Mayor Rob Rolison announced today that Karen Williams has been named director of youth services, a new position and division that will nurture and focus on child development in the city.
Williams will be tasked with the analysis, development, promotion and coordination of programs related to the needs of local youth, and she will represent the municipality in matters concerning their protection and welfare under the city's new Division of Youth Opportunity and Development.
Williams is a human services and public administration professional with particular expertise in youth services. She is a former program supervisor for Hudson Valley Community Services, supervisor of the Dutchess One Stop: Level Up Dutchess Program, Case Manager for the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce Workforce Connections and for Dutchess County Healthy Families.
“Karen Williams brings with her considerable experience and a firm knowledge of the City of Poughkeepsie and surrounding areas,” said Mayor Rob Rolison. “We are pleased to have on her board and know she will contribute greatly to the work we have been doing centered around positive youth development.”
The mayor said creating the Director of Youth Services position was key to the city’s overall strategy, which has included teaming up with the Poughkeepsie City School District Superintendent Dr. Eric Rosser to create a Children’s Cabinet to bring together school districts, government agencies, child-serving community organizations and other local stakeholders to improve the lives of youth and families. The Cabinet was formed in recognition of the fact that children spend 80 percent of their time out of the classroom and in the broader community.
The mayor also pointed to the tremendous growth in the city’s Youth Activities & Opportunities Grant program. This initiative, created in 2018 with $140,000 in seed money, has grown each year, with the mayor identifying nearly $500,000 in funds for this program in his 2023 budget proposal. The youth grant awards assist local nonprofits by providing funding to support clubs and leagues, other activities and educational initiatives.
Williams will oversee the operations and management of the youth grant awards, in addition to seeking supplemental funding from other sources to help sustain and grow the program.
Williams also will create and maintain a centralized directory of all youth services available in the area in such a way that the public can easily access information regarding available programs for eligible city youth.
She also will serve as liaison between the City of Poughkeepsie, the City of Poughkeepsie School District, Dutchess County and external stakeholders and nonprofit organizations, among other duties.
Williams said, “I am looking forward to seeing the growth and changes, and how this position will evolve and benefit the City of Poughkeepsie youth in a positive, tremendous way.”
The mayor said creating and filling this position now is important, as Dutchess County continues work to convert the former YMCA site on Montgomery Street in Poughkeepsie into a new Youth Opportunity Union.
The city also has dedicated more than $6 million for park improvements, including renovated basketball courts, new benches, mini soccer pitches and other amenities for youth, families and all those who make use of these key green and recreational spaces to enjoy.
“As the city’s financial picture has steadily improved, we have been able to turn our attention to expanding local government’s capacity to provide services and focus on quality of life issues affecting our community, and these efforts must include doing everything we can to better the lives of our youth,” said City Administrator Marc Nelson. “This administration has spent considerable time and resources on youth-related issues and activities. Having someone who will be devoted and focused on these services will be a great benefit to the youth of our community — and to the community at large.”
Williams can be contacted at KaWilliams@cityofpoughkeepsie.com.
New City of Poughkeepsie Director of Youth Services Karen Williams confers with Mayor Rob Rolison in the mayor’s office.