Martin Ginsburg has been breaking ground in Westchester for half a century, amassing a real estate empire while creating homes for tens of thousands. The Ginsburg Development Cos. founder is an architect who pays close attention to detail, design and site planning. His luxury developments dot the region, from the banks of the Hudson River in Yonkers up to Peekskill and beyond. The developer weathered the Great Recession, bouncing back with a spate of new apartment buildings and more in the pipeline.
The Westchester Power 50; 11-50
The Westchester Power 50; 11-50
In the era of President Donald Trump, the national political debate has grown increasingly divisive. Voters are shifting to the extremes, leaving fewer Americans in the middle. But there are places where independent-minded voters still play an important role – and in New York, one of those places is Westchester County.
The county’s history as a swing district – after two terms with Republican Rob Astorino as county executive, it went strongly for Democrat George Latimer last year – gives it outsized importance in state politics and policymaking. Politicians like Gov. Andrew Cuomo – who lives in Westchester when he’s not in Albany – must keep the county’s needs in mind on the campaign trail. It’s no surprise that state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who is hoping to lead Senate Democrats back to the majority, hails from Westchester.
In this special issue of City & State, we take a closer look at the lesser-known – but no less influential – movers and shakers of Westchester County. 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 Suzanne Colucci, an award-winning television journalist based in Westchester. We reached out to insiders and experts to compile this list, 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. It’s worth noting that the people on it are predominantly white and male, which simply 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. We’re pleased to present the Westchester Power 50.
Developer John Fareri’s North 60 project is a $1.2 billion biotech center expected to create 12,000 jobs. The Westchester County Board of Legislators last year granted Fareri Associates a 99-year lease for the project on an 80-acre property. The site is near the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, for which John and his wife, Brenda Fareri, raised millions of dollars and named after their young daughter who died in 1995 from a rare case of bat rabies.
Bill O’Reilly is a partner at The November Team, a New York political and corporate communications firm. He has served as a strategist and spokesman for candidates, causes and private corporations across the nation for more than 25 years. He is now at the center of the political world again, as communications strategist for Republican gubernatorial candidate Marcus Molinaro. He also pens a political column for Newsday and co-hosts “Newsbreakers” on FIOS1 News and the national political podcast “For Immediate Release.”
Michael Israel is president and CEO of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network, a 1,700-bed regional medical system. As a Level I trauma center, Westchester Medical Center cares for the most severely injured patients in the region. Israel came on board in 2005 and is credited with taking the financially challenged county hospital in Valhalla and turning it into a thriving public benefit corporation-led health system. The staff of more than 12,000 treats 120,000 children and adults annually.
Ramon Laguarta is stepping into some big shoes as the CEO of Purchase-based PepsiCo Inc., and Indra Nooyi, whom he will replace in October, says he is the perfect fit. Laguarta, who is from Barcelona, Spain, has been with PepsiCo for 22 years, most recently serving as president, overseeing global operations and corporate strategy. He also headed up the Europe-Sub-Saharan African Division, with its mix of developed and emerging markets. Laguarta becomes the sixth CEO to lead the company’s 263,000 employees worldwide.
William Mooney Jr. has been a force in the metropolitan region’s business and banking community for more than 50 years. He was elected to head the Westchester County Association in 2004 following a distinguished career in banking, including as a senior vice president of Independence Community Bank where he oversaw its business activities in Westchester County and Connecticut. An expert on the health care sector, Mooney is a regular at legislative committee meetings representing the interests of Westchester’s business community.
When people think of labor leaders in Westchester, they think Eddie Doyle. Doyle has spent his life working to improve the lives of working people. He is currently president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester and Putnam Counties, but he spent the bulk of his career leading the Teamsters, including 20 years as business manager of Local 456. He is now trying to bolster the ranks of the unionized workforce while urging young people to consider the building trades.
Louis Picani has risen through the union ranks in Westchester and now leads the Elmsford-based Teamsters Local 456, which represents many public sector workers in the county. Three decades after he started out as a shop steward in the Yonkers Public Works Department, Picani now represents nearly 6,500 workers in Westchester and Putnam counties. He is also the vice president of the Westchester-Putnam Counties Central Labor Body. Picani has fought for workers’ rights, workplace safety and the right to organize.
Dr. Scott Hayworth leads CareMount Medical, one of the state’s largest multispecialty medical groups. Hayworth began at CareMount as an obstetrician and gynecologist in 1988 and has overseen an impressive expansion of what was formerly the Mount Kisco Medical Group. There are now 450 physicians and more than 40 office locations in Westchester and the Hudson Valley. Hayworth has established relationships with top regional hospitals, sits on numerous boards and was featured on the “Best Doctors in America” list.
One of Westchester’s most familiar faces is now making national news – or rather delivering it, as a commentator. Former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino inked a deal with CNN to become a regular Republican contributor. Along with helping the GOP as best he can, Astorino is not ruling out a future political run, and he remains a prominent voice in Westchester and beyond. He also just became a senior adviser at the government relations firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron.
As president and CEO of White Plains Hospital, Susan Fox is among a growing number of women leading the health care industry. Fox, who has been in the field for 25 years, began her career as a pediatric nurse and strives to improve the quality of care for patients. Since joining the hospital in 2010, she has spearheaded major expansions and cultivated a partnership with Montefiore Medical Center. In August, Fox was named to the American Hospital Association’s board of trustees.
When political or corporate crises erupt, you need Rich Bamberger in your Rolodex. As the managing director at Kivvit, he is an authority on media relations and crisis management. Before joining Kivvit, his top client was New York’s governor, serving as communications director for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He also played a role in the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, a key infrastructure project that so many in Westchester rely on. Bamberger also calls New Rochelle home with his wife and children.
Spend any time in Westchester, and the odds are you’ll visit a property developed by Robert Weinberg. Since co-founding the Robert Martin Co. in 1957, Weinberg has developed over 20 million square feet of real estate. Much of the portfolio is office and industrial complexes, including Mack-Cali Executive Parks, as well as shopping centers, high-rise buildings and mixed-use complexes in urban renewal areas. He was also on a task force for the design of the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
Westchester County’s so-called Platinum Mile may be revived thanks to Robert Weisz. Weisz’s RPW Group acquires, renovates and manages properties from Connecticut to Manhattan, and is one of Westchester’s largest private holders of office space, with more than 3 million square feet. Weisz is carrying out his vision for revamping the Interstate 287 corridor, recently buying two more office buildings in White Plains for nearly $15 million. RPW Group’s Rye Brook headquarters is another prime example of Weisz’s work.
Thomas Carey is a big name in labor. Currently, the president of the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body, he is also a longtime business agent of the Steamfitters and Plumbers Local 21, where he started his career. In his current role, he represents and protects 150,000 workers in Westchester and Putnam counties. Carey also has served on the transition team for Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and the Indian Point Closure Task Force.
Marc Oxman is one of Westchester’s best-known trial lawyers. As a founding member of the Oxman Law Group, he has handled state and federal cases for more than 40 years. He has successfully argued before the state Court of Appeals and is now an appointed law judge, presiding over cases presented by the state’s Grievance Committee. Oxman is active in Westchester and state politics, and once served as executive director of the Westchester County Democratic Party.
Tim Rooney Sr. has run Yonkers Racing Corp. since 1972, when his family bought the historic Yonkers Raceway, a harness racing track. After video lottery terminals got the green light from the state, Empire City Casino was born, opening its doors at the racetrack in 2006. But now, Rooney, whose family owns the Pittsburgh Steelers, is selling both the raceway and casino to MGM for $850 million, which could go higher if the state allows sports betting.
Kathy Halas is on the front lines in the fight for affordable child care. Since 2003, Halas has been the executive director of the Child Care Council of Westchester, a resource and referral agency helping parents find safe and suitable child care. That extends to after-school care, with the organization supporting 750 providers and programs for kids up to age 12. When county programs are threatened, Halas heads straight for the county board, appealing to legislators and getting results for Westchester families.
William P. Harrington is a partner at White Plains-based law firm Bleakley Platt & Schmidt LLP, which represents major Fortune 500 companies. His clients have included major oil and pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, racetracks and casinos, and others involved in environmental litigation. In Westchester, he’s known for representing municipalities and developers in land use cases. He also serves as a chairman of the Westchester County Association, town attorney in Pound Ridge and a member of the finance committee of the Archdiocese of New York.
Just this month, Maggie Timoney became the first female CEO of White Plains-based Heineken USA. This makes Timoney the first woman to serve as chief executive of a major American beer company. The Iona College graduate joined Heineken USA in 1998 and has been rising through the ranks ever since, most recently serving as CEO of Heineken Ireland. She is described as someone with the right mix of strategy, leadership and grit to navigate the company through the ever-changing beer market.
Marvin Krislov took the reins at Pace University last year, becoming its eighth president. He is a dynamic force leading an institution with 13,000 students in New York City and Westchester. The former president of Oberlin College and former vice president and general counsel at the University of Michigan is also an accomplished attorney and legal scholar, having worked in the U.S. Labor Department during the Clinton administration. Krislov has long fought for college inclusiveness and student diversity.
Barry McGoey is one of the most outspoken and recognizable labor leaders in Westchester, heading the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 628 in Yonkers, which has the county’s largest fire department. McGoey fights for the interests of Yonkers’ bravest in the courtroom and as a fiery commentator on television battling what he calls “the enemies of labor in any arena.” As an attorney, he represents, defends and supports his members and others in the labor movement with a zeal like no other.
Louis Cappelli has left his mark on Westchester, and to see it, just look up. The tallest buildings in Westchester – the Trump Tower in White Plains and Trump Plaza in New Rochelle – are among his creations. The Cappelli Organization boasts more than 10 million square feet of projects built in Westchester and Connecticut, valued at more than $3 billion. In White Plains alone, he has developed Renaissance Square, the City Center entertainment complex and three other high-rise residential towers, revitalizing one of Westchester’s fastest-growing cities.
Cristyne Nicholas and George Lence co-founded Nicholas & Lence Communications in 2007, taking it from a startup boutique firm to a top public relations agency. While Nicholas handles their PR clients, from nonprofits to Fortune 500 companies, Lence lobbies for its clients like Hornblower Cruises & Events. The duo, which previously ran NYC & Co., are involved in other efforts as well, with Nicholas chairing the state Tourism Advisory Council and Lence serving as vice chairman of The Business Council of Westchester.
Millie Hernandez-Becker’s career has soared to great heights, much like the planes she helps put in the sky. She got her nickname, Skyqueen, because she can do it all in aviation, and she opted to use the name for her company: Skyqueen Enterprises. Hernandez-Becker is the founder, president and CEO of the company, which provides advice on cost-effective aviation solutions, and is based at the Westchester County Airport. She started as a flight attendant and is now an expert on airport privatization.
In 2012, Mike Brady became the president and CEO of Greyston, which employs people at the Greyston Bakery who face barriers to regular employment. The bakery hires bakers without interviews, resumes or background checks. With 35,000 pounds of brownies churned out each day and sold to places like Ben & Jerry’s and Whole Foods, it’s a recipe that’s working. But Brady and his team want everyone to know this: “We don’t hire people to bake brownies, we bake brownies to hire people.”
One of Westchester’s most dynamic leaders, the Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson is the longtime senior pastor of the historic Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, preaching to a congregation that has grown to more than 4,000 members. Since taking the helm in 1975, Richardson has fought for equitable public education and affordable housing in Mount Vernon. He's also known nationally, serving as chairman of the National Action Network and the Conference of National Black Churches, and is a radio host on WVOX.
Rella Fogliano grew up in the construction business – and now runs her own company. After finding a shortage of affordable housing, she built an affordable housing development for 63 families. Soon after, in 2003, Fogliano formed MacQuesten Construction Management and MacQuesten Development, which specialize in financing, designing and construction management. With a growing portfolio in Mount Vernon, Yonkers, New Rochelle and New York City, MacQuesten has $140 million in completed projects with another $200 million in the pipeline.
Richard Brodsky has long been a familiar voice in Westchester. He was one of longest-serving members of the Assembly, in office from 1983 to 2010. He also ran for state attorney general in 2010 but fell short in the Democratic primary. He still delivers political commentary online, on the radio and on television. Brodsky is a Democratic commentator on FIOS1’s “Newsbreakers” program and is a senior fellow both at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Demos, a think tank.
Thompson & Bender is the go-to advertising and public relations firm in Westchester County. If there is a major event, campaign or product launch in Westchester, odds are this award-winning agency is involved. Founded in 1987, the trifecta of talent behind it are Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson and her husband Geoff Thompson as well as Dean Bender, who represents Fortune 500 companies, banks and hospitals. While Bracken-Thompson is the creative force behind the agency, Thompson and Bender handle government relations, crisis management and strategy.
Joseph Nyre is the eighth president of Iona College in New Rochelle. Since coming on in 2011, Nyre has led the Catholic college of about 4,000 students through a campus expansion, adding new dorms and 600 more beds. Nyre is also credited with increasing graduate enrollment, funding a variety of new study centers, increasing financial aid, tripling the endowment and boosting annual giving by more than 134 percent. Nyre is also an expert on the sustainability of higher education.
Alisa Kesten is the ultimate cheerleader and matchmaker for the nonprofit world in Westchester County. Kesten is the executive director of Volunteer New York, whose mission is to make it easy for people to volunteer their time by connecting them with the right group. Kesten brings the region’s nonprofits together for a greater good, and it’s working. Last year, Volunteer New York spurred more than 23,000 volunteers into action, providing countless hours of service to 500 local nonprofits.
Anthony Justic is managing partner at Maier Markey & Justic, a certified public accounting firm in Westchester with some of the county’s top businesses among its clients. Justic has grown his firm from just three employees to more than 100. He is on demand and on the move, also working as an outsourced chief financial officer and expert on financial organization to many corporations. Justic also serves as chairman of the Business Council of Westchester.
John Tolomer is president and CEO of The Westchester Bank, which he joined in 2008 when its assets totaled $23 million. He raised that sum to $600 million by the end of 2015. Tolomer serves on the New York Bankers Association board and is one of the bankers selected nationally to serve on the prestigious Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Advisory Committee on Community Banking. Tolomer is also involved in the community, having previously served on the Hudson River Museum board, among others.
Bill O’Shaughnessy is one of Westchester’s best-known media figures. As president and CEO of Whitney Global Media, he has run the radio station WVOX, a Westchester institution, for nearly 60 years. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his father, Mario Cuomo, both recognized WVOX’s influence. O’Shaughnessy has served as chairman of public affairs at the National Association of Broadcasters. A self-styled Rockefeller Republican and unabashed Donald Trump supporter, O’Shaughnessy is a man with many friends from both sides of the aisle.
At New York Medical College, Dr. Robert Amler is on the front lines when it comes to biological disaster preparedness. Amler is a former regional administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he was tasked with overseeing emergency preparedness for hospitals. Amler also served as the chief medical officer for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, where he coordinated anthrax response efforts.
This father and son duo have thrived in the news business, running and expanding their Westchester-based media empire since 1993. Regional News Network, located in Rye Brook, produces its own news content and serves as a production hub for Verizon’s FIOS1 News. Richard “Dick” French Jr. is RNN’s president and CEO, while Richard French III runs news programming and hosts a nightly public affairs program, “Richard French Live.” If you want to know what’s happening in Westchester, this is the place to look.
Louie Lanza is taking Peekskill by storm, buying up old commercial properties and turning them into hot spots along the Hudson. The entrepreneur owned and operated restaurants in New York City for years. A decade ago, he set his sights on Peekskill, opening the Hot Rod Hotel, followed by a half a dozen eateries, including Hudson Room and Buns-N-Bourbon. Additional concepts are in development by his Hudson Hospitality Group. He also runs the Lanza Family Foundation, which gives millions to Westchester nonprofits.
Janet Langsam is a leading proponent for the arts in Westchester, fittingly as CEO of ArtsWestchester. During her 27-year tenure, Langsam, an artist and journalist herself, has more than doubled funding for her organization, turning it into a $4.2 million nonprofit. Among her many achievements, Langsam spearheaded the purchase and renovation of a historic bank in the heart of White Plains, creating a venue and exhibition space for local artists to create and showcase their work.
Often the strongest voice is the voice of the many, and that is the case with Indivisible Westchester. The progressive, grass-roots anti-Trump group brings energy and action to local elections. Shannon Powell, the group’s de facto leader and co-founder, left her journalism career behind to take on a cause she says has energized people who were standing on the sidelines. The group bolstered the campaigns of County Executive George Latimer and state Sen. Shelley Mayer last year.