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Gold Star Alum Series: Karina Slaughter

Dedicated to celebrating the shining achievements of Erikson alumni

Karina Slaughter, MSCD’10, an alumna of Erikson Institute, has forged an impressive career path in early childhood program administration and child advocacy, culminating in her recent promotion to Chief Early Learning Officer at Chicago Commons. In her new role, she leads the organization’s Early Education department, which serves more than 1,700 children across 18 communities through directly operated programming and community-based partnerships. With a background in marketing and entrepreneurship, Karina’s journey into early childhood education began at Erikson, where she found both educational experience and personal growth. Reflecting on her time at Erikson, Karina highlights the institute’s role in shaping her perspective and allowing her to unpack her experiences, ultimately guiding her towards a fulfilling career in the field.

“I received more than I expected at Erikson. Beyond gaining educational knowledge, I underwent profound personal growth, delving into my identity and reflecting on how I interact with the world. In classes like Family and Culture, I learned to unpack my background and understand how it shapes not only me but also the experiences of others.”

Karina was also part of the Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows – Erikson Institute in 2018-19. Named after one of Erikson’s co-founders, this program is designed to enrich the perspective and enhance the capacity of diverse child advocates who are committed to racial equity and want to influence early childhood policy.

In her current role at Chicago Commons, Karina oversees a diverse range of programs serving children and families in under-invested communities. She emphasizes the importance of comprehensive services and family engagement, navigating challenges such as workforce shortages and increasing services to children with diverse needs. Karina prioritizes staff support, professional development, and building community partnerships to address these challenges effectively. Her dedication to quality early childhood education is evident as she ensures that her programs remain innovative, effective, and responsive to the evolving needs of the communities they serve, guided by her belief in the transformative power of early education.

Erikson Institute Gold Star Alum: Karina Slaughter | M.S. Child Development, 2010 | Chief Early Learning Officer, Chicago Commons

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