State Sen. Shelley Mayer’s special election victory in 2018 was expected to play a pivotal role in determining which party would control the chamber. The Democrats were successful in taking back the chamber, and Mayer has since been a key player in the Westchester County delegation. She chairs the Education Committee and maintains a friendly relationship with fellow Yonkers resident state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
The 2019 Westchester Power 100; 6 - 50
The 2019 Westchester Power 100; 6 - 50
Westchester and Putnam counties together are home to 20% of the state’s biotech workforce, and that’s due in no small part to Regeneron’s influence in the region. The Tarrytown-based company has grown significantly in the 31 years since Leonard Schleifer founded it, employing more than 7,500 worldwide and generating $1.7 billion in revenue in the first quarter. It’s set to be central to a billion-dollar proposed biotech hub that business leaders have pushed for.
Westchester businesses have a powerful ally in Marsha Gordon, who represents more than 1,000 organizations as head of the county’s most influential business membership group. Her input has been vital on both local and state issues that affect members, ranging from the privatization of the Westchester County Airport to proposed state legislation requiring that prevailing wages are paid for construction labor. She’s also a member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.
Running the world’s sixth-largest technology company is no small task, but Virginia Rometty has made significant strides over the past seven years. To drive IBM’s middling revenue growth upward, she recently led a historic deal – spending $34 billion to acquire business software maker Red Hat. In recent years, IBM has made big bets on everything from artificial intelligence to cybersecurity. Its cloud business is an especially bright spot, reaching $19.2 billion in 2018.
New Rochelle has seen a period of historic development under Noam Bramson’s leadership. The city won $10 million from the state’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative and an additional $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies, and it is also ahead of schedule in creating 12 million square feet of housing, retail and office space downtown. But that’s not Bramson’s only accomplishment: New Rochelle’s crime rates have dropped significantly, the mayor reported earlier this year.
Uri Clinton started with Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway last year with a bold plan – to get the state to lift its seven-year moratorium on new casinos – after MGM Resorts purchased the gaming venue from its longtime owners for a cool $850 million. Though efforts to expand gaming operations face an uphill battle, Empire City will certainly remain an economic powerhouse in the region as the largest private employer in Yonkers.
Although Ken Jenkins’ 2017 bid for Westchester County executive failed, he’s made the most of his position as the county executive’s right-hand man – a job that comes with a degree of influence over how Westchester spends its money and gives the former chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators an opportunity to broker legislative compromises. Jenkins also chairs a minority- and women-owned business task force to boost participation in the program.
Joan McDonald plays an important role in the county executive’s office. In addition to leading much of the local government’s economic development efforts, she also chairs the county’s Industrial Development Agency and the Westchester County Local Development Corp. A former commissioner of the state Department of Transportation, she brings a wealth of transportation experience to the region. She serves as a member of the state’s Toll Advisory Panel for the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
A veteran of local and state government, Lawrence Schwartz serves as chief strategy officer for the aviation hospitality group OTG. After spending four years as a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Schwartz has maintained close ties to the governor. He advised Cuomo’s most recent reelection campaign and remains an ally on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board. He also served as secretary to former Gov. David Paterson and as Westchester’s deputy county executive.
Nick Spano’s lobbying firm is a prominent political force behind many Westchester-based organizations. With 28 years of experience as a member of the state Legislature and rebounding after a stint in prison, Spano supports clients including the Yonkers Raceway and Westmed Medical Group. He is known for his work in health care – including serving on the Senate Health Committee – and is especially proud of his work representing people with disabilities.
Last year, Kathie Davidson became the first African-American administrative judge in the state Supreme Court’s 9th Judicial District, which includes Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, and Rockland counties. A former Westchester family court judge and hearing officer for the New York City Board of Education, Davidson also serves as a justice in the county’s Supreme Court. Before becoming a judge, she was a deputy county attorney with the Westchester County Law Department.
The county’s chief prosecutor is taking steps to end the prosecution of people possessing small amounts of marijuana and supports ending cash bail, with exceptions for violent criminals. Now in his second year, Anthony Scarpino oversees a staff of 237 assistant district attorneys, criminal investigators and other employees. In his nearly four-decade career, he has served as an FBI special agent, a state Supreme Court justice, a law professor and Westchester County Surrogate’s Court judge.
Assemblywoman Amy Paulin made women’s issues a legislative priority during her 18 years in state government, sponsoring landmark legislation against human trafficking as well as legislation protecting survivors of domestic violence. She’s been successful, with 216 of the bills she’s sponsored signed into law. As chair of the Assembly Authorities and Corporations Committee, Paulin holds oversight power over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and has promised to hold public hearings to address the current crisis.
After a 56-year career in the development industry, it’s no surprise Martin Ginsburg’s work can be found in every corner of the county. An architect by trade who has “built a real estate empire” and “shaped cities,” says Westchester Magazine, Ginsburg is responsible for major projects like River Tides in Yonkers and Harbor Square on Ossining’s waterfront. “City Square,” his most recent mixed-used development in White Plains, will feature luxury apartments, offices, restaurants and retail.
Pete Harckham made waves in 2018 when he narrowly managed to overtake a consistently Republican state Senate seat, winning 51% of the vote. A former administration official for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Harckham found support from the governor in the contentious election that helped Democrats take control of the state Senate. As chair of the Senate Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, Harckham played a role in blocking the legalization of recreational marijuana earlier this year.
Ross Pepe is a leading voice for the region’s construction industry. As head of both the Construction Industry Council and Building Contractors Association of Westchester and Mid-Hudson, Pepe represents the interests of more than 600 businesses totaling more than 30,000 employees. In his role at CIC, a trade organization founded in 1978, Pepe oversees everything from labor contract negotiations to local and state lobbying efforts for member organizations.
Last year, Andre Rainey made history as Peekskill’s youngest mayor. The millenial mayor – often referred to by his longtime nickname “Noodle” – hasn’t shied away from his image as a refreshing politician. It appears the branding strategy is working, as Peekskill was recently selected to receive $10 million in funding from the state to revitalize its downtown area. The city is already transforming, with new apartments, restaurants and art galleries popping up throughout the community.
As the top figure of the county legislature with an overwhelming Democratic majority, Benjamin Boykin is a notable force in Westchester’s local politics. Local laws passed under his leadership include a measure to establish paid sick days for many Westchester workers and a ban on most expanded polystyrene containers. Boykin has nearly two decades of political experience under his belt, including as a third-term county legislator and former president of the White Plains Common Council.
Thomas Roach has represented one of the most commercially significant cities in the county for the past eight years. As mayor of White Plains, he’s had to maintain a balancing act between business interests and those of residential communities, overseeing everything from major development projects to playground renovations. One of his most frequently touted accomplishments is the city’s budget, which has consistently come in under the state-mandated tax cap.
Mark Weingarten has cemented his status as a local power broker. With expertise in real estate, land use and lobbying, the White Plains-based attorney has acted as lead counsel in connection with development projects worth billions throughout the Hudson Valley. He’s been a fixture in Westchester’s Democratic Party, as well: he is a regular donor to local and state candidates and formerly served as counsel and executive director for the Westchester County Democratic Committee.
Since 2005 Michael Israel has led the Valhalla-based health care system made up of 10 hospitals spanning the Hudson Valley. The network’s reach continues to expand, most recently with a $230 million Ambulatory Care Pavilion – the county’s largest health care construction project in 42 years. The recent growth marks a turnaround from when Israel joined the then-financially strapped Westchester Medical Center hospital, which now provides care for more than 120,000 people every year.
John Fareri’s flagship North 60 project designed to create a $1.2 billion biotech hub in Mount Pleasant is officially in the works, with the first phase of construction set to start next year. Though Fareri’s company is based in Connecticut, it owns various residential, retail and medical offices throughout the county. He and his wife also founded the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital 15 years ago. It is located near the 60-acre site of the project.
It’s been about a year since Ramon Laguarta took the helm at the food and beverage titan, which pulled in $64.7 billion in revenue last year. Under his leadership, the Purchase-based company has continued its pivot toward healthier beverages. The company acquired a number of sports and wellness beverage products from Hormel Foods while still pushing Pepsi’s sparkling water brands. The strategy has seen results: PepsiCo shares hit a record high in April.
Robert Weisz’s impact can be seen throughout The Platinum Mile, an I-287 corridor dotted by corporate offices. RPW Group has been working to revitalize the area in the past two decades, and recently unveiled plans to add 303 new apartments to the mixed-use development. With more than 10 million square feet of office and retail space, the developer’s portfolio has spanned the county, as well as Manhattan and Connecticut.
Timothy Jones recently facilitated a landmark acquisition valued at $487.5 million for Robert Martin Company. It’s the largest commercial real estate transaction in the history of Westchester County, and includes buying back properties the company originally constructed. Since 2004, Jones has overseen transactions valued at more than $2 billion for the firm, which has played a pivotal role in the urban renewal development of Tarrytown and Port Chester, among other towns and cities.
“If you are not liked by Reggie LaFayette, you are not going to be elected,” a source once told Black Westchester, referring to the chairman of Westchester’s Democratic Party. Reginald LaFayette worked his way up through the Mount Vernon government, first as city clerk and then leading party politics in Westchester. He came out on top in Westchester’s recent political struggles, which saw Mount Vernon’s mayor ousted. LaFayette is a commissioner on Westchester’s Board of Elections.
One of Westchester’s longest-serving state legislators, Sandy Galef has been a member of the Assembly since 1992. As chair of the Assembly Committee on Real Property Taxation, Galef recently weighed in on legislation that would have required the state to pay taxes on all its property in Westchester. She’s also sponsored bills to ease the closure of Indian Point, which is located in her district, and to establish various ethics reform proposals.
Much of Westchester’s tourism success can be credited to Natasha Caputo’s leadership over the past eight years. The county ranked third in the state for its tourism industry in 2017, generating $227 million in tax revenue for state and local municipalities. As a liaison for the film and TV industries, Caputo has overseen continued growth in the industry, with films like “The Girl on the Train,” “The Post” and “Wolf of Wall Street” filming in Westchester.
This past school year, Westchester Community College – which serves more than 26,000 students – graduated its largest class ever, marking yet another accomplishment for Belinda Miles. Among other successes, Miles is credited with achieving a 42% increase in the college’s three-year graduation rate. Since 2015, she has grown the school’s offer of certifications and online coursework and built relationships with four-year institutions to facilitate transfers for graduates of the college.
Since taking over as head of White Plains Hospital four years ago, Susan Fox has worked to expand its reach and renovate its facilities. This year, hospital leadership unveiled a new behavioral health center built through a partnership with St. Vincent’s Hospital and announced a proposal to build a $272 million outpatient care center. White Plains was the only Westchester hospital to be named “best regional hospital” by U.S. News & World Report this year.
As chairman of the Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering, Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow made his mark as one of the biggest gaming advocates in the state Legislature. He’s spearheaded efforts to establish online sports betting and sponsored successful legislation that legalized consumer protections for fantasy sports in New York. He’s also an important ally for institutions like Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway, which is located near his district.
The Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce has flourished under Deborah Milone’s leadership over the past 9 years, its membership having grown from 320 to more than 500. Milone has distinguished herself as a business leader in northern Westchester, where most of the chamber’s members are based. She hasn’t shied away from addressing legislative issues such as the privatization of Westchester County Airport and closure of the Entergy nuclear power plants.
As head of the Business Council of Westchester, John Ravitz has spent the past several years managing the association’s legislative interests on the county and state level, including helping Empire City get a full-scale gaming license and calling for the privatization of Westchester County Airport. The former state assemblyman also hasn’t shied away from bringing association members to meet elected officials in Westchester and Albany to advocate for business interests.
Carola Otero Bracco is a leading advocate for immigrants in Westchester County at a time when immigration is a heated political topic. Under her direction over the course of the past 10 years, Neighbors Link has quadrupled in size, providing services from language learning to career development to legal services at its three offices in Westchester. Bracco also serves on the boards of Nonprofit Westchester and the New York Immigration Coalition.
A seasoned expert in crisis management and media relations, Rich Bamberger worked as a journalist before going on to serve as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s communications director and later joining Kivvit. He never left Cuomo’s orbit, though, having recently been involved with the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Bamberger recently pivoted his focus to local politics, attempting to join New Rochelle’s Board of Education earlier this year.
Edward Doyle is one of Westchester’s leading labor figures. The president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Westchester and Putnam Counties previously spent decades as vice president and business manager at Teamsters Local 456. Doyle has been urging the mayor of Yonkers to keep a rule requiring developers whose construction projects receive city tax breaks to hire union workers. “This isn’t a job,” he tells LaborPress, “this is a cause.”
Kevin Cacace leads the Yonkers Chamber of Commerce’s grant administration and policy efforts. The chamber has grown significantly over the past couple of decades, from having a $200,000 budget in 1997 to its current $1.7 million budget. In addition to his work as a business leader, Cacace serves as an appointed member of the city’s Board of Education and as a board member on the Yonkers Public Schools Occupational Education Council.
The labor industry veteran, who’s known as an advocate for fair wages and workplace safety, has led Teamsters Local 456 since 2016, overseeing the interests of nearly 6,500 members, including many Yonkers public employees and the county’s building trades workers. Picani, who joined the union more than three decades ago and was appointed as its business agent in 2005, also represents local labor interests as vice president of the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body.
Jane Solnick is the point person for local officials looking to connect with the utility that distributes natural gas to 1.1 million customers in Westchester and New York City. Since 2012, she’s coordinated everything from Con Edison’s response to storm outages to the implementation of philanthropic ventures. Her role is all the more significant now that Con Edison has come under scrutiny for its moratorium on new natural gas hookups in Westchester County.
CareMount Medical has grown tenfold under Scott Hayworth’s leadership over the past 22 years – with 650 providers in more than 45 locations throughout the Hudson Valley and New York City – and it continues to grow. Manhattan-based Murray Hill Medical Group joined the organization earlier this year. As head of the largest independent multi-specialty medical group in New York state, Hayworth has cemented relationships with renowned hospitals throughout the region.
Christian DiPalermo wears many different hats. As founder of CDD Strategies, he represents Fortune 500 companies and nonprofits before local and state government, with projects ranging from natural gas pipeline construction to affordable housing development. But that’s not all – DiPalermo is also a founding partner of MarksDiPalermo LLC, based in White Plains and Manhattan. For the past 13 years, DiPalermo has also served as special counsel to the Yonkers City Council.
Leslie Gordon led the Food Bank for Westchester through a rebranding process last year. The nonprofit now known as Feeding Westchester has certainly lived up to its new name, supplying 95% of food distributed annually by local agencies. With about 300 partner organizations, Feeding Westchester distributed more than 8 million meals regionally from June 2018 to July 2019. Gordon plans to increase the distribution to 10.5 million pounds of food annually by 2021.
Thomas Carey has lead the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body and its 150,000 members throughout the two counties since 2017 while continuing to serve as a business agent of United Association Local 21, where he started his career almost four decades ago. The labor leader has served as a member of the transition teams of County Executive George Latimer and District Attorney Anthony Scarpino, and also participated in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council.
During a career spanning more than four decades, Marc Oxman has been involved in hundreds of successful cases, some of which he argued before the New York Court of Appeals. The Westchester-based lawyer currently serves as an appointed law judge with the New York State Appellate Division, overseeing cases from the state Grievance Committee. Oxman also hasn’t shied away from local politics over the years, having once been executive director of the Westchester County Democratic Party.
In the year that Maggie Timoney has led Heineken USA, the world’s second-largest brewer, saw its beer sales rise in all regions – although the news was later tempered by lower-than-anticipated profits. But the White Plains-based company’s growing low- and non-alcoholic beer business shows promise, with popular products like the 69-calorie Heineken 0.0. Timoney, who previously served as CEO of Heineken Ireland, is the first woman to lead Heineken USA.