About Nancy Vann
I grew up in Miami, Florida when racial segregation and other forms of discrimination were an even more open and active feature of the city. As a child and a teenager I knew that this was unacceptable and was a protester in the Civil Rights movement. That has led to a lifelong commitment to racial and ethnic justice. As a young woman I was also aware of the extra burdens that gender discrimination imposed. Many racial and gender barriers remain – both socially and economically – and existing protections are under attack. Equality and opportunities for all individuals are part of my fundamental beliefs and have been important guides throughout my life.
In my early twenties, I was in a serious car accident. After many operations, months in a body cast and a wheelchair, and the loss of my home, work, and transportation, I moved to New York City. I arrived in February on crutches with two cardboard boxes and $300. I had been studying architecture but hadn’t received my college degree and following more surgery I spent a time on welfare and then social security disability. Medicaid and Food Stamps provided invaluable help. While attending physical therapy two or three days a week, I volunteered at a legal services office, assisting battered women and accompanying them to Family Court.
Those experiences left me with a deeper understanding of the importance of a social ‘safety net.’ They also inspired me to go back to school where I completed my B.A. in sociology at Columbia University, graduating summa cum laude. I went on to receive my Juris Doctorate degree from Yale Law School. While at Yale I was the founder and first editor-in-chief of the Yale Law & Policy Review, a widely read law journal now approaching its 35th year in print.
After two years of working for a financial services law firm in NY City, I moved to Denmark with my Danish husband and did non-profit work there for nearly eight years. I returned to New York after my daughter graduated from college and worked for non-profit foundations and then for the Quakers Quarterly Meeting for several years before going back to work as an attorney. I feel that the work I did for Wall Street firms helped assure the honesty of corporate clients. I also served as a board member and chairwoman of the Center for Disability Advocacy & Rights, a position I held until after my retirement.
In 1997 I bought a small summer cabin in Cortlandt to be able to spend time enjoying the natural beauty of this area. My office was in the World Trade Center at that time and in the weeks following 9/11 this community was an important retreat in dealing with the aftermath of the tragedy. I had come to love this area and wanted to be here as a full time resident so I moved to Peekskill in the spring of 2002. I retired from law in 2012 when it became clear that I needed to have ankle replacement surgery. I began volunteering with Peekskill Democrats and am a District Leader in the Peekskill Democratic Committee.
One of my most rewarding positions is being a Board member and Chairwoman of the Peekskill Housing Authority. I was appointed to the Board at a time when that agency was in a great deal of turmoil, including an inherited $1 million judgment against it. Under my leadership we have now recovered both physically and financially but more needs to be done. The County’s Republican administration is finally settling its legal dispute with HUD after 7 years, 11 attempts at a settlement, and tens of millions of dollars in lost Federal funding. We must now work to restore the lost funding and expand opportunities for the many people here who are unable to find housing they can afford.
Since 2013 I have worked as an environmental activist and the President of Safe Energy Rights Group, Inc. (an unpaid volunteer position). We have fought against all types of fossil fuels and other dangerous energy infrastructure. Recently we’ve been fighting against the Algonquin 42-inch high pressure pipeline that runs past the Indian Point nuclear plant. We are also working to make sure that the closure of Indian Point will be done in a responsible manner without jeopardizing our communities’ health and safety and by providing for the potential loss of jobs and revenue.
A factor in my decision to run for the Westchester County Legislature was the indifference of our current representative to environmental issues. Although he has voted with the environmental majority at times, he did not stand up for the trees and wetlands of the County’s Blue Mountain park against the pipeline and did not challenged the owners of the Indian Point nuclear plant about dangerous radiation leaks, unscheduled/emergency shutdowns, and more. As a legislator I hope to be able to expand environmental safeguards to protect our health, our property, and our lives. I will stand with all of the affected communities to assure that our schools, our taxes, our property values, and our neighbors don’t bear the brunt of Entergy’s decision to close the plant within four years.
I’m looking forward to getting to know more of you personally in the coming days. Your views are important to me. Please feel free to contact me with any of your questions and concerns. Together we can make sure that Westchester lives up to its values and provides a beautiful secure place to live for ourselves and our families.
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