Shawyn Patterson-Howard, Mayor
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"When spider webs unite they can tie up a lion."
Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard is an MVHS alumnus and esteemed graduate of Howard University School of Social Work, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Hunter College where she earned a Master's in Public Administration and Urban/Community Development. Mayor Patterson-Howard has served as a trailblazer in the not-for-profit and government sectors for the past 25 years. While widely known for her groundbreaking work in HIV/AIDS, public health, criminal justice, education, housing, and urban development, Mayor Patterson-Howard has developed strong relationships with government and cross-sector leaders on a local, state and national level. As a "connector" she has always maintained a strong focus on developing systemic solutions that will address the complex social determinants that have plagued our communities for decades. She passionately works with her staff and community partners to create continuums of service and innovative public/private partnerships to serve those who have been marginalized, disenfranchised, and are oftentimes voiceless. Mayor Patterson-Howard's favorite African Proverb is, "When spider webs unite, we can tie up a lion," or as we say in the Y, we are "Better Together."
As Executive Director for the Mount Vernon, New York, Family YMCA from 2004 through 2009, and the first woman and person of color appointed President and Chief Executive Officer for the Yonkers Family YMCA in New York. Shawyn focused on programs that highlight "Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility." From afterschool programming, youth employment and training, college preparation, access and completion, adult education, water safety programs, senior services, and residential housing to gang intervention and violence prevention, prisoner reintegration, health and wellness, community nutrition and feeding programs, boxing, AmeriCorps, service-learning and video production, Shawyn and her staff looked for new and innovative ways to develop partnerships to serve the community.
Mayor Patterson-Howard, returned to Mount Vernon in 2016 to serve as the Commissioner of Planning and Community Development and the Executive Director of the Urban Renewal Agency (URA). Under Shawyn's leadership, the Urban Renewal Agency secured funding to launch a Zombie Home elimination initiative, Fourth Avenue Redevelopment Study, New York State Economic Development Council funding for Memorial Field, Mount Vernon's aging sewers and a cultural arts district.
On November 5, 2019, Mayor Patterson-Howard was elected the first female mayor in the history of the City of Mount Vernon, and the first woman of color elected mayor in Westchester County. Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard's focus has been on strengthening the local community and using her relationships on the city, county, state and federal levels to bolster Mount Vernon and restore trust in the city's leadership.
Aside from her formal employment, Shawyn is the honored wife of Marvin Howard and mother of Nia. She is delighted to continue her family's hundred-year-plus legacy of service to the community of Mount Vernon.