The 2020 Long Island Power 100
The 2020 Long Island Power 100
Where Long Island goes, so goes New York. Two years ago, Democrats picked up several Long Island seats in the state Senate, which proved pivotal in giving the party full control of the state Legislature and ushered in a wave of progressive policymaking. This year, Republicans bounced back on Long Island, holding onto their House seats while proving more competitive in state legislative contests as well. City & State’s Long Island Power 100 reflects those shifting political winds, highlighting not only the most powerful political figures in Nassau and Suffolk counties – elected officials, government appointees, business and labor leaders, academics and advocates – but also how they stack up against each other in 2020.
1. Steve Bellone
Suffolk County Executive
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone oversees one of the most populous suburban counties in the state. Bellone’s long history of public service began in the Army and continued with a rise through the ranks in the Town of Babylon. Throughout his political career, he has focused on sustainable development, environmental causes and quality-of-life issues. A self-styled reformer and an ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he hasn’t ruled out a possible campaign for governor.
2. Laura Curran
Nassau County Executive
In her first term, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has already made a mark on the county. As the first woman to hold the position, she’s made headlines for expanding economic development in Nassau through projects like the Nassau Hub, the Belmont Arena, and plans to upgrade and improve Hicksville. During the pandemic, she has led county efforts like drive-through rapid testing sites and the deployment of contact tracers.
3. Michael Dowling
President and CEO, Northwell Health
Northwell’s Michael Dowling is one of the most important health care executives crafting the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, frequently joining Gov. Andrew Cuomo in planning discussions and in public appearances. Northwell, which is Long Island’s biggest employer, estimates it treated nearly 100,000 COVID-19 patients. The system employs 68,000 people in 23 hospitals and more than 700 outpatient locations, and brings in $12 billion in annual revenue.
4. Jay Jacobs
Chair, State Democratic Party
Winning state elections in New York means winning the suburbs, so it’s no surprise that Jay Jacobs was brought back last year for another stint heading up the state Democratic Party. Jacobs, who is also the longtime Nassau County Democratic Committee chair, has seen Long Island steadily shift to the left.
5. Kevin Law
President and CEO, Long Island Association
As president of Long Island’s leading business group, Kevin Law has been a staunch advocate for business owners through the pandemic-driven economic shutdown that has threatened major corporations and Main Street storefronts alike for much of 2020. A trusted adviser of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Law since last year has held the Suffolk County seat on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board, where he recently advocated against looming rate hikes.
6. Patrick Foye
Chair and CEO, Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Few essential institutions have borne the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic quite as harshly as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which experienced a 90% drop in commutes during the height of the quarantine. Patrick Foye, the MTA leader and a former Nassau County official, has called on the federal government to cease and desist its “Hunger Games” type funding policies and support the massive transportation network that serves more than 15 million riders.
7. Todd Kaminsky
Not long ago, Todd Kaminsky was a federal prosecutor taking down state lawmakers. Today, he’s one of the most influential members of the state Legislature. Now the most senior Democrat in Long Island’s state Senate delegation, he has balanced economic development and environmental conservation, advocating for bold partnerships and environmentally friendly practices and policies. He sponsored the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
8. Tracey Edwards
Long Island Regional Director, NAACP
The NAACP’s Tracey Edwards defends the rights of Black New Yorkers in Suffolk and Nassau counties. She is advocating for criminal justice reform as part of the Long Island Advocates for Police Accountability. Edwards, who previously served as a top regional executive at Verizon and on the Huntington Town Board, serves on the state Public Service Commission and in May was named to the governors "Regional Control Room" to reopen Long Island businesses.
9. Frederick Brewington
Founder, Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington
Hempstead attorney Frederick Brewington is no stranger to well-publicized civil rights cases on Long Island. Most recently, the civil rights litigator won a federal case against the Town of Islip resulting in the rejection of the current at-large Town Board election system to replace it with representatives from more racially equitable districts. Brewington has also partnered with the NAACP’s Tracey Edwards to represent Long Island Advocates for Police Accountability, a coalition pushing for criminal justice reform.
10. Kathleen Rice
Member of Congress
Having built name recognition in Nassau County as Long Island’s first female district attorney, Rep. Kathleen Rice is about to start her fourth term representing New York’s 4th Congressional District. As part of the New Democrat Coalition, she’s aimed to reform the Democratic Party by bringing progressives and traditionalists together. Rice has advocated for a national plan to fight the coronavirus and remains outspoken on the need for economic stimulus.
11. Thomas Suozzi
Member of Congress
Rep. Thomas Suozzi had a minor scare when Republican challenger George Santos pulled ahead on Election Day, but the former Nassau County executive and current representative of New York’s 3rd Congressional District came out ahead once absentee ballots were counted, and he declared victory in mid-November. The vice-chair of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus, Suozzi has been calling for further stimulus measures and has distributed thousands of masks in his district.
12. Lee Zeldin
Member of Congress
Representing New York’s 1st Congressional District, on the east end of Long Island, Rep. Lee Zeldin represents what was once a swing district, having won the seat in 2014 against incumbent Democrat Tim Bishop. Since then he has become a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, often touting the president’s Israel policy. Zeldin is an Army veteran who now serves on the Financial Services and Foreign Affairs committees.
13. Anna Kaplan
Unlike other first-term Democrats who flipped seats on Long Island in 2018, state Sen. Anna Kaplan avoided some of the political attacks over criminal justice reforms enacted in newly all-blue Albany last year – and ultimately had an easier path to reelection this year. The daughter of Jewish parents who fled Iran during the Islamic Revolution, Kaplan served on the Town of North Hempstead Council before seeking a state Senate seat.
14. James Gaughran
State Sen. James Gaughran came into office thanks to the 2018 blue wave that flipped several swing seats on Long Island and handed over control of the state Senate. The Democratic lawmaker found himself behind in the count on Election Day this year, but overcame his Republican challenger once absentee ballots were counted. An attorney, Gaughran previously served on the Huntington Town Board and the Suffolk County Legislature.
15. Kevin Thomas
When Kevin Thomas was elected in 2018, he became the first Indian American state senator. In that race he knocked out Republican Kemp Hannon, a veteran lawmaker, and helped Democrats take control of the Senate for the first time in years. This year, the Levittown resident narrowly fended off a Republican challenge and attacks over his support for criminal justice reforms, with absentee ballots putting him over the top.
16. Scott Rechler
Chair and CEO, RXR Realty
A leading commercial real estate developer on Long Island and in New York City and chair of the Regional Plan Association, Scott Rechler is an influential voice the business community both listens to and respects. He served as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s appointee on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board in the past, touting the benefits of the East Side Access project and other rail developments as a boon for Long Island’s economy.
17. Stuart Rabinowitz
President, Hofstra University
As president of Hofstra University, Stuart Rabinowitz has been instrumental in the institution’s expansion and its rising status on the nation’s higher ed stage. He’s been with the university for nearly 50 years and led the institution to host debates for U.S. presidential candidates in 2008, 2012 and 2016. He also served as co-vice chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, awarding $727 million for 885 Long Island projects.
18. Patrick Dolan
As newspapers across the globe decline, Newsday continues to expand its media footprint by investing in digital assets and state-of-the-art technology that maintain its relevance and its reputation as Long Island’s paper of record. That’s largely thanks to majority owner Patrick Dolan, who is also the president of News 12 Networks at Altice USA, where he started out as a reporter in 1986. He bought his majority stake in Newsday Media Group from Altice in 2016.
19. Debby Krenek
At the height of the coronavirus outbreak, publisher Debby Krenek dropped the paywall for Newsday’s pandemic-related coverage to give readers access to trustworthy information. Krenek’s newspaper, which recently marked its 80th anniversary, also published a bombshell series exposing racial discrimination in Long Island’s housing market, spurring multiple state investigations. The former editor of both the Daily News and Newsday, Krenek has also helped cultivate a top-notch roster of reporters.
20. Phillip Eng
President, Long Island Rail Road
Since taking the helm of the Long Island Rail Road in 2018, Phil Eng has overseen seismic changes at the nation’s largest commuter rail system, including the construction of the third track in Nassau County and newly unveiled upgrades at Lynbrook. While the coronavirus pandemic devastated public transit’s revenues, the native Long Islander has made the health of LIRR riders a priority by piloting new antiviral cleaning technology and air filters.
21. John Durso
President, Long Island Federation of Labor
As president of the Long Island Federation of Labor since 2005 and as the longtime leader of Local 338, John Durso is the voice of Long Island’s labor movement. His role became even more critical as coronavirus stripped so many workers of their positions or – in some cases, deemed them essential. He also joined Gov. Andew Cuomo’s regional control room to navigate Long Island in its reopening.
22. Timothy Sini
Suffolk County District Attorney
District Attorney Timothy Sini is cleaning up Suffolk County – inside and outside government. Previously as the county’s police commissioner and now as its top prosecutor, he has made reforms following a corruption scandal that ensnared a former police chief and Sini’s predecessor as district attorney. He’s also taking on union boss James Cahill for allegedly accepting bribes and Suffolk County Legislator William "Doc" Spencer, who’s been charged in an alleged drugs-for-sex scheme.
23. Andrew Garbarino
Assembly Member Andrew Garbarino is set to succeed a King – Rep. Peter King, that is. When the longtime House member decided not to seek reelection this year, Garbarino won the backing of local Republican leaders, including King, then beat fellow Assembly Member Mike LePetri in the Republican primary and vanquished Democrat Jackie Gordon in November. An attorney, he focused on insurance issues while in Albany.
24. Rich Schaffer
Chair, Suffolk County Democratic Committee
Rich Schaffer is a political powerhouse on Long Island, with several avenues to exert his influence. He holds elected office as the supervisor of the Town of Babylon, a Long Island municipality with a population of more than 200,000. He’s the leader of the Democratic committee on Suffolk County, which has been trending blue. And he’s adept at making deals with Republicans and Conservatives, bolstering his own power locally.
25. Gregory Meeks
Member of Congress
Rep. Gregory Meeks is widely known as a Queens politician: He lives in St. Albans, has represented Southeast Queens in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than two decades, and since last year has served as the chair of the borough’s Democratic Committee. But the congress member’s district also covers parts of Nassau County, including Elmont and North Valley Stream, and he has sought to better protect Long Islanders from flooding.
26. Madeline Singas
Nassau County District Attorney
As Nassau County district attorney, Madeline Singas deserves significant credit for the county's designation by U.S. News and World Report as the safest county in the country. She has been a steady advocate for crime victims, especially when it comes to children and victims of sexual abuse or domestic violence. During election season, she deployed teams to ensure Nassau County residents could exercise their right to vote.
27. Alan Guerci
President and CEO, Catholic Health Services
Dr. Alan Guerci oversees a workforce at Catholic Health Services of more than 18,000 frontline heroes. While recognizing that 2020 was a “challenging time for health care,” Guerci positioned his teams at St. Francis in Roslyn and Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center in Bayshore to earn top state rankings from US News and World Report. Out of 208 hospitals surveyed, St. Francis was ranked No. 8 and Good Sam was ranked at No. 21.
28. Stanley Bergman
Board Chair and CEO, Henry Schein
As a distributor of medical supplies, and Long Island’s only Fortune 500 company, all eyes were on Henry Schein Inc. in March when the coronavirus pandemic arrived. The company helps lead the Pandemic Supply Chain Network, a public-private partnership launched in 2015, and was among the first companies to develop and distribute a rapid antibody test. Chair and CEO Stanley Bergman also responded by volunteering to take a 100% paycut.
29. Doon Gibbs
Laboratory Director, Brookhaven National Laboratory
As laboratory director of Brookhaven National Laboratory, Doon Gibbs commands a world-class research institute. BNL is known for attracting some of the world’s top scientists to Long Island, and for its forthcoming $2 billion supercollider, which is aimed at solving some of the greatest scientific mysteries while also generating jobs. BNL is owned by the U.S. Department of Energy, but is a point of pride for local legislators.
30. Michaelle Solages
Chair, Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus
Assembly Member Michaelle Solages was first elected to her seat in 2012, when she became the first Haitian American to serve in the state Legislature. The lifelong Elmont resident, who previously was a librarian at Hofstra University, has maintained ties to Long Island’s many immigrants. In July, she was elected chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus, an influential group with members from both houses.
31. John Bruckner
President, National Grid New York
National Grid New York President John Bruckner is tasked with supplying Long Island, Staten Island, Queens and upstate customers with uninterrupted gas services. That mission remains challenging in light of National Grid’s rejected application for the Northeast Supply Enhancement pipeline, which would have expanded long-term gas capacity. As Bruckner continues to navigate capacity and financial issues, he’s also offering support to customers struggling due to the pandemic.
32. Richard Daly
Executive Chair, Broadridge
Broadridge is one of the premier global fintech operators, and according to Newsday, it’s also Long Island’s “second largest public company based on revenue.” As the company’s founder and chair, Richard Daly helped Broadridge join the S&P 500 in 2018 and continued to provide leadership throughout its ongoing expansion. The company recorded record profits in the third quarter of 2020 despite the economic collapse due to the coronavirus pandemic.
33. James Simons
Founder, Renaissance Technologies
An investor who founded the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies in 1982, Jim Simons is a preeminent mathematician, codebreaker and student of pattern recognition, as well as a major philanthropist. One of the few who have seen financial gains in the year of the coronavirus pandemic and the shutdown of the nation’s economy, he is the second largest donor to the Biden campaign, contributing $7 million to supporting PACs.
34. Seymour Liebman
Executive Vice President, Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel, Canon U.S.A.
Seymour Liebman, who serves in a range of leadership positions at Canon U.S.A. Inc., has worked for the company for more than 45 years and was instrumental in bringing Canon to a new Melville headquarters in 2013. Liebman serves on several influential Long Island boards of directors including the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, the Long Island Association and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Life Science Advisory Board.
35. Steve Englebright
As a trained scientist, Steve Englebright pivoted to public office after advocating for the preservation of the Long Island Pine Barrens, a natural space atop the region’s aquifer. In the Assembly, he has crafted major legislation on solar and wind net-metering. In 2015 he was named chair of the Environmental Conservation Committee, and last year he sponsored the Climate Leadership And Community Protection Act, New York’s ambitious climate change law.
36. Theresa Sanders
President and CEO, Urban League of Long Island
In 2020, people of color have found themselves disproportionately harmed by the coronavirus while carrying on a renewed fight for equality. Theresa Sanders, who leads the Urban League of Long Island, has provided leadership throughout, as a driving force for a new state law making police disciplinary records public, and highlighting the socio-economics compounding the impact of the pandemic within communities of color.
37. Daniel Eichhorn
President and Chief Operating Officer, PSEG Long Island
As president of PSEG Long Island, Daniel Eichhorn oversees the Long Island Power Authority’s electric grid and is responsible for keeping the lights on for more than a million Long Islanders. In 2020, Eichhorn faced challenges from Tropical Storm Isaias, which left 420,000 people without power, but he also earned some brownie points for proactively deploying a pandemic response plan in March to keep employees and customers safe.
38. Joseph Cairo Jr.
Chair, Nassau County Republican Committee
While some commentators predicted another blue wave this fall, the Republican Party held its own in places like Nassau County. Joseph Cairo, who succeeded Joseph Mondello as party chair in 2018, saw Assembly Member Andrew Garbarino keep the seat of retiring Rep. Peter King in Republican hands this cycle, but in two other races he targeted, state Sen. Kevin Thomas and Assembly Member Judy Griffin – both Democrats – beat their challengers.
39. Jesse Garcia
Chair, Suffolk County Republican Party
One striking election takeaway was President Donald Trump’s significant support among Latinos – but Republicans like Jesse Garcia knew that firsthand. Garcia, who became the first Hispanic person to lead the Suffolk County GOP in 2019, has overseen a Republican resurgence, with victories by Rep. Lee Zeldin and House candidate Andrew Garbarino. Garcia is an established Brookhaven politico, formerly serving as Brookhaven Town leader.
40. Maurie McInnis
President, Stony Brook University
Stony Brook University’s sixth president, who took office in July, comes to the position from the University of Texas at Austin, where she served as chief academic officer. Maurie McInnis is a renowned cultural historian and author. She will be expected to play a key role in economic development on Long Island as well as carry out Stony Brook’s role co-managing Brookhaven National Laboratory.
41. Wayne Grossé & Linda Armyn
President and CEO; Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Bethpage Federal Credit Union
Wayne Grossé heads New York’s largest credit union. Under his leadership, and aided by Linda Armyn, Bethpage Federal Credit Union has expanded both its brand – as the named sponsor of marquee events like the Jones Beach Air Show, Bethpage Ballpark and its bike share program Bethpage Ride – and its reputation as a community bank by helping consumer and business account holders navigate and apply for funds through the pandemic.
42. Mitchell Pally
CEO, Long Island Builders Institute
With the coronavirus pandemic threatening to derail infrastructure projects in 2020, Long Island Builders Institute CEO Mitch Pally has had his work cut out for him. The outspoken leader called on local officials to streamline the antiquated approvals process to quickly get builders to work. As Long Island confronts its lack of residential housing and embraces mixed use developments, Pally will be at the forefront of how they get built.
43. Victoria Gumbs-Moore
Judge, Suffolk County Family Court
In January, Victoria Gumbs-Moore became Suffolk County’s first Black family court judge as well as the first Black woman elected to a countywide post. Gumbs-Moore co-founded the Amistad Black Bar Association in 1996 in order to increase networking and leadership opportunities for attorneys of color on Long Island. She previously worked as a court attorney referee in the county’s family court.
44. Thomas Garry
Uniondale Office Managing Partner, Harris Beach
When it comes to economic development in the region, few attorneys have the expertise, influence or reach that Thomas Garry has. A leading power broker in zoning, development and land use matters, Garry’s clientele includes Catholic Health Services and the Town of Babylon. In this election year, Garry also served as New York state counsel for the Biden presidential campaign, a recognition of his deep knowledge of New York election law.
45. Bruce Stillman
President and CEO, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
As Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s top scientist, Bruce Stillman oversees more than 1,100 employees – including hundreds of scientists – in their study of cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Under Stillman’s leadership, the laboratory has grown into a jewel of the North Shore, catalyzing the “research corridor,” often touted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Long Island Association, putting Long Island on the map as a destination for scientists and researchers.
46. Thomas Falcone
CEO, Long Island Power Authority
As CEO of the Long Island Power Authority, Thomas Falcone is responsible for the electrical grid that serves more than a million Long Islanders. As pandemic-related unemployment continues to plague Long Island and utility bills go unpaid, Falcone has planned for larger write-offs while emphasizing that LIPA can absorb the losses. This fall, Falcone led LIPA in celebrating its new $25 million energy and nature center at Jones Beach.
47. Robert Coughlan & James Coughlan
Founders, Tritec Real Estate Co.
Brothers Robert and James Coughlan launched their real estate company in 1986 and have grown Tritec to become one of the region’s top mixed-use developers, with projects that encompass commercial, residential and sometimes industrial use. Their community-focused approach has made them a favorite for projects like the Ronkonkoma Hub, as they modernize the region’s downtowns and suburbs. They are often recognized for their contribution to Patchogue’s revitalization.
48. Howard Lorber
Executive Chair, Douglas Elliman
Horward Lorber is a major player in New York, but his nationwide reach comes in handy too. As the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the New York City real estate industry, Douglas Elliman made up for its losses by capitalizing in California, Colorado, parts of Long Island and Florida. Under Lorber’s leadership, the firm reported a record $11.8 million in net income during the third quarter, according to The Real Deal.
49. Steve Israel
Director, Cornell University Institute of Politics and Global Affairs
In his role as director of Cornell University’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs, Steve Israel is known for gathering top politicians and leaders to engage in nonpartisan conversations of global importance. The author and former congress member’s Long Island roots and bipartisan attitude color his columns for The Hill and guest appearances on cable TV. Israel also remains plugged into Democratic networks, recently advising the Biden campaign on suburban voters.
50. Errol Toulon Jr.
Sheriff, Suffolk County
In 2018, Errol Toulon became the first Black sheriff of Suffolk County. Since then, the county’s highest-ranking law enforcement official has taken on gangs, drug dealers and human traffickers while relying on technology to improve policing. He opposed the state’s bail reform law, saying at an Albany press conference in February that the passage of the law was rushed. In response to the Black Lives Matter movement, he formed a community advisory board this summer to allow for more feedback to his department.
Correction: An earlier version of this list incorrectly described Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon's stance on the 2019 state bail reform law.