Dr. Kjersti Olson

Program Director for the Working Group on Orphanage Trafficking

Kjersti Olson, PhD. is the Program Director for the ITHT Working Group on Orphanage Trafficking and is a passionate developmental scientist seeking to advance policy, research, and practice that meaningfully addresses disparities in the lives of children, youth, and families. She is also a Sr. Program Officer for Program Design & Innovation at the National CASA/GAL Association for Children where she leads a portfolio of programs utilized by the 100,000 staff and volunteers in its network of 937 member programs.

Prior to joining the organization, she was the Senior Policy Analyst at the U.S. State Department, Office of Children’s Issues focusing on international child protection, implementation of the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Intercountry Adoption and preventing illicit practices in international child welfare. Her exemplary performance was recognized by the United States Department of State with the Meritorious Honor Award on three occasions and the Superior Honor Award twice.

At the University of Minnesota’s Extension Center for Family Development, she led prevention program design and implementation for court mandated co-parenting programs for diverse audiences. As Director of International Programs at Children’s Home Society & Family Services, she directed 450 staff in 17 countries focused on permanency and humanitarian assistance. Her portfolio of programs included rural schools, water projects, maternal and child health, family strengthening, women’s small business development, and education and training for youth aging out of institutional care. Kjersti has held major gift fundraising leadership positions at the Science Museum of Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Foundation where she helped raise over $20 million.

Kjersti started her career in advertising as an Account Executive before relocating to Universidad Nur in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia where she coordinated their advertising, public relations, and donor relations efforts. She holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota where she studied journalism and earned both a Master’s and a Doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction, specializing in prevention and intervention programs for Families, Children, and Communities experiencing adversity. She is fluent in Spanish.

Rebecca Nhep
Dr. Kate van Doore