The 2020 Long Island Power 100: 51-100

The leaders of Nassau and Suffolk

The Montauk Lighthouse and beach on Long Island.

The Montauk Lighthouse and beach on Long Island. haveseen/Shutterstock

51. Daniel Levler

President, Association of Municipal Employees

Daniel Levler

Daniel Levler heads the Association of Municipal Employees, Suffolk County’s largest employee union with more than 6,000 members. Levler, who ran unopposed in 2018, sided with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone this year in supporting a ballot measure to use sewer funds to balance the budget and avoid layoffs of the government workers he represents. However, initial election results showed the vote was too close to immediately call.

52. Resi Cooper

President, CooperHill

There isn’t much that happens on Long Island without the behind-the-scenes input from Resi Cooper. A former aide to then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, Cooper’s voice is sought after in key development and infrastructure projects for political maneuvering and government insight. As a member of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, she is helping to develop a roadmap to rebuild Long Island’s economy.

53. Jon Ledecky

Co-Owner, New York Islanders

Although the 2019-2020 hockey season was shortened, Jon Ledecky, the co-owner of the New York Islanders, has seen major progress in the construction of the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park, where the Islanders expect to play for the 2021-2022 NHL season. The home opener next year will signal a new beginning for the home team following a contentious exodus to Brooklyn after being ousted from Nassau Coliseum.

54. David Kilmnick

President and CEO, LGBT Network

Under David Kilmnick’s leadership in 2020, the LGBT Network responded to the pandemic by opening a virtual center offering more than 20 events weekly, serving community members through virtual drop-in hours and organizing a town hall series connecting the community with elected leaders during the peak of the COVID-19 crisis. He is also developing a workplace initiative with the region's largest employers to make the workplace safer for all LGBT employees.

55. Adam Barsky

Chair and Director, Nassau County Interim Finance Authority

Adam Barsky’s day job is as a top executive with the New York Power Authority. But he also has power as chair of the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority, which was created in 2000 to oversee and manage the county’s budgeting. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran wants NIFA to refinance county debt to balance the budget, but Barsky warned last month that the move won’t help in the long run. 

56. Marc Herbst

Executive Director, Long Island Contractors' Association

As executive director of the Long Island Contractors’ Association, Marc Herbst is a proponent of the construction industry of Nassau and Suffolk counties. As COVID-19 ravaged Long Island, Herbst advocated for more investment in public infrastructure as a recovery tool, and he joined a coalition aiming to maintain funding for environmental projects. LICA also recently assisted with a transportation research study on the Island’s accessibility. 

57. Phil Ramos

Assembly Member

As Latinos struggle to break through in Long Island elections, Assembly Member Phil Ramos is one of relatively few Long Island Hispanic people to hold an elected office – and he’s held his seat since 2003. A retired Suffolk County police officer and the founder of the Suffolk County Police Hispanic Society, he was an outspoken proponent of legislation passed this year that makes police disciplinary records available to the public. 

58. Theresa Regnante

President and CEO, United Way of Long Island

As the coronavirus pandemic hit the region, United Way of Long Island, led by Theresa Regnante, established an emergency assistance fund for families who had been directly affected by the virus and the ensuing economic fallout. United Together: A Response Fund for COVID-19 aimed to reach Long Islanders who became unemployed, furloughed, or forced to take pay decreases to help pay for utilities, food and child care.

59. Howard Fensterman

Founder and Managing Partner, Abrams Fensterman

Howard Fensterman
Alex Towle Photography

As the founder and managing partner of the Lake Success law firm of Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara, Wolf & Carone, LLP., Howard Fensterman concentrates his practice on health care and malpractice suits. He is an ally and donor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and makes regular donations to such varying causes as Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the Israel Children’s Cancer Foundation, and organizations supporting elder care and drug addiction recovery.

60. Kevin O'Connor

CEO, Dime Community Bank

Kevin O’Connor took on a new role as CEO of Dime Community Bank earlier this year when it announced a merger with BNB Bank. He will oversee an expanded institution with almost double the assets ($11 billion) and a total of 66 branches from Montauk to New York City. O’Connor has a history of advocating for small businesses and processed about 4,000 Paycheck Protection Program loans at the height of the shutdown.

61. Noel DiGerolamo

President, Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association

A big political battle in Albany – and on Long Island – over the past two years has been bail reform, and Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association President Noel DiGerolamo has publicly opposed changes that eliminated bail in most cases. His union actively supported a number of Republican candidates this cycle, helping Rep. Lee Zeldin, Rep.-elect Andrew Garbarino and several state legislative candidates win key races. 

62. Neela Mukherjee Lockel

CEO, American Red Cross of Long Island

Neela Mukherjee Lockel
American Red Cross

After taking a five-month interim assignment to lead the American Red Cross merger of the Maine and New Hampshire chapters, Neela Lockel returned to Long Island – and had to confront the COVID-19 outbreak. She pivoted the organization’s disaster response to operate virtually and organized regional partners to establish COVID-19 sheltering plans for Nassau and Suffolk counties. She’s also become a regional resource on emergency preparedness, particularly during hurricane season. 

63. Joseph Greco

Senior Vice President and Chief of Hospital Operations, NYU Langone Hospital–Long Island

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After John Collins’ retirement last year after a career of dedicated service to health care, Dr. Joseph Greco – former chief medical officer – was elevated to lead NYU Langone Hospital–Long Island. Despite a leadership change just before the coronavirus hit the region, the hospital was named a recipient of Healthgrades’ 2021 excellence awards with a designation of being one of the top hospitals for critical care in the nation.

64. Gwen O'Shea

President and CEO, Community Development Corporation of Long Island

As the leader of Community Development Corporation of Long Island, Gwen O’Shea is gearing up for a wave of economic unrest as unemployment continues to rise on Long Island and more and more families miss mortgage payments. O’Shea is a leading local housing advocate and continues to make the case for inclusionary zoning to address the region’s history of illegal, segregated and unjust housing policies. 

65. Kimberly Cline

President, Long Island University

Although Long Island University was founded in Brooklyn in the 1920s, it also has a major presence in Nassau County with its Brookville campus, LIU Post. Kimberly Cline, who has served as president since 2013, has improved the institution’s finances and boosted its endowment while earning herself a contract extension through 2023 from the trustees. Like many schools, the Brookville campus had to temporarily switch to remote classes last month due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

66. Christine Riordan 

President, Adelphi University

Christine Riordan
Adelphi University

After taking the reins at Adelphi University in 2015, Christine Riordan has spearheaded rising enrollment, a more diverse student body and the launch of 17 new academic programs. Formerly the provost of the University of Kentucky, Riordan is the first woman to lead Adelphi. In early October, she reported a 0.4% positivity for COVID-19, with about 15 cases on campus. She also chairs the Commission on Independent Colleges & Universities in New York.

67. Teresa Miller

Officer-in-Charge, SUNY Old Westbury

Teresa Miller
AJ Letterel /SUNY Old Westbury

It’s been a long time since a new leader came on at SUNY Old Westbury, which was led for two decades by Rev. Calvin Butts III. When Butts stepped aside this year, he was replaced on an interim basis in September by Teresa Miller, who remains in her role as SUNY’s senior vice chancellor of strategic initiatives and chief diversity officer. As a top SUNY administrator, she helped review campus reopening procedures.

68. Robert Zimmerman

Co-Founder and Partner, ZE Creative Communications

Robert Zimmerman is one of Long Island’s go-to consultants in public relations, communications and crisis management. He and Ron Edelson founded Zimmerman/Edelson in 1988, and recently did some rebranding of their own with a name change to ZE Creative Communications. Zimmerman has also been outspoken in his political views, criticizing Rep. Thomas Suozzi last year but opting against a Democratic primary challenge to focus instead on ousting President Donald Trump. 

69. Ian Wilder

Executive Director, Long Island Housing Services

Ian Wilder
Images by Jonathan

Newsday’s "Long Island Divided" series exposed entrenched housing discrimination, drawing attention to the work done by groups such as Ian Wilder’s Long Island Housing Services. The Bohemia-based nonprofit, which has received new funding from HUD and the state Attorney General’s Office this year, has secured settlements with landlords accused of discriminating against potential tenants and recently filed a lawsuit accusing the real estate brokerage Redfin of racial discrimination.

70. Derrick Robinson & Dorian Glover

Presidents, Suffolk County Bar Association; Nassau County Bar Association

This summer, Suffolk County District Court Judge Derrick Robinson was elected president of the Suffolk County Bar Association, the first Black person in the post. The founding president of the Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association as well, Robinson aims to make his current organization even more inclusive. At the same time, the Nassau County Bar Association installed Dorian Glover, an attorney in private practice, as president, only the second Black person to lead the organization.

71. Richard Amper

Executive Director, Long Island Pine Barrens Society

One of the most venerable environmental organizations on Long Island is the Long Island Pine Barrens Society – and just as venerable is its leader, Richard Amper, who has run it for more than three decades. The organization made its mark securing conservation protections for the Central Pine Barrens, and still advocates for clean water. This year, Amper has opposed Suffolk County’s efforts to divert drinking water protection funds to balance the budget. 

72. Laureen Harris

President, Association for a Better Long Island

Laureen Harris
Laureen Harris

As president of the Association for a Better Long Island and an accomplished tax attorney at Cronin, Harris & Associates, Laureen Harris is sought after for her expertise by some of the region’s top developers. She was recently appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the board of trustees of the Long Island Power Authority, where she will put her expertise to use challenging property taxes on power plants. 

73. William Kee

Vice President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

One of the most powerful labor unions in the state is 1199SEIU, which represents hundreds of thousands of workers at nursing homes, homecare agencies, hospitals and community clinics. William Kee, who has been a vice president with the union for more than two decades, plays a key role on Long Island, representing 6,000 members and serving on the executive board of the Long Island Federation of Labor.

74. Kristen Jarnagin

President and CEO, Discover Long Island

Kristen Jarnagin
Kur International Consulting

In her five years running Discover Long Island, Kristen Jarnagin has been tasked with overseeing – and expanding – Long Island’s $6.1 billion tourism economy. The coronavirus pandemic led to 80,000 layoffs and over $500 billion in losses in the regional travel industry, leaving Jarnagin to pick up the pieces. She recently stood with state legislators to support a new “Tourism Recovery Improvement District” to spur a comeback. 

75. Jennifer Garvey

New York Market Affairs Manager, Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind

New York has committed to achieving zero-emission energy by 2040 – and to do so, wind power off the coast of Long Island will play a big part. Ørsted, a renewable energy company headquartered in Denmark, is already developing a wind farm off Montauk Point that will have a capacity of 880 megawatts. Ørsted’s New York point person is Jennifer Garvey, a local expert on energy and environmental policy. 

76. Lucas Sanchez

Long Island Director, New York Communities for Change

Lucas Sanchez
Sandra Castro

One of the primary geographic targets for New York Communities for Change is Long Island, which the organization argues was “founded on the principle of exclusion that reverberates today.” Lucas Sanchez, who heads up NYCC’s efforts on Long Island, has recently spoken out about the threat of evictions due to coronavirus restrictions and praised a ruling striking down Islip’s at-large council system that kept Latinos out of office. 

77. John Cameron Jr.

Founder and Managing Partner, Cameron Engineering

As the chair of the Long Island Regional Planning Council and a professional engineer, John Cameron Jr. is a go-to expert on land use. As Long Island grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, downtowns zoned for mixed-use properties seem to be at an advantage, something the council noted when it released an in-depth study of the Village of Farmingdale. Cameron is leading the charge in creating a roadmap for the region’s sustainable future.

78. V. Elaine Gross

Founder and President, Erase Racism

V. Elaine Gross
ERASE Racism

Elaine Gross is a longtime advocate endeavoring to expose and eliminate systemic racist policies that continue to plague Long Island. After Newsday exposed racist practices in Long Island’s real estate industry, and the Black Lives Matter movement gained new local followers this summer, Gross has the ears of key policymakers who are finally ready to listen to what she has been telling them since the inception of ERASE Racism in 2001.

79. Kevin McDonald

Conservation Project Director for Public Lands, The Nature Conservancy on Long Island 

Kevin McDonald
Anthony Graziano

As clean water issues continue to arise on Long Island, Kevin McDonald has found himself in the spotlight more and more, defending the basic tenets of environmental science. He stood with Suffolk County legislators this fall to announce that all new construction projects must include nitrogen-reducing septic systems, and has been a long-time champion of sewer systems throughout the county. 

80. Luis Vazquez

President and CEO, Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

A longtime leader in Long Island’s Latino business community, Luis Vazquez partnered with the Town of Hempstead earlier this month to distribute 1,000 kits with medical supplies and personal protective equipment to Spanish-speaking business owners. The Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, founded in 1988, is known for networking events such as the Latina Hat Luncheon and Annual Gala Awards – though it is hosting only virtual events until next year. 

81. Liza Milgrim

President, Long Island Hispanic Bar Association

In her role as a personal injury attorney with law firm Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo, Lisa Milgrim represents mostly Spanish-speaking clients who have suffered an injury or need help navigating the legal system. Milgrim, who is new to her role as head of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association, recently helped launch a legal information program to assist people during the coronavirus pandemic. 

82. Robert Catell

Chair, Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center at Stony Brook University

As board chair of Stony Brook’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center, Robert Catell oversees critical research into emerging energy technologies that could fuel efforts to slash carbon emissions. Catell, who previously served as chair and CEO of of KeySpan Corporation and KeySpan Energy Delivery, and a chair of National Grid, also chairs the New York State Smart Grid Consortium and serves on the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium.

83. Retha Fernandez

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Suffolk County

In December, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone issued a report with a troubling finding: Of the 77 employees at the Department of Civil Service, only one was a person of color. Part of the solution was to create a chief diversity and inclusion officer position, with Retha Fernandez to fill the post. Fernandez previously was project director of the Urban League of Long Island’s groundbreaking State of Black Long Island Equity Council.

84. Lionel Chitty

Executive Director, Nassau County Office of Minority Affairs

Lionel Chitty
Femy Aziz

Last year, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran appointed Lionel Chitty to run her Office of Minority Affairs, bringing some stability to an office previously filled temporarily. Chitty, who’s also a business consultant, now promotes diversity through government contracting and has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by helping out with food drives, setting up testing sites in minority communities and distributing information to the public about the virus. 

85. Patrick Halpin

Managing Director, Mercury

Patrick Halpin has had a long history in local politics – as a member of the Suffolk County Legislature, as a representative in the state Assembly, and finally as Suffolk County executive. But while he’s now a managing director at Mercury, a top consulting firm, he is still directly involved in Suffolk County, including serving as chair of the Suffolk County Water Authority, which supplies drinking water. 

86. Geoffrey Prime

Mayor, South Floral Park

South Floral Park Mayor Geoffrey Prime is a co-chair of Nassau County’s new Police And Community Trust, which aims to improve relations between activists and law enforcement after this summer’s Black Lives Matter demonstrations gained momentum. Prime is also a criminal defense attorney and a founding partner of the Garden City law firm Prime & O’Brien. He formerly served on the Nassau Community College board of trustees.

87. David Kapell

President, Stirling Public Policy

David Kapell
David Kapell

David Kapell brings experience solving fiscal challenges to his work as a consultant, having served as the mayor – and community development director, trustee and planning board chair – of the Village of Greenport. A key client of his Stirling Public Policy is the Rauch Foundation, which focuses on children and families and environmental issues. A real estate developer, he also has been a proponent of the Long Island Rail Road’s expansion. 

88. Amy Flores 

Executive Director, Nassau County Office of Hispanic Affairs

Amy Flores
Morale Visual Production

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran marked National Hispanic Heritage Month last year by appointing Amy Flores to a revamped Office of Hispanic Affairs. Flores runs one of several Nassau County offices that are aimed at better serving minority populations. Flores is also a co-founder of Empress Group, a women’s empowerment organization, and sits on the board of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency.

89. Todd Shapiro 

President, Todd Shapiro Associates Public Relations

Todd Shapiro
Todd Shapiro Associates

A quarter century ago Todd Shapiro launched his own communications and crisis management firm, Todd Shapiro Associates Public Relations, which over the years has become a significant player on Long Island. Shapiro’s firm has developed a specialty in representing law enforcement unions, including the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association and the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association, as well as political clients, academic institutions and businesses large and small. 

90. Phil Andrews

President, Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce

Phil Andrews
Ronald Wright

Phil Andrews heads the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, the largest organization of its kind in New York, working with Black business owners to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to survive and thrive. LIAACC is also asking the Long Island community to “Buy Black” whenever possible. With the economic slowdown shuttering nearly three times as many Black-owned businesses as white-owned businesses in New York, Andrews’ work is critical.

91. Adrienne Esposito 

Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment

Adrienne Esposito
Citizens Campaign for the Environment

One policy issue that often transcends partisan politics on Long Island is the environment, with elected officials in both parties getting behind conservation, clean water and other initiatives. A leading Long Island environmental organization is Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which has been run for years by Adrienne Esposito. Since mounting a failed bid for the state Senate in 2014, Esposito has focused on offshore wind, toxic chemicals and clean energy. 

92. Farrah Mozawalla

Executive Director, Nassau County Office of Asian American Affairs

Farrah Mozawalla
Zaynab Ubaid/Office of Asian American Affairs

Farrah Mozawalla’s work on the Nassau County Asian American advisory board led to the creation of an Office of Asian American Affairs in the county, and once the office was established, the Valley Stream resident was speedily installed as its leader. Mozawalla continues to be a powerful advocate for the county’s Asian Americans, working to make sure they can access resources and relief during the pandemic and encouraging the county to contract with businesses owned by Asian Americans. 

93. Robert Creighton

Managing Partner, Farrell Fritz

At Farrell Fritz, Robert Creighton heads up a Uniondale law firm that handles a range of matters, from bankruptcy to commercial litigation to taxes. A health care specialist who represented Winthrop-University Hospital’s move to the NYU Langone health system, his expertise is invaluable as the industry contends with the coronavirus pandemic. The firm also opened an Albany office with a new regulatory and government relations practice in 2018. 

94. Harry Singh

President and CEO, Bolla Oil Corp. 

Harry Singh has built a gasoline-fueled empire with his company, Bolla Oil Corp., which has dozens of gas stations on Long Island. The Indian immigrant and millionaire has continued to expand despite the economic slowdown wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, recently opening a new Bolla Market station in Seaford – along with a Tim Hortons coffee shop. Singh and his wife, Kamiljit, also give back to the community through their Bolla Charity Foundation.

95. Shelley LaRose-Arken

Commissioner, Long Island MacArthur Airport

The coronavirus pandemic has battered the airline industry, taking a toll on airports like the Long Island MacArthur Airport. But while the Islip-owned airport saw flights drop by 75% this spring, Shelley LaRose-Arken has taken steps to keep people flying – securing stimulus funds, installing a system to clean the air, and facilitating COVID-19 tests for arriving passengers. This fall, both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines announced plans to resume more flights. 

96. Lynda Perdomo-Ayala

Chair, Suffolk County Human Rights Commission

In a letter to Newsday in May, Lynda Perdomo-Ayala urged Long Islanders to take a stand against racism after the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission saw an increase in harassment and attacks aimed at Asian and Asian Pacific American community members. Appointed as chair a year ago, Perdomo-Ayala is a licensed master social worker and serves as administrator in the Department of Pharmacological Sciences at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

97. Tessa Hultz

CEO, Long Island Board of Realtors

Tessa Hultz was hired on last year to run the Long Island Board of Realtors, a 28,000-member trade association. Hultz, who previously served in several roles at other official Realtor Boards across the country, now runs one of the largest such groups, replacing longtime leader Joseph Mottola. She applauded a 2019 Newsday investigation into housing discrimination on Long Island and pledged to revamp LIBOR’s anti-bias trainings. 

98. Pedram Bral

Mayor, Village of Great Neck

Pedram Bral
Maimonides Medical Center

Mayor Pedram Bral took action early during the coronavirus pandemic – declaring a state of emergency in Great Neck and seeking permission from the governor to enact a mask mandate for the village of over 10,000 residents. He is again urging caution as coronavirus infections increase in Nassau County. Bral is also a gynecological surgeon at Maimonides Medical Center and founder of its Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery division.

99. Liuba Grechen Shirley 

Founder and CEO, Vote Mama PAC

Liuba Grechen Shirley
Ann Parry

Liuba Grechen Shirley mounted a credible challenge against Rep. Peter King in 2018, and might have had a shot at succeeding him had she run again for the seat that King is vacating. But after getting the Federal Election Commission to allow campaign funds to be spent on child care, she shifted gears by launching Vote Mama PAC, which exclusively backed mothers – and a number of local and national candidates have broken through. 

100. Sergio Argueta

Founder and Board President, S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth Inc.

Sergio Argueta
Thomas Bonano

Sergio Argueta, a longtime advocate for racial justice and youth empowerment, recently told Newsday that young people are going to lead the way forward and inspire change during a time defined by the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide protests. Argueta, who also works as dean of academic services and discipline at Uniondale High School, founded S.T.R.O.N.G. Youth Inc. in an effort to end gang violence.

NEXT STORY: Staten Island Power 100 (51-100)