Karen Boykin-Towns has built a reputation as a visionary and strategic results-driver in complex business and government environments based on demonstrated success impacting healthcare policy research, advocacy, communication, and proactive change management.
Ms. Towns’ career at Pfizer, Inc. spans 18 years where she advanced quickly into executive management roles. She was recruited as a Senior Legislative Analyst based on her reputation for success in state government, and held key leadership roles in public affairs, government relations, business unit affairs, and global policy. Based on her positive impact driving change across the organization, she was hand-picked to be Pfizer’s first Chief Diversity Officer. In January 2014, she was promoted to Vice President Business Unit Public Affairs.
Karen is credited with numerous contributions at Pfizer that were instrumental in maintaining Pfizer’s brand integrity and ensuring the company’s global expansion during periods of industry consolidation, economic instability, and dynamic organizational restructuring. One of her key accomplishments involved preserving Pfizer’s brand reputation in spite of a controversial corporate decision to close the company’s headquarters in Brooklyn, NY, a historic landmark and cornerstone for the company and the community. Karen was also sought out to provide public affairs advocacy in response to proposed government legislation that threatened continued use of a multi-million dollar drug providing significant healthcare benefits.
Consistently sought out as a valued resource at Pfizer, Karen has spearheaded innovative communication tools and led policy initiatives to support corporate campaigns related to preserving the value of medicines across a broad range of therapeutic areas. In addition to her notable contributions in public affairs, Karen Boykin-Towns was hand-selected to become Pfizer’s first Chief Diversity Officer. In this role, she was instrumental in establishing policy and media press that recognized Pfizer’s advances in the area of diversity and inclusion, both domestically and at Pfizer’s global locations in emerging markets.
Embracing her passion for politics, Karen’s early career involved serving as policy advisor to high-profile members of the New York State Senate, including the Deputy Director of the Senate Minority Committee, as well as the Chief of Staff and Legislative Director of the New York State Senate, David Paterson, who later became the Governor of New York. In this role, she led strategy and execution of legislative efforts related to civil and human rights, community development, and environmental issues.
Ms. Boykin-Towns leverages her talent as a coalition-builder and results-driver through active participation on executive boards in her community. Her tenure includes eight years of service for the NAACP, including leadership roles on the National Board of Directors, Health Committee Chair, and Executive Committee. She has also served on the Board of Directors for Friends of Thirteen Public Television since 2009. Other active leadership posts include serving on the Business Council of New York State, the Business Advisory Council for the College of Mount Saint Vincent, and the Democratic National Convention where she has been a delegate every session since 2004. Karen holds an MBA degree from Baruch College of the City University of New York (CUNY), as well as a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the College of Mount Saint Vincent where she graduated cum laude. A mother of two girls Jasmine and Trinity, Karen is married to former State Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns, who was appointed in 2011 by Governor Andrew Cuomo to serve as Commissioner/CEO of Homes and Community Renewal, which includes all of New York State’s major housing and community renewal agencies and programs.