Karen Boykin-Towns has built a reputation as a visionary and strategic results-driver in complex business and government environments based on demonstrated success in the areas of policy, advocacy, communications, and proactive change management. Since concluding her impressive 22-year career at Pfizer Inc, she now serves as President/CEO of Encore Strategies, LLC. She was recently re-elected Vice Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Board of Directors, the oldest and largest non-partisan civil rights organization in the nation established in 1909.
Ms. Boykin-Towns’ career at Pfizer spanned 22 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, global policy, and human resources. Based on her positive impact driving change across the organization, in 2008 she was selected by Pfizer’s CEO to serve as its first Chief Diversity Officer. In this role, she successfully developed an integrated, global strategy resulting in internal progress and external recognition of the company’s advances in diversity and inclusion as a competitive advantage. Karen concluded her career as Vice President Corporate Affairs for their $34B Innovative Medicines business where she served as a member of the Senior Leadership Committee (SLC) that consists of the top 200 leaders in the 90,000 person global organization.
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.
Embracing her passion for policy and politics, Karen’s early career involved serving as Legislative Director then Chief of Staff to New York State Senator David Paterson, who later became the 55th 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 social change agent through her active participation in various organizations. Along with her work with the NAACP, Karen serves on the boards of several organizations including Visiting Nurse Services of New York (VNSNY), Brewster Academy, American Airlines Community Council, L’Oréal USA Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Board and past Co-Chair of the Business Council of New York State. She has been featured in Black Enterprise, Bloomberg Businessweek, PR Week, WWD, Ebony Magazine, Crain’s, African American Career World, Black Her, Network Journal, and Crisis Magazine. Savoy Magazine named her a “Top Influential Woman in Corporate America” in 2016 and in 2020 she was named “Woman of the Year” by Seeds of Fortune.
Karen holds an MBA degree from the Zicklin School of Business at 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. A mother of two girls, Karen is married to former State Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns and lives in Brooklyn, NY.