Name: Karim Camara
Organization: New York State Assembly
What Makes This Person a Game Changer: As a Member of the New York State Assembly, Karim Camara represents over 135,000 constituents in the 43 Assembly District, which includes parts of Crown Heights, Lefferts Gardens, and East Flatbush communities in Brooklyn, New York. He serves as the Chair of the Sub-Committee on Retention of Homeownership and Stabilization of Affordable Housing; he also sits on the Standing Committees for Banks, Children and Families, Consumer Affairs and Protection, Education, Housing, and Mental Health.
An ordained minister, motivational speaker, and certified life coach, Camara is committed to his life purpose: inspiring individuals, empowering organizations and transforming communities. He serves as the Pastor of Abundant Life Church, and he recently founded the City of Hope Community & Economic Development Corporation to help revitalize urban communities.
He previously served as the Executive Pastor of First Baptist Church of Crown Heights, and he worked as the New York State Faith Director for the then Senator Barack Obama’s historic campaign for president and was one of the first New York State elected officials to endorse Senator Obama’s candidacy.
Camara received his Bachelor of Arts (BA) in English Literature and Chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana. While attending Xavier University, he participated in the Biomedical Science Scholars Program at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He received a Masters of Divinity (MDiv) from the New York Theological Seminary and also studied at Alfred University, Fordham University and Wesley Theological Seminary. He is also a member of the Christian Coaches Network (CCN) and the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), National Speakers Association and Toastmasters. Camara is passionate about public service and believes that government should be used as a tool to help improve the lives of its citizens. As a student at Xavier University, he was both active in the political process and community service. Camara was a leader in the nationally recognized community service organization entitled M.A.X. (Mobilization at Xavier). As part of this organization, he started and led a program called Project R.I.S.E. (Reducing Illiteracy Scars through Education), a literacy program at a New Orleans public school with some of the lowest reading scores in the city. Due to the success of this program, he was invited to meet President Bill Clinton and his special assistant Eli Segal to discuss the President’s idea for AmeriCorps, a National Community Service Program.
Prior to his election to the Assembly, Camara was the Director of Institutional Advancement for the Cush Campus Schools, a pre-K – 8th grade independent school, located in Crown Heights. He has also worked with the American Red Cross of Greater New York in their Emergency Family Center, a transitional housing shelter for displaced and abused women. Camara also participated in the National Capital Seminarians for a semester program where he studied Legislation and Ethics at Wesley Theological Seminary, D.C. campus, worked with the Children’s Defense Fund, and worked as a Congressional Intern for former Congressman Major R. Owens (D-NY). He has also served on the Community Advisory Board of the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center, the Faith Leader Advisory Committee of New Visions for Public Schools and the Board of Managers of the Bedford YMCA.
Camara has spoken at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, New York University School of Medicine, Verizon, American Red Cross of Greater NY, and numerous other companies, churches, colleges, schools and community organizations. He has also received numerous awards and distinctions from churches, faith based organizations, schools and community organizations. Camara and his wife, Orelia Merchant Camara, are the proud parents of two children.