Lewis-Martin, Salaam, Cabán present visions for the future at NYC 40 under 40 event

City & State’s annual 40 under 40 celebration highlighted the city’s rising stars – and also some recent City Council drama.

Eric Adams’ chief adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin emphasized giving back through leadership.

Eric Adams’ chief adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin emphasized giving back through leadership. Rita Thompson

The annual New York City 40 Under 40 event Tuesday night gathered the city’s rising stars from across the five boroughs. From lawmakers, industry pioneers and activists,  leaders under 40 were celebrated at the Midtown Loft and Terrace for their efforts toward making New York a city for all. 

“Once you find your passion, and I believe that's what each of you have done, you have to work towards the passion with sincerity,” said keynote speaker and Chief Adviser to the mayor Ingrid Lewis-Martin, who’s deputy chief of staff Tanaisha Ramos was honored. “You have to understand that the work that you do … goes back to helping others and giving back to others. When you give back to others, it takes a lot out of you. You have to pour into people. And you have to believe in what you do.”

While the spotlight rested on the achievements of the night’s nominees, Lewis-Martin stressed the importance of conscientious leadership – and the shared responsibility of nurturing future generations of New York leaders. 

“The main thing to remember is that you have a moral obligation to give back,” Lewis-Martin said. “I have interns that I've been bringing up through the ranks. If I can do that, you can give back as well.” 

Queens Council Member Tiffany Cabán echoed this sentiment, urging attendees to build a fair and sustainable future for New Yorkers. 

“There are two competing visions for New York. The first is a city run by and for wealthy real estate interests, characterized by relentless rising rents, which subject communities to catastrophic social dislocation, (producing) violence and poverty,” said Cabán, a democratic socialist and a member of the Council’s progressive caucus. “The second city is run by the everyday people who live and work there, characterized by ample investments in education, health care, transit – producing stable communities and prosperous neighborhoods.”

Much of Cabán’s speech was in honor of rising star Rachel McCullough’s work at Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. But Cabán also included a quip that seemed to target another honoree: Republican Council Member Inna Vernikov, who last week was arrested for carrying a gun to counter-protest a demonstration of Brooklyn College students in support of Palestinians.

“Are we going to tolerate extremists intimidating everyday New Yorkers at public libraries and abortion providers, or even displaying guns to intimidate CUNY students, or are we going to be a city that is welcoming to all, no matter your gender expression, healthcare needs, or political views?” Cabán asked. As the council reacts to Vernikov’s arrest, Cabán has been a vocal critic and called Vernikov “unfit for office.” Lewis-Martin, meanwhile, met with Vernikov shortly after the incident.

Yusef Salaam, the nationally known member of the “Exonerated Five” who will most likely represent Harlem’s City Council District 9 next year, spoke in honor of his campaign manager Jordan Wright, who was featured on the 40 Under 40 issue cover.

“Jordan, I want to personally thank you. I'm proud to share my lifetime with your lifetime,” Salaam said. “And I'm excited to bring our dreams to fruition together in the coming years.”