Sandy Russo, 73, has lived in the Village since 1969, when she moved into her first apartment on Leroy Street. Two years later, she moved into a "rundown loft building" on Greenwich Street, where she still lives today.
"I've seen the neighborhood completely change," Russo said. "I'm very familiar with the neighborhood and what's going on, and all the merchants that have been forced out because of rising rents."
When Russo moved in, the owner of the Greenwich Street building was renting each floor for $125 per month. The building was barely livable, Russo said.
"We built our own bathrooms. We built our own rudimentary kitchens," she recalled. "It was those Wild West loft days."
The owner decided he was done with the building in 1980, but Russo had put so much work into the place, she couldn't bear to leave. So she bought the building.
She spent the next 30 years upgrading it with all new electrical utilities and plumbing, and raised two children there with her wife, Robin Young.
Now semi-retired, Russo had a long career as an attorney, first working as a tenants' representative for the union DC 37 and then finishing out her career at Legal Services for New York City.
"I missed being involved in stuff, so I decided I would try to get on the community board," Russo said. She and Young manage their own building under the name Ramble's Real Estate Co., and work as real estate agents for apartment buyers.
Russo and Young have also been featured in academic studies and news articles for being on the forefront of biological lesbian parenting, including a 1993 paper titled "Gay Parents: Under Fire and On the Rise."
"We were a little bit pioneers," Russo said.
Daniel Miller is another new board member and longtime Village resident with a film production company in TriBeCa. Miller grew up in New York and attended the Horace Mann School, where his son is now enrolled. He said he is still getting a feel for what the community board is focusing on, but as a parent and former president of the Greenwich Village Little League, he is most interested in youth advocacy and getting more Downtown park space.
"I don't think people are that familiar with the community board, especially the younger generation," Miller said.
CB2 is also welcoming back Shirley Smith, who previously served on the board years ago. She works as an executive consultant for Scholastic Inc. and is also the founder of Smith and Associates, which provides management consulting to organizations including nonprofits that offer educational services and community development.
According to the Washington Square Park Blog, the three new members are replacing Dodge Landesman, who ran for City Council at age 18 five years ago; Florent Morellet, formerly of Meatpacking District restaurant Florent; and Judy Paul, proprietor of the Washington Square Hotel.