Rebekah Jacobson, Community Engagement Specialist. 

The Karen (pronounced Ka-REN) are an ethnic group from the mountainous border regions of Burma and Thailand, where they are the second largest ethnic group in each country. They have long been subject to persecution and ethnic cleansing by the Burmese government, and many have been living in refugee camps in Thailand for years before being resettled to Minnesota. There are approximately 12,000 Karen living in Minnesota with an additional 500 refugees from other ethnic groups in Burma. St. Paul currently has the largest and fastest-growing Karen populations in the U.S. Other communities in Minnesota with a large Karen population include Worthington, Willmar, Austin, Albert Lea and Faribault.

The Karen Organization of Minnesota's ("KOM") mission is to enhance the quality of life for Karen and other refugees from Burma in Minnesota.

Our Vision:


  • Assist refugees to settle, integrate and become increasingly self-sufficient;
  • Foster cultural knowledge and understanding; and
  • Strengthen organizational capacity and effectiveness to meet the needs of the community.