Five Queens nonprofits influencers you need to know
When a politician takes credit for a major airport overhaul, a new rail tunnel or an expansive housing project, there’s a team of developers and construction companies who actually built it. When elected officials praise the creation of good jobs, there are business leaders and entrepreneurs generating the new opportunities – and a strong union movement that helps keep wages competitive. When government bureaucrats tout the thriving tourism industry, there’s a complex transportation network that gets them here – and plenty of attractions to draw in tourists.
The individuals carrying out these behind-the-scenes tasks are not elected, but often they are just as powerful as the officials that voters put into office. In this list, we put the spotlight on these players in nonprofits – The Influentials.
Return to full list of the 25 Queens influencers.
President, Queens Chapter, National Action Network
The Rev. Phil Craig is the Rev. Al Sharpton’s man in Queens.
Craig runs the borough’s chapter of the National Action Network, the civil rights group founded by Sharpton in 1991. Craig has been the minister at the interdenominational Greater Springfield Community Church in Jamaica, Queens, for more than five years. Before that, Craig worked at Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal church in Queens alongside the Rev. Floyd Flake. It was Flake, Craig has said, who led him to activism.
In recent years, he supported 32BJ SEIU’s demonstrations at Kennedy Airport. He has also been active in opposing a homeless shelter in Hollis and criticizing police use of chokeholds. His church has become a regular stop on the campaign trail for would-be City Council members and state legislators.
Félix Matos Rodríguez
President, Queens College
After a national search to fill the top post at Queens College, the right candidate to run the City University of New York school turned out to be no further away than the Bronx.
Félix Matos Rodriguez was appointed president of Queens College in 2014, after five years at the helm of Hostos Community College, another CUNY school.
Matos Rodriguez spent decades in academia, with teaching stints at Yale, Northeastern University and Boston College as well as previously directing Hunter College’s Center for Puerto Rican Studies. But in 2006, he left New York for his native Puerto Rico to serve two years as secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Family Services.
Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer
Executive Director, Queens Council on the Arts
Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer’s Queens Council on the Arts distributes hundreds of thousands of dollars in state and city funding to support the arts in Queens.
The funding benefits local arts organizations and hundreds of artists in Queens, and supports the organization’s own program that helps high school students apply to art school. The organization receives the bulk of its money from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York state Council on the Arts, with additional funding from foundations and corporations.
Krakauer has powerful connections in city government. She served on the transition teams of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. She is also an honorary member of the city’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission.
Executive Director, Mount Sinai Queens
Under Caryn Schwab’s tenure as executive director of Mount Sinai Queens, the institution has found room to grow amid closures of several hospitals in the outer boroughs. Schwab has overseen the hospital’s $175 million, three-year expansion and renovation. The expansion includes a much larger emergency room, new operating rooms and space for specialists, such as dermatologists, cardiologists and rheumatologists to practice in the same building as primary care doctors.
After starting her career at the city’s Health + Hospitals Corp., Schwab served in former Mayor Ed Koch’s administration, was executive director of Babies & Children’s Hospital of New York, and came to Mount Sinai in 1999. She is also a vice chairwoman of Long Island City Partnership.
President, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens
Alfonso Quiroz’s day job is in the public affairs department at Con Edison, but since January 2014 he has also been serving as the president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens.
His advocacy work is no surprise, given his background. He was a White House intern in 1995, later became a community organizer and a community board member, and joined then-New York City Public Advocate Mark Green’s 2001 mayoral campaign. Quiroz also was the deputy chief of staff for City Councilwoman Helen Sears from 2003-05.
Quiroz has kept a one foot in politics. He is a leader of the John F. Kennedy Democratic Club in Queens, and a Democratic district leader in the 34th Assembly District.