Research and Policy
Laura Keen graduated magna cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in philosophy, politics, and economics. She developed a strong affinity for Latin America after studying for a semester at the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina.
Following her undergraduate studies, Keen worked in social enterprise in Peru, directing a pilot research initiative investigating supply chain autonomy and responsible sourcing as a preventative approach to human trafficking in the Amazon. Seeing how the vast natural wealth of the Amazon and the global demand for its products turned into an existential hazard for local villagers greatly influenced her beliefs in the unique role of thoughtful government policy to stop abusive resource extraction. Prior to this, she directed and led trips of volunteer students on mobile medical clinics in Peru and Ecuador.
More recently, Keen, who speaks Spanish, French, and Portuguese, worked for several years in the supply chain function of Fair Trade USA. In this role, she oversaw Fair Trade USA’s global cocoa and sugar programs, aimed at providing additional investment and training to farmer organizations and large estates in Africa and Latin America. Her work focused on flattening power asymmetries between commodity buyers and farmers, helping to professionalize farmer associations, and improving working conditions for farm laborers. Much of this work was conducted in areas with recent histories of violent conflict.
During the 2019 summer, Keen worked at Refugee Rights Europe in London, England as an Open Society Fellow for Rights and Government. In her position, Keen contributed to an initiative designed to improve the welfare of young people in the U.K. asylum system and conducted advocacy work at the United Nations and British Parliament.