Biography

Karen Keys-Gamarra is a graduate of Tulane University and Washington University School of Law. She is an Attorney who currently handles family matters and works as a court-appointed Guardian ad litem in Northern Virginia representing the best interests of children. Keys-Gamarra has extensive experience in working on education related issues, including, discipline and special education. Karen is a child advocate with extensive knowledge of local issues as she often collaborates with various state and local agencies to improve the lives of children and families.

Ms. Keys-Gamarra also has broad experience in the Fairfax community where she serves as a Fairfax County Planning Commissioner and volunteers for such organizations as the NAACP and CASA.

Keys-Gamarra has a diverse legal and community involvement background. She has worked at a state agency, non-profit organizations, and in private practice. As an attorney, she has handled a range of issues including bankruptcy, consumer concerns, family law, employment discrimination, union disputes and regulatory matters. Keys-Gamarra currently serves as an Advisory Board member for a domestic violence non-profit organization and has previously been appointed to the School Board Budget Task Force and currently serves the Schools Committee for the Planning Commission.

Keys-Gamarra has an extensive history of leadership in the community. She has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate (“CASA”) for children and has assisted in training new CASA volunteers.
She and her husband have been married for 27 years. They are the involved parents of three boys who attended FCPS for elementary, middle, and high school.

Planning Commissioner Keys-Gamarra serves on the Schools and Parks Committees and an alternate member of the Personnel and Budget Committee.

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Education

• Tulane University, Bachelor of Arts (English & Communications)
• Washington University School of Law, Juris Doctor (JD)

Current Professional Experience

• Attorney/Guardian Ad Litem: Court-appointed advocate representing children in abuse, neglect, custody, detention, adoption, and related matters. Investigate adequacy of remedial services provided through the various county departments. Evaluate child’s educational needs. Interview school counselors, teachers, and social workers to form a basis for recommendations. Attend Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings to ensure the child’s needs are met with supportive programming.

• Fairfax County Planning Commission, Sully District: Serve on Schools, Parks, and Capital Improvement Program committees. Make recommendations to Fairfax County Board of Supervisors regarding comprehensive plan amendments, zoning applications, and other land-use issues. Seek input from planning and zoning staff, Fairfax County Public Schools, transportation specialists, individual constituents, community associations, developers, landowners, and other stakeholders.

Past Professional Experience

• Office of Public Counsel: Worked with a state agency that represents and protects customers from overcharges and other abuses.

• Karen Keys-Gamarra, Attorney at Law: Small business owner. Worked in private practice focusing on education discrimination and employment law issues. Also handled bankruptcy and family law matters.

• Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways: Lobbied Congress for safety regulations for commercial drivers.

• Teamsters for a Democratic Union: Managed Washington DC office as staff attorney for a union watchdog group. Advised members regarding union rights, protected employees from retaliation, addressed workplace safety, and monitored corruption and budgetary abuses.

Volunteer Experience

• CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate): Volunteered for an organization that represents children in abuse and neglect situations. Currently, serve as an invited speaker for CASA training programs.

• Time to Fly: Advisory Board member for organization established to assist victims of domestic violence. Responsible for fiduciary and budgetary oversight.

• NAACP: Member/Volunteer. Participated in the ACT-SO competition and coached teens participating in a national Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Knowledge competition.

• Mothers of Preschoolers, Fairfax Chapter: Organized, established and provided leadership for the development of the Evening Program which offered support to mothers of young children. Planned and managed the program and supervised allocated budget.

• Grace Covenant Church, Chantilly: Children’s Sunday school teacher/assistant and past leader in Women’s Ministry.

EDUCATION

Anti-Bullying

Fairfax County, VA – June 6th, 2017 : Today, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed legislation requiring a five day deadline to report school bullying to parents. Virginia principals would be required to notify parents before the deadline.

Karen Keys-Gamarra said, “I want to express my gratitude to Governor McAuliffe and the bill's sponsor. As an attorney who advocates for children, I understand the negative impact of bullying: it is a phenomenon that interrupts the ability to learn and causes children to feel unsafe. This bill will improve the notification process and allow parents to intervene earlier.

This legislation is a much needed tool for Fairfax County Public School staff to address and discourage bullying. Our counselors, teachers and parents need to partner to make sure every child feels safe and secure while attending school.”

Keys-Gamarra added, “This is an important first step to combat bullying in the Fairfax County Schools. Our Governor has always been at the forefront of addressing issues that gravely affect our children. He is knowledgeable about school issues and I am proud that we have a Governor who is compassionate and caring. Bullying is an impediment to learning.”

Karen Keys-Gamarra is an Attorney and Guardian Ad Litem (GAL), which is a child advocate attorney who represents the best interests of children. She and her husband are the parents of three boys. Two have graduated from FCPS and one is currently attending FCPS. She and her husband live in Oakton, VA. Karen is a volunteer for the NAACP, and a former CASA volunteer. She is also a Planning Commissioner. Ms. Keys-Gamarra attended Tulane University and the Washington School of Law. Karen Keys-Gamarra is seeking the FCDC endorsement for the FCPS At-Large seat.

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