Katherine Grainger and Marc Solomon were key players in the same-sex marriage movement in New York and nationwide before joining Civitas, a progressive political consulting firm with clients like the National Audubon Society and The Trust for Public Land. While working as assistant counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Grainger helped draft New York’s Marriage Equality Act. Solomon served as national campaign director for Freedom to Marry, an advocacy group leading the same-sex marriage movement nationwide.
The 2019 Pride Power 100; 36 - 65
The 2019 Pride Power 100; 36 - 65
Sally Susman worked at the U.S. Department of Commerce, American Express and Estee Lauder before joining Pfizer, where she oversees branding, government affairs, global policy and media relations. A leading fundraiser for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Susman reportedly hosted a fundraiser for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand earlier this year. She has been instrumental in establishing a partnership between Pfizer and the International Rescue Committee; earlier this year she was elected co-chair of the nongovernmental organization.
In 2011, J. Paul Oetken became the first openly gay man on the federal bench. While Deborah Batts’ sexual orientation was not mentioned during her confirmation hearings in 1994, nearly two decades later Oetken brought along his partner to the hearings. “When Paul becomes Judge Oetken, he will be living proof to all those young lawyers that it really does get better,” U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said before Oetken’s nomination was confirmed by the Senate.
A former lead strategist for the Human Rights Campaign, Brian Ellner played a key role in bringing same-sex marriage to New York state in 2011. Previously at communications powerhouse Edelman, Ellner was recently tapped for a leadership role at BCW, where he will help expand the company’s corporate practice. Earlier in his career, he was a senior aide in the Bloomberg administration, working with the New York City Department of Education.
In just over a decade, Ana Oliveira grew the annual grant-making programs of The New York Women’s Foundation from $1.7 million to $8 million and strengthened the organization’s commitment to criminal justice reform. Last year, the foundation created The Justice Fund to help combat mass incarceration, focusing its efforts on women, girls and transgender and gender-nonconforming New Yorkers. Oliveira, who hails from São Paulo, previously served as executive director of Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
Emily Giske joined Bolton-St. Johns in 1999 and has been a partner at the top government relations and public affairs firm since 2008. She helped pass New York’s 2011 same-sex marriage bill and advised Christine Quinn’s 2013 mayoral campaign. A vice chair of the state Democratic Party, Giske is also a player in national Democratic politics. A rising star at the firm is Julian Kline, who has worked with clients in LGBTQ-related fields.
Billionaire heir Jon Stryker, who leads Stryker Corp., a medical supply company founded by his grandfather, has invested more than $500 million in the Arcus Foundation, which dedicates itself to advancing the rights of LGBTQ people worldwide (and to conserving the world’s great apes). A registered architect in the state of Michigan, Stryker sits on the boards of Kalamazoo College, his undergraduate alma mater, and Friends of the High Line in New York City.
Phillip Picardi started off as an intern at Condé Nast before rising through the ranks at Teen Vogue, where he was online beauty editor before being promoted to editorial director and later chief content officer. Under his direction, the publication began covering social justice issues, including gender equality, leading traffic to jump from 2 million monthly visitors to 12 million. He launched them, an LGBTQ-focused publication, before leaving in 2018 to run Out magazine.
Having served across New York City and state government – including as assistant commissioner of buildings and director of communications and policy adviser for Robert Abrams, the former state attorney general and Bronx borough president – Ethan Geto maintains an incomparable Rolodex of New York’s power players. The public affairs and marketing firm he co-founded regularly advises Fortune 500 companies, major nonprofits and industry associations. Geto is on the board of the New York City AIDS Memorial.
One of New York City’s top lobbyists, Jon Del Giorno boasts strong ties to Mayor Bill de Blasio and to the City Council, having spearheaded Christine Quinn’s and Melissa Mark-Viverito’s successful bids for council speaker. A founding partner of Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno, he tells City & State that the firm’s work with the Greenburger Center – raising $2.4 million for a mental health facility – was among its key achievements in the past year.
A fierce advocate for New York’s workers, Stuart Appelbaum has been elected to lead the progressive union six times, starting in 1998. Among his numerous other titles: vice president of the national AFL-CIO and chairman of the Democratic National Committee's Resolutions Committee. Appelbaum was among the community leaders who opposed Amazon’s proposed HQ2 in Long Island City, lambasting the retail giant in the Queens Daily Eagle as “one of the most anti-worker, anti-union companies.”
A prolific voice on transgender issues, Meredith Talusan was BuzzFeed’s first transgender reporter and won accolades for a project documenting the epidemic of violence against transgender women of color. In 2017 she spearhead Condé Nast’s foray into LGBTQ publishing as executive editor of the publication them. Talusan is now working on a memoir and is frequently sought out to comment on what The New York Times has called “the coming of age of transgender literature.”
During her tenure as head of the agency that enforces some of the nation’s most comprehensive civil rights laws, Carmelyn Malalis has ramped up enforcement and public education efforts to protect marginalized groups, including the LGBTQ community and the transgender community. She made headlines earlier this year when the agency released guidelines banning discrimination on the basis of hair, which primarily affects African Americans.
Before entering politics, Charles O’Byrne was a Jesuit priest who officiated John F. Kennedy Jr.’s wedding and – three years later – presided over his funeral. He went on to become then-Gov. David Paterson’s “trusted second in command,” says The New York Times. Now in charge of government affairs for Related Cos., O’Byrne also serves on the board of the Hetrick-Martin Institute and the steering committee of the Association for a Better New York.
One of the first developers to mix low-income and middle-income housing with market-rate rentals, BFC Partners Managing Principal Donald Capoccia is known for building affordable housing, including projects that serve the LGBTQ community. Among his newest projects: the city’s first LGBTQ-friendly senior residence in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. A founding member of the New York State Affordable Housing Association, Capoccia was appointed to the Battery Park City Authority by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
David Rich handles advocacy and communications for the Greater New York Hospital Association, which represents more than 160 hospitals in New York and surrounding states. Before joining the trade association in 1993, he was a legislative assistant for Gov. Mario Cuomo and an aide to U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In the past two decades, Rich has reportedly donated over $1 million to over 150 political candidates – mostly Democrats based in New York.
After serving for about a year and a half as CFO of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., last year R. Martin Chavez returned to the company’s securities division. Chavez challenged the firm’s “button-down culture” and pushed for greater transparency. As a member of the firm’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network, he also helped liberalize Goldman Sachs’ stance on LGBTQ equality. Chavez previously co-founded Quorum Software Systems and served as its chief technology officer.
As head of Tusk Strategies’ New York practice, Chris Coffey was instrumental in managing Corey Johnson’s successful bid for speaker of the New York City Council, serving as senior strategist to the campaign. He has worked with clients, including Whole Foods, Uber and New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Affordable Streets. Before joining Tusk, Coffey worked for then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg, including at the Office of Media and Entertainment and the Community Assistance Unit.
Matthew McMorrow handles the de Blasio administration’s LGBTQ outreach. A former activist who helped launch Equality New York, which seeks to elect pro-LGBTQ candidates, McMorrow focuses on transgender issues, HIV prevention, school safety and economic empowerment for LGBTQ New Yorkers. Ashe McGovern, who self-identifies as a “nonbinary trans, queer human,” spent years honing legal skills to fight for LGBTQ rights. McGovern, who was part of the city’s effort to add a third gender category to birth certificates, runs the NYC Unity Project, an interagency effort to address LGBTQ homelessness, health care and other issues, especially in trans and non-binary communities.
As president of New York City’s first and only citywide LGBTQ Democratic organization, Rod Townsend has led efforts to elect pro-LGBTQ candidates to statewide office, including backing challengers to the state Senate Independent Democratic Conference – a now-defunct breakaway group that aligned with Republicans, hampering the passage of pro-LGBTQ legislation. In his home borough of Queens, Townsend serves as co-chairman of Community Board 1’s Community & Economic Development Committee.
In 2007, former Assemblyman Matthew Titone became the first openly gay public official elected on Staten Island, New York City’s most politically conservative borough. Last year, he made history again as the first openly gay Surrogate’s Court judge elected in the state. “Who would have thought an openly gay, liberal, Democrat like me would win an islandwide race?” he said the night of the election, according to the Staten Island Advance.
A sought-after political adviser with more than 20 years of experience in electoral politics, Charles Myers was an adviser on both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns as well as Hillary Clinton’s most recent campaign. He serves on the boards of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and the Central Park Conservancy. In 2016, he was on the New York City host committee for the Democratic National Convention.
An influential member of New York’s transgender community with more than 14 years of experience as a trangender advocate, Chanel Lopez is pushing for greater transparency when it comes to employment discrimination and harrassment in New York City businesses. Lopez previously worked for the New York Anti-Violence Project, which serves survivors of violence in LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities, and the Bronx Community Pride Center. She is also a plus-size model and actress.
Sharon Kleinbaum took the helm of the Congregation Beth Simchat Torah in 1992, at the height of the AIDS crisis. Since then, the senior rabbi has become a beloved figure in New York’s LGBTQ community and has turned her congregation into a vehicle for social justice, including racial equality and rights for immigrants. She recently joined more than 100 clergy in calling on New York lawmakers to pass the Child-Parent Security Act legalizing paid surrogacy.
Family Equality Council CEO Stan Sloan advocates for LGBTQ families nationwide, which are expected to grow following the legalization of same-sex marriage. A recent survey by the organization found that 63% of LGBTQ millennials are considering expanding their families by having more children or becoming parents for the first time. Sloan recently called attention to a nationwide “foster care and adoption crisis,” urging support for a bill preventing discrimination in the child welfare system.
Pat Bumgardner has been at the Hell’s Kitchen nondenominational Christian Church for more than 30 years in one capacity or another, building a reputation for her efforts to combat hunger and homelessness in New York City. To honor the memory of LGBTQ civil rights pioneer Sylvia Rivera, Bumgardner founded The Sylvia Rivera Memorial Food Pantry and Sylvia’s Place, a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth. She also serves as director of the Global Justice Institute.
The New York City Council has made Josh’s Meltzer’s job difficult. Meltzer has been fighting a fierce battle in Albany, where Airbnb is trying to override a New York City law that requires rental owners to be present during a guest’s stay for rental periods under 30 days. The City Council passed a law requiring the company to reveal hosts’ names and addresses, although it has been held up in court. Meltzer previously oversaw communications at the Empire State Pride Agenda.
The Callen-Lorde Community Health Center has set the standard for providing culturally sensitive, affordable health care to LGBTQ New Yorkers, including mental health services and transgender health services. Under Wendy Stark’s leadership, Callen-Lorde, which emerged from organizations founded during the AIDS crisis, expanded into the Bronx and Brooklyn. Last year, Stark – who is on her second stint as head of the center – was among leaders of several community-based nonprofits pushing for health care reform.
Professional drag queen Marti Gould Cummings was so incensed by President Donald Trump’s surprise victory that Cummings decided to start a political club, according to The New York Times. Since then, the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats defeated a political dynasty that’s more than a century old – the McManus Midtown Democratic Club – in the 2017 race for Assembly district leader. Cummings now stars on “Shade: Queens of NYC,” a reality show on Fusion TV.
As president of Housing Works, which provides housing and other vital services to homeless and low-income people with HIV and AIDS, Charles King serves some of New York City’s most vulnerable citizens. The ordained minister has been fighting to retain funding for HIV/AIDS services in the face of a proposed budget cut from the Cuomo administration and leading efforts to make a drug that prevents the transmission of HIV accessible to low-income individuals.