Omayra Andino’s family asked her, “Don’t you have enough to do?”
It was a reasonably good question for the Nyack College alumna who is the CEO of the Institutes of Applied Human Dynamics (IAHD). The more than $60M 501 (c)(3) non-profit with New York sites in Westchester County and the Bronx, provides services and advocacy throughout the lifetime of more than 800 individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) as well as support for their families.
Already engaged in such a herculean endeavor, this spring she became the first female and the first person of color to be elected mayor of Tuckahoe, NY in Lower Westchester County. The 6,600-resident village is where she shattered the proverbial glass ceiling. This victory was preceded by her first election to the Village Board in 2018.
But beating the odds is a part of Mayor Andino’s story.
She is one of six children, including an adopted younger brother, raised in Brooklyn by a single mom who had a second-grade education and no work experience. “We wound up needing public assistance since my father’s income left when they divorced. My mom supported us all to pursue higher education.” Ultimately, her mother’s encouragement contributed to the successful careers of an older brother who is a vice president at CBS and a younger sister who is an educator.
Mayor Andino learned about Nyack College through a television ad. At the time, she jumped at the chance to apply because of her desire to complete her bachelor’s degree with the hope of greater opportunity for advancement at work. As a young mom, she also wanted to be able to give her daughter what she didn’t have as a youngster.
“Nyack offered the opportunity to be able to demonstrate how life experience can be transferred to learning. I also had a great number of professors who helped to instill a sense of focus and determination in me. They truly showed an interest in, not only my academic life, but all aspects of my life to ensure success.” In 2006, she graduated from Nyack’s School of Business and Leadership. “I decided to pursue an MBA because I was interested in the possibility of running a not-for-profit at some point in my life and wanted to ensure I had the tools to be able to do so.”
Was a political career a latent goal?
“I had no desire to seek a role in government during my time at Nyack,” the mayor explains. “I was motivated to run for office in 2018 when I saw that the values of politicians in office did not align with mine nor was there a diverse representation in leadership. I wanted to change that and ran for a Village Trustee position, which I won by five (literal) votes. I ran again for the office of Mayor this year and won by a 10-point margin, which was totally unexpected.”
Her leadership is supported by four board members. “We supervise the Village Administrator, ensure our budget is balanced and we oversee all services the Village offers, including Department of Public Works, the Police Department, library staff, as well as appoint members to planning/zoning boards and other committees who serve the community.”
Nyack’s core values are an integral part of Mayor Andino’s life. “I believe that the values and lessons learned at Nyack—grit, determination, ethics, critical thinking and compassion—have played a key role in my aspirations for public service. Both of my leadership roles involve service to others and I attribute my desire to pursue these roles, in part, to my education at Nyack and I thank the faculty who pushed me to be the best version of me.”