Steve Karlen’s courageous testimony has inspired audiences in all 50 states, raising record amounts through a heartfelt and direct financial appeal.
Steve has always been pro-life, but, like many people, he never really did anything about it. All of that changed when his wife found out that a friend was pregnant—and planning to have an abortion.
Worried and not sure what to do, they offered support, empowering her to make a life decision for her baby. Steve and his wife scheduled a dinner with their friend, but she never showed up. Instead, she had an abortion…while they sat waiting for her. At that moment, Steve realized it wasn’t enough for him to be pro-life; he had to do something about it.
Shortly after getting involved in his community’s 40 Days for Life campaign, Steve found himself at the center of a nationwide controversy. The health system at his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin, was secretly preparing to open a late-term abortion center on campus, and groups across the state looked to him for leadership.
Steve responded immediately, working through the media and holding peaceful prayer rallies to try to stop the late-term abortion center from opening. Just days before the hospital’s board of directors voted on whether to proceed with the late-term abortion plan, Steve brought thousands of people to campus on a freezing cold January day to prayerfully stand for life. The vote passed anyway.
Steve refused to give up. He continued to lead the community in opposing the late-term abortion center, repeatedly delaying its opening. Finally—after nearly a year and a half—the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics abandoned its plan to open an abortion facility. God had used Steve's small “yes” to win a huge victory for life!
Steve went on to incorporate a local pro-life organization before serving as the development director at Pro-Life Wisconsin. He was then quickly asked to serve as a leader on the national, then international level. Steve has hosted numerous fundraising banquets—so he understands the importance of a lucrative banquet. He now serves as the Campaign Director for 40 Days for Life.
Steve wrote the book This Is When We Begin to Fight and co-authored the bestselling book, What to Say When: The Complete New Guide to Discussing Abortion, which is published in multiple languages, with Shawn Carney.
Steve lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his wife Laura and their children, Peter, John Paul, Teresa, Katherine and Benedict.
"Everyone spoke very highly about Steve and numerous individuals said he was the best speaker we have had at the event."
"Steve spoke at our national conference this past year, and he brought down the house! His heart, passion for the cause, and strategic wisdom was moving and invaluable for the room of prayer volunteers and sidewalk counselors present. Steve held everyone's attention throughout his presentation and had us captivated at every turn. Everyone walked away feeling more motivated than ever to contribute to the mission!"
“We were truly blessed to have Steve Karlen as our keynote speaker. He was inspiring, motivational and encouraging. We were very impressed by how Steve personalized his presentation by getting to know our center and our community. We raised almost TWICE what we raised the year before, and people are still talking about what a great speaker he was! We would definitely recommend Steve Karlen for any event!”
“Steve has spoken at three National Canadian Marches for Life and counting! His testimony is passionate and moving, calling his audience to greater action for the pro-life cause. He is able to command and maintain the attention of all age groups from young teens to adults. Steve's presentations contain a wonderful combination of insight, humor, and encouragement to overcome the adversities we often face in our stand for life.”
“Steve Karlen was astounding at our Celebration of Life fundraiser this year! Our event supports two separate non-profit organizations and Steve was able to combine both into a powerful, heartfelt engagement. His passion and witness moved the audience. We received many wonderful and positive compliments on Steve’s ability to convey his powerful message with warmth and grace. Our guests were definitely moved to support our missions.”