A behind-the-scenes deal-maker, Jon Schneider has a history of counseling Long Island politicians, including former Rep. Tim Bishop and Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone. Thus far in his career, he has helped broker deals with unions, wrangle legislative votes and devise political agendas for some of the island’s most powerful people. Currently managing communications for Long Island University, Schneider has helped build up the school’s relationships with local elected officials, strengthened its reputation with local media and highlighted key faculty members.
10 Long Islanders on the rise
10 Long Islanders on the rise
In our Long Island Power 50, we recognize who are key players on the island in the world of New York politics and government. Since we cover politicians on a day-to-day basis, we limited this list to those who are not strictly in government but instead influence it from the outside.
It’s worth noting that many of the people on Long Island Power 50 are white and male – an imbalance that simply reflects reality as best as we could tell. We sought to balance that by presenting an additional – and more diverse – list of younger Long Islanders on the rise.
These 10 people who live or work on Long Island have begun to make a name for themselves in New York’s political world – and each of them has plenty of potential to make their mark in the years ahead.
As Kevin Law’s right-hand man at the Long Island Association in his role as vice president of government affairs and communications, Matthew Cohen is at the forefront of regional advocacy and economic policy. Previously, he worked in the Suffolk County executive’s office, became Long Island director for U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and was executive director of government relations at the Long Island Power Authority. Cohen has strong relationships and an intricate understanding of Long Island’s complex power structures, elected leaders and its business community.
The Association for a Better Long Island plucked Kyle Strober from the office of U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer in January 2017 to replace its longtime leader Desmond Ryan. Since taking the new post, Strober has employed a Schumer-like approach to the media, becoming a regular source for local news on issues ranging from tax reduction and infrastructure to real estate development and more. The Long Beach resident previously worked for then-Nassau County Legislator Dave Denenberg, underpinning strong relationships at all levels of Long Island government.
Silvana Diaz and her sister inherited her family’s Spanish-language newspaper, Noticia, in 2009. She managed it independently for nearly a decade before the paper was acquired earlier this year, making Diaz publisher of Schneps Communications’ Hispanic Media Division. Diaz is an outspoken voice for Spanish-speaking and immigrant communities throughout the region. With a degree in fashion design, a history of public service and an ability to navigate the landscape of print media, Diaz is bound to leave her mark.
As a longtime aide to former Rep. Steve Israel, Seema Bhansali became a one-stop shop for all immigration issues, helping those seeking medical care, political asylum and even pursuing citizenship, and later became Israel’s director of constituent services and district director. In 2017, Bhansali became the director of corporate affairs at Henry Schein and is now developing its government relations program, enhancing recruitment and building new bridges as Long Island’s only Fortune 500 company grows locally and worldwide.
As a founding partner of Millennial Strategies and a staff member for then-Rep. Gary Ackerman, Jeff Guillot is a veteran of Long Island politics. He recently teamed up with entrepreneur and talent acquisition pro Felicia Fleitman to found RecruitLI, which aims to bridge the gap between educational levels and the needs of Long Island employers. With an already robust Facebook following, and an upcoming project with the town of Huntington, Fleitman and Guillot are ready for the spotlight.
Luis Montes jumped into Long Island politics as chief of staff for Assemblyman Phil Ramos in 2003 and hasn’t looked back. He’s gone on to manage campaigns, serve as deputy county executive for Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone and chairman of the Islip Democratic Committee. Now he’s running his own government relations and communications practice. He’s known within Long Island’s political circles as a leader in voter engagement, a committed community advocate and, with fluency in four languages, an authority on minority outreach.
Everywhere you look it seems that TD Bank branches are popping up on Long Island. As senior vice president and regional vice president for TD Bank on Long Island, Keith Lawlor serves as an important link between the bank and the community. In addition to his work with TD Bank, the Kings Park resident serves as a valued member of the Long Island Association’s Young Professionals Committee and the Long Island Food Council.
As Deepwater Wind’s development manager on Long Island, Jennifer Garvey is charged with local government relations and stakeholder engagement efforts for the South Fork Wind Farm. While her current role is rife with complex relationships and a brand of parochialism only found on Long Island, Garvey’s history with the Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University, and as the former deputy chief of staff for the town of Southampton, may uniquely position her for success.
Formerly an aide to three New York senators (Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton and Kirsten Gillibrand), Kristen Walsh is deeply knowledgeable about the inner workings of Washington, Albany and Long Island’s many municipalities. In her position as vice president for government and public affairs at Tonio Burgos and Associates, a major lobbying firm, she has worked with clients like Deepwater Wind and the American Airpower Museum. She also served on the board of Girls Inc. of Long Island.