On Friday, Migdalia Castro pivoted from the legislative branch of the city to the executive, joining the administration of Mayor Toni Harp as the city’s new Elderly Services Director.

Castro, an alder representing Fair Haven’s Ward 16, is replacing Pat Wallace as department head. Castro was first elected to the Board of Alders in 2004.

“Today the needs are greater, as seniors face cuts in food stamps and loss in housing,” Castro said at a Friday morning press conference at City Hall. “Your senior years should be your time to enjoy and share your stories and wisdom. For the sake of the whole city, seniors should be at center stage.”

Castro, who was born in The Bronx, New York, moved to New Haven when she was 12. She studied at Southern Connecticut State University and then at South Central Community College, which is now Gateway Community College.

Acting Community Services Administrator Ron Manning introduced Castro, praising her as a committed community activist with an ear to the needs of city residents. Harp chimed in as well, saying Castro is willing to go out into the city to fundraise and find resources to finance her initiatives.

“I hope that this community supports our seniors and supports Migdalia with the fundraising efforts,” Harp said.

To address cuts in food stamps, Castro said she would coordinate with churches to try to open food pantries in senior centers. She also said she would look into the possibility of opening more centers or engaging organizations that already provide similar services.

In conversations with seniors, Castro said, they have expressed a desire to bring back a trips program that once existed and that still exists elsewhere in Connecticut.

“They used to go to Italy,” Castro said.

She said they also want a change in the food provided at the senior centers and to continue doing ceramics and sewing classes.

Castro officially assumes her new role Feb. 1.