John DeStefano Jr. '12 Hon.

John DeStefano Jr.'s headshot

John DeStefano Jr. is executive vice president of Start Bank of New Haven, a community development financial institution. He also is a lecturer in the political science department at Yale University.

He is best known for serving as the 49th mayor of New Haven, the second-largest city in Connecticut, from 1994 until 2013. Elected 10 times, he was the city’s longest serving mayor.

He led the city’s nationally acknowledged school-reform initiative and chaired the Citywide School Construction Program, a $1.5 billion effort that rebuilt or built new virtually every school building in the city

Under his leadership, New Haven experienced robust economic growth as the city solidified its position as a major educational and medical center. During his time in office, he served as president of both the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the National League of Cities, the oldest and largest association of America’s cities and towns. 

Mayor DeStefano and his wife, Kathy, met as undergraduates at the University of Connecticut, where he also earned a master’s degree in public administration. The University of New Haven awarded him an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters in 2012.