YSN to Welcome New Haven Mayor Toni Harp as the 2016 Sybil Palmer Bellos Lecturer

March 24, 2016

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp is this year’s Yale School of Nursing (YSN) Sybil Palmer Bellos lecturer. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, April 12, 2016, at 3:00pm at YSN. Her lecture is titled, “ ‘SEE’ - A Vision for a Healthy New Haven.” YSN faculty, students, staff, alumni, and Yale University friends are invited.

An abiding commitment to social justice steers New Haven Mayor Toni Harp’s career in public service. Her drive for inclusiveness, equality, and integrity is the byproduct of resonant, across-the-board life experiences.

Mayor Harp was raised in Salt Lake City, the youngest of six children. Both parents worked to support the household; Mayor Harp’s tireless work ethic is a function of lessons learned from her parents.

In the 1960s, Mayor Harp moved to the south side of Chicago to attend Roosevelt University. After she earned a degree in English she began working for the American Society of Planning Officials, launching a lifelong interest in urban planning and how cities work. From there, she was recruited to study at Yale’s School of Architecture where she earned a Master’s degree.

Mayor Harp’s public service in elected office began first as a member of New Haven’s Board of Aldermen, and then for 21 years as state Senator for Connecticut’s 10th District. Mayor Harp is now the first woman ever to serve as Mayor of New Haven; she is presently serving her second term.

Throughout her distinguished career, Mayor Harp’s policy priorities have never changed:

  • Full access to affordable healthcare, regardless of ethnic, cultural, or economic differences.
  • A responsive and effective public safety network working hand-in-hand with an equitable criminal justice system.
  • Maximizing opportunity for each individual student through public education, with particular emphasis on early childhood learning and development of reading skills.
  • Job creation and economic development so city residents can enjoy the rewards and responsibilities of productive engagement, and so a vibrant city can provide necessary services without putting an excessive burden on taxpayers.

While in the state Senate Mayor Harp co-chaired the state’s Achievement Gap Task Force to address the undeniable disparity in educational access and performance that exists along ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic lines. Her recommendations helped the state honor its Constitutional mandate to provide every student an equal educational opportunity and meet its moral obligation to prepare students for responsible, productive lives.

In 2012, after the horror at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, then-Senator Harp played a pivotal role in Connecticut’s Gun Violence Prevention and Children’s Safety law. Mayor Harp co-chaired the Mental Health Services Working Group, building into the new law provisions for mental health first aid services and enhanced behavioral health screening opportunities.

Mayor Harp has lived in New Haven for more than 40 years and was the Homeless Service Director at the Cornell Scott Hill Health Center for more than 20 years. She is the proud mother of three grown and accomplished children—Djana, Jamil, and Matthew. 

YSN’s Bellos lecture honors Sybil Palmer Bellos, a public health nurse who graduated from the YSN Class of 1927. Mrs. Bellos served as the Director of the Northern Westchester District Nursing Association and is celebrated for the dedication, vision, and sense of adventure she expressed throughout her nursing career. The Bellos lecture, which was established in 1964, allows for accredited individuals to bring vital public health issues to the forefront of discussion.

The traditional Wisser Tea Reception follows the Bellos Lecture. The reception is an annual tea given by YSN in memory of Eleanor Wisser.