Karen Boykin-Towns built a reputation as a visionary and driver of strategic results. She brings demonstrated success in the areas of policy, advocacy, communications, and proactive change management to NAACP in her role as Vice Chair of the National Board of Directors.
Her goal is to apply and share her experience to make positive change. She now serves as Founder and President/CEO of Encore Strategies, LLC., a boutique consultancy focusing on integrating business and public affairs initiatives. A distinguished strategist, global business and civic leader, Boykin-Towns previously contributed her expertise across government, the nonprofit sector, and Pfizer, a Fortune 50 global biopharmaceutical company, while also championing civil rights and social justice organizations.
At Pfizer, Boykin-Towns 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. Boykin-Towns concluded her time at Pfizer as Vice President of Corporate Affairs for their $34 billion Innovative Medicines business where she served as a member of the Senior Leadership Committee, which consists of the top 200 leaders in the global organization.
Boykin-Towns 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. Boykin-Towns 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, Boykin-Towns’ early career involved serving as legislative director and 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.
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 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; independent board director for Icon Fitness; senior counselor at Sard Verbinnen & Company 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 The 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 Boykin-Towns 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, Boykin-Towns is married to former State Assemblyman Darryl C. Towns and lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Karen Boykin-Towns is on the panel of the virtual event Leading Across Difference (Part of the Our Shared Humanity Speaker Series at Brewster Academy).