NEW YORK: Pfizer vet Karen Boykin-Towns has joined Sard Verbinnen & Co as a senior counselor.

At Sard, Boykin-Towns will counsel clients in public affairs, healthcare, diversity, crises and ESG matters, a statement from the firm said. She will also pitch in for business development and counsel across Sard practice areas.

“While I have 22 years of experience in healthcare and know it very well, I’m excited about being able to work with clients that [Sard] has outside of healthcare,” Boykin-Towns said. “That’s what drove me to the opportunity to work in a firm like this.”

Boykin-Towns said she started in her position on Monday. She reports to Sard’s executive committee.

Andrew Cole, the recently named co-president of Sard, cited ESG as being of particular importance in an era where “there are no sidelines.”

Adding that Sard has about 600 clients, Cole said the firm is having a record year. The firm continues to build out new capabilities, such as shareholder engagement and public affairs, three years after taking a private equity investment.

“Being able to attract someone of [Boykin-Town’s] caliber to the firm underscores the growth that we’ve been pursuing is bearing fruit,” Cole said.

Boykin-Towns, a 22-year vet of Pfizer, was formerly the VP of corporate affairs for its Innovative Medicines business unit, overseeing global public affairs and communications.

Innovative Medicines is a $34 billion business the pharma giant formed in 2018, combining its Innovation Health portfolio with its biosimilars division and its new hospital business unit, which includes anti-infectives and sterile injectables, according to a Pfizer statement.

Boykin-Towns was also Pfizer’s first chief diversity officer, serving for almost two years between 2008 and 2010, according to her LinkedIn. At Pfizer, she also had roles in government relations, global policy and human resources, according to a Sard statement. She was also a member of the company’s senior leadership committee which includes its top 200 global leaders.

She left Pfizer in December 2018, according to her LinkedIn profile. Since then, Boykin-Towns has been president and CEO of a consultancy called Encore Strategies.

Before her long tenure at Pfizer, Boykin-Towns was the legislative director and chief of staff to New York State Senator David Paterson, according to a Sard statement.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on September 10, 2019, with comment from Boykin-Towns.

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