Get To Know William
William Rivera, a native Bronxite of Puerto Rican descent, was born and raised in the 18th Councilman district that he is now running to represent. He lives in his childhood home with his elderly grandparents, which is located firmly within the neighborhoods that he has cultivated an intimate familiarity with over his lifetime.
William’s passion to help others was instilled in him as a young child. He recalls his grandmother often taking him to her church in the South Bronx to help feed the homeless. Those acts helped nourish his sense of community and altruism that anchored his decision to dedicate himself to a life of public service. William witnessing his grandmother’s commitment to others continues to inspire him to this day.
William also learned the importance of community from his parents, both of whom are now retired from the Department of Education. William began his community service at the tender age of 13, when he joined and graduated from the first NYPD Explorer Cadet Academy. This served as a formal catalyst for William’s burgeoning sense of civic duty.
In his formative years, William became a Boy Scout and went on to complete his Eagle Scout Service Project at Troop 65 at St. Helena’s Elementary School in Parkchester. William was also a member of the US Marines JROTC – Star of the Sea Cadets at Holy Family Church in Castle Hill. At 16, he became a volunteer firefighter; at the age of 17, William became a NYPD Auxiliary Police Officer and at the age of 18, he became an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). William would go on to teach CPR for free in his community.
William attended and graduated from local institutions: St. Helena’s Elementary, St. Raymond’s High School and Stevenson High School. At the age of 18, William graduated from the NYC Fire Department’s EMS Academy, where he then went on to serve for 13 distinguished years. During his tenure, William experienced firsthand how important access to health care and emergency services are to communities—especially those that are marginalized along social and economic lines.
During his time as a first responder, two of William’s most cherished acts were responding to the World Trade Center attacks on 9/11 and the crash of American Airlines Flight 587 in Queens, New York. These events empowered him to recommit his life to helping the lives of others. In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, William drove from NYC to New Orleans, twice, to rescue survivors and bring truckloads of supplies to victims.
In 2007, two NYPD auxiliary police officers were shot and killed in the line of duty. While working with the FDNY, William transported their bodies from the hospital to the morgue. Given the traumatic experience, shortly thereafter, William founded the NYC Auxiliary Police Foundation, a nonprofit organization advocating for increased auxiliary police safety and philanthropy. To this day, William is a staunch advocate for this group by continuing to fight for their collective recognition and value that they bring to the communities that they serve.
William was also the owner of a small business in Parkchester, known as “Will’s Papaya” in 2004. His former fast-food business opened his eyes to the myriad challenges of owning a small restaurant in this area. This experience has proven invaluable in helping William develop a substantive comprehension of how to develop and implement public policy to help small businesses thrive—especially M/WBEs firms. To keep in sync with the small business community, every week, William eats lunch at a different restaurant in his district to show his support for their business.
William is also the founder of the Cross Bronx Expressway Initiative, a mission that focuses on the environmental injustices that plague his community with traffic congestion and pollution. Given that the borough has some of the highest asthma rates in the country, William has been diligent in advocating for a more progressive system to be installed to address the systemic inequities that harm unfortunate residents that happen to be in the proximity of this expressway bogged down by rampant overcapacity.
William served as a State Committeeman and District Leader in the 87th Assembly District, in The Bronx. In 2014, William was elected the youngest community board chairman in New York City at the age of 31. In 2015, he was elected District Manager for Bronx Community Board 9. As District Manager, he helped re-engineer his community board as a model for others and sourced millions of dollars of funding to his district. In all, William has dedicated over 25,000 hours of public and community service in various capacities.
During the height of the Covid-19 Pandemic in NYC, William co-founded RAP4BRONX (Relief Access Program for the Bronx) that has distributed over 800,000 meals. Its mission is to collect and donate meals, groceries and essential supplies for families, seniors, and vulnerable residents in the Bronx. William still continues to distribute groceries, produce and supplies to food pantries and organizations in need, throughout his community. Notably, he helped secure a donation of 100,000 Covid-19 antibody test kits for his community, valued at one million dollars.
Not only has William advocated for those in his district, but he also fought for the basic rights of a pregnant woman while working for JetBlue. In 2008, she was denied FMLA leave. When he heard her story, William established a committee with the Transportation Workers Union (TWU) to start a union. JetBlue flight attendants eventually unionized in 2018.
An avid traveler, William also extends his community service projects to developing countries in the Caribbean, South & Central America, including Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Guyana, Trinidad, Cuba, Peru, Brazil, and many more. He recently finished helping build an elementary school in the Dominican Republic and rebuilt homes in Puerto Rico, after Hurricane Maria. William is planning to send an ambulance and supplies to the Garifuna community in Honduras this year, after the devastation wrought by Hurricane Eta.
The proud father of a 15-year-old son, William Isiah Jr. William Sr. seeks to instill in him many of the values and lessons he has learned throughout the years. Some of the activities they enjoy doing together include traveling, playing video games and sports. William Jr. is a varsity athlete in his freshman year. William Sr. also makes the time to attend his son’s sporting events and cheers him on in ways not too dissimilar to his voice in the communities he hopes to represent as District Leader.