Hartford's new mayor infuses energy and optimism

The energy, optimism and leadership Arunan Arulampalam, JD ’14, demonstrated at Quinnipiac School of Law is on display as he begins his first term as the new mayor of Hartford, Connecticut. Arulampalam was sworn in as the city’s 68th mayor during a spectacular New Year’s Eve celebration on January 1.

In the decade since Arulampalam graduated from the School of Law, his hard work and leadership have deeply impacted both his city and the state. Before becoming mayor, Arulampalam served as CEO of Hartford Land Bank, which he joined in July 2021. There, he developed a program to train Hartford residents to become local developers and tackle blight in Hartford. It was the first program of its type nationwide.

After earning his JD from Quinnipiac in 2014, Arulampalam was a lawyer with the firm of Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, P.C. in New Haven, Connecticut for five years. In March 2019, he joined Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont’s administration as deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection. Through July of 2021, Arulampalam’s work in government included fighting for the rights of residents impacted by a notorious Connecticut slumlord, while also championing rights for consumers and small businesses statewide.

“Quinnipiac really prepared me to be a lawyer and that experience was invaluable at the state,” Arulampalam said. “I relied on my law degree on a daily basis and was able to work in drafting some really significant pieces of legislation and work on legal issues within our agency. Quinnipiac really prepared me well for what was ahead."

Strong connections forged at Quinnipiac continue to support Arulampalam.

“Throughout each part of my career, I’ve felt so supported and uplifted by the Quinnipiac community, by both former classmates and professors, many of whom I still keep in contact with,” said Arulampalam.

Arulampalam said serving as Student Bar Association (SBA) president for the School of Law was a formative leadership experience.

“Being the SBA president in law school was my first major leadership test. It was a really great training ground to understand leadership, to understand people and to grow as a young leader. I think that had a real impact on my ability to continue to grow as a leader,” said Arulampalam.

“It will be exactly 10 years since I graduated from Quinnipiac,” said Arulampalam, who gave the student speech at the Class of 2014 Commencement.

“When I graduated, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal was our speaker and I gave the student speech. He actually remembered that and brought that up to me recently, during the campaign,” said Arulampalam.

School of Law Dean Jennifer Brown was in her first year leading the school in 2014 and met with Arulampalam frequently in his capacity as SBA president. Brown recalls his remarkable commitment to serving his community and the energy he invested in being an agent of change.

“I think the thing about Arunan is that he is so on fire with this higher calling, this higher purpose,” said Brown. “As mayor of Hartford, Arunan has really hit the ground running. It’s fun to see him in action.”

Arulampalam said he is always energized by the people he serves; he’s finding that energy in Hartford’s citizens.

“I get so much energy from the residents of Hartford. I’ve gotten such support in this community and I think there’s so much optimism for what is possible. That energizes me and my hope and optimism for the future of Hartford. And I hope that is infectious and something that other people in the city will feel."

He said the time is right for next-generation leaders to invigorate and inspire.

“What I’ve heard time and time again, from people of all ages, is that the energy over this kind of next-generational leadership is really important. I think that a lot of folks in the city of Hartford are excited to see what we can do, but also are really willing to support us and be a part of that progress."

Arulampalam recognizes the city of Hartford faces multifaceted challenges in areas such as homelessness, education, housing, competency of government services, business development, economic development and transportation.

“Being a mayor is being a cheerleader for the city, but also you have to work tirelessly to get the work done,” Arulampalam said. “My legal background has allowed me to take a lot of complex issues and thoughts and ideas and to distill them, analyze and act on them. That, in many ways, is core to the role of being a good mayor. Assess them, but also infuse your own values in them. And I think that my legal background was very helpful in that."

Arulampalam believes in the future of Hartford.

“We’ve got some real challenges ahead of us, but we’ve also got some incredible partners and people in our city. A big piece of the first few months in office is trying to bring together our city; bring together people from across different neighborhoods with our various partners to push behind the shared vision and belief in the future of the city."

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