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About Us

About the AFA-NY

We always encourage those actions conducive to building morally strong and effective families.

Mission Statement

The American Family Association of New York’s mission is to educate its members and the general public on critical matters pertaining to the family. Although we are determined to highlight those issues which affect the family in both positive and negative ways, we will always strongly encourage those actions conducive to building morally strong and effective families.

A Brief History of the AFA of New York

In 1989, after a talk given at Molloy College by Don Wildmon, President of the national American Family Association, Fr. James Lisante asked Frank Russo to head up a Long Island chapter of the AFA. Frank was still working as a Director at NYNEX, and he agreed to do so on a part-time basis. But after retiring in 1994, Frank jumped in with both feet and created one of the most effective organizations in defense of the family that New York State has ever seen.

Frank enlarged the American Family Association of New York (AFA-NY) organization to encompass the entire state of New York with the heartfelt gratitude of Don Wildmon. In 1994 he started producing and airing the AFA-NY weekly public access television programs. The first programs were taped in Frank’s living room with the help of a devoted group of family and friends whom he recruited. But soon thereafter they began taping in the professionally equipped Cablevision television studios. Frank and his volunteers also began publishing an AFA-NY Newsletter, which came out two or three times each year.

The AFA-NY has produced to date some 314 public access television programs, most of which are 30 minutes in length. At its height, the AFA-NY television programs reached about four million cable viewers, some two million on Long Island, and roughly two million more in the Buffalo suburbs, Rockland County, and a part of NYC. The array of guests and topics covered on these programs was remarkable.

In addition to the TV programs and the newsletters, Frank Russo perpetually defended moral values and the family by appearing on dozens of radio, television, and live debate programs. Some of these programs reached a national audience and often took place in hostile environments. He was a spirited but respectful debater, always taking the high road, but never ceding the moral high ground. Frank Russo retired from the AFA-NY in March of 2021, after 32 years of extraordinary service.

A Brief History of the National AFA

American Family Association (AFA), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1977 by Donald E. Wildmon, who was the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Southaven, Mississippi, at the time. Since 1977, AFA has been on the front lines of America’s culture war. The original name of the ministry was National Federation for Decency but was changed to American Family Association in 1988.

Today, AFA is led by president Tim Wildmon, and it continues as one of the largest and most effective pro-family organizations in the country with hundreds of thousands of supporters. The impact of AFA on pro-family issues is recognized nationwide. AFA spokespersons have appeared on programs such as ABC’s Good Morning America, World News Tonight, and Nightline; Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, Hannity & Colmes, and Fox News Live; NBC’s Today Show and Meet the Press; MSNBC’s Deborah Norville Tonight and Countdown with Keith Olbermann; CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight, Anderson Cooper 360, Wolf Blitzer Reports, Talk Back Live, American Morning, and Crossfire; CBN’s The 700 Club; TBN’s Praise the Lord; INSP’s Inspiration Today; and the BBC.

AFA spokespersons have been quoted in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Washington Times, Chicago Tribune, Mediaweek, Advertising Age, TIME, Newsweek, WORLD, Christianity Today, and numerous other media outlets. They also are frequent guests on national and international radio programs including the BBC, National Public Radio (NPR), and Voice of America.

Advertising Age listed Donald Wildmon in its December 2004 “Book of Tens” as one of the top “10 Who Made a Mark on Marketing.” He was named among other high-profile figures such as Karl Rove, Mel Gibson, and Mark Burnett. Advertising Age, Crain’s international newspaper of marketing, serves as a widely recognized source for the latest information to over 198,000 advertising, marketing, and media professionals.

 

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Meet The Leaders

Connell Friel

Connell Friel

President

In 2007 I was drawn to the American Family Association of New York when I became aware of their incredibly important work in defense of the family. I was extraordinarily impressed with the dedication and passion of Frank Russo, founder and president of the AFA-NY. For over 30 years Frank and the AFA-NY have been advocating, and fighting for, the most important issues of our time – the sanctity of marriage, the right of the pre-born to life, the right of school choice for parents, the right of the faithful to freedom of religion, and the right of taxpayers to a small, sensible, and unobtrusive government. It is not an exaggeration to say, at this pivotal moment in salvation history, that all of these rights are under a withering attack. Now, it is more important than ever for us to vigorously oppose the evil forces trying to eradicate our Judeo-Christian heritage and values. –  Connell Friel

Frank J. Russo, Jr.

Frank J. Russo, Jr.

Former President

It is difficult to overstate the incredibly positive impact Frank J. Russo had on the lives of New Yorkers over the last three decades.  After retiring in 1994, Frank created one of the most effective organizations in defense of the family that New York State has ever seen. Frank’s stated purpose of the American Family Association of New York  was to educate its members and the general public on matters pertaining to the family. He was determined to highlight those issues which affected the family in both positive and negative ways, but was driven to strongly encourage those actions conducive to building morally strong and effective families.