Karen DuBois-Walton was raised by Civil Rights-era activists who instilled in her the values that she carries with her each and everyday: a focus on inclusion and equity, a vision not only of what’s true but what could be possible, and a drive to achieve what’s possible through commitment to action. She’s brought these values to her work in government and public service for the last 25 years, in which she helped reshape city hall’s operations in the wake of 9/11, shepherded the building of the Wilson Branch library (the first new library in 40 years), oversaw the creation of the Civilian Oversight Board, engaged advocates on the development of the Elm City Resident Card, and so much more. For the past 14 years, Karen’s led Elm City Communities/the Housing Authority of New Haven through rapid transformation, rebuilding almost the entire housing portfolio, creating new programs at the intersection of housing and education, entrepreneurship, and job training, and building pathways to opportunity for her residents.
As the COVID-19 pandemic so shook our city this past year, Karen took action to cancel rent for ECC residents and provide protective materials and safety guidance for folks in ECC developments. But in the crises of the past year, we’ve seen city hall fail to lead on many of the major problems that have been surfaced by the pandemic. We cried out for justice in the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders, but nothing in our city has changed. As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted our public education system, that was a moment for inclusive leadership to bring our community together toward solutions that best served our learners. And when the city received federal money to provide rent relief to struggling families, no money had been distributed after eight weeks of the program's establishment. New Haven needs leadership not only with a big vision of what the city can be, but also with the courage and capacity to take action to get us there. Karen DuBois-Walton’s commitment to equity, a clear vision for the future, and ability to get things done will help build A New Haven For All.