MADAM MAYOR

Meet Kim Janey

A fourth-generation Roxbury resident, Kim Janey is a mother, grandmother, sister and daughter. She built her career as a longtime education advocate and non-profit leader. In 2017 she was elected to the Boston City Council in a historic election, becoming the first woman to represent District 7. In 2020 she became President of the most diverse City Council in Boston’s history. Kim Michelle Janey is the first Black, first woman Mayor of Boston.

“I’m a Roxbury girl raised in rich black soil.”

– Ekua Holmes

Coming from a long line of Roxbury educators, artists, advocates, and entrepreneurs, Kim Janey has deep Roxbury roots. Kim’s late great grandfather, Daniel Benjamin Janey, was an active member of Twelfth Baptist Church when Dr. King worshipped there while attending Boston University. Kim’s father, Cliff Janey, grew up in the Orchard Park projects and was one of only eight Black students to graduate from prestigious Boston Latin School in 1964. Kim’s earliest memories are in her parent’s small apartment on Codman Park in Academy Homes and she would later call Highland Park home. Kim’s three grandchildren are the 6th generation of the Janey family to call Roxbury home. 

After her parents divorced, Kim also spent much of her youth at her great grandmother’s house in the South End, which had a deep and lasting impact on her. Kim’s mom helped to take care of Kim’s great-grandmother. They’d often be on food stamps, but they never felt poor. Kim grew up seeing activism firsthand, whether from her family upbringing, to seeing her neighbor Mel King, run for Mayor in a historic election. Kim’s family and community instilled in her the values that continue to drive her to this day: the importance of education, the power of community organizing, and the fundamental principles of equity and justice.

Kim’s own education reflects Boston’s complicated history of racial inequities and the experiences of many Boston students. Kim first attended New School for Children, a community school in Roxbury founded by Black parents who wanted a better education for their children. After attending the Ellis, Garrison, and Higginson Schools in Boston Public Schools, in the 6th grade, Kim went to the Edwards Middle School in Charlestown during the second phase of desegregation busing. As an 11-year-old girl, Kim had rocks and racial slurs thrown at her as she’d ride the bus to Charlestown each day. Later, Janey attended Reading Public Schools through the METCO program, where she was one of two Black students in her graduating class.

“My life was changed in one breath from God.”

– Donna Summer

The daughter of teen parents, Kim too was only 16 years old and a junior in high school when she became a mother to daughter Kimesha. As a single mother, Kim knows the challenges that so many families face. From their first Section 8 apartment to working multiple jobs, Kim always did what it took to take care of her daughter.

As a young mom, Kim began her advocacy on behalf of children when she recognized that her own daughter’s experiences were interconnected with the experiences of other children. Her experience of being a teen mom having to fight for her daughter, paired with her family’s history of activism, made Kim a passionate advocate for equity in education for all families.

“If we cannot do great things, we can do small things in a great way.”

– Melnea Cass

For over 20 years, before ever running for office, Kim fought for Boston children, doing the small things – the thankless work – working in her community to make change. She began her advocacy career organizing for early education and childcare. She joined Massachusetts Advocates for Children, where she led efforts to advocate for systemic policy reforms that would ensure equity and excellence in education for students in Boston Public Schools.

She focused in particular on eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps for children of color, immigrant children, students who are learning English, children with special needs, and those living in poverty. Kim organized parents to successfully advocate for a new dual language school in 2014, helped to write the 2016 BPS policy on closing the opportunity and achievement gaps, and supported students at Boston Latin School in advocating for greater diversity in Boston’s exam schools.

Kim was elected to the City Council after winning a 13-candidate race in 2017, and she is the first woman to represent District 7, which includes most of Roxbury, and parts of the South End, Dorchester, and Fenway. On the City Council, Kim prioritized responsiveness and accessibility to residents, hosting regular coffee hours, community meetings, and town halls in her district. Kim sponsored hearings on issues ranging from displacement and gentrification to teacher diversity in Boston Public Schools.

Throughout her work, she remains focused on equity, economic justice, and civil rights. She has been a steadfast leader in pushing for greater equity, accountability, and transparency in City contracting, in ensuring diversity in hiring, advocating for equity in education, housing that is affordable, and in supporting families impacted by trauma. Kim has also worked to expand access to voting, reliable and equitable public transit, PILOT reform, and has stood in solidarity with workers seeking to unionize and improve working conditions for working families.

In 2019, during her first term on the Boston City Council, she authored groundbreaking legislation to equitably regulate cannabis in the City of Boston. Her ordinance prioritizes companies with diverse ownership from communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs and ensures equity, transparency, and accountability. In 2020 Kim became President of the most diverse City Council in Boston’s history, and becoming the third woman of color in succession to lead the body.

“A community where all the tribes are welcome, and all the gifts are shared.”

– MEL KING

As Council President, Kim led the Council during the twin pandemics of Covid-19 and the national reckoning over racial injustice. She advocated for rental relief, eviction protections, and food access to protect our most vulnerable communities, help small businesses, and to shine a light on the virus’s disproportionate impact on Black and Latinx communities. During the mayoral transition, she worked closely with the Walsh administration to ensure a seamless transition. 

As Mayor, Janey’s number one focus is leading Boston’s recovery, distributing the Covid-19 vaccine in a timely and equitable manner, getting our children back to school in a safe environment for students and teachers, and making sure that our economic recovery focuses on those communities most affected by the pandemic.

Kim believes that too many of our neighbors have been left out of Boston’s success. While big corporations and a select few individuals have prospered enormously during the city’s many booms, most residents face higher costs of living and stagnant incomes. 

Seniors struggle to afford rising rents or expensive home repairs, working families seeking to buy their own home are not able to find an affordable option in the City, and those living in affordable housing face an increasing threat of displacement. So now, as the city rebuilds from this crisis, it is essential to make sure we recover equitably and give these traditionally underserved communities their fair share of relief. 

A historic Mayor, who will take over at a historic moment of crisis, Kim Janey is committed to maintaining stability in city services, helping Boston recover, and making sure no community is left out of the economic recovery. From taking the bus to Charlestown as an 11-year-old girl, to taking the bus to City Hall as Boston’s first Black, first woman mayor, Kim Janey will be a mayor for every Bostonian.