Brooklyn Borough 50

City & State's Brooklyn Borough 50



When we set out to compile this Brooklyn Borough 50 list, we knew it would be hard, since the borough is home to such a huge number of top city officials and commissioners. In the end, we included the ones we felt had the most influence over the borough itself in politics or policy. We left many off, not because they are not influential, but because we felt their power resided in impacting citywide policies and didn’t focus specifically on Brooklyn. In doing so, it allowed us to highlight many other community leaders, activists and heads of institutions that really make Brooklyn a special place to live and work.



As usual, a quick reminder of our rules: No elected officials are included on the list. And everyone we picked must live in the borough.

Now, without further ado, our Brooklyn Borough 50 list.

Carmen Fariña

#1: Carmen Fariña

Chancellor, New York City Schools

Roughly 1.1 million students attend New York City’s public school system, and more than 300,000 of them live in Brooklyn, which means Carmen Fariña has a lot of influence over the future of the borough’s most precious resource: its youth. With business booming and a lot of political power centered in the borough, there was a case to put others at the top of this list, but our editorial board still felt that the education system has the most impact on the lives of Brooklynites. While Fariña’s current scope is improving all city schools, the Brooklyn native clearly has a special place in her heart for the borough. It is apparent that Fariña has wide discretion in how the $27 billion school system should be run. She has used that influence to implement some controversial reforms that have made her a polarizing figure. While it is still too soon to see if her vision for the education system will yield better results, her influence is clear and her legacy will have a lasting impact on the city.


Carlo Scissura

#2: Carlo Scissura

President and CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

Editor's note: After this list was compiled, it was announced that Scissura will leave the Chamber of Commerce to be the president of the New York City Building Congress.

Carlo Scissura has presided over the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce – one of the largest business advocacy and economic development organizations in the state – at a time when business in the borough has never been better.

The chamber's membership has grown by more than 200 percent under Scissura’s leadership, with businesses big and small being lured under the organization’s umbrella. Scissura has placed an emphasis on growing Brooklyn’s manufacturing sector and making sure the borough’s mom-and-pop businesses aren’t drowned out by bigger companies hoping to leave a footprint and leverage the borough’s global brand.

Scissura also enjoys productive working relationships with Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and has taken an active role in the intersection of government and business, taking a stand against controversial policies like commercial rent control and working with the city’s Department of Small Business Services to run and manage its Business Solution Center. Scissura is also frequently mentioned as someone who could take a larger role in politics, and has flirted with running for Brooklyn borough president in the past.


Frank Seddio

#3: Frank Seddio

Chairman, Brooklyn Democratic Party

There’s a school of thought in political circles that the Brooklyn Democratic Party ain’t what it used to be since Vito Lopez no longer runs the county with an iron fist, but that analysis sells short the progress the party has made under Frank Seddio’s watch.

A longtime Lopez adviser, Seddio wisely recognized that his former boss’ divide-and-conquer approach to running the county party was unsustainable. Since becoming chairman in September 2012, Seddio has brought some much-needed sunlight to the dark backroom of Brooklyn politics – eliminating at-large district leader positions that were filled with party loyalists, revising the county’s rules committee and seeking to unify the borough’s disparate political factions, including reform-minded political clubs that Lopez had refused to meet with.

But Seddio’s strongest gambit to date was the deal he cut with Mayor Bill de Blasio to elect Melissa Mark-Viverito as City Council speaker. With Brooklyn holding the largest Council delegation at 16 members, Seddio’s agreement with the mayor gave the city its first Latina Council speaker and the mayor a coveted ally in advancing his progressive agenda.


Steven Banks

#4: Steven Banks

Commissioner, New York City Department of Social Services

It’s a perfect example of being the “right man for the moment.” The Legal Aid Society lawyer who helped force the city to acknowledge a right to shelter for homeless families was summoned to help it house the now record-breaking number of individuals seeking to exercise that right. Banks, who in 2014 was appointed commissioner of the New York City Human Resources Administration/Department of Social Services, was this April tasked to lead the Department of Homeless Services as well. Since then, he’s taken lots of NIMBY-fired heat as the city tries to create housing units anywhere it can. Being responsible for tackling what is arguably the city’s biggest problem makes Banks powerful enough regardless of where he lives. But if you didn’t know he was a Brooklynite before the news media published photos of protesters angry about a proposed shelter in Maspeth rallying just outside his Windsor Terrace home – you know now.


A.R. Bernard

#5: A.R. Bernard

Senior Pastor, Christian Cultural Center

Few religious leaders in the United States are as influential as the Rev. A.R. Bernard. He has over 37,000 congregants of varying backgrounds and ethnicities at his megachurch in Starrett City, the largest in the state. He is also president of the Council of Churches of the City of New York, representing roughly 1.5 million people. That type of influence makes you a sought-after political ally, and many politicians have come seeking his advice and support, leading some to call him a kingmaker in city politics and a recent New York Times feature to dub him “the power pastor.” Bernard has close relationships with many top pols, including the Clintons. He also served on the transition teams of both Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2001 and Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014, and holds several other positions on advisory boards to city affairs.


Emma Wolfe

#6: Emma Wolfe

Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Office of the Mayor of New York City

In a tight circle of advisers to Mayor Bill de Blasio, Emma Wolfe might be his most indispensable aide considering the scope of her portfolio. Wolfe is the mayor’s point person for advancing his policy agenda in the City Council and state Legislature, and a dogged de Blasio loyalist dating back to his tenure as New York City public advocate.

A Prospect Heights resident, Wolfe helped de Blasio score some major victories early on, most notably the city’s universal pre-K program, which required extensive lobbying and negotiation with the Legislature and governor’s office. And despite the mayor’s differences with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Wolfe played a key role in whipping support for the governor during his 2014 re-election campaign among the Working Families Party’s affiliate unions, eventually leading to the WFP giving Cuomo its ballot line.

While de Blasio and Cuomo’s personal and professional relationship has soured, perhaps beyond repair, Wolfe still maintains a line of dialogue with the governor’s office, recognizing the need for the city and state to work together on a number of policy issues.


Regina Myer

#7: Regina Myer

President, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

For nearly a decade Regina Myer was involved in building Brooklyn Bridge Park into one of the most trendy and popular urban parks in the city. The park is a model of how to transform waterfront real estate into sustainable green space that all New Yorkers can enjoy. In just the past month, she has left the BBP to take on a new role as head of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. No doubt her skill for city planning, extensive connections in government and the community and tireless drive will make her a success in her new endeavor, as she continues DBP’s tradition of making downtown Brooklyn one of the world’s greatest examples of urban mixed use, where you can live, work, shop and enjoy cultural experiences all within walking distance.


Steve Hindy

#8: Steve Hindy

Co-Founder, Brooklyn Brewery

The term “craft beer” was barely a part of our cultural lexicon when Steve Hindy, a former Middle Eastern war correspondent, and his downstairs neighbor, Tom Potter, founded the Brooklyn Brewery in the late 1980s. The brewery opened in Williamsburg in 1996, well before the neighborhood became the gentrified hotspot that it is today, and Hindy has played a huge part in advancing Brooklyn as a global brand. The brewery itself is looking to expand to the Japanese and Brazilian markets, and has already launched joint ventures with breweries in Sweden and Norway.

In addition to his role as chairman of the board of Brooklyn Brewery, Hindy is a highly visible participant in the borough’s various activist endeavors. He is a member of the New York Regional Economic Development Council, is a founding member of the Open Space Alliance and has served on the board of the Prospect Park Alliance for over 15 years. Hindy is also the vice chairman of Transportation Alternatives, a nonprofit dedicated to the promotion of walking, biking and public transit.


Nicholas DiMarzio

#9: Nicholas DiMarzio

Bishop, Roman Catholic Church

For more than a decade, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has served as the spiritual leader of roughly 1.5 million Catholics in Kings and Queens counties. But his life’s work has been dedicated to helping immigrants and refugees, making him a perfect fit to represent one of the most diverse urban areas in the world. Currently he is a member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People and chairman of the board of the Center for Migration Studies, but even before that he held many other positions on the issue, including representing the United States on the Global Commission on International Migration. More locally, DiMarzio is in charge of one of the nation’s largest Catholic school networks serving more than 25,000 students. He also organizes mass in 210 churches in 24 different languages through the boroughs.


David Ehrenberg

#10: David Ehrenberg

President and CEO, Brooklyn Navy Yard

If you said four years ago that the Brooklyn Navy Yard would host arguably the most important Democratic primary debate in 2016, most people would have thought it was a joke (for many reasons). But when the party needed to put together a debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders before New York Democrats went to the polls, they picked the Brooklyn Navy Yard as the venue, rather than one of the traditional Manhattan locations many would have expected. That decision is just one testament to the phenomenal growth of the industrial park since David Ehrenberg took over as president and CEO of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation in 2013. The development organization is dedicated to creating a sustainable economic engine for the borough with quality jobs, and under Ehrenberg’s leadership it has taken great strides toward that goal. Currently more than 330 businesses are on the 300-acre site, employing more than 7,000 people. But the goal is to more than double that number. The next challenge for the Navy Yard is working with the city to improve transportation.


#11: Andrew Kimball

CEO, Industry City

Industry City is one of the new economic gems in Brooklyn, and Andrew Kimball is the driving force behind the success of the massive campus, which merges trendy retail stores with large workspaces for everything from manufacturing to tech startups. From marketing and community engagement to development and construction, Kimball oversees all aspects of the facility, and since joining Industry City from the Brooklyn Navy Yard a little over three years ago he has seen the urban icon grow like wildfire.


#12: Ramon Martinez

Chief of Staff, New York City Council

There are only 51 members of the New York City Council, but Ramon Martinez may be as powerful as all of them. He is an enforcer in the chamber who makes sure things get done. He’s also an institutional encyclopedia who can answer pretty much any question for members. Arguably most of his power comes from his understanding of zoning and land-use deals, helping to make sure members’ interests are represented. While he is a product of the Queens Democratic machine, he’s now a Brooklyn guy.


#13: Martin Dunn

President, Dunn Development

There are plenty of successful developers in New York City, but few like Martin Dunn. He has dedicated his career to building affordable, mixed-income and supportive housing, much of it in Brooklyn. He works closely with the mayor’s office on how to build not just bigger apartment buildings, but sustainable neighborhoods where residents have easy access to things they need, like health care and shopping centers. For instance, his work on redeveloping the Van Dyke Houses in Brownsville led to the creation of 188 new affordable apartments as well as a new family health center.


#14: Phil Walzak

Senior Adviser, Office of the Mayor of New York City

Walzak has had an ever-changing role at City Hall since serving as one of Bill de Blasio’s top press aides during his 2013 campaign. Walzak was named de Blasio’s first press secretary in 2014, only to transition to a senior adviser role roughly a year later. Walzak is one of a handful of aides de Blasio truly trusts, and one of the few staffers generally accessible to the media. With the mayor’s re-election campaign starting to kick into high gear, Walzak recently took a leave of absence from City Hall to oversee communications and overall campaign strategy for de Blasio.


#15: Katepalli Sreenivasan

President and Dean, NYU Tandon School Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering is at the center of Brooklyn’s tech boom. Under the leadership of Katepalli Sreenivasan, the institution educates some of the best and brightest students across the globe and works to improve STEM education for New York City students of all ages. Tandon also serves as an incubator for some of the world’s most creative and promising startups, many of which focus on improving urban living. It’s very possible that in coming years we will see world-changing technological developments come out of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and Sreenivasan deserves much of the credit.


#16: Jonathan Rosen / Valerie Berlin

Founders, BerlinRosen

These Brooklynites are two of the most influential consultants in the city because of their close ties to Mayor Bill de Blasio and members of the City Council. When it comes to sweeping policies that impact the lives of millions, like universal pre-K or changes to zoning laws, Jonathan Rosen and Valerie Berlin’s advice is frequently sought. The two can often impact outcomes when it comes to borough-specific issues because of their ties to the administration. As long as de Blasio is mayor, they will have a say in the future of the city and the borough.


#17: MaryAnne Gilmartin

President and CEO, Forest City Ratner Companies

MaryAnne Gilmartin has been at the center of the Brooklyn development boom over the past decade. In her role as president and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies, she manages the commercial portfolio for the MetroTech Center and leads efforts to build some of the borough’s most high-profile buildings, such as the Pacific Park development. But Gilmartin is much more than a developer – she is also a trustee at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and co-chairwoman of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.


#18: Cecilia Clarke

President and CEO, Brooklyn Community Foundation

As priced-out Manhattanites gentrify Brooklyn, they bring wealth that Cecilia Clarke is working hard to harness. Clarke became the second president and CEO of the Brooklyn Community Foundation in 2013, created a donor-advised fund program shortly thereafter and by 2014 saw a tenfold increase in grant money made possible because of those funds. She implemented an institution-wide “racial justice lens” which informed her recent decision to remove private prisons, gun manufacturers and predatory lenders from its $60 million investment portfolio. Since its founding in 2009, the foundation has given $25 million in grants to many of Brooklyn’s 3,000 nonprofits.


#19: Linda Sarsour

Executive Director, Arab American Association of New York

New York City is home to nearly 1 million Muslims, and many of them have to deal with racial and ethnic tensions in their daily lives. Fortunately they have a tough and effective advocate in Linda Sarsour. The Brooklyn native has stood up to the NYPD on its surveillance of the Muslim community and has been quick to form alliances with other civil rights advocates to rally against racial injustice of any kind. She has also worked with government to better integrate the Muslim faith into the city, including the recognition of Islamic holidays in city schools.


#20: Maria Torres-Springer

President, New York City Economic Development Corporation

One reason Brooklyn has been able to grow so rapidly in recent years has been the cooperation it receives from city officials like Maria Torres-Springer. Most recently, she has been championing tech and manufacturing hubs in Sunset Park, but this is just the latest in a series of efforts by the New York City Economic Development Corporation. Torres-Springer has spent years working with city planners and businesses to drive entrepreneurship, both at NYCEDC and in her previous role as Small Business Services commissioner.


#21: Michelle Anderson

President, Brooklyn College

The CUNY campus located in Midwood is one of the most beautiful places in the borough. It’s also a vital institution for the education of more than 16,000 students, many of whom grew up in the borough and commute to class. Michelle Anderson took over as president this past August, bringing years of academic leadership from her time running the CUNY School of Law, where she promoted diversity and excellence.


#22: Angela Sung Pinksy

Executive Director, Association for a Better NY

Angela Sung Pinsky has been working to shape the city of New York for decades, first as a staff for the deputy mayors of economic development under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then in her high-level roles at REBNY and now ABNY. The Park Slope resident is an expert on city planning who has advocated for legislative reforms to make the city more sustainable and modern, including the PlaNYC report put forth by Bloomberg.


#23: Marty Markowitz

Vice president of borough promotion and engagement, NYC and Company

The former borough president is still one of Brooklyn’s biggest cheerleaders. In his new role, Marty Markowitz is actively promoting economic development in all the outer boroughs, but his heart is still in Brooklyn, where the longtime Democrat is well connected and works tirelessly to help business boom. Most recently, Markowitz was singled out by Mayor Bill de Blasio for his efforts to get the new Ford Amphitheater at Coney Island Boardwalk built, a project he has been working on for years.


#24: Jed Walentas

Founder, Two Trees Management

The Walentas family will be forever known for their decades-long investment in DUMBO, slowly building the dying waterfront into one of the trendiest neighborhoods in the world. Currently, the family-owned real estate firm owns and manages more than 2,000 apartments in Brooklyn and also runs commercial and industrial properties throughout the borough. In recent years, Jed Walentas took over daily operations for his father, David, and has continued the family tradition of building vibrant cityscapes.


#25: Joni Yoswein

Founder, Yoswein New York

For the past two decades Joni Yoswein has represented some of Brooklyn’s biggest institutions, from developers to cultural and educational institutions to hospitals and nonprofits. Her public affairs and consulting firm has had a hand in shaping the borough through its boom years, often helping clients navigate the halls of government or market themselves better to the borough’s residents. The former assemblywoman also remains an active player in Democratic politics in the borough.


#26: Joe Lhota

Senior Vice President and Vice Dean, Chief of Staff, NYU Langone Medical Center

For most people, Joe Lhota is known for his 2013 New York City mayoral campaign, when he ran up against the tide of support for Bill de Blasio and lost handily. But the Republican has compiled a great CV, working as deputy mayor of operations and as chair of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He now serves as a top executive for NYU Langone, one of the city’s premier medical facilities. The Brooklyn Heights native is still well connected and often sought for his opinions on how government could work better or how to navigate city politics.


#27: Katy Clark

President, The Brooklyn Academy of Music

The Brooklyn Academy of Music is truly one of the gems of the borough. It’s a world-class facility for music, theater and dance, but it also serves as a community center where all residents can enjoy the arts. Katy Clark took over as president of BAM in 2015 after a career as an orchestra director and violinist. Her unique skills have helped advance the institution’s commitment to excellence in live programming and independent cinema.


#28: Rudolph F. Crew

President, Medgar Evers College (CUNY)

Dr. Rudolph Crew has spent his career trying to better the lives of poor and minority students, first as chancellor of the New York City Board of Education in the ’90s and now as president of Medgar Evers College. After taking over as head of the CUNY institution in Crown Heights almost three years ago, one of his first steps was turning his attention to making sure high schoolers in Brooklyn were prepared for college, launching the Pipeline program in partnership with dozens of borough schools – and early results show it has been a success.


#29: Kyle Kimball

VP of Government Relations, Con Edison

Kyle Kimball joined the Con Edison team in 2015 after spending years at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where he played a key role in several large development projects, including the development of Roosevelt Island. Now he works with government in a different capacity, navigating the halls of power to help Con Edison upgrade the city’s energy system so businesses and residents are protected against everything from natural disasters to capacity problems as the city grows.


#30: Luis Garden Acosta

Founder and President, El Puente

El Puente means bridge in Spanish – and since founding the community and youth development organization in 1982, Luis Garden Acosta has been building bridges in his native Brooklyn. He has been a pioneer in fighting pollution and advocating for human rights. His holistic approach to improving urban problems is highlighted by his Green Light District initiative to transform the southside of Williamsburg into a model for community health and environmental wellness. And his work as an activist, making sure the voices of Latinos are heard in planning and policy, has made him an influencer in Brooklyn for decades.


#31: Gregg Bishop

Commissioner, New York City Department of Small Business Services

In a city of immigrants from more than 200 countries, small businesses are the engines for many neighborhoods. Gregg Bishop understands this. An immigrant from Grenada who grew up in East Flatbush, he has spent nearly a decade at the New York City Department of Small Business Services working to help immigrant entrepreneurs. He took over as commissioner in November 2015, and since then has made it a priority to help MWBEs get pre-certified so they can better secure government contracts. In addition to his government work, Bishop also serves as board president of the Red Hook Initiative.


#32: Mark Toney

President and CEO, Brookdale Hospital

Health care has been one of the most contentious issues in the borough in recent years, with hospitals closing and many facilities rethinking how they provide care. This has only made Brookdale University Hospital more important. The private teaching hospital provides care to a large population of residents who live in the eastern parts of Brooklyn. In his time as president and CEO, Mark Toney has moved to form partnerships with several other health care facilities, restructuring the hospital and putting a focus on preventative medicine. In doing so he has positioned Brookdale as a leader in the industry.


#33: Leslie Schultz

President, BRIC

For more than a decade Leslie Schultz has been the head of BRIC – even before it was named BRIC. In that time, she has overseen the opening of its state-of-the-art facility on Fulton Street and helped Brooklyn’s active arts scene to thrive. At BRIC, Schultz has made it a priority to highlight the creativity of local artists and provide educational programs to promote the artistic talents of young people. This year, in yet another sign of its significance, the nonprofit arts and media organization received 13 New York Emmy nominations for its work in local programming.


#34: David Niederman

Executive Director and President, United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg

For decades, Rabbi David Niederman has been one of the most influential leaders of the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. And since Mayor Bill de Blasio was elected, he has seen his power rise. The executive director and president of the UJO has a close relationship with the mayor, who has respected the community’s wishes on several policy issues former mayor Michael Bloomberg had opposed, like security guards for religious schools. Politics aside, UJO provides a host of services to residents including job training, housing, health care and legal assistance.


#35: Michelle de la Uz

Executive Director, Fifth Avenue Committee

Gentrification is one of the biggest issues in Brooklyn. The cost of living is rising quickly, leaving many people displaced – which makes the work of Michelle de la Uz and the Fifth Avenue Committee even more important. The nonprofit is committed to building sustainable housing for low- and moderate-income people, and in the more than a decade that de la Uz has been in control they have doubled their impact with thoughtful projects that help build communities, not just places for people to live.


#36: Risa Heller

Founder, Risa Heller Communications

It seems like you often hear about Risa Heller when someone else has a problem. That’s because there are few people in the state as trusted as her to deal with a public relations headache. The well-connected former spokeswoman for many top Democrats is often called on to help when the media is descending on a high-profile figure. When she is not representing panicking pols, she is chiming in on the salient issues of the day as a thoughtful consultant.


#37: Sue Donoghue

President, Prospect Park Alliance

Prospect Park is the biggest and most-visited park in Brooklyn – more than 10 million people spend time in the nearly 600-acre park each year. It’s nice to know that something this important is managed by someone who lives just a few blocks from the massive green space. Sue Donoghue has dedicated her career to making sure the city’s parks thrive, both at the Parks Department and through her work on Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC. In 2014 she took over as head of the Alliance and has been laser-focused on its maintenance, making sure it remains a gem of the borough.


#38: Jill Eisenhard

Executive Director, Red Hook Initiative

This small nonprofit was really thrust into the spotlight in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, when it provided emergency medical care to hundreds of people. But even before then the Red Hook Initiative had been steadily on the rise since it was founded by Jill Eisenhard in 2002. The nonprofit’s core goal is to empower youth to become agents of change. The model created and sustained by Eisenhard’s hard work, which focuses on hiring locally and creating a pipeline to long-term success, has received many awards and been copied by other nonprofits.


#39: Ken Fisher

Attorney, Cozen O'Connor

With Brooklyn booming, land-use issues are popping up all over the borough – and most developers’ first choice to help navigate this process is Ken Fisher. The former Brooklyn city councilman knows New York City government as well as anyone, serving as a lobbyist for clients looking to get things done. Be he is also a great resource for informing the public, by hosting CUNY-TV’s “CityWide” program, and through his writing on public policy. In addition to his work, he has been a passionate advocate for redeveloping Governors Island.


#40: Linda Johnson

President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library

Since Linda Johnson took over as head of the Brooklyn Public Library in 2010, she has driven the system forward using technology and community networks to make sure more people have access to its massive collection of resources. Among her chief goals is engaging diverse constituencies, something she advocates for on the local, state and federal level. One example of this commitment has been the library’s partnership with the White House and the city Department of Education to set up mobile hotspots in many of their facilities, a vital service for many low-income families.


#41: Bill Hyers

Partner, Hilltop Public Solutions

This top campaign operative and political consultant is one of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s closest advisors outside of his administration. While his body of work includes helping political candidates all over the state and region, Bill Hyers is now a Brooklyn guy. He has helped de Blasio with some of his signature achievements, leading the nonprofit Campaign for One New York that was was created to promote the mayor’s agenda. As long as de Blasio is in City Hall, Hyers will remain an influential figure.


#42: Rashid Davis

Founding Principal, P-TECH, New York City Department of Education

Almost six years ago, Rashid Davis embarked on a journey with the launch of the Pathways in Technology High School in Crown Heights. The idea of providing a six-year pathway from middle school to a career for low-income students was revolutionary. The city Department of Education and corporate partner IBM have touted this model as map for the future of education. Like any bold new idea, there have been some setbacks in its implementation, but not in Davis’ commitment to providing life-changing opportunities to disadvantaged students.


#43: George Fontas

Capalino + Company, Executive Vice President

As Capalino + Company has risen to prominence as the top lobbying firm in the city, so has the influence of George Fontas. A Brooklyn native with close ties to the de Blasio administration, Fontas has been an active member of Democratic politics in the borough for more than a decade. He’s also been a highly successful lobbyist on everything from land-use issues like the rezoning of Coney Island to public policy initiatives. When he’s not working, he dedicates his time to help give back to youth and seniors through his work at NIA Community Services Network, where he was recently honored as Man of the Year.


#44: John Calareso

President, St. Joseph's College

St. Joseph’s, a small, private Catholic-affiliated liberal arts college in downtown Brooklyn that is dedicated to providing a low-cost quality education, is celebrating its 100th year in operation. Since 2014, Jack Calareso has been in charge of the school, which also has a campus in Suffolk County. A distinguished educator, he has worked hard to improve the school’s financial situation to make sure it can continue to keep tuition relatively low. That hard work paid off this year when its Brooklyn campus came in seventh on the list of Best Bang for your Buck colleges in the Northeast.


#45: Barbara Vogelstein

Board of Trustees Chairwoman, Brooklyn Museum

When the Brooklyn Museum needed a new director, Barbara Vogelstein helped lead the search that landed Anne Pasternak. Shortly afterward, the board of trustees made Vogelstein its chairwoman. The iconic institution has a world-class collection of pieces from all over the globe. It is also a community center where people of all ages are welcome to participate in a host of programs. After a successful career as a private-equity investor, Vogelstein has dedicated her time to several nonprofits in the community.


#46: Elizabeth Yeampierre

Executive Director, UPROSE

This lifelong Brooklynite has brought a new level of attention and respect to UPROSE, the borough’s oldest Latino community-based organization. A civil rights lawyer by trade, Elizabeth Yeampierre fights fiercely against anyone who would do harm to her community. She has a specific talent for implementing environmental reform – she fought to get the state’s first brownfield legislation passed, advocated for urban forestry and doubled open space in Sunset Park. Yeampierre talks the talk and walks the walk on behalf of her community.


#47: Jeff Rodus

Sr. Vice President, Connelly McLaughlin & Woloz

Jeff Rodus spent more than 20 years toiling away in City Hall working on a host of issues, from budgets to economic development and other policy matters. The former deputy chief of staff was even speculated as a possible chief of staff to the council before he left for the private sector. Now, his institutional knowledge of how city government works is an asset to clients with business before the city. A veteran of Brooklyn Democratic politics, Rodus has received many awards, including being named the Man of the Year by the borough’s powerful Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club.


#48: Linda Gibbs

Principal, Social Services, Bloomberg Associates

This Brooklyn Heights power broker served for almost a decade as one of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s deputy mayors, tackling a host of issues related to children, as well as homelessness and aging. Now, Linda Gibbs continues her work as part of Bloomberg Associates, running the social services division for the high-powered philanthropic consulting firm. Gibbs and her husband, political consultant Tom McMahon, are an influential pair who have dedicated the past decade to making the borough, and the city, better.


#49: Nancy Sunshine

Clerk, Kings County

The sheer volume of cases that flow through Brooklyn courts would make anyone’s eyes gloss over. Each year, the court system deals with more than a million pages of records and more than 100,000 jurors. For the past decade, the person responsible for making sure the whole system operates efficiently has been Nancy Sunshine. She was recognized for her good work by her fellow county clerks in 2015 when she was named clerk of the year.


#50: Ingrid Lewis-Martin

Senior Adviser, Brooklyn Borough President's Office

If you ask any consultant, lobbyist or community activist who gets things done at the borough president’s office, the likely answer you’ll get is Ingrid Lewis-Martin. Brooklyn born and raised, Lewis-Martin has been an active member of the Democratic party for years, working for Barack Obama, Eric Schneiderman, Letitia James and others. She served as chief of staff to Eric Adams when he was a state senator before following him to the borough president’s office, where she serves as a jack-of-all-trades, tackling problems and providing strategic advice that gets results.