“I realized that debate is a remarkable partner in parenting. As teenagers, it gave my sons a place to belong – a community where they were affirmed and respected. They learned to use information with integrity, and they realized that losing is a springboard for action, not defeat,” Karon told us at the 2019 Mayors Challenge.

By 2004, debate had been virtually eliminated in Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools due to budget constraints, and it was only available to well-resourced suburban and private schools. Karon was impassioned to address this disparity in access.

“This once vibrant pillar of democracy and rite of passage had disappeared from public schools,” says Karon. “This was an injustice to students and to our communities. I knew that I would be mounting a crusade to bring debate back to Twin Cities public schools.”

In the years since Karon first made the decision to pursue her vision, the MNUDL has grown from a handful of legal professionals, educators, parents, and students to serving over 1,200 students in 2019.

In celebration, Karon Garen’s four sons have begun the Karon Garen Founder’s Fund, our new endowment campaign to celebrate the MNUDL’s 15th Anniversary.

Karon helped launch the 15th Anniversary Celebration of MNUDL in June, saying, “I am in awe of how far we’ve come. Augsburg has taken a fledgling organization and turned it into a force to be reckoned with.”


Interested in contributing to the Karon Garen Founder’s Fund? Contact Amy Cram Helwich for more information at cramhe@augsburg.edu.