Van B. Robinson is a product of Bronx, NY moving to Syracuse, NY in 1968. Upon moving to Syracuse, he began his community activism. His political involvement began almost immediately, by volunteering on campaigns of friends and colleagues. Van enjoys boasting that he stood on the bully pulpit to “tear down Interstate 81” upon his arrival in the Cuse’ 1968.
Van retired as an executive of GHI- Group Health Insurance as a forty-two (42) year employee; while a union employee, he was a shop steward and organizer for his union. His political career began when the late Mayor Lee Alexander appointed Van to the City of Syracuse’s Board of Zoning Appeal. In 1999, Van was appointed by then Mayor Matthew Driscoll to fill a vacant Common Council seat – next election, he ran for the seat and served the council for seventeen years. In November of 2009 and 2013, he won four year seats each as the first African American President of the Syracuse Common Council. He retired as Common Council President in December of 2017. Van won five (5) city-wide elections, and formerly served as chair of the Democratic 12th Ward committee; he currently serves on the 5th Ward Committee. In 2011, he won the Democrat of the Year Award, he continues to serve his party proud.
Van loves to serve his adopted city – the City of Syracuse – which he is proud of by serving on a number of community boards, commissions, and associations, including a past member of the Elmcrest Children’s Center’s Board of Advisors, a former original member of the Joint Construction School Board, and a previous member of the FOCUS Greater Syracuse Board of Directors. Van Robinson also served on the Red Cross Board Meals on Wheels and Inter-Religious Council (now known as InterFaith Works).
Van is a proud Navy man who is a member of the USS Antietam Naval Association, and enjoys traveling frequently to their annual reunions.
Some of Van’s achievements include: a commendation from AIA (American Institute of Architects)of Central New York, a Proclamation for Service – NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli Deputy Chief, Herman Edge Award, Citizens for a Crime Free Community Award, Post Standard Achievement Award, International Masons Citizens Award, NAACP Freedom Award, OMEGA PSI-PHI Citizen of The Year Award, Benjamin Banneker Democratic Club Achievement Award, Fort Drum Appreciation Award, NYS Council of Black Democrats Appreciation Award plus other noted civic and community awards and accolades. Van is a 2021 InterFaith Leadership Award recipient. He continues his civil rights by serving on the Syracuse Onondaga NAACP Executive Board.
In his younger years – and when he had free time – he enjoyed playing golf, and brags that he even had the honor and privilege to play golf with former President Bill Clinton. He enjoys reading and traveling both domestically and abroad; he has traveled to the Caribbean, Panama Canal Region, South Pacific Islands and “Down Under” (Australia and New Zealand).
Van is happily married to his wife Linda Brown-Robinson and a proud father of two children, a daughter Donetta of Jacksonville, FL and son Van E. also of Jacksonville and three adult grandchildren, Jackie, Jovan and Claude of Jacksonville, FL and a very proud member of the Robinson family GREAT grandson Jovan Jr. who also resides in Jacksonville.