Karen O'Connor

Award-winning producer Karen O'Connor has been working in television for over 20 years. In 1996, she was named series editor at FRONTLINE and continued to work on FRONTLINE films, including The Killer at Thurston High (1999), a film she co-produced with colleague Miri Navasky, that explored the tragedy of a school shooting in Oregon. The film won the Banff award for best social/political documentary.

O'Connor left her staff position at FRONTLINE in 2004 to co-produce with Navasky at Mead Street Films. For over a decade, Navasky and O'Connor have defined themselves as filmmakers by their unique ability to take viewers into worlds that are seldom seen and to tell stories that are intimate, original and revealing. They have produced, directed and written a number of ground-breaking FRONTLINE documentaries, including The New Asylums (2005), a provocative and wrenching portrait of the hundreds of thousands of mentally ill people incarcerated in jails and prisons across the country. The film was nominated for an Emmy Award and in 2006 it won the prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Grand Prize Journalism Award.

O'Connor and Navasky's other films include Living Old (2006), an honest and sometimes heartbreaking look at what it really means to grow old in contemporary America, and The Undertaking (2007), a lyrical and moving exploration of death and dying told through the perspective of writer/poet and undertaker Thomas Lynch. Praised by critics as "emotionally haunting" and "remarkably moving," The Undertaking won the 2008 Emmy Award for Best Arts and Cultural Documentary. Facing Death (2010), described by the press as "a thoughtful, gripping hour of television," explored the complex and difficult choices that Americans now face at the end of life. The Suicide Plan (2012), an Emmy-nominated journey inside the hidden world of assisted suicide, was described by the press as "moving," "bold" and "eye-opening."

Navasky and O'Connor's most recent film for FRONTLINE is Growing Up Trans, an intimate and unforgettable 90-minute exploration of the struggles and choices facing today's transgender kids and their parents. In January 2016, the film won a duPont-Columbia Award.

1h 24m
Growing Up Trans
An intimate and eye-opening journey inside the struggles and choices facing transgender kids and their families.
June 30, 2015
1h 23m
The Suicide Plan
An unforgettable portrait takes viewers inside one of the most polarizing social issues of our time
November 13, 2012
Facing Death: Nurse squeezing hand
Facing Death
A powerful look at the reality of today's medicalized death. How far would you go to sustain a loved one's life, or your own?
November 23, 2010
The Released
The Released
A rare and intimate look at what happens to the mentally ill after they're released from prison. Why do they so often return?
April 28, 2009
The Undertaking: 52-springtime
The Undertaking
A haunting portrait of the world of Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors, a family which has long cared for the dead - and the living.
October 30, 2007
Living Old take 3
Living Old
A powerful and intimate look at the new realities of aging in America and the burgeoning 85+ population. Are we prepared?
November 21, 2006
New Asylums
The New Asylums
A report on the new reality for the mentally ill: Nearly 500,000 are serving time in U.S. jails and prisons.
May 10, 2005
The Killer at Thurston High
January 18, 2000