John DeStefano, Jr. is Executive Vice President of Start Bank of New Haven, a community development financial institution of which he was an incorporating director and on whose board he continues to serve. Start is a locally owned, governed and managed bank dedicated to serving both its community development and commercial bank mission.
Mr. DeStefano served as the 49th Mayor of New Haven from 1994 through 2013. Elected Mayor ten times, Mr. DeStefano is the City’s longest serving Mayor. During his tenure Mr. DeStefano led New Haven’s nationally acknowledged school reform initiative. Serving as a member of the school board and the appointing authority for the board’s other members, ‘New Haven School Change’ is a collaborative, comprehensive and persistent effort among parents, the AFT, community based and business organizations and Yale University, the principal funder of New Haven Promise, the City’s merit based full college scholarship program. During his tenure Mr. DeStefano chaired the Citywide School Construction Program, a $1.5 billion effort that rebuilt or built new, virtually every school building in the City.
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 Mr. 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.
Mr. DeStefano currently is a Lecturer in the Political Science Department at Yale University. He is the son of a City police officer and a life-long resident of New Haven. He and Kathy DeStefano are the parents of two adult children.