Alessandra Biaggi notched a major upset with her primary victory over state Sen. Jeff Klein, and is poised to represent the district that covers parts of Westchester County and the Bronx. She previously worked as an attorney in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s counsel’s office, and as the deputy national operations director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. She worked for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, and in the offices of Rep. Joseph Crowley and the Brooklyn district attorney.
The 2018 Bronx Watch List
The 2018 Bronx Watch List
In the Bronx Power 50, we reached out to insiders and experts to compile a list of the most-influential movers and shakers in the borough, ranking each person based on their accomplishments, their sway in political and policy matters, their economic clout, their philanthropic efforts, their ties to powerful politicians and the constituencies they represent.
As diverse as the Bronx is, it’s worth noting that only a quarter of the people on this list are women, which reflects our best attempt at identifying the power structure as it is. We sought to balance that by presenting an additional – and more diverse – list of younger figures on the rise.
These 10 people who live or work in the Bronx have begun to make their mark on New York’s political world – and each of them is worth watching in the years ahead.
We’re pleased to present the 2018 Bronx Watch List.
As the managing director of The Bronx Defenders’ criminal defense practice, Alice Fontier is a major player in a nonprofit that offers criminal and civil legal assistance to 27,000 low-income Bronxites each year with a staff of about 250. Fontier has more than 12 years of experience and is a veteran criminal defense attorney. An outspoken advocate, Fontier recently testified before the New York City Council about closing the Rikers Island jail complex.
Editor Ed García Conde founded the popular blog, Welcome2TheBronx, because he was unhappy with the media’s negative coverage of the borough. These days, the blog attracts 250,000 monthly visitors and has an even wider reach on social media, including Instagram and Facebook. In 2015, the site was awarded the Historic Districts Council’s Friend From The Media award. Prior to starting Welcome2TheBronx, he worked in marketing, public relations and real estate.
Michael Hinman has served as editor of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Riverdale Press since 2017. He previously served as the managing editor of the entertainment company GeekNation, and has had a variety of roles in journalism. Hinman contributes to the Riverdale Press’ design in addition to overseeing the newspaper’s editorial content. Under his leadership, the newspaper won a first place New York Press Association prize for overall design excellence. He also takes credit for coining the term “SyFy,” which he sold to NBCUniversal.
David Cruz is the editor-in-chief of the Norwood News newspaper. He has been in the news industry for over a decade, holding several positions at News 12 The Bronx, WCBS NewsRadio 880 AM, and The Bronx Times Reporter. Under his leadership, the Norwood News won its first New York Press Club award for community coverage, three consecutive Ippies Awards for best small circulation publication, two Ippies Awards for investigative/in-depth story and six New York Press Association distinctions.
Aime Rodriguez reports on the Bronx and Brooklyn for News 12. She has covered major stories, such as Superstorm Sandy, the Spuyten Duyvil train derailment and the student who stabbed two classmates at his high school. She recently directed a documentary about Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico. Rodriguez is from Cuba, grew up in Miami, Florida, and graduated from Pace University, receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in media and communication arts.
Longtime Bronx resident Ralph Acevedo was elected district manager of Bronx Community Board 2 in 2016. It’s a big job, as Community Board 2 encompasses the rapidly growing and ever-changing Hunts Point, home to the famous produce market and the site of a housing proposal that could increase the neighborhood’s population by an estimated 10 percent. Previously, Acevedo served as a program director at Breaking Ground, an organization that provides homeless services.
Dan Padernacht is a second-generation resident of a Bronx housing development, a real estate attorney and the former chairman of Bronx Community Board 8, on which he has served in several capacities. He ran in the Democratic primary to unseat the now-disgraced and convicted former state Sen. Pedro Espada Jr., but he eventually dropped out of the race in 2010. He recently threw in his hat for the New York City Council seat currently occupied by Councilman Andrew Cohen, although his candidacy is on hold now that the incumbent is expected to finish out his term.
The only female restaurateur in her neighborhood, Rosa Garcia owns the Mott Haven Bar & Grill. The popular eatery changed its name from the Bruckner Bar & Grill in 2014. To offer her neighborhood healthy eating options, she also started Mott Haven on the Go, a popular food truck serving up organic bites. Garcia, who hails from the Dominican Republic, moved to the Bronx to attend Lehman College. She donates turkeys during the holidays and hosts food drives for various causes.
Deborah Cullen was tapped to lead The Bronx Museum of the Arts earlier this year, taking over at a time of expansion and growth for the borough’s contemporary art destination. Cullen, who came from Columbia University’s Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, specializes in Latin, Caribbean and African art. Cullen said she plans to strengthen the Bronx Museum’s partnerships with the community, particularly local schools, and continue plans put in place by her predecessor.