Hon. Harriet Cornell
Harriet Cornell has been a member of the Rockland County Legislature for more than thirty-five years. She brings the voice of those who otherwise would not be heard into county government and possesses the rare ability to bring people together to tackle issues, propose solutions, and implement change for the better.
Born in Brooklyn, Cornell moved to Rockland County in 1958. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College, where she met her husband, the attorney J. Martin Cornell, and holds a master’s degree in public administration from New York University.
“I try to give a face to government,” she says, “to listen to people and make their lives better. That’s what public service means to me.” Cornell’s concern for children, youth, women, and families has been the hallmark of her career. Through her efforts, Rockland began to assist day-care centers with needed funding. She has helped the county develop a policy on domestic abuse and is working on pay equity issues. She initiated more than sixty public hearings on important issues such as housing, education, drugs and alcohol, health care, AIDS, and the environment.
Cornell is a member of many community organizations and has won numerous public service awards. In 1972 she became the first female chair of the Rockland County Democratic Party, and in2005 she became the first woman to chair the Rockland County Legislature, a position she held until December 2013, the longest consecutive term to date. Her long record of accomplishments led the Journal News to name her one of the twenty-five people who made the greatest impact on Rockland in the twentieth century.