Catholic Health Services of Long Island is a major employer in the region with about 17,000 employees. President and CEO Alan D. Guerci has been with the system for 20 years, previously serving as a cardiologist and chief executive at several hospitals. He now oversees the largest faith-based health care system on Long Island, operating under the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre. The organization has expanded its community partnerships by sponsoring the Suffolk County Marathon and collaborating with the New York Institute of Technology.
Long Island Power 50; 11-50
Long Island Power 50; 11-50
In this list, we recognize 50 people on Long Island who are key players 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.
We partnered on this project with Jennifer Solomon, a Long Island communications professional. Solomon reached out to insiders and experts to compile this list, ranking each person based on their accomplishments, sway in political and policy matters, economic clout, philanthropic efforts, ties to powerful politicians and the constituencies they represent.
Without further ado, we’re pleased to present the Long Island Power 50, Nos. 11 through 50.
The former congressman retired from office at the end of 2016, but he hasn’t quite escaped the spotlight. As chairman of the Global Institute at Long Island University, Steve Israel has brought in globally recognized names like Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State Colin Powell for policy conversations with the institute’s members and the LIU community. Most recently he’s been shining light on the absurdities within the gun control debate through his second satirical novel, “Big Guns.”
As president and CEO of New York state’s largest credit union and employer to more than 600 people, Wayne Grossé has a seat at the table when it comes to banking services and economic development policy. Linda Armyn is the organization’s master of community, government and press relations and directs its many sponsorships, scholarships and charitable giving. Together, they have built a brand that is as much an asset to the greater Long Island community as it is to their customers.
Brothers Robert and James Coughlan founded Tritec Real Estate Co. in 1986. Since then, Tritec has become one of Long Island’s largest developers, often a driving force behind some of the region’s most talked about projects, such as the revitalization of Patchogue Village and the Ronkonkoma Hub. They’ve not only figured out the secret to getting mixed-use development projects approved, but they’ve secured incentives from state and local governments, proving their business skill is as sharp as their political acumen.
Named president of National Grid’s New York operations in April, John Bruckner oversees natural gas service to 2.3 million customers, 600,000 of whom live on Long Island. As a graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and New York Institute of Technology, both he and his wife, a retired Suffolk County police officer, have Long Island roots. Heavily involved in the restoration efforts on Long Island after Superstorm Sandy, Bruckner now considers the reliability of the island’s infrastructure a top priority.
The intersection of science and politics is not an easy one to navigate, but to Brookhaven National Laboratory Director Doon Gibbs, it’s no more difficult than tracking the creation of the universe (which, to him, is a piece of cake). Gibbs recently joined U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand in announcing that the laboratory will use $30 million from the federal spending bill to renovate and increase the research space associated with its Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider, one of only two in the world.
President, pastor, professor are just a few of the hats worn by Calvin O. Butts III. Next year will mark his 20th year as the president of SUNY Old Westbury, but Butts has a collection of at least nine honorary degrees, a clear indicator of his impact on the larger community of higher education. Butts is also a highly regarded pastor at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Manhattan, one of the most historic churches in the country.
Being on a power list is no novelty for Douglas Elliman Real Estate Chairman Howard Lorber and CEO Dorothy Herman, who lead one of the nation’s oldest and largest real estate brokerage firms. They continue to top the market on Long Island with $4.24 billion in sales last year. Herman is a longtime Long Islander, while Lorber serves on the board of his alma mater, Long Island University. Lorber is a friend of President Donald Trump, and both contributed to Trump’s 2016 campaign.
With construction on a new 18,000-seat arena for the New York Islanders at Belmont Park expected to get underway within the next year, team co-owner Jon Ledecky has been praised for bringing the team home to Nassau County after three seasons at the Barclays Center. The Islanders’ co-owner has partnered with owners of the Mets, Knicks and Rangers on the development of its new arena, which has secured the backing of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Known for his roles as the CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute – the region’s largest home building trade association – and as the Suffolk County representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, Mitchell Pally is a familiar voice on any issue involving construction trades or infrastructure. As a trusted source for the media and elected officials, Pally’s name is often mentioned in discussions about East Side Access, sewers in Suffolk County and what’s next for the Nassau Hub.
Recently appearing on CNBC’s “Mad Money,” where host Jim Cramer called Broadridge Financial Solutions “one of the best companies you probably never heard of,” CEO Rich Daly spoke about using technology to help retail investors exercise their voice. Broadridge is one of the island’s largest publicly traded employers, with facilities in Lake Success and Edgewood. Daly has been active in regional conversations about attracting new talent to the area, economic development and Long Island’s high cost of doing business.
Most recently making headlines for being named by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the new Life Science Advisory Board, Seymour Liebman is now the sole Long Islander advising the state on where to invest $620 million in biotechnology companies. As a 35-year veteran of Canon USA, Liebman was pivotal in keeping one of the region’s largest private employers on Long Island when it moved to Melville in 2013, retaining and adding to its Long Island workforce.
Running point on the new Nassau County executive’s transition team is bound to come with political clout, but Tom Garry doesn’t need much when it comes to deal-making. For Long Island politics, Garry might be considered “Counsel to the Stars,” having served as an adviser to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, Hempstead’s downtown revitalization project, the Wyandanch Rising planning process and Catholic Health Services of Long Island for economic development and land use projects.
In a region where infrastructure investments are often met with protest signs, NIMBYs and condemnations from local elected officials, Marc Herbst is known as a bold and fearless voice for the Long Island Contractors’ Association’s more than 150 member firms and construction projects in both counties. He’s been on the front lines advocating for badly needed investments in local roads, the Long Island Rail Road and was one of the first to support the deeply contentious discussion around a cross-sound bridge or tunnel.
Property tax discussions on Long Island are saturated with unfair policies and insincere actors, but Laureen Harris has emerged as a strong-willed and knowledgeable advocate for property owners and commercial real estate interests. As the president of the Association for a Better Long Island, Harris has backed meaningful transit-oriented development, infrastructure improvements and renewable energy initiatives. She is also a partner at the Cronin, Cronin, Harris and O’Brien law firm.
A product of the Glen Cove City School District and Long Island University, Luis Vazquez is a Long Island powerhouse when it comes to knowledge of the local Hispanic community, Nassau County history and the needs of North Shore communities. He serves as the president and CEO of the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. His influence extends beyond the borders of Long Island, serving as the chairman of the National Hispanic Chamber of Commerce on Health.
Kevin O’Conner is the president and CEO of BNB Bank (also known as Bridgehampton National Bank), one of the top three community banks in New York, and oversees its 44 bank branches on Long Island and throughout the greater New York metropolitan area. With roots out east and the newest branch having opened in Riverhead in April, BNB is committed to the region and its residents. O’Conner serves on the board of directors of the American Red Cross on Long Island.
Long Island’s capacity for innovation in biotechnology has grown by leaps and bounds over the past two decades, in no small part due to the research executed at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory under President and CEO Bruce Stillman’s watch. The Australian-born scientist has spent his career studying the human genome and has become an authority on innovations in cancer and neuroscience, while having made Cold Spring Harbor ground zero for advancements in molecular biology and genetics.
One of Long Island’s top Democratic political operatives, Resi Cooper is most well-known for her role as a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton. Cooper served as then-Sen. Clinton’s Long Island director, ran her Senate re-election campaign, and, in 2016, as the New York state director of Clinton’s presidential campaign. Cooper has also consulted for former Rep. Steve Israel, was executive director of Accelerate Long Island and was recently named vice chairwoman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee.
The Scheinmans are a true Long Island power couple. As chairman of Arden Claims Service, Martin has decided or helped resolve more than 20,000 disputes nationally. Laurie is known throughout the island as a psychologist, philanthropist and entrepreneur who serves on the board of The LGBT Network, owns Port Washington’s charitable boutique Wit & Whim, and once considered running for Congress. Together, they are major political donors and have hosted some of the most exclusive fundraisers on the North Shore.
Theresa Regnante has served as the president and CEO of United Way of Long Island since 2009, and in that time she has been instrumental in developing community partnerships, identifying needs and creating strategic solutions, as well as uniting some of Long Island’s key stakeholders behind issues such as education, income stability and health. Regnante regularly educates elected officials and the media about Long Island’s struggling families and works diligently and creatively to improve their quality of life.
Gwen O’Shea has a rare reputation on Long Island for being able to build consensus around complex issues. Previously, at the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island, she was an unrelenting advocate for underserved communities and helped secure millions in financial support following Superstorm Sandy. Currently, as president and CEO of the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, O’Shea has become a champion for affordable and diversified housing and economic stability, as well as a master of grass-roots organizing.
With the pharmaceutical industry becoming increasingly important to Long Island’s economy, Chintu Patel has positioned himself as a knowledgeable and politically savvy leader. The board co-chairman of Amneal Pharmaceuticals has been growing the company's Long Island facilities in Hauppauge, Commack and South Yaphank, with more than 1,000 employees and plans to hire more. With strong ties to the Long Island Association, and several Long Island politicians, Patel is a regular at high-level meetings and fundraisers.
As president of the Rauch Foundation, Nancy Rauch Douzinas has been called “a critical agent for change on Long Island.” Under her leadership, the foundation has become an asset to the Long Island community, providing millions of dollars for projects focusing on children and families, water protection and management, and regional leadership. Best known for administering The Long Island Index, Douzinas announced that the foundation will continue to support the study as it becomes nextLI, a project run by Newsday.
Theresa Sanders has been at the forefront of equity and race discussions throughout the region. As the CEO and president of the Urban League of Long Island, she has directed millions in funding to programs focused on economic independence and empowerment and recently spoke about “The State of Black Long Island” at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. In addition, she serves as an adjunct professor at SUNY Old Westbury, and chairs the Suffolk County Community College board.
A former mayor of Greenport, David Kapell has become a key player in the groundswell of Long Island transit-oriented development projects. In his role as the executive director of the Right Track for Long Island Coalition, Kapell drove community and government collaboration on the transformational Long Island Rail Road third track project that was once considered dead on arrival. He currently consults for the Rauch Foundation and Cross Sound Ferry Services Inc., and serves on the state Mortgage Agency Board.
Since becoming the 10th president of Long Island University in 2013, Kimberly Cline has expanded the university’s global footprint and renewed its focus on entrepreneurship and engaged learning. Under her leadership, LIU has achieved upgraded ratings in both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s on LIU’s financial outlook. Cline served as the chairwoman of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, which represents public policy interests of more than 100 independent colleges and universities throughout New York state.
The 10th president of Adelphi University, Christine Riordan is credited with overseeing unprecedented growth in enrollment and graduation rates since she was appointed in 2015. Under her leadership, Adelphi has been ranked among the top 150 doctoral research universities in the U.S. and has opened the 100,000-square-foot Nexus Building, home of Adelphi’s highly ranked College of Nursing and Public Health. She has also been lauded as a “diversity pioneer” for the registration of “the most diverse first-year classes” in Adelphi’s history.
A veteran of the state Legislature, Michael Balboni spent nearly two decades as an assemblyman and state senator. Today, as president and managing director of RedLand Strategies, Balboni counsels clients such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Nassau County and Northwell Health. Balboni also serves as executive director of the Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association and was recently appointed to the New York Power Authority’s board of trustees.
One of Long Island’s go-to branding and crisis management experts, Robert Zimmerman has served as counsel to some of Long Island’s most high-profile employers, such as Verizon Communications Inc., Canon Inc. and Lockheed Martin Corp. He is a longtime Democratic National Committee member, strategist and pundit, and has been nominated to serve on a variety of councils and commissions for then-President Barack Obama, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and then-President Bill Clinton.
Tracey Edwards is a lifelong Huntington resident and a staple of Long Island politics. Currently serving as Long Island regional director for the NAACP, her previous roles include Huntington town councilwoman, regional president for Verizon’s Long Island and Upstate New York office and Elwood school board member. While her most recent campaign, for Huntington supervisor, was not a success, Edwards remains engaged with the NAACP and the United Way.
As the man behind Islip’s Heartland Town Square, one of Long Island’s most contentious projects, Jerry Wolkoff has faced off against unions, elected officials and entire communities, but remains resolute. If it comes to fruition, his 17-year effort to build a mixed-use development on the former Pilgrim Psychiatric Center property in Brentwood could solidify his position as a local power player indefinitely, being that the project is the largest new planned community on Long Island since Levittown.
The region’s leading voice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, David Kilmnick has been at the helm of The LGBT Network for 24 years. His activism and leadership have helped to build bridges with powerful corporate partners as well as drive greater inclusion and expand services to thousands from Montauk through the border with Queens. He has also been an important advocate for state and federal legislation on hate crimes, bullying and discrimination.
As executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Adrienne Esposito is one of Long Island’s most well-known and tenacious environmental advocates. Often on camera in front of the Great South Bay or Long Island Sound demanding more of local elected officials, the lifelong Suffolk County resident and former candidate for state Senate has been a key player fighting for water protection, open space, climate change, clean energy and public health as it relates to the environment.
An expert at grass-roots organizing, Lisa Tyson has been behind some of the most uphill political battles on Long Island in recent history. She galvanized commuter support for the Long Island Rail Road’s third track, helped pass the law increasing the state’s minimum wage and pushed affordable housing projects in Huntington and Southampton over the finish line. She skillfully fills an assortment of roles, from policy wonk to fundraiser to advocate, and has become a leader of Long Island’s “resistance” movement.
As the CEO of the American Red Cross on Long Island, Neela Mukherjee Lockel commands one of the region’s most vital disaster and emergency response organizations. After Superstorm Sandy, the Red Cross provided millions of dollars, meals and relief items, and it operated 27 evacuation shelters for thousands of Long Islanders. Having joined the Red Cross in 2016, Lockel has yet to make a media splash, but as hurricane season comes around every year, the question is not “if” but “when.”
Not to be confused with Harendra Singh, the restaurateur entangled in the Nassau County corruption scandal, Harry Singh is known as one of CNBC’s “Blue Collar Millionaires.” A former taxi driver and car mechanic, Singh has been president and CEO of Bolla Oil Corp. for nearly 30 years. He has made millions owning, operating and franchising gas stations and upscale convenience stores. Headquartered in Garden City, Singh employs hundreds and is a bona fide political donor.
A go-to spokeswoman for Long Island’s Muslim community, Isma Chaudhry has gained a reputation for participating in interfaith events, giving thoughtful remarks and an ability to remain poised in the face of hatred and bigotry. As the former (and first female) president of the Islamic Center of Long Island and current chairwoman, Chaudry also serves on the North Hempstead Board of Ethics. As anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim policies continue to make headlines, Chaudhry’s voice promises to remain an important one.
As a public servant for nearly four decades and former Suffolk County executive, Patrick Halpin continues to navigate the web of Long Island’s government agencies and nonprofits in his role as managing director at lobbying firm Mercury. Halpin’s continued service as a board member of the Long Island Housing Partnership, board secretary of the Suffolk County Water Authority and chairman of Babylon’s Planning Board place him in a position to shape key policy matters throughout the county.
A 10-time Emmy Award winner and original staff member of News 12 Long Island when it debuted in 1986, Doug Geed feels like family to some Long Islanders. He’s reported on everything from local politics to international breaking news, and has interviewed some of the region’s most notable politicians and personalities. He is a 37-year veteran of the industry, and with history in Syosset and a current residence in Suffolk County, Geed is the newsman that Long Islanders trust.