The 2021 50 Over 50: 11-50

New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Office of Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.
50 over 50

The 2021 50 Over 50: 11-50

The leaders who made New York.

Kirk Adams

Executive Director, Healthcare Education Project 

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Kirk Adams joined HEP in 2015 with a goal of keeping federal funding for the state’s hospitals, nursing homes and medical schools through a partnership between 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Greater New York Hospital Association. The former health care leader for SEIU says, “My proudest professional achievement is the almost decadelong piece of work that I did to build support in the country to pass the Affordable Care Act, which brought health care coverage to millions of people.”

Karen Alford

Vice President for Elementary Schools, United Federation of Teachers

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Before Karen Alford was appointed UFT representative for Brooklyn’s Ocean Hill-Brownsville community in 2005 after more than a decade of teaching, the union had never had a Black woman in that role – in a predominantly African American school district. Alford excelled as a leader, and was elected vice president for elementary schools in 2008. “My purpose is still to create schools with opportunities for educators and students to teach, learn and thrive,” she says.

Nancy Aries

Professor, Marxe School of Public and International Affairs; Academic Director, Baruch Honors Program, Baruch College of the City University of New York

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Nancy Aries strives to improve education for students by engaging them in the classroom. Her impact has been felt most in a program encouraging undergraduate research by challenging students “to take ownership of their learning by defining the questions they want answered and finding those answers,” she says. “Individually mentoring student research is unrealistic in large universities, so the challenge becomes embedding such practices in the routine of the classroom.” 

Eric S. Aronson

Partner, Stroock

A business-oriented attorney, Eric S. Aronson is in his element as a trial lawyer, having tried cases in federal and state courts all over the U.S. His cases include representing a nursing home challenging the licensing of a third-party facility and representing a company in a class action lawsuit involving labeling claims. A shareholder at Greenberg Traurig for 17 years, he joined Stroock & Stoock & Lavan’s litigation group in June.

Jonathan A. Ballan

Co-Chair, Public and Project Finance, Cozen O’Connor

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As a private practice attorney, Jonathan Ballan is most proud of his work creating the Liberty Bond program that helped spur New York City’s economic revitalization after September 11. He’s also happy with his role in financing the new Yankee Stadium. In serving the public sector on governmental boards, Ballan has worked on reforms to curtail costs and raise capital at entities like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Raye Barbieri

Chief Program Officer, JCCA

A social worker with the Legal Aid Society in the early 1990s, Raye Barbieri served as a deputy commissioner at the New York City Administration for Children’s Services from 2012 to 2014, focusing on an effort to keep youth out of state-run correctional facilities far from the city. Now she is chief program officer at JCCA, which delivers child welfare and mental health services to New York’s most vulnerable children and their families. 

Brad Beckstrom

Senior Director of Community and Government Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System

Before shepherding Mount Sinai Health System’s public relations through multiple major projects, Brad Beckstrom gained experience in politics. He worked for former Gov. George Pataki as a health care policy adviser and for more than a decade on the staff of former U.S. Sen. Larry Pressler. Originally from the Midwest, Beckstrom is board chair of Hope Community Inc., an East Harlem nonprofit affordable housing organization.

Jonathan Bing

Shareholder, Government Law and Policy, Greenberg Traurig 

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A shareholder in global law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP’s New York and Albany offices since 2019, Jonathan Bing also served nine years in the state Assembly. As a lawmaker, Bing says he is proudest of authoring a 2005 law that gave workers compensation benefits to World Trade Center recovery workers who responded after 9/11 and became ill later on from exposure at the site, and a 2010 no-fault divorce law that allowed couples to split up more amicably.

Robert Bookman

Founding Partner, Pesetsky & Bookman

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A mainstay of New York’s leading alcoholic beverage law firm since 1986, Robert Bookman’s proudest accomplishment is organizing the New York City Hospitality Alliance, the trade association that lobbies on behalf of restaurants, bars, clubs and hotels. “The hospitality industry had no identity, no advocates devoted solely to New York City, and no voice in the halls of local government,” he recalls. “I am very proud that it all started in my office.”

Leroy Comrie

State Senator

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When Leroy Comrie won a seat in the state senate in 2014, he brought decades of government experience to Albany, including 12 as deputy majority leader of the New York City Council and chair of the Queens delegation. Accomplishments include work on a first-of-its-kind program to prevent foreclosures in New York City. He more recently backed legislation ensuring renters and homeowners impacted by COVID-19 could stay in their homes during the pandemic and supported expansion of absentee voting.

Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.

New York City Council Member

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New York City Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr.’s “Chamber on the Go” program took on added importance in 2020, visiting businesses to bring support services across the city. “The initiative has taken on special significance now, as the pandemic has introduced serious challenges to travel when seeking out severely needed business services,” Cornegy says. “This initiative is helping to keep people in business, which also keeps people working.”

Ross A. Frommer

Vice President for Government and Community Affairs, Associate Dean, Columbia University Irving Medical Center

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An advocate for students, faculty and staff of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Ross Frommer works with elected officials, community groups and residents of northern Manhattan. He spent five years working for legendary U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, first as upstate regional director and then as state director in New York City. During that time, he helped reunite two children living in Albania during the Kosovo bombing with their parents in the Bronx. 

Lisa Gilday

Chief Operating Officer, Birch Family Services

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Lisa Gilday joined Birch Family Services as a part-time speech pathologist 27 years ago. The organization offers training and services to more than 2,000 people with autism or other disabilities in New York City. COO since 2014, Gilday has described her and Birch’s values as a commitment to helping others reach their full potential and giving a voice to those who don’t have one. 

William F. Gorin

Senior Counsel, Cleary Gottlieb 

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Fluent in French, William Gorin joined Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in 1978 and later worked a four-year stint in its Paris office. An international banking expert, Gorin has offered legal and financial guidance to governments. Looking back at New York City over the past three decades, Gorin finds the most dramatic change to be “the recognition of income disparities and the need for change to address issues of racial injustice and gender violence.” 

Rhonda Harris

Senior Vice President, People Operations and Compliance, GMHC

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Rhonda Harris has been with GMHC since 2015, and during that span, her role has “morphed many times,” from offering traditional HR support to running the nonprofit’s largest program, Meals and Nutrition. A 20-year industry veteran, Harris advises those entering the field to study psychology and sociology and to “think beyond the paper.” Born and raised in Buffalo, she’s lived in the New York City metropolitan area for eight years.

Jitendra “Jim” Hirani

President, Hirani Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C.

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In 30 years running Hirani Engineering & Land Surveying, P.C., based in Jericho, Jitendra “Jim” Hirani has managed major projects for all levels of government, including buildings, bridges and highways. Hirani has also served on the board of directors for the American Council of Engineering Companies of New York. He advises those just starting out to stay humble: “Hard work, honesty and humility are key in achieving your goals.”

Oma Holloway

Senior Program Director, Bridge Street Development Corp.

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As senior program director at Bridge Street Development Corp., Oma Holloway helps empower the residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant and adjacent neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn to become involved in the community and own homes and businesses through counseling, education and services. Holloway urges young people entering the nonprofit profession to hold on to their idealism and believe that “change can happen in your community, the nation and/or the world.” 

Ted Houghton

President, Gateway Housing

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A pioneer in advocating for housing as health care, Ted Houghton helped the concept become part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Medicaid redesign. “A conversation entirely focused on medical treatments turned into a massive new funding stream for supportive housing,” he recalls. “It was truly gratifying to see hospital executives who’d never heard of it before saying, ‘We need more supportive housing!’” Houghton’s career has included stints with nonprofits and city and state government, types of work he says inform each other.

John F. Hutchings

Executive Director, New York State Laborers’ Organizing Fund and P.A.C. Fund

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As a leading voice for more than 40,000 union workers, John Hutchings is among the labor leaders speaking out against wage theft and unsafe conditions at construction sites across the state. In reflecting on how the landscape has changed in recent decades, he says: “From an organizing and political aspect, politics have gone away from a more institutional, top-down approach to a more grassroots, activist model.”

Patrick B. Jenkins

President, Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates

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Patrick Jenkins got his start in politics with the New York City Comptroller’s Office. The Queens native has had key roles in campaigns for mayor, governor and attorney general. Running his own firm since 2009, he advises young people entering the business to get a mentor and to read as much as they can on the profession – and, as he puts it, “not just ‘The Power Broker.’” 

Patricia C. Jordan

Board Chair, Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center

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When the Emma L. Bowen Community Service Center opened in 1986, “It was the culmination of a 17-year effort to bring comprehensive community services in a caring environment to the Harlem community,” says Patricia C. Jordan, its board chair. More than 30,000 clients citywide make use of the center’s programs and services, with a preschool for children with behavioral and developmental difficulties and a food pantry as just two examples. 

Sabrina Kanner 

Executive Vice President, Development, Design and Construction, Brookfield Properties

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Sabrina Kanner oversees design and construction projects at Brookfield Properties, a company she’s been with since 1982. She finds New York to have a “kinder, much more aware culture” than when she began her career. New Yorkers are “increasingly generous with their time and resources to help others who are less fortunate,” she observes, noting that their propensity to step up is “heartening when so much in the world is bleak right now.” 

Steve Kramer

President, Get Out The Vote

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A longtime political consultant, Steve Kramer got into the business at an early age. “I’ve worked on a campaign every year since I was 6. When I was 9, the mayor came to our house for dinner. Thousands of campaigns later, I still wake up hungry for victories – and get them,” says Kramer, who was reportedly hired over the summer to work on rapper Kanye West’s failed presidential bid. 

Steven A. Kroll

Chief Delivery Officer, UCM Digital Health; Chief, Delmar-Bethlehem EMS

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A practicing EMS worker for 30-plus years, Steven Kroll’s other job at UCM Digital Health has him focused on virtual care and keeping patients out of the hospital. “For decades, I have wondered why we send people to the emergency room who can receive care in the convenience of their own home, and it has been tremendously rewarding to be part of a team that is changing that paradigm,” he says. 

Steve Malito

Partner and Chair, New York State Government Relations Group, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP

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At the helm of a lobbying practice he took over from his father, Steve Malito is proud of building his own team. A felony trial attorney at the start of his career, he has helped clients access the governor’s office and lawmakers in Albany for more than two decades. His advice to the younger generation: “There is no substitute for experience. Never stop learning. Patience is a virtue. Wear comfortable shoes.” 

John L. Mascialino

Shareholder, Chair, NYC Government Law and Policy Practice, Greenberg Traurig 

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Long-lasting connections have carried the day for John Mascialino throughout his career. “Such friendships span over 20-plus years from my days in city government to my fellow colleagues at GT, and numerous clients, and even some adversaries!” he writes. Beyond his law and lobbying practice, he serves with nonprofits where he lives and works. “If you have the opportunity to give back to your community – do it,” he urges.

Carla Matero

Chief of Staff, Kasirer 

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Carla Matero has 20 years of experience connecting communities in the arts, academia, nonprofit, and government sectors. As executive director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Special Projects and Community Events, Matero created an annual women’s mentoring event at Gracie Mansion, where female lawmakers and commissioners would bring their mentees with them to network. Her advice to young people: “Your EQ is just as important as your IQ.”

Marci McCall

Director of Outreach and Marketing, NY State of Health

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For anyone considering a career in community outreach, Marci McCall offers this advice: “This work feeds your soul – and it doesn’t get better than that.” Her job now involves educating the public on staying safe during the pandemic, an effort that included the opening of the first drive-through coronavirus testing site in New Rochelle. “Outreach work gives me the opportunity to pay it forward every day,” she says.

Merle McGee

Chief Equity and Engagement Officer, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York

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As Planned Parenthood of Greater New York’s chief equity and engagement officer, Merle McGee oversees the organization’s education, the Project Street Beat mobile health center, and community engagement initiatives with equity and justice in mind. Relationships fostered over 25 years have enabled her successes – and the successes of others. As McGee puts it: “It’s through these relationships I continue to stretch and deepen my practice as a leader.” 

Ray Mellon

Senior Partner, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP

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Trailblazing construction attorney Ray Mellon saw potential in a seldom used state law that allows for the granting of temporary access to a neighboring property. “This now widely adopted strategy is essential for minimizing disputes that can hold construction projects hostage,” according to his firm, Zetlin & De Chiara LLP. “You can’t put a shovel in the ground nowadays without having a license agreement with your neighbor,” Mellon stated in October. 

Gary S. Moriwaki

Partner, Windels Marx

One of New York City’s top-rated estate planning and probate attorneys, Gary S. Moriwaki’s clients include a long list of prominent domestic and foreign business owners. He’s also active in the Japanese American community, a former president of the Japanese American Association of New York and a leader of the Japanese American National Museum. He helped to organize the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. 

Po-Ling Ng

Chinese-American Planning Council, Assistant Executive Director; Director, Open Door Senior Center

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When Chinatown’s beloved Open Door Senior Center opened in 1972, “we did not even have an office of our own. We simply had a desk in a rickety office shared with other programs,” recalls Po-Ling Ng. The community center expanded into a 7,000-square foot space, then another 20,000 square feet, becoming a community hub. “This is the result of perseverance in advocating for our seniors who would otherwise feel isolated,” she says.

Arva Rice

President and CEO, New York Urban League, Inc.

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At the helm of an organization that exists to help African Americans and other underserved communities access education, civil rights and economic independence, Arva Rice points to the ever-widening gap that leaves many living in poverty as an unwelcome part of recent history. “New York City has grown more expensive while income levels have not risen significantly, especially for African Americans,” she says.“Inequality is unacceptable – and that has become even more true in the past three decades.” 

Carmen Rivera

Chief Vocational and Community Affairs Officer, VIP Community Services

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Carmen Rivera became a leader in her Bronx community after a dedicated period of volunteering and activism that started through her church. She has continued to be a community organizer, mentor and activist through more than four decades with VIP Community Services. A staple in the Bronx since 1974, VIP works to treat addiction, house people and families, and provide physical and mental wellness services to the community and surrounding areas. 

Howard Rothschild

President, Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations

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During more than three decades with the RAB, Howard Rothschild has worked on behalf of real estate companies in contract talks, arbitration cases and in state and federal court. But 2020’s professional accomplishments have been the most impressive, he believes. “Working together on a daily basis with our union counterparts, we were able to keep people employed and our buildings operating and serving their residents and tenants throughout this crisis.” 

James Vacca

Former New York City Council Member; Distinguished Lecturer in Urban Studies, Queens College

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A former member of the New York City Council for 12 years, James Vacca says he now spends much of his time explaining to young people “what it means to seek elective office – how to build community support, organize a campaign and communicate with the public.” He urges his students at Queens College to seek mentors and government work they’ll find rewarding. “It’s that fulfillment that will motivate and drive them,” he explains.

Dawn S. Walker

Associate Vice President, Communications and Marketing, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

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A former deputy press secretary to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dawn S. Walker also brought experience in higher education to her current role with SUNY in Brooklyn. She counsels those entering the communications and public relations professions to do their homework and ask questions, as they’ll need to have all the facts to do their job effectively. Most important, she adds: “Never work for an organization whose mission and work you do not believe in.”

Scott Wexler

Managing Director, Ostroff Associates

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An expert on state liquor laws, Scott Wexler has had many victories during his decades in government relations. But interacting with government on behalf of clients on public health and safety issues during a crisis – specifically, the current pandemic and Superstorm Sandy – have proved most compelling. Or, as he puts it: “All successes are satisfying, but helping New Yorkers at our most difficult times tops the list.”

Dennis Whalen

Vice President for State Government Affairs, Northwell Health

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A onetime public health educator, Dennis Whalen’s career in government included a stint as director of state operations under Gov. David Paterson. These days, he advocates on behalf of the hospital and physician network Northwell Health. “Working in government is not something that you settle for – it is something to which you should aspire,” says Whalen, calling the experience an invaluable one. 

Wanda Williams

Special Assistant to the President, Local 1549, Public Policy and Programs

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The long, ultimately successful effort in 2008 and 2009 to get rid of residency requirements for members of District Council 37 counts as Wanda Williams’s proudest professional achievement. The repeal allowed 45,000 union members to live outside of New York City’s five boroughs after two years at work. “Members of DC37 who were homeless, lacked affordable housing options, and struggled to make ends meet on a city salary were able to move,” Williams says.

 

Correction: An earlier version of this list incorrectly stated the name of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York.

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