The 2019 Women Power 100; 6 - 50

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Larry Marano/Shutterstock
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

The 2019 Women Power 100; 6 - 50

Recognizing the 100 most powerful women in the state.
November 17, 2019
6. Melissa DeRosa
Secretary to the Governor

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s right hand, Melissa DeRosa is a key driver on state policy and a trusted deputy in carrying out the governor’s political agenda. DeRosa is also Cuomo’s top defender and chief taskmaster, often exhorting state agencies and allies to step up their problem-solving and calling out potential rivals – even those within the Democratic Party – who stir the pot.

DeRosa also chairs the state Council on Women and Girls, formed in order to increase educational and economic opportunities, leadership representation, access to health care and child care, improve safety and advance workforce equity for women across the state. By all accounts she is as fierce as she is smart, and she has a knack for turning her own experiences into legislative ideas for the administration. In June, she spoke to the Poughkeepsie Journal about how a personal medical appointment inspired a 2020 budget item and a bill requiring some insurance providers to cover the cost of in vitro fertilization as well as egg freezing services for women with certain medical conditions.

7. Betty Rosa
State Board of Regents

The road to becoming chancellor of the state Board of Regents was paved with public school experience for Betty Rosa. Moving to the U.S. mainland from Puerto Rico at the age of 10, she worked her way through New York City’s public schools before attending the City College of New York. Those educational experiences laid a foundation for her to earn a master’s degree and a doctorate from Harvard University and land several positions leading public schools in her home borough of the Bronx. Today, Rosa is leading discussions about how New York state can better foster equity for all its students. In a state where public education discussions rarely garner consensus, she has been tackling difficult topics like high school graduation requirements, standardized testing and special education. With issues like standardized equivalency and new mandatory vaccination legislation, Rosa has the power to impact the lives of many New York families. She has also been unafraid to push back on the Cuomo administration, asking for increased funding and more consideration for changing demographics and educational needs.

8. Emma Wolfe
Chief of Staff to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

Emma Wolfe’s extensive knowledge of New York City politics began with an early mentorship with then-City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, who helped her kick-start nearly 20 years of community organizing. She went on to cut her teeth at 1199SEIU, the Working Families Party and the state Senate before helping elect Bill de Blasio, then an underdog public advocate candidate, and grew to become his most trusted adviser.

Today, as de Blasio’s chief of staff, Wolfe oversees City Hall and acts as a gatekeeper to the mayor and a lead adviser within his inner circle. While de Blasio was on his short-lived presidential bid, Wolfe toiled behind the scenes on a number of city-centric issues with national interest, such as the closing of Rikers Island, a declining poverty rate and the creation of new public schools within the Education Department. Wolfe may not be headed to the White House anytime soon, but her influence and hard-earned reputation runs deep within and beyond the five boroughs.

9. Carolyn Maloney

Just as President Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry is heating up, Rep. Carolyn Maloney has taken on a pivotal role in the proceedings as acting chairwoman of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. As the most senior member of the committee when then-Chairman Elijah Cummings died last month, she is in a strong position to assume the post in a permanent capacity in an upcoming party vote.

Maloney, who represents parts of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn and has served in Congress since 1993, is also vice chair of the Joint Economic Committee and a senior member of the Financial Services Committee. She was deeply involved in passing the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act in the House, going so far as to wear a firefighter’s jacket on Capitol Hill. Her advocacy for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution may also come to fruition in the coming months, with a Democratic takeover in the Virginia state Legislature making it a real possibility. She has also been a champion of legislation that aims to help nonprofit organizations.

10. Kathryn Wylde
President and CEO
Partnership for New York City

As president of the Partnership for New York City, Kathryn Wylde played an important role in advocating for congestion pricing, which was passed and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this year, despite long odds. Now, as the chairwoman of the Metropolitan Transportation Sustainability Advisory Workgroup, she’s reporting to the governor and the state Legislature on New York City’s transportation and infrastructure issues, leading the charge to identify solutions.

Wylde has been a longtime champion for the New York business community. In February, when Amazon pulled out of its planned Long Island City, Queens, headquarters, it was the Partnership for New York City that paid for a full-page ad in The New York Times, consisting of an “Open Letter to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos” that was signed by 70 organizations proclaiming the state’s welcome and local support for the recently abandoned project. While the letter was directed at Amazon, Wylde told the Times that it was also meant to be a reminder to tech companies that New York City was open for business.

11. Kumiki Gibson & Elizabeth Garvey
Counsel to the Governor; Special Counsel and Senior Adviser
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

In early September, Gov. Andrew Cuomo appointed Kumiki Gibson and Elizabeth Garvey as his newest senior advisers, splitting the position formerly held by top aide Alphonso David, who left to become president of the Human Rights Campaign. Both coming with extensive legal experience and a history of public service in the state, Gibson and Garvey now advise the governor on key legal and policy issues, such as higher education, human rights and immigration.

12. Janet DiFiore
Chief Judge
State Court of Appeals

Nominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and unanimously confirmed by the state Senate, Janet DiFiore took office at the Court of Appeals after a decade serving as Westchester County district attorney. Since 2016 she has focused on improving court operations and reducing case backlogs. Most recently she proposed a massive overhaul of the state’s judiciary structure in order to “effectively and efficiently addresses the modern-day justice needs of New Yorkers,” she told the Post-Journal in Jamestown.

13. Kristina Johnson
State University of New York

With a SUNY campus within 30 miles of every home in New York state, Kristina Johnson has a uniquely broad statewide reach, overseeing a university system that serves more than 1.3 million students and employs over 90,000 faculty and staff. Since her appointment in September 2017, Johnson has expanded SUNY’s partnerships, grown online programs and launched a program to recruit and hire 1,000 minority faculty over the next decade. 

14. Suri Kasirer
Founder and President

As founder and president of Kasirer LLC, Suri Kasirer runs the top lobbying firm in the state of New York – with $12.9 million in revenue last year. A veteran of New York City and state politics, Kasirer made a name for herself as an aide to Gov. Mario Cuomo. Her wealth of knowledge and experience make her an important asset for her clients in a constantly evolving political landscape.

15. Randi Weingarten
American Federation of Teachers

Randi Weingarten leads the American Federation of Teachers and its 1.7 million members in their mission to seek “fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, health care and public services” for students, families and communities. She’s been on the front lines of teacher strikes all over the country – but in New York you can bet she’ll be front and center in the discussion to re-examine the state’s graduation requirements.

16. Kathy Hochul
Lieutenant Governor

As one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s most effective spokespeople, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has become the bearer of good news in New York, announcing grants and projects from Long Island to Buffalo. She recently took the lead on a variety of revitalization projects from Cortland to Elmira to Saranac. She’s also been touring a new workforce training program in Buffalo, rolling out programs to help crime victims and opening a high-tech manufacturing hub in Brooklyn.

17. Grace Meng

Grace Meng achieved a new congressional milestone this year when her write-ins – including new maternity leave entitlements for service members, the authorization of a suicide prevention program and a report on lead water lines in military installations – were included in the National Defense Authorization Act as it passed the House in July. For the first time since being elected in 2012, Meng will face a primary challenge in 2020.

18. Nydia Velázquez

Most of Nydia Velázquez’s power in Congress comes from her positions as chair of the House Small Business Committee and senior member of the Financial Services Committee. But at home, she has made a name for herself as a champion for immigrant families and a strong voice for economic opportunity. She is a vocal critic of many of the Trump administration’s policies, including family separation and its handling of the response to Hurricane Maria.

19. Liz Krueger
State Senate Finance Committee

Liz Krueger serves on the committees for Housing, Construction and Community Development; Budget; and Revenue and Rules. As chair of the Senate Finance Committee she’s a vital figure in the state’s budget discussions. A longtime tenant rights advocate, Krueger recently made waves over her efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in New York. She is also a founding co-chair of the state Bipartisan Legislative Pro-Choice Caucus and a sponsor of the Reproductive Health Act. 

20. Crystal Peoples-Stokes
Assembly Majority Leader

As majority leader of the Assembly, Buffalo’s Crystal Peoples-Stokes oversees the operations of the chamber and presides over debates. She has been a leading proponent of legalizing marijuana since 2013 and has a strong record when it comes to supporting public education, health care and the environment. She co-chaired Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 reelection campaign and has been his close ally in both legislation and politics.

21. Linda A. Lacewell
State Department of Financial Services

Linda A. Lacewell is responsible for regulating nearly 1,500 financial institutions with assets of more than $2.6 trillion, as well as 1,400 insurance companies. Lacewell, who has been serving at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s side since his days as state attorney general, was previously chief risk officer and counselor and chief of staff to the governor. Earlier in her career she was assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

22. Kelly Cummings
Director of State Operations and Infrastructure
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office

Kelly Cummings, a former director of communications for state Senate Republicans and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former deputy chief of staff and senior adviser, has taken on her biggest role yet. Prior to her appointment in January, Cummings oversaw some of the state’s major infrastructure projects, including the Moynihan Train Hall, the Long Island Rail Road double track and third track expansion projects, the new Kosciuszko Bridge and the renovations of six upstate airports. 

23. Virginia Rometty
Chairman, President and CEO

Virginia Rometty began the year with a widely covered speech at the Consumer Electronics Show, where she made clear that IBM was not about to cede the technology industry to newer players. She proved it when IBM officially acquired Red Hat in July in IBM’s largest deal ever and one of the biggest acquisitions in tech history. With IBM’s headquarters in Armonk, New York, Rometty extends her influence into Albany and beyond.

24. Polly Trottenberg
New York City Department of Transportation

With the initiation of congestion pricing looming and Vision Zero setbacks, Polly Trottenberg is likely to be one of the busiest members of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration. She recently took a step back from her position on the MTA board, where her independent thinking seemed to be stifled by city and state executives. Instead, she’s focusing on the Green Wave, a plan to create safer conditions for New York City cyclists.

25. Gale Brewer
Manhattan Borough President

Rumored to be considering a run for her old New York City Council seat, Gale Brewer remains one of the best-known leaders in Manhattan in her current position as borough president. Her record of collaboration and policy expertise has been at the center of several development and zoning issues throughout Manhattan. She’s currently leading the charge to address potential the rezoning in SoHo and NoHo to remove red tape and bring in more retail businesses. 

26. Laura Curran
Nassau County Executive

Laura Curran, Nassau County’s first female county executive, has jurisdiction over its 1.37 million people, including two cities, three towns and 60 villages. Her policy agenda includes massive government reforms, a variety of economic development projects and an overhaul of the county’s property tax assessment system. Thanks to her political acumen, Curran has managed to push major projects through – such as the Nassau Hub and the new Belmont Park Arena. 

27. Chirlane McCray
New York City first lady

Having the ear of the mayor of New York City gives one a certain level of influence, but anyone who knows Chirlane McCray can attest that her power goes beyond her role as first lady. She regularly joins City Council members in advocating for change, such as a bill that would require most employers to provide paid vacation. While her legacy is not without controversy, she remains an outspoken powerhouse for causes she believes in.

28. Jill Furillo
Executive Director
New York State Nurses Association

Earlier this year Jill Furillo showed hospital executives the meaning of resolve when she led the New York State Nurses Association to a contract that secured minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios at Mount Sinai, Montefiore and New York-Presbyterian, affecting more than 10,000 nurses. Following that win (and thanks in part to Furillo’s testimony), New York state legislators are now studying staffing ratios in hospitals and nursing homes, and may consider a new legislative mandate.

29. Heather Briccetti
President and CEO
The Business Council of New York State

Heather Briccetti is a familiar face in Albany – she has served in various roles in state government and lobbied for some of New York’s landmark projects. In her current role she represents 2,400 companies throughout the state and their various business interests. She also serves on a number of advisory boards, including the state Thruway Authority board and the state Tourism Advisory Council.

30. Melinda Katz
Queens District Attorney-elect

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz’s campaign for district attorney garnered national attention, thanks to a hard-fought battle with newcomer Tiffany Cabán, who initially declared victory in the Democratic primary but ultimately lost to Katz following a recount. A longtime public servant, Katz made her mark in the Assembly, the New York City Council and the private sector before serving as Queens borough president, a post she’ll relinquish to become the borough’s next district attorney.

31. Valerie Berlin
Principal and Co-founder

BerlinRosen has been racking up accolades for years. As the firm continues to grow – with offices in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles – so does its influence. Valerie Berlin leads the team’s award-winning media campaigns for many politicians, including those in New York City Hall and Albany. BerlinRosen, which also represents clients in tech and real estate, recently expanded to a new office in the Financial District and prioritizes creating a culture of inclusion.

32. Donna Lieberman
Executive Director
New York Civil Liberties Union

As head of the New York Civil Liberties Union for nearly 20 years, Donna Lieberman is a go-to advocate on issues like free speech, police brutality and immigrant rights. She has recently been particularly active on policing in New York City schools, the Eric Garner case and mass deportations by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. With the Trump administration pushing a conservative agenda, Lieberman remains a steadfast protector of human rights. 

33. Mary Ann Tighe
CEO, New York Tri-State Region

Mary Ann Tighe presides over one of New York’s leading real estate firms. She was the first female chair of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) from 2010 to 2013 and is responsible for more than 101.6 million square feet of commercial real estate transactions. Her real estate connections bridge politics, business and media, and include long-term relationships with the Archdiocese of New York, Crain’s and News Corp.

34. Melanie Hartzog
New York City Budget Director

As director of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office of Management and Budget, Melanie Hartzog oversees a staff of more than 400 analysts, a $92.77 billion expense budget and a $12.7 billion capital budget for fiscal year 2020. Hartzog leads the efforts to evaluate the cost effectiveness of city services, implement the city's borrowing and bond programs, and connect with the financial community – work that paid off when Moody’s upgraded New York City’s credit rating. 

35. Patricia Harris
Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies is one of the leading charities working on issues from climate change and public health to gun control and government innovation. With Patricia Harris leading the way, the organization reported that its investments reached 510 cities worldwide in 2019, and in 2018 invested $767 million globally. Harris also served in numerous roles under the Bloomberg administration, including as the first woman appointed first deputy mayor of New York City.

36. Marisa Lago
New York City Planning Commission

As chairwoman of New York City’s Planning Commission, Marisa Lago oversees the use, development and improvement of all property subject to city regulation. The commission's strategic goals include catalyzing neighborhood improvement in places like East New York and the Bay Street Corridor. Lago is a proponent of using a data-driven approach to evolving zoning rules and city planning, which she has said must be flexible from generation to generation to encourage responsible growth.

37. Bhairavi Desai
Executive Director
New York Taxi Workers Alliance

With Lyft and Uber’s share of the New York City transportation market growing rapidly, Bhairavi Desai has been an important voice on the side of drivers. As the founder and executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, she represents 21,000 professional drivers who utilize the spectrum of ride-hailing options to pick up passengers. She’s been working to highlight the struggles of gig-economy drivers who often receive low pay and no benefits.

38. Emily Giske
Bolton-St. Johns

Emily Giske holds an impressive Rolodex as vice chairwoman of the Democratic Party in New York. With close ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former three-term New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Giske’s influence is deep and far-ranging. A seasoned lobbyist with experience representing high-profile clients, Giske was described by The New York Times as “one of the best-connected and most popular lobbyists at City Hall and in Albany.”

39. Karen Ignagni
President and CEO

One of the nation’s largest nonprofit health insurers, EmblemHealth serves more than 3 million people in the New York metro area. As the company’s president and CEO, Karen Ignagni has been overseeing the organization’s expansion in communities from Syracuse to Bethpage to Flushing, Queens. She’s also focused on nurturing innovative partnerships that can incubate promising solutions to facilitate more personalized care and aggregate medical research and data-driven best practices for clinicians.

40. Leecia Eve
Vice President, Public Policy
Verizon Communications

Leecia Eve got a boost in name recognition last year when she threw her name into the ring as a candidate for state attorney general. She’s still working as vice president of public policy for Verizon, where she’s in charge of corporate interests, public policy, government and external affairs, regulatory matters and philanthropy. She also serves as a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey board member, as nominated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

41. Candace Johnson
President and CEO
Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center

Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center was the first institution in the world to focus exclusively on cancer research. Candace Johnson has served as its president and CEO since 2015, although she’s been working at the center in different capacities since 2002. She recently celebrated the renewal of the center’s designation as a National Cancer Institute-designated facility, as Roswell Park received its highest score ever, as well as a $22.5 million grant.

42. Sheena Wright
President and CEO
United Way of New York City

The first female president and CEO of United Way of New York City, Sheena Wright has been breaking down barriers in the low-income communities the organization serves. Since taking the helm at United Way, Wright has raised $11 million to support victims of Superstorm Sandy. She is also working on increasing reading proficiency in the city with ReadNYC, a program that aims to change long-term educational outcomes for low-income students. 

43. Maggie Moran
Managing Partner

Maggie Moran is a New York and New Jersey political veteran, having held high-level roles in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s and former Gov. Jon Corzine’s election campaigns, and Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s campaign in New Jersey. She worked for former President Bill Clinton’s campaign in 1996 and former Vice President Al Gore’s campaign in 2000. Now she’s handling some of the region’s landmark issues.

44. Kathleen Rice

Kathleen Rice is using her post in New York’s 4th Congressional District to strengthen the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of a national and political crisis. As chairwoman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border Security, Facilitation, and Operations, Rice oversees an agency in flux as immigration remains a hot-button political topic. She previously served as Nassau County’s district attorney – the first woman to hold the position.

45. Elise Stefanik

In 2014, Elise Stefanik – then 30 years old – was the youngest woman elected to Congress. During her most recent tenure on Capitol Hill, she has served on the Armed Services Committee, the Committee on Education and Labor, and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. With a reputation for reaching across the aisle and working with Republicans and Democrats alike, Stefanik has become a standout voice regarding foreign affairs. 

46. Laura McQuade
President and CEO
Planned Parenthood of New York City

Laura McQuade has dedicated her professional life to championing women’s reproductive and sexual health rights, taking over at Planned Parenthood of New York City after serving as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains in Kansas. As several states have recently approved new abortion restrictions, McQuade stands to lead a proposed Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, which could merge five chapters, covering half of New York’s counties and 65% of its population.

47. Deanna Mulligan
President and CEO
The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

As the only female CEO of New York City’s nearly 50 Fortune 500 companies, according to Crain’s, Deanna Mulligan leads the Guardian Life Insurance’s 9,500 employees and more than 2,700 financial representatives. The company serves 27 million customers and recently delivered record dividends to stockholders. She’s a member of the Partnership for New York City and the Economic Club of New York, and sits on the Board of Trustees for New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

48. Stacey Cunningham
New York Stock Exchange

Stacey Cunningham, the first female president of the New York Stock Exchange in its 226-year history, is taking Wall Street’s bull by the horns. After starting her career as a trader, Cunningham became disillusioned with the lack of technological innovation in the industry and took a brief detour into the culinary arts. However, she returned to Wall Street and worked her way to chief operating officer of NYSE before becoming its president.

49. Lovely Warren
Rochester Mayor

Lovely Warren is using her substantial platform as mayor of Rochester to advocate for public education. A proponent of community-based schools, Warren is a hands-on public official looking to bring educational equity and opportunity to the region she serves. Warren has also been instrumental in supporting development in Rochester, recently promoting the Roc the Riverway project, which is designed to bring improvements along the Genesee River over the next decade. 

50. Camille Joseph-Goldman
Regional Vice President for Government Affairs for the Northeast Region
Charter Communications

Recently honored as a luminary by the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications at the 2019 Next Generation Leaders Awards, Camille Joseph-Goldman has extensive experience in politics and policy. Prior to her current position, Joseph-Goldman served as New York City’s youngest appointed deputy comptroller, as well as director of intergovernmental affairs and special adviser to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. She also served as national African American vote deputy director for Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.