Mount Vernon Reverend Named New State Veteran Affairs Director

Reverend Viviana DeCohen – a Veteran of the United States Marine Corps who served as the Director of Military & Veteran Affairs, and Adjunct Professor at Concordia College – will lead the state Division of Veterans’ Services.

Viviana, the wife of Reverend Troy P. DeCohen, Mount Vernon Heights Congregational Church (258 S Columbus Ave), was named State Veteran Affairs Director by Gov. Kathy Hochul, Tuesday, November 9th. DeCohen’s role in the Hochul administration is meant to advocate for veterans like herself across the state.

Dr. Chinazo Cunningham was also nominated by Gov. Hochul to become the next commissioner of the Office of Addiction Services and Supports and Kylah Hynes, tasked as director of federal affairs, Hochul’s office said in a news release. The appointments are the latest since Hochul took office on August 24 following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.

The appointments and nominations were coupled with the announcement Kylah Hynes will serve as the director of federal affairs, having moved over from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

“We are building a top-tier team to lead State agencies and deliver high-quality services for New Yorkers,” Gov. Hochul said. “Dr. Cunningham and Reverend DeCohen are outstanding leaders who will lift these agencies to new heights. Kylah Hynes will be a vital liaison between the federal government and New York during our recovery. These are experienced, talented individuals, and I look forward to working with them.”

In July 2020, Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard picked DeCohen to run the Veterans Services Agency, which DeCohen quickly ramped up. She emphasized her “inside-out approach” by conducting outreach and brought more than 3,000 veterans in for services. In 2021, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs named DeCohen as one of the Women Veteran Trailblazers. In early December, DeCohen is set to finish in Mount Vernon. Once part of the Hochul administration, She plans to visit all counties to improve outreach to veterans.

Currently, she is pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership and gerontology at Concordia University in Chicago. She has plans to publish a book once she finishes her doctorate.

Black Westchester proudly salutes and celebrates Reverend Viviana “Mama V.” DeCohen!