January 5, 2024

Vanessa Baird-Streeter selected to lead Health and Welfare Council of Long Island

By Olivia Winslow

Updated January 5th, 2024

Read on Newsday

A former Suffolk deputy county executive will become the new head of the nonprofit Health and Welfare Council of Long Island next month, it was announced Friday.

Vanessa Baird-Streeter, 55, of Dix Hills, was selected from among 60 candidates to succeed Rebecca Sanin as president and chief executive of the council, an umbrella nonprofit organization that represents, advocates for and provides services to about 200 human service nonprofits on Long Island. Sanin stepped down from the organization last month after being elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in November.

Vanessa Baird-Streeter, a former Suffolk deputy county executive, will become the new head of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island next month. Credit: Corey Sipkin

“Vanessa has dedicated herself to Long Island,” said Colleen Merlo, chair of the council’s board, as well as president and chief executive of the Association for Mental Health and Wellness. “She has distinguished herself as a leader in the government sector. She knows many of the players in the nonprofit space. … As soon as we interviewed her, we knew she was the right candidate, because of her dedication, her passion and commitment to Long Island.”

Baird-Streeter is to begin in her new role Feb. 5.

Her service in Suffolk County government began in 2012 and ended Dec. 31, when Steve Bellone’s term as county executive ended. He was term-limited and did not seek reelection.

In a statement, Bellone said Baird-Streeter “has made outstanding contributions to the lives and future of Long Islanders during the most challenging of times our county has faced.

“She has played a key role during Superstorm Sandy, the COVID-19 pandemic, the cyberattack crisis and has provided extraordinary leadership to ensure that the most vulnerable residents on Long Island are prioritized.”

Baird-Streeter, in a phone interview, said her new position with the council was a “great segue” from her government work. She said she planned to meet with members of the council’s board, its staff and member agencies. “It’s important to have those conversations before determining any path the organization is going to take.”

She added, “I just feel very blessed that the board chose me. I believe in the organization … an amazing organization that has served the Long Island community for over 50 years.”

Sanin praised Baird-Streeter as “an outstanding public servant and empathic leader and will help lead the organization during a very challenging time for human services in our communities. I have every confidence she will do an incredible job.”

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