John DeStefano

DeStefano-JohnDeStefano — who governed New Haven as Mayor from 1994 until this year — was the driving force in the establishment of New Haven Promise four years ago. When he was Mayor, DeStefano was fond of saying that the Elm City, instead of investing in stadiums, devoted its money and efforts to children.

There is ample evidence of that. In addition to pulling together Yale University, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven and New Haven Public Schools to offer students “the Promise,” he also oversaw a complete overhaul of New Haven’s public schools, both physically (with a $1.5 billion city-wide school construction program) and with the creation of the magnet school model.

During his time in office the City undertook a number of immigration initiatives including the Elm City Resident Card which, commencing in 2007, was made available to all residents of the City for identification and to access city services, irrespective of immigration status. The City also initiated a Living (minimum) Wage program, a Domestic Partner benefits initiative and the State’s first public financing program for elected officials during his tenure.

New Haven experienced robust economic growth throughout this period as the City solidified its position as a major educational and medical center. Collateral growth in life science and entrepreneurial business continue to flourish in the City. Currently New Haven experiences among the lowest vacancy rates in the nation for commercial occupancies. During his time in office DeStefano served as both the President of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the National League of Cities, the oldest and largest association of America’s cities and towns. The National Civic League named New Haven an All America City three times during this time.

DeStefano now serves as Executive Vice President of Start Bank and as a political science lecturer at Yale University.