Kristina Wilfore

Kristina Wilfore
Karakoyun Strategies
Principal
Istanbul, Turkey

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Kristina regularly trains, speaks, and writes about issues that impact women’s participation in politics, parties and parliament across the globe. She has worked with political leaders and civil society organizations in over 20 countries…

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Full Biography

Kristina regularly trains, speaks, and writes about issues that impact women’s participation in politics, parties and parliament across the globe. She has worked with political leaders and civil society organizations in over 20 countries throughout Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Middle East and Central Asia (such as Ukraine, Syria, Turkey, Georgia, Kosovo, Serbia, Albania, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia).

Kristina is an expert in increasing women’s political participation through her experience forming women’s parliamentary caucuses, conducting one-of-a-kind public opinion research on attitudes toward female politicians, and forming grassroots coalitions to pushback on sexism in media and politics. 

Kristina has over 20 years’ experience in campaigns and elections, policy development and civic advocacy in the United States and currently serves as the principal of Karakoyun Strategies, an international development firm based in Istanbul. She helps teach grassroots organizing, political party development, and how to run and win campaigns all across the region.  She is a specialist in helping political parties embrace tools of grassroots organizing and has supported campaign efforts in Western Europe as well throughout Sweden, Spain, Finland and the Netherlands.

Kristina believes in the need to be smarter about political organizing from country to country, campaign to campaign and in that spirit chaired the 2015 European Association of Political Consultant´s conference to create a mutual exchange of information, experience and support for cooperation and understanding beyond all borders to promote democracy. In 2015 she was elected to the board of the International Association of Political Consultants, the longest standing organization of its kind whose mission is to foster and grow the diverse profession of political consulting as well as the practical aspects of democratic elections. She also serves as a Foreign Policy Fellow with the Truman National Security Project which unites next-generation veteran, political, and policy leaders to develop and advance strong, smart, and principled solutions to the global challenges Americans face.

Kristina’s portfolio includes deep engagement with the international development community and in on the ground political upheavals. As Director of the Ukraine office of the National Democratic Institute from 2009 to 2013 she oversaw a robust political party and civic advocacy program in the lead up to EuroMaidan. In 2011 the Kyiv Post awarded her expat of the year for her work to defend democracy in Ukraine in the lead up to the “Revolution for Dignity.”

Kristina strongly believes that grassroots movements are at the heart of political change and works to help different types of organizations utilize tools of direct citizen contact.

In the United States Kristina served as the first Executive Director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center where she turned a little known research shop into a powerhouse nerve center for referendum campaigns. BISC was awarded the Most Valuable Think Tank in Washington, DC of 2009 by The Nation magazine. Kristina consulted with an average of 40 campaigns a year over an eight-year span on issues such as abortion rights, minimum wage increases, renewable energy, labor rights and same sex marriage.

Over her career she has worked in 35 of the 50 states to encourage cooperation among civic and party organizers and elected officials at all levels of public office.  During this period she worked extensively with state chapters of the Democratic Party. She has been featured as a guest on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, as well as national news networks and public broadcasting. She has been a regular source for publications on grassroots organizing and direct democracy in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.
When not traveling across the globe, she can be found in Istanbul working with Turkish charities that focus on women and girls’ leadership and economic development, entertaining her rescue cat, lending a helping hand at her husband´s traditional Turkish restaurant, and plotting her next move.

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