Former mayoral candidate Karen DuBois-Walton ’89 takes over as BOE state chair
A longtime New Haven official takes on a new role as State BOE Chairman at a time of monumental change.
Nat Kerman, collaborating photographer
Governor Ned Lamont announced Friday that Karen DuBois-Walton ’89, a former New Haven mayoral candidate and chair of the city’s housing authority, will serve as the next chair of the Connecticut State Board of Education.
DuBois-Walton has served on the State Board of Education since 2020. She served in a variety of positions at City Hall, including serving as chief of staff and chief administrative officer under Mayor John DeStefano Jr. She then moved on to at work in the communities of Elm City, where she has been since 2008.
“Karen has been an incredibly active member of the New Haven community throughout her career,” Lamont said in a press release. “Over the past two years, she has been a valuable voice as a member of the State Board of Education, using her experience to bring much-needed perspective to this important body, which is why I think having her as her the next president is a natural choice.
DuBois-Walton came to New Haven in the mid-1980s to attend Yale. She never left. Calling himself “New Havener by choice,” DuBois-Walton challenged Mayor Justin Elicker in the 2021 Democratic primary for mayor of New Haven; however, she dropped out on July 27.
According to DuBois-Walton, she was “raised by civil rights-era activists” and the values they instilled in her are central to her public service. She noted that she helped reshape City Hall operations after the September 11 attacks, while also helping to create the Civilian Oversight Council in New Haven.
As chair of the Housing Authority, DuBois-Walton worked to rebuild the city’s housing portfolio through new programs aimed at increasing access to job training, housing, education and employment. entrepreneurship.
“I am thrilled to lead the Connecticut State Board of Education at this pivotal time as we design and implement the next five-year plan guiding our efforts to create equity for all Connecticut learners,” DuBois-Walton said. “The past two years have created unimaginable challenges, and our school communities have shown perseverance and creativity to navigate the moment while emphasizing safety, well-being and learning.”
DuBois-Walton has spent much of her time as Housing Authority chair examining “the intersection of segregation in housing and education”, expanding access to housing across the city and ensuring that services are provided to families so that their children receive a quality education. She also joined the national school integration program, named the Bridges Collaborative.
DuBois-Walton told the News that she is currently working on the State Board of Education’s five-year plan, which has just begun development. She said she believes the new five-year plan should follow the same themes as the last on “fairness and excellence”.
The 2016-21 five-year plan called for increasing the number of teachers of color statewide and improving the quality of education in Connecticut.
“I always want faster,” DuBois-Walton said. “We see a disparity or an inequity, it is children who are or are being left behind or not getting what they need. So before I say, you know I want to revamp or whatever, I really want to look at the results under the plan coming out now.
While on the State Board of Education, DuBois-Walton led an effort by Connecticut students to demand that Black and Latin Studies classes be offered in public high schools. This initiative should become a reality next school year. She also worked on creating a statewide distance school, which is currently being discussed for students across the state who want to attend a full-time online elementary or high school. .
DuBois-Walton’s tenure as state BOE chairman will begin at the March 2 committee meeting.
The state BOE oversees the operation of the state Department of Education and meets on the first Wednesday of each month.