Viviana holds the distinction of making history by being the first African American woman ever elected to the North Hempstead Town Board. Elected in November 2009, she serves New Cassel/Westbury, Carle Place and the Villages of Westbury and Old Westbury. The seat in the 1st Councilmatic District was vacated by Nassau County Legislator, Robert Troiano, who ‘passed the torch’ as the first African American male to serve on the Town Board to Viviana.
Viviana Russell was born and raised in East Elmhurst, Queens. She has been a resident of New Cassel/Westbury since 1999 with her husband Gary and their 3 children. Viviana holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Science, is a certified Para-Chaplain, NYS Licensed Real Estate Agent and a Notary Public.
Ten years ago Viviana participated in a community wide visioning process that started through a partnership with Sustainable Long Island, Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation, a local community – based development organization, the Department of Planning and Economic Development of the Town of North Hempstead, and local churches. The purpose of this collaborative effort was to encourage residents to work together to develop a plan of goals to accomplish in the community. This process resulted in the adoption of The Visioning Plan that is now a national model for communities seeking economic and social redevelopment.
Viviana is a concerned, committed and involved resident of Westbury with powerful grassroots community building skills and comprehensive knowledge of the community's needs and governmental functions.
Volunteering for community and youth initiatives are all important to Viviana. She has been an advocate for the quality of life for senior residents at Magnolia Gardens Senior Complex, working with Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation as a program coordinator and Block Captain and volunteering as a committee member on the Weed and Seed Coalition. While at Unified New Cassel in partnership with Randi’s Cleaners and Coats for Kids, Viviana initiated and continues to be involved in the annual coat distribution to families in need during the winter months.
She serves on the board of the McCoy Center Family and Youth Services and the Unity Circle Mothers’ Center. She is also a member of the NAACP, National Association of Business and Professional Woman, Long Island Center for Business and Professional Women, Enterprising and Professional Women International, The Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy and is also a member of the First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury where she serves as a Deaconess.
Prior to becoming Councilwoman Viviana gained governmental experience working at the Town of North Hempstead’s 311 Call Center from its inception, servicing residents throughout the Town and as a Constituent Liaison for New York State 13th Assembly District. She is currently the Communications Project Manager for the National Association of Mothers’ Centers, an organization birthed in 1974 that focuses its work in three areas: Motherhood, Work/Life and Advocacy.
Since taking office Viviana has worked with every level of government to demonstrate her motto of SOWing into the community - Strengthening bonds between residents, the community, organizations and government; Overcoming obstacles and Welcoming new ideas by bringing everyone to the table to accomplish the goals set forth by the communities she serves.
Among the noted accomplishments since taking office, Viviana was named one the Top 50 Influential Women on Long Island by the Long Island Business News. She has also continued the visions set forth by the communities she represents:
- In Westbury/New Cassel, $80 million of private investment dollars to beautify Prospect Avenue with new businesses, housing and streetscape beautification, which includes a center median to calm traffic. In addition, the opening of a $25 million Platinum LEED intergenerational 60,000 square-foot community center that is helping to quell the negative influences of our communities by providing a safe environment for our seniors and young people to be involved in activities that they enjoy. The center houses two regulation size basketball courts, television, recording and dance studios, stage for theatrical productions, research/reading room, Internet cafe, meeting rooms, social hall for events and exercise facilities.
- In Carle Place, mitigated years of flooding and drainage issues for residents of both Carle Place and Mineola through bipartisan efforts along with state and county officials. Oversaw through to completion the opening of the Homewood Suites Hotel on the former BOCES property located on the west side of Glen Cove Road to ensure that its planned use is consistent with the community's wishes.
- In the Incorporated Villages of Westbury and Old Westbury, instituted inter-municipal agreements with villages for shared services to reduce cost to residents. Working cohesively with civic organizations on common interest of the communities to enhance the quality of life.
She has also:
- Worked to put blighted properties back on the tax roll.
- Fought to ensure that Bristal Assisted Living did not abuse tax incentives at the detriment of the residents of Westbury.
- Worked to ensure our communities are a priority for "community clean up" initiatives.
- Introduced community leaders to business association to form an alliance to work cohesively on issues that affect both the residential and business communities.
- Consistently worked with the Department of Environmental Conservation, residents adjacent to and businesses in the industrial area to promote clean air and quality living conditions
- Produced Town’s first illegal housing guide to strengthen the Town's pro-active efforts to educate the community on their rights and responsibilities under the Town’s Code.
- Intricately involved in the effort of rejuvenating revitalization through Vision Plan Updates and Brownfield Opportunity Area project.
- Served on various panels on the topic of Women in Politics – including LI Center for Business and Professional Women “ You’ve Come a Long Way Baby – Women in Politics”; Adelphi University – Encouraging the Next Generation: Women in Politics; and Enterprising and Professional Women Equal Pay Day panel
- Worked with Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc and Toys for Tots, the NY Islanders, and EGC Marketing Group to bring holiday cheer and gifts to over 200 families in need over the holiday season.
- Started Annual Black History Presentation in 2011
Recipient of many notable awards and recognitions including: Top 50 Influential Women on Long Island; Community Leader Award – Hofstra University/ Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation ; Sisters in The Struggle (SiTS) Salute to Unsung Sheroes Award; Community Service Appreciation Awards – Westbury Gospel Tabernacle, Carle Place Middle School, LI Center for Business and Professional Women; State of New York Black History Award; Warrior Award – Mothers Club of Wheatley Heights: Excellence in Service Award – Calvary Tabernacle; National Night Out Against Crime Political Leader Award and a host of other recognitions.