Cheltenham High School Hall of Fame

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Karen Folger Jacobs

class of 1958
inducted in 1999

Karen Folger Jacobs

Author, Screenwriter, and Educator

Karen Folger Jacobs graduated from Cheltenham in 1958 and attended Antioch College where she received her B.A. in Philosophy and Mathematics. She received a M.A. in Counseling from Boston University and a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, where she won the Chancellor's Dissertation Award. Jacobs held a fellowship in Women and Minorities at Howard University, and a second fellowship in clinical psychology at the University of California's Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute. A licensed marriage, family and child counselor, she has served on the Governor's Council on Wellness and Fitness' Advisory Board. In 1977 and 1978, she was a consultant to the Presidential Commission on Mental Health.

Although accomplished in the field of psychiatry, Karen Folger Jacobs has spent the majority of her professional life in an altogether different field. Jacobs has been and continues to be a writer of prolific output. Her work spans a wide range which includes young adult fiction, books on sports and health, and articles published in the New York Times, Essence, Mademoiselle, Image, and the Hollywood Reporter. She collaborated with celebrated photojournalist and fellow Hall of Fame member Mary Ellen Mark, 58 on the book Ward 81.


Her most impressive achievements have come from her work in the film industry. Jacobs has written and edited numerous screenplays, and has taught seminars on screenwriting in California, New York, and Texas. She has worked on films in Mexico and Italy, and once attended the Cannes Film Festival with an Italian film on which she was assistant director. She served as a juror in the 1998 Naples Film Festival in Italy, and been a consultant to Lucasfilm, Ltd. and the National Learning Center's Mediaworks program in Washington D.C. For over ten years, Jacobs has worked out of her office in the Fantasy Films building, home to the production company which produced One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, and The English Patient.

Jacobs has been an active athlete for most of her life. She is an avid mountain biker, teaches and practices yoga, and has many trophies for races across the
Golden Gate Bridge and from Alcatraz to San Francisco. From 1980 to 1988 she was a member of the national underwater hockey team. Jacobs went with the team to the world championship in Holland where they finished second.

She wants us to know that, unlike most of her classmates, she has never married, had children, or owned a home or a credit card. In 1995 she had breast cancer and wrote about her journey through this increasingly common terrifying challenge. Today, Karen Folger Jacobs lives in
Berkeley, California where she teaches film courses at the University of California at Berkeley. She values every day.