• Biography

Karen Killilea: A Life of Service

Early Life

Karen Killilea was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1883. She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant and was raised in a privileged environment. She was educated at a private school and was exposed to a variety of cultures and ideas. She was an avid reader and developed a strong interest in social justice and reform.


Karen Killilea began her career as a teacher in Dublin. She quickly became a leader in the field of education and was appointed to the Irish Education Council in 1910. She was a strong advocate for the rights of women and children and worked to improve the quality of education in Ireland.

In 1912, Karen Killilea moved to the United States and began working for the National Child Labor Committee. She was instrumental in the passage of the Keating-Owen Act, which prohibited the employment of children under the age of 14 in factories and mines. She also worked to improve the conditions of working women and children in the United States.

In 1917, Karen Killilea joined the American Red Cross and was sent to France to help with the war effort. She worked in the field hospitals and was responsible for the care of wounded soldiers. She was also involved in the relief efforts for refugees and displaced persons.

Later Life

After the war, Karen Killilea returned to the United States and continued her work with the American Red Cross. She was appointed to the National Advisory Council on Social Security in 1935 and worked to improve the lives of the elderly and disabled. She was also a strong advocate for civil rights and worked to end racial discrimination.

Karen Killilea retired from the American Red Cross in 1945 and returned to Ireland. She continued to work for social justice and reform and was appointed to the Irish Senate in 1948. She served in the Senate until her death in 1954.


Karen Killilea was a tireless advocate for social justice and reform. She dedicated her life to improving the lives of the disadvantaged and was a pioneer in the field of education and social welfare. Her legacy lives on in the many organizations and initiatives she helped to create and the countless lives she touched.

Date modified: Apr 8, 2023
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