The 2021 MWBE Power 50

The executives and officials boosting government contracting with women and people of color in New York.

Sunrise in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Sunrise in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Ryan DeBerardinis/Shutterstock

Minority- and women-owned business enterprises, or MWBEs, enjoy increasing support in City Hall and Albany. Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have set ambitious targets for awarding government contracts to MWBEs. Cuomo has prioritized MWBE contracting since his first year in office, while de Blasio has moved the needle recently by demanding that each city agency appoint a chief diversity officer as soon as possible. 

While sexism and racism continue to pose formidable hurdles for business owners who are not white men, racial and gender disparities are increasingly under public scrutiny. And while the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately harmed people of color, policymakers have doubled down on their efforts to diversify the pool of city and state government contractors as one way to rectify historical inequities. City & State’s first MWBE Power 50 – compiled in partnership with journalist Leonard Robinson – recognizes the contractors, public officials, industry leaders and advocates behind rising utilization rates for New York’s businesses owned by women and racial minorities.

1. Julissa Gutierrez 

Chief Diversity Officer for the State of New York 


When Julissa Gutierrez was appointed New York’s chief diversity officer last summer, she was tasked with registering more MWBEs and reaching the state’s ambitious 30% MWBE contract utilization goal – which New York nearly did, with the state announcing in December that 29.51% of its contracts had been awarded to firms owned by women or minorities in the 2019-2020 fiscal year. An expert on Latino issues and civic engagement, Gutierrez previously held key roles with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund. 

2. Jonnel Doris & Dynishal Gross 

Commissioner; Deputy Commissioner, Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity, New York City Small Business Services

Jonnel Doris
NYC Department of Small Business Services
Dynishal Gross

Jonnel Doris has been a key advocate for MWBEs long before he was appointed to lead New York City Small Business Services in May 2020, having previously led the Mayor’s Office of MWBEs and having served as chief diversity officer for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office of Storm Recovery. In addition to overseeing the city’s MWBE program at SBS, Doris co-chairs the Small Business Subcommittee of the Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity. His colleague Dynishal Gross, the deputy commissioner for SBS’ Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity, manages the city’s certification of MWBEs while also connecting them with resources for procuring city contracts. She previously worked for members of the New York City Council and was assistant commissioner for business programs in SBS’ Division of Business Services. 

3. Michael Garner 

Chief Diversity Officer, Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Michael Garner
Pat Cashin

As the MTA’s chief diversity officer, Michael Garner has overseen significant growth in MWBE contracting. The transit authority, which has the state’s highest discretionary program threshold at $1 million and assists with lending, appropriated $722 million to MWBE firms in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, the largest amount of any New York agency, and is on track to hit Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s goal of utilizing MWBE firms for 30% of the state’s contracting. Garner previously worked at the New York City School Construction Authority, another agency leading the way on MWBE contracting, and serves as president of One Hundred Black Men of New York, a nonprofit empowering the Black community. 

4. Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn 

Chair, Assembly Subcommittee on Oversight of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises 

Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn
Office of Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn is a vocal advocate for MWBEs in Albany. As chair of the Assembly’s MWBE oversight subcommittee, the Brooklyn lawmaker has provided legislative support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 30% MWBE contracting target, expanding MWBE lending options and educational resources, pressuring state agencies to collect more data on MWBE firms that seek government contracts and making resources available at the state level for MWBEs and other small businesses impacted by COVID-19. She is a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on MWBEs. 

5. James Sanders Jr. 

Chair, State Senate Committee on Banks 

State Sen. James Sanders Jr. has long been a leading voice in Albany for MWBEs. As chair of the Committee on Banks, he has sought to expand lending options, combated predatory lending practices in marginalized communities and ensured access to lending resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last May, Sanders and Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn hosted an MWBE and small business call to discuss the pandemic’s impact and how to provide resources for inclusion and recovery.

6. Magalie Austin

Senior Adviser and Director, Mayor’s Office of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises 

Maggie Austin last May was appointed to lead the New York City Mayor’s Office of Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises. She has led the city’s MWBE program during a critical period, as the coronavirus pandemic threatened many small businesses and disproportionately affected people of color. In July, as city agencies were required by executive order to appoint chief diversity officers to help reach the city’s goals for MWBE contract procurement, the Mayor’s MWBE office was tasked with implementing the executive order and ensuring compliance. 

7. Robert Cornegy

Chair, New York City Council MWBE Task Force

Robert Cornegy
Raeshon Robinson

New York City Council MemberRobert Cornegy, who represents Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights, is seeking to represent all of Brooklyn as he campaigns to be the next borough president. In addition to chairing the Housing and Buildings Committee, Cornegy also leads the New York City Council MWBE task force, which supports efforts to boost MWBE contract utilization and increase the number of minority-owned businesses throughout the city. He is also a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on MWBEs. 

8. Nina Kubota & Suzanne Veira 

President; Chief Diversity Officer, New York City School Construction Authority

Suzanne Veira
Scott Lindeman

After Lorraine Grillo was appointed senior adviser for recovery by New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio in February 2021, she handed off the reins at the New York City School Construction Authority to Nina Kubota. Kubota, who served as the SCA’s senior vice president for capital plan development and implementation, has big shoes to fill. But she’ll continue to work alongside a fellow SCA veteran in Suzanne Veira, above, the authority’s chief diversity officer, to boost the number of contracts made available to MWBE firms and involve minority communities in dialogue about school construction throughout New York City. 

9. Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Inez Dickens & Latrice Walker

Assembly Members

Office of Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes
Inez E. Dickens
Office of Inez E. Dickens
Latrice Monique Walker
Photo by Celeste Sloman

Long before she became Assembly majority leader in 2018, Buffalo lawmaker Crystal Peoples-Stokes was an advocate of MWBEs. She served on an MWBE task force Gov. Andrew Cuomo created in 2011, helped create the Assembly Subcommittee on MWBEs and served as its chair for several years starting in 2012, a time when the state began setting more ambitious MWBE contracting targets. This year she notched a big win with the passage of her legislation legalizing recreational marijuana, which includes language ensuring revenue is reinvested in communities of color. Fellow Assembly Member Inez Dickens of Harlem has also supported MWBEs in Albany, supporting a 2019 measure extending the state’s MWBE program. Assembly Member Latrice Walker of Brooklyn has also championed MWBE causes, including efforts to establish a Women of Color in Tech Day last year and eliminate net worth requirements for MWBE certification. 

10. Louis Coletti 

President and CEO, Building Trades Employers Association

Lou Coletti

Since 1997, Louis Coletti has served as president and CEO of Building Trades Employers Association, which represents construction contractors in New York and has been an important player in the industry’s local MWBE community. Coletti has spearheaded the BTEA’s MWBE Leadership Council, which meets quarterly to discuss and strategize on MWBE topics in the construction industry. Additionally, Coletti is a member of the New York City Comptroller’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth through Diversity and Inclusion. 

11. Wendy Garcia 

Chief Diversity Officer, Office of the New York City Comptroller 

Wendy Garcia

Wendy Garcia has served for seven years as chief diversity officer for New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, a mayoral candidate whose office has kept close tabs on MWBE contracting. Garcia leads the Office of Diversity Initiatives, which publishes “Making the Grade: New York City Agency Report Card on Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises,” an annual report assessing city agencies’ progress towards diversity goals. She also runs the Comptroller’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth through Diversity and Inclusion, which aims to increase supplier diversity. 

12. Stephanie Burns 

President, Women Builders Council

Stephanie Burns is president of the Women Builders Council, a leading New York membership association focused on empowering women in the construction industry. In this capacity, her efforts of implementing programming and strategic planning have proven essential to New York’s construction MWBE community. Her responsibilities have also included building a pipeline of students studying in STEM programs to find careers in construction and engineering. As a vice president at Turner Construction, she leads strategic project and community planning on numerous workforce development projects. 

13. Michael Massiah

Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey 

Michael Massiah

As the chief diversity officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Michael Massiah spearheads the authority’s diversity efforts, including awarding more contracts to MWBE firms. The veteran Port Authority official has had a higher target since 2018, when the MWBE contract participation goal was raised to an ambitious 30%, including 20% of contracts going to minority-owned firms and 10% to women-owned enterprises. The authority has reported that two-thirds of the companies it works with are MWBE-certified. 

14. Reuben McDaniel III 

President and CEO, Dormitory Authority of the State of New York

Reuben R McDaniel III

Last summer, Reuben McDaniel was confirmed as the president and CEO of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, a trailblazer in awarding contracts to MWBEs. McDaniel arrived at DASNY after a career in finance, most recently at Raymond James. McDaniel, who gained governmental experience as chair of the Atlanta Board of Education while still in the private sector, now runs an authority that awarded $184 million to MWBE firms in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, or nearly a third of all its contracts.

15. Elizabeth Velez 

President and Chief Contract Officer, Velez Organization 

Elizabeth Velez
Greg Morris

Elizabeth Velez is one of the leading contractors in the MWBE space, building her construction firm into a heavyweight in an industry dominated by white men while continuing to advocate for smaller operations seeking to follow in her footsteps. Her Velez Organization was launched in 1972 and has built affordable housing in the Bronx and Harlem as well as a portfolio of health care, educational and other large-scale projects throughout New York. A member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on MWBEs, she was named chair of the New York Building Congress last year. 

16. Jacques Andre DeGraff

Chair, Minority Business Enterprise Leadership Summit 

Jacques DeGraff
Celeste Sloman

Rev. Jacques Andre DeGraff has been involved in MWBE coalitions for a quarter century. His role as a spiritual leader of Canaan Baptist Church of Christ in Harlem has placed him on the front lines of numerous social justice efforts, including boosting coronavirus vaccination rates among Black New Yorkers. He is an active member and former vice president of 100 Black Men of New York and helped launch the Eagle Academy for Young Men of Color. DeGraff previously chaired the New York City School Construction Authority Diversity Council.

17. Sandra Wilkin 

Founder and President, Bradford Construction Corporation 

Sandra Wilkin
Andre Beckles

As founder and former president of the Women Builders Council and a member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on MWBEs, Sandra Wilkin has been recognized for mentoring other MWBE firms as means to boosting capacity and achieving city and state contracting targets. She has also led successful efforts to use legislation to boost MWBE contracting. Her women-owned Bradford Construction Corporation is also part of the Bravo Group, a partnership with fellow MWBEs Velocity Architecture & Engineering Group, Chu & Gassman Consulting Engineersand Skyline Engineering.

18. Cheryl McKissack Daniel 

President and CEO, McKissack & McKissack 

Cheryl McKissack Daniel
McKissack & McKissack

Cheryl McKissak Daniel leads McKissack & McKissack, a minority-owned design and construction firm that dates back more than a century. Her company worked on Columbia University’s expansion, the World Trade Center and the former Atlantic Yards development. A past president of the Women Builders Council, she is a member of Women in Transportation, the New York Building Congress and the Mayor’s Advisory Council on MWBEs. Her sister, Deryl McKissack, runs another construction company named McKissack & McKissack, with a headquarters in Washington. 

19. Samuel Padilla 

President, Padilla Construction Services 

Samuel Padilla

Samuel Padilla leads Padilla Construction Services, an MWBE-certified construction firm that quickly established itself after its founding in 1993. Padilla was appointed to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s MWBE advisory board when it was launched in 2015. His construction company has completed projects at the World Trade Center and the United Nations while working with major city and state agencies, including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the New York City School Construction Authority. 

20. Nayan Parikh 

President, Ashnu International 

Nayan Parikh
PNC Photo

Nayan Parikh started out as a civil engineer in India and is now the owner of a Queens-based construction firm with multiple offices around the country and abroad, and along the way he has become a leader in New York’s MWBE community. Parikh founded Ashnu International as a general contracting and construction management company in 1998, becoming a trusted contractor to federal and state agencies along with clients in the private sector. He serves on the Mayor’s Advisory Council for MWBEs and is executive vice president of the National Association of Minority Contractors and president of NAMC's New York Tri-State Chapter. 

21. Christopher Williams 

Principal, Siebert Williams Shank & Co. 

Christopher Williams
Travis Curry

As board chair at Shank Williams Cisneros & Co. and principal of the affiliated Siebert Williams Shank & Co., Christopher Williams leads one of the largest MWBE financial services firms on Wall Street. Williams, who previously led The Williams Capital Group and Williams Capital Management, merged with Suzanne Shank’s Siebert Cisneros Shank in 2019. Other key executives at the company include former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and former New York City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. 

22. Anyori Hernandez

Director of Emerging Managers, Office of the State Comptroller 

Anyori Hernandez
Office of the State Comptroller

While much attention is paid to how many contracts New York agencies award to MWBEs, another significant source of government funds that minority and women business owners compete for is in the pension fund managed by the state comptroller. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s Emerging Manager Program has diversified the portfolio of the Common Retirement Fund, with Barclays alum Anyori Hernandez investing more than $20 billion in assets with MWBEs. 

23. Ehab Shehata 

President and CEO, Bravo Group

Ehab Shehata
Kim Tyler Photography/BRAVO Group

Ehab Shehata heads up Bravo Group, a full service architecture and engineering firm. Spearheaded by Shehata and Sandra Wilkin, Bravo is a collaborative effort of Velocity Architecture and Engineering Group, Chu & Gassman Consulting Engineers, Bradford Construction Corporation and Skyline Engineering, all leaders in construction and engineering. Under Shehata’s leadership, Bravo Group has taken on projects with educational institutions, national organization headquarters, health care facilities, transportation hubs and industrial projects, such as the ongoing restoration work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. 

24. Quenia Abreu 

President and CEO, New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce 

Quenia Abreu
Niurka Vidal

Quenia Abreu co-founded the New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce in 2002, when it became the first and only women’s chamber of commerce in the state. Abreu, who previously directed the Women’s Business Centers at the Queens Economic Development Corporation and the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation, has led the NYWCC since 2004, spearheading its efforts in assisting firms seeking MWBE certification. A member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on MWBEs, she also launched a women and minority business development center in Upper Manhattan.

25. Thai Lee 

President and CEO, SHI

Since SHI was founded in 1989, Thai Lee has been at the helm of the leading information technology firm. The New Jersey-based company, formerly Software House International, has billed itself as the country’s largest minority- and women-owned business, with certifications from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, the New York & New Jersey Minority Supplier Development Council and New York City. Lee’s firm is currently the top MWBE contractor in New York City, with more than $100 million received on a $285 million contract. 

26. Roly Acosta

President and CEO, JAG Companies 

Roly Acosta runs JAG Companies, the New Jersey-based parent company of construction heavyweights such as Northeast Remsco Construction and Caldwell Marine International. The family-owned JAG Companies is one of the country’s biggest Hispanic-owned firms. The company has supported supplier diversity by growing and utilizing their MWBE subcontractor database. Northeast Remsco Construction is currently a top MWBE in New York City, having received $52 million to date this fiscal year. 

27. Lourdes Zapata 

President and CEO, SoBro 

Lourdes Zapata
Kimberly Singh/LOFT

Lourdes Zapata in 2019 took the top position at the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, or SoBro, a community development organization serving one of the poorest congressional districts in the country. Zapata, the first Latina and woman to hold the position, had previously served as the organization’s director of community development. In between, Zapata served as chief diversity officer under Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a position in which she oversaw increased contracting for MWBE firms. 

28. Lloyd Williams 

President and CEO, The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce 

Lloyd Williams
Hubert Williams

Lloyd Williams, a lifelong Harlemite and the godson of Malcolm X, is the longtime leader of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce. The organization, which dates back to 1896, aims to improve the lives of Harlem residents, and during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic it delivered hundreds of meals and personal protective equipment each day. Williams, who co-founded Harlem Week and the Harlem Jazz & Music Festival and serves on the board of NYC & Company, has also been an outspoken proponent of MWBEs. 

29. Barbara Armand Kushner 

President and CEO, Armand Corporation

Barbara Armand
Armand Corporation

Barbara Armand is the owner and chief executive of Armand Corporation, a program and construction management firm she founded in 1991 that now has offices in New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia. She is a consultant on MWBE policy and her clients have included large organizations in the private and public sectors, such as the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the New York City School Construction Authority. She’s also the president emeritus of the New York chapter of Professional Women in Construction.

30. Deborah Bradley 

President, Deborah Bradley Construction & Management Services 

Deborah Bradley launched her construction management firm in 1994 after graduating from Columbia University, her first client. A past president of the Women Builders Council, she formed a partnership with the United Nations to encourage women to enter the construction industry, helped launch student chapters and lobbied New York officials to adopt a 30% MWBE utilization goal. The former accountant is a member of the New York Building Congress and has served since 2019 on the Mayor’s Advisory Council on MWBEs.

31. Bill Howell 

President, Howell Industries 

Bill Howell
Megan Kelly

Bill Howell’s company started out in the petroleum business before transitioning to construction work. Howell Industries today mentors small MWBE contractors and contracts with large governmental bodies including the New York City School Construction Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. It also assists Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses through the MTA Small Business Development Program. In 2019, Howell was appointed to the Mayor’s MWBE Advisory Board. 

32. Bonnie Wong 

Founder and President, Asian Women in Business 

Bonnie Wong is the founder and leader of Asian Women in Business, a national membership organization to support Asian women-owned businesses. The nonprofit offers mentorship and networking for Asian women in corporate and legal sectors. AWIB has grown to become a widely recognized organization championing MWBE efforts in New York and nationally. Wong serves on MWBE and diversity boards for both New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Comptroller Scott Stringer. 

33. Tunisha Walker-Miller 

Principal, Capalino

Tunisha Walker-Miller
Leigh Beckett

Tunisha Walker-Miller, a principal at Capalino, manages the leading lobbying firm’s MWBE Consulting Group, which has helped procure contracts for firms on both state and local levels across a variety of sectors since 2015. She also founded the Association of Black Lobbyists and Consultants in 2019. She has previously served as executive director of the state Senate Conference of Black Senators.

34. Charles Williams III

Partner, Peckar & Abramson

Charles E. Williams III
Tony David Photography

As a partner at Peckar & Abramson, Charles Williams III practices construction and real estate law, with a special expertise in MWBE regulations and certification. Williams previously served as vice president and general counsel of the New York City School Construction Authority, a leading agency in awarding MWBE contracts, and he also has worked with the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, the New York Department of State and the NAACP. He’s also general counsel for the Building Trades Employers Association’s MWBE Leadership Council.

35. Kenneth Thomas & Jason Cintron 

Co-Managing Directors, Minority & Women Contractors & Developers Association

Kenneth Thomas
Sepia Prince
Jason Cintron
Jason Cintron

Kenneth Thomas and Jason Cintron launched the nonprofit Minority & Women Contractors & Developers Association in 2019, with the goal of empowering MWBE firms and diversifying the real estate and construction industries. MWCDA has been focused on growing its membership and promoting workforce development training. Cintron previously held key staff positions with the New York City Council, while Thomas worked in the real estate industry.

36. Brian Matthews

Senior Consultant, Brown & Weinraub

Brian Matthews
Timothy Raab/Northern Photo

After three decades working in state government, Brian Matthews joined top Albany lobbying firm Brown & Weinraub in January and has been helping to build out its MWBE practice. Matthews brings plenty of relevant experience, including as chief financial officer for the state Office of General Services and director of the Bureau of Financial Administration in the Office of the State Comptroller. Matthews recently called for revisions to evaluation standards for government contractors to prioritize the “value of community progress” as much as cost and experience.

37. Rick Miranda 

President and CEO, Brooklyn Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 

As the longtime leader of the Brooklyn Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Rick Miranda has driven the membership organization’s efforts to support Hispanic-owned businesses across the borough. A member of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on MWBEs and other diversity boards and councils – and as a small business owner himself – Miranda has helped boost the number of certified MWBEs through a partnership with New York City Small Business Services. 

38. Kristin Malek 

Director of Business Diversity, CDW 

Kristen Malek
Margaret Koukos Photography

Since December, Kristin Malek has overseen business diversity initiatives for CDW, an Illinois-based information technology services provider that does significant business in New York. Malek has managed some $2 billion yearly in investments through the company’s supplier diversity program, partnering with hundreds of minority- and women-owned firms. Since Malek joined the company in 2017, it has twice been a finalist for the National Minority Supplier Development Council Corporation of the Year. 

39. Justin Nelson & Jonathan Lovitz 

Co-Founder and President; Special Adviser, National LGBT Chamber of Commerce 

Jonathan Lovitz
Topher Scott

The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce recently reached an agreement with the New York City Department of Small Business Services to certify firms owned by LGBTQ New Yorkers. Supporters say the move connects these firms with city resources, but without undermining official MWBE government contracting efforts. The agreement, which was reached in lieu of passing proposed legislation, is a victory for NGLCC’s Justin Nelson, who is typically more active on the national level, and Jonathan Lovitz, who was previously NGLCC’s New York director and lobbied for the recent local change. 

40. Paul Williams Jr.

Founder, Brown Hatchett & Williams

Paul T. Williams, Jr
Paul T. Williams, III

Paul Williams is a founding partner at Brown Hatchett & Williams, a law firm well-versed in corporate governance, finance and real estate matters. Williams made history in 2008 as the first African American to lead the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York and established DASNY as an innovator in developing new strategies to award contracts to MWBEs. He also chaired then-Gov. David Paterson’s MWBE task force, and continued to lead DASNY under Gov. Andrew Cuomo until 2015. Williams now advises companies on diversity and inclusion.

41. Jacqueline S.L. Williams

Founding Partner and Co-Owner, State & Broadway 

Jacqueline S.L. Williams is a fierce advocate for MWBEs in New York. The owner of the lobbying firm State & Broadway served on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s MWBE task force in 2011 in her capacity as MWBE Coalition coordinator, and she continues to work with firms owned by women and minorities and on broader economic development and labor issues as a top lobbyist in Albany. 

42. John Flateau

Professor, Medgar Evers College 

John Flateau
NYC Board Of Elections, Annual Report 2019

John Flateau is the co-founder of Medgar Evers College’s DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy and US Census Information Center. Previously, he served as chief diversity officer at Empire State Development under former Gov. Mario Cuomo, executive director of the New York State Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Caucus and chief of staff to former New York City Mayor David Dinkins. A founding father of New York MWBEs, he played a key role in conducting a disparity study that paved the way for New York City’s MWBE program. 

42. Hazel Dukes

President, NAACP New York State Conference 


As a longtime leader with the venerable civil rights organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Hazel Dukes has spent decades seeking to create social and economic opportunities for New Yorkers of color. Dukes’ consulting firm Hazel N. Dukes and Associates focuses on public policy, health and diversity, and she was appointed to serve on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Task Force. She’s also a member of New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s Advisory Council on Economic Growth through Diversity and Inclusion.

43. Valerie White 

Executive Director, LISC NYC

Valerie White
Roger Archer, Phaats Photos

Valerie White took the reins of the New York City office of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, or LISC NYC, a year ago. White, who previously led Empire State Development’s Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development, now is tasked with continuing initiatives that have pumped $3.1 billion into affordable housing, health care, jobs and business development programs. LISC, which was founded in New York by the Ford Foundation and corporate partners in New York in 1979, now has a presence in 45 states. 

44. Liz Neumark 

Founder and CEO, Great Performances 

Liz Neumark
Great Performances

Liz Neumark has led Great Performances for four decades, building it out from a part-time staffing agency for women in the arts into a top-tier catering and events company. In 2019, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Neumark’s women-owned firm was relocating from Manhattan to the South Bronx, while creating nearly 200 new jobs and investing $4.4 million into a 40,000-square-foot space. 

45. Jean Kristensen 

President and CEO, Jean Kristensen Associates

After a career in private security, Jean Kristensen switched gears to run her own consulting firm, Jean Kristensen Associates. The firm, which is a minority- and women-owned business, assists other small business owners in getting certified with city and state MWBE programs and pursuing government contracts. Government agencies have also consulted Kristensen to identify firms for their supplier diversity programs.

46. Jacqui Williams 

Principal, 99 Solutions 

Jacqui Williams
TL Holmes/MCG

Jacqui Williams is one of New York City’s top lobbyists, specializing in everything from real estate to recreational marijuana to retail and grocery stores, including helping the popular Wegmans Food Markets bring a supermarket to Brooklyn. As the longtime owner of the consulting firm 99 Solutions, she has long sought to assist business owners who are people of color.

47. Larry Scott Blackmon 

Founder and CEO, The Blackmon Organization

Larry Scott Blackman
Andrew Morales

When Larry Scott Blackmon founded his consulting firm The Blackmon Organization, it was the latest stage in a career straddling the public and private sectors. He remains a top executive at FreshDirect, forging relationships with MWBEs in the company’s supplier network and managing government and community relationships. He has worked for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and New York City Small Business Services and is an active member of One Hundred Black Men of New York.
Blackmon is a member of City & State’s advisory board, but did not have direct input on this list.

48. Mohammad Razvi 

Co-Founder and Executive Director, Council of Peoples Organization 

An immigrant from Pakistan and a former businessman, Mohammad Razvi founded the Council of Pakistan Organization five months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Now the Council of Peoples Organization, the nonprofit assists low-income immigrant families, primarily of South Asian and Muslim descent, as they adapt to life in New York City. An advocate for minority and immigrant owned businesses, Razvi also serves on the Mayor’s Advisory Council on MWBEs. 

49. Stacie NC Grant

Chief Brilliance Officer, C&G Enterprises Unlimited 

Stacie NC Grant
Emma Burcusel Photography

An author, motivational speaker and MWBE advocate, Stacie NC Grant leads C&G Enterprises Unlimited, which provides meeting facilitation, professional development and event services for various community, nonprofit and educational organizations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company pivoted to providing decontamination services for small businesses and meeting spaces. Previously, Grant was selected as the facilitator for the JFK International Airport Redevelopment Community Advisory Council, a part of the $13 billion redevelopment project. 

50. Everett Perry

President and Founder, Urban EcoSpaces

Everett Perry
Urban Ecospaces, Inc

In 2009, Everett Perry launched Urban Ecospaces, a development and general contracting firm and a certified MWBE. Perry’s firm has worked on major projects with the New York City Department of Design and Construction, the New York City School Construction Authority and the Build It Back program after Superstorm Sandy. Perry is also the fundraising chair for the NYC MWBE Alliance, a diverse coalition of MWBEs that works with city, state and federal agencies and contractors to secure government contracts. 

Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of the post incorrectly combined Jacqui Williams of 99 Solutions and Jacqueline S.L. Williams of State & Broadway. This post has also been updated to reflect that Larry Scott Blackmon still works at FreshDirect. 

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