Karen Cotugno

Divisional Director of Social Services

The Salvation Army 

Karen Cotugno was born, raised, and still lives in Queens, so receiving the “Power Woman” award in her home borough makes it that much more special! 

Cotugno grew up in a household in which her father, a New York Police Department Officer (now retired), instilled honesty, integrity, human dignity, and standing up for what’s right as her foundational values. These values became the essence of who she is in her personal, as well as professional life. 

Cotugno began her career with The Salvation Army straight out of college, in 1994, in one of the family shelters. Her motivation and driving force have always been to make a difference in the lives of those people whose voices are not always heard. After 11 years of working at the shelter, Cotugno embarked on a career path with the Department of Homeless Services (DHS). 

After gaining an enormous amount of experience while working for the city, she returned to The Salvation Army in 2015 as Program Director of another shelter. About a year later, she stepped into the role of the Deputy Director of Social Services. In this role, Cotugno helped provide oversight to government funded programs throughout The Salvation Army’s Greater New York Division, which includes 38 Community Centers and 23 Social Services program sites.


As Cotugno continuously displayed unmatched leadership and dedication to the staff and clients in the programs, in 2019 she was promoted to become the Divisional Director of Social Services for The Salvation Army’s Greater New York Division. One year later, the organization faced one of the greatest challenges when the community and workforce had to quickly adjust to the pandemic that affected the entire world.


As the client needs and governmental policies continued to change in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cotugno’s experience and expertise, as well as her willingness to give her all to the people they serve, has allowed her to gracefully maneuver through the many challenges, transitions, and necessary adjustments within the organization. Despite the many obstacles, thanks to Cotugno’s leadership, The Salvation Army continues to provide essential services within the community.

Cotugno is a tremendous asset to The Salvation Army, and truly is the embodiment of their motto “Doing The Most Good.”