For more than twenty years, Karen Helmerson has been active in non-profit management, community media development, and policy in the public interest, as an administrator and as a board member for several organizations. She is currently Senior Program Officer for Electronic Media, Film and Visual Arts at the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA), funding the arts and culture in New York State. Ms. Helmerson oversees the allocation of 2.8 million dollars to more than 300 non-profit arts and cultural organizations annually. Her responsibilities at NYSCA include the facilitation of seminars and focus groups on new media research and technology advancements, and professional development on sustainability in non-profit management. Recently, Ms. Helmerson has been working to develop special projects between NYSCA, the New York State Canal Corporation, and the Erie Canalways National Heritage Corridor.
Alongside her career in the media arts, Ms. Helmerson has maintained a lifelong interest in sailing, maritime history and culture. She is presently on the board of Tall Ships America and is very active as a member of the New York Harbor and waterfront community, offering her services and expertise as both a volunteer and a consultant on various projects and initiatives. In collaboration with the 2009 Quadricentennial Commission, she initiated the project Vessels as Venues, an online directory of working and historic vessels in New York Harbor and the Hudson River for arts and cultural events. In addition, Ms. Helmerson was awarded a national 2006 Rockwood Fellowship in Media Communications and Information Policy and is a former Rockefeller Warren Weaver Fellowship Nominee of the Benton Foundation.