Karen Farbridge has served as Mayor of the City of Guelph from 2000 – 2003 and 2006 to present day. She also served as a Ward Councillor from 1994 – 2000.
During her tenure in municipal politics, Karen has championed a balanced approach to municipal management with a strong commitment to community engagement.
“I entered municipal politics with a strong commitment to community engagement. Over the years our organization has challenged itself to embrace new ways to tap the ingenuity and passion of our community. I am very excited and proud of the path we are forging with our Open Government Strategy. We are leading a transformation in the way local government works.”
Karen’s commitment to a disciplined and measured approach to financial management continues to improve the financial position of the City of Guelph while positioning Guelph to attract and retain business, talent and jobs and enhance quality of life for individuals and families.
“The upgrading of our credit rating to AA+ is an acknowledgement of the strength of Council’s financial management policies and the prudent financial practices of management. It is also a reflection of our strategic approach to growth that focuses on best growth opportunities, integrates thoughtful environmental practices, and ensures the city’s prosperity is shared by all. ”
Karen is the Chair of Guelph Municipal Holdings Inc. (GMHI). Established in 2011 GMHI strategically manages select City of Guelph assets to maximize their revenue potential and strengthen community prosperity.
“GMHI is excellent example of how Guelph is leading a transformation in the way local government brings value to their community.”
Karen is also the Chair of the Leadership Group for the Community Wellbeing Initiative (CWI).
“As Mayor, I am frequently reminded that there is a gap between the needs of our community and the ability of local government to provide. Yet, I am also reminded every day of the remarkable resources found in our community – government funding and services, community assets and programs, charitable giving and volunteerism, and individual talent, resourcefulness and action. The CWI is answering the question: how might we put these community resources to better use to improve the wellbeing of individuals and families in our community”.
A significant program of the Mayor’s Office is Local Government Week in October and expresses Karen’s commitment to youth and democratic engagement. Annually, Karen nominates local community leaders for a Newcomer Champion Award to promote the benefits a diverse community. The annual Mayor’s Awards recognize the contributions of individuals to making a difference in the community.
“Our identity as a caring and safe community resonates strongly in our community. The Mayor’s Award recognizes people who consistently and quietly make a difference in our community.”
Karen also serves as:
- Honorary Co-Chair of the Guelph Citizenship Committee
- Honorary Chair of Pollination Guelph
- Ambassador for QUEST (Quality Urban Energy Systems of Tomorrow)
- Founder and Chair of Sustainable Solutions
- Chairs of the Mayor’s Taskforce on Community Energy
Karen has a B.Sc., M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the University of Guelph. In 2009, she attained the Chartered Director (C.Dir) designation from the Directors College, a joint venture of McMaster University and the Conference Board of Canada.
In the past, Karen has served as an Associate Professor at the University of Guelph, teaching courses in political science and environmental policy, and for ten years was the Coordinator of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group. In 2005, Karen was the recipient of the prestigious Women of Distinction Award from the YMCA-YWCA of Guelph in the business and professions category.