Before jumping to the private sector, Victoria Larsen Cerullo had an accomplished career in government. The Staten Island native got her start as an aide to Rep. Vito Fossella and then spent half a dozen years in the Bloomberg administration as the mayor’s point person on Staten Island, a legislative representative and chief of staff for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. She was an invaluable asset in the city’s response to Superstorm Sandy.
10 Staten Island up and comers
10 Staten Island up and comers
These 10 rising stars in Staten Island have a bright future ahead of them. We're excited to see how they transform the borough in the years ahead.
Kamillah Hanks is the head of the Historic Tappen Park Community Partnership. The organization, which Hanks founded in 2012, aims to bring more arts, culture and educational programs to Tappen Park, a small but beloved community park in Staten Island’s Stapleton neighborhood that dates back to 1867, and promotes local economic revitalization. A native of the borough’s North Shore, Hanks used her position as a springboard for a strong but ultimately unsuccessful run for the New York City Council last fall.
Vincent Innocente is responsible for marketing the St. George Theatre – and given its long and illustrious history, the performing arts venue is not exactly hard to market. Since the St. John’s University graduate took on the role in 2014, the theater has continued its revival, including a new marquee that’s part of a $5.2 million renovation. For someone with strong roots in the borough and who’s a performer himself (he does an impressive “Piano Man”), the job is a perfect fit.
Brendan Lantry’s political career reached a new high this month when he was elected chairman of the Staten Island Republican Party. The attorney at Menicucci Villa Cilmi PLLC ran unopposed for the post, which was vacated by Assemblyman Ronald Castorina. Lantry is only 31, but he has plenty of experience, including previous stints as the committee’s law chairman and in the offices of state Sen. Andrew Lanza, Rep. Daniel Donovan, former Rep. Michael Grimm and former City Councilman Vincent Ignizio.
Jasmine Robinson is mounting a long shot campaign against state Sen. Diane Savino on the borough’s North Shore. The legal secretary, who lives in the Port Richmond neighborhood, has sought to capitalize on dissatisfaction with the Independent Democratic Conference, which Savino was a member of until it was dissolved this month. Robinson, a member of the Staten Island Democratic Association, has also been motivated by the death of Eric Garner, who died as a result of a police chokehold.
Pat Ryan is one of Rep. Dan Donovan’s top aides, handling communications and, since 2016, serving as Staten Island district director as well. Ryan also worked at City Hall as the borough’s point person on Superstorm Sandy recovery and as a senior policy adviser on resiliency. He also worked for former Reps. Nan Hayworth and Michael Grimm – who is trying to win back his seat from Donovan – and could one day be a strong candidate himself.
To some people, New York Road Runners is just the host of the annual New York City Marathon – but Michael Schnall can tell you the organization does a lot more than that, from plenty of other races around the city to involvement with various health and wellness programs. He has served as Staten Island chief of staff for the New York City Parks and Recreation Department and as a legislative financial analyst in the New York City Council, giving him valuable insight into the city’s political process.
Amanda Straniere has been fundraising for the Staten Island Museum for five years, helping to pave the way for its move to Snug Harbor. While the venerable institution receives funding from New York City and other government sources, it also relies on memberships, grants and major donations – which is Straniere’s specialty. Her experience as director of tourism and cultural affairs in the Staten Island Borough President’s Office has also served her well, and she also sits on the Mayor’s Citizens Advisory Committee for the cultural plan.
Last year James Thomson was named one of the owners of his law firm, which was renamed Scamardella Gervasi Thomson Kasegrande. Working with managing partner Robert Scamardella, who has long been active politically on Staten Island, Thomson leads the firm’s real estate and commercial law portfolio. The Staten Island native, who has been at the firm for over a decade, has also served the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce, the Staten Island Republican Party and the Staten Island Business Executive Club.
Julienne Verdi is an attorney, an activist and a board member for a number of local nonprofits. She owns J. Verdi Law, which works with small businesses, nonprofits and political organizations. Before the native Staten Islander opened the firm, she had stints at Planned Parenthood, as a political consultant and at Safe Horizon’s Immigration Law Project. She has garnered attention for Move Forward Staten Island, a progressive group she founded after the 2016 elections, and for organizing the 2017 Staten Island People’s Climate March.