It’s never a good idea to bet against Manhattan. In recent months, pundits have questioned whether the borough can rebound from COVID-19, which has shuttered countless businesses and emptied office buildings. But bouncing back is what Manhattan does best. Similar doubts arose following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy. Wall Street has contended with one recession after another over the decades, and City Hall grappled with a severe fiscal crisis of its own in the 1970s. Each time, Manhattan and its leaders found a path forward.
City & State’s Manhattan Power 100 highlights the public officials, business executives, hospital CEOs, community leaders, consultants and reformers who have made the borough what it is – and are making sure it gets back on track this time around. This year’s list, which was researched and written by City & State’s Jon Lentz, Kay Dervishi and Jasmine Sheena, marks a changing of the guard, featuring a number of elected officials on their way out of office as well as the candidates in line to replace them. It also reflects the rising power of Black and Latino Manhattanites, like Rep. Adriano Espaillat and Alvin Bragg, the likely next district attorney. And it includes many of the institutional forces – real estate developers, media tycoons and billionaire donors – that remain firmly entrenched in the borough’s power structure.
Over the course of more than four decades in elected office, Rep. Jerry Nadler has established himself as one of New York’s leading politicians. He played a key role in the first impeachment proceeding against then-President Donald Trump – whom he had tussled with in a land use dispute in Manhattan years earlier. Nadler, who was elected to Congress in 1992, has joined fellow Manhattan Rep. Carolyn Maloney in drawing attention to the ongoing health impacts of the 9/11 terror attacks in lower Manhattan.
When Rep. Adriano Espaillat was first elected to Congress in 2016, his victory signified the growing political power of Dominican Americans in Upper Manhattan. Espaillat has leveraged that still-expanding influence to great success in the past year. His backing helped propel four City Council candidates to victory in the June primary – including two running for seats in Manhattan – and boosted New York City Council Member Mark Levine’s successful campaign to become Manhattan borough president.
State Sen. Liz Krueger may be a good government reformer at heart, but she has been in state politics long enough to know how to cut a deal. Her latest policy accomplishment was teaming up with Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes to pass landmark legislation legalizing recreational marijuana in New York. She also stands up for progressive priorities in the state budget process as the chair of the state Senate Finance Committee.
Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin lost his bid to become New York City comptroller this year, but the former state senator managed to land a high-profile role as Gov. Kathy Hochul’s right-hand man. Hochul has signaled that she doesn’t want Benjamin to take a backseat as lieutenant governor. He’s now leading a task force on fixing the New York City Housing Authority and got to see the Less is More Act he spearheaded while in the state Senate get signed by the governor recently.
One of New York’s most prominent health policy crusaders is Assembly Member Richard Gottfried. He was elected into the Assembly in 1970 at the age of 23 and recently set the record as the longest-serving member ever in the state Legislature. Gottfried has been the chair of the Assembly Health Committee since 1987 and was an early proponent of legalizing same-sex marriage in New York and championed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. He’s now pushing to pass a state single-payer measure, the New York Health Act.
While she didn’t cause as much of a fuss as her colleague, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, at this year’s Met Gala, Rep. Carolyn Maloney did make a fashion – and political – statement of her own with a suffragette-themed dress, “Equal Rights for Women” sash and a handbag emblazoned with “ERA YES.” The veteran lawmaker has also continued to advocate for New Yorkers with illnesses caused by the 9/11 terror attacks. This year’s redistricting process could help Maloney avoid a looming primary challenge next year.
The Rev. Al Sharpton’s House of Justice in Harlem is a frequent destination for elected officials and candidates seeking office, as Sharpton’s endorsement is one that can make a difference on Election Day. The civil rights leader and MSNBC host has continued to speak out against police violence, a message that has resonated more broadly since George Floyd was killed by police. During the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Sharpton’s organization partnered with a food kitchen to deliver meals to members of the community in need.
Many New York City politicians see the borough presidency as a springboard to higher office. Yet, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer is returning to her old Upper West Side seat in the New York City Council next year – a move that speaks to a commitment to her local community. In her current role, Brewer has influenced a number of key land use decisions, most recently coming out against the de Blasio administration’s controversial SoHo rezoning plan. She’s also been rumored to be a potential council speaker contender.
Kathryn Wylde is a staunch and outspoken ally for New York City’s top businesses. She led opposition to state tax increases approved earlier this spring and leveled criticism at New York City’s use of federal aid in the latest budget, arguing it did not promote long-term economic growth and stability. Luckily for Wylde and the many corporate executives whose companies are members of Partnership for New York City, the climate in New York City is likely to become more business-friendly with the next mayoral administration.
Northwell Health’s Michael Dowling is among the most experienced and accomplished health care executives in the state, and his expertise was relied on heavily as New York was the first epicenter of the coronavirus in the country. Dowling, who has led the health care system for nearly two decades, was previously a health insurance executive. Although Northwell is based on Long Island, it has a major presence in Manhattan, where it has two hospitals.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman has passed over 60 bills since taking office in 2013, and he has been particularly prolific in passing progressive policy proposals since Democrats seized control of the state Senate in the 2018 election. The openly gay lawmaker spearheaded legislation to outlaw conversion therapy, which aims to change one’s sexual orientation, and more recently led the effort to pass a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for schoolchildren. This year, he came in second place in the Democratic primary for Manhattan borough president.
Merryl Tisch has long been one of New York’s leading educational policymakers. She previously focused most of her energies on K-12 education as chancellor of the state Board of Regents. Now as chair of the SUNY Board of Trustees, Tisch helped guide the SUNY system through the coronavirus pandemic after landing her role in 2019. As a philanthropist, she also serves on the boards of the Citizens Budget Commission, Barnard College and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Five years into his tenure as board chair of CUNY, former New York City Comptroller William Thompson Jr. is facing challenging questions – especially around the university system’s approach to education throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Going into full reopening for this school year, CUNY mandated vaccines for students attending in-person classes as part of its safety plans. Thompson is also a partner and chief administrative officer at the women- and minority-owned investment firm Siebert Williams Shank & Co.
Michael Bloomberg left City Hall at the end of 2013, but he hasn’t left politics behind. Though his self-funded bid for president failed to gain traction, the billionaire businessman continued to spend campaign money to help defeat a former fellow New Yorker, then-President Donald Trump, in the 2020 presidential election. Nowadays, Bloomberg has been weighing in on local and federal policies, running Bloomberg LP, contributing to efforts to combat COVID-19, curtailing gun violence through his Bloomberg Philanthropies and battling climate change as a United Nations special envoy.
During his more than three decades in leadership roles at Vornado Realty Trust, Steven Roth has positioned the company as one of the top real estate firms in Manhattan and beyond. The billionaire developer has a portfolio of more than 20 million square feet of office and retail space in Manhattan, and much of it is located in Midtown. Vornado was a partner on the conversion of the Farley Post Office Building into Moynihan Train Hall, and Roth is eyeing broader redevelopment around Penn Station.
It’s not every developer who can build something that can credibly be called a “city within a city.” But that’s what Stephen Ross has constructed at Hudson Yards, a $25 billion, 28-acre megaproject on Manhattan’s West Side that was opened in 2019 and is set to be completed in 2024. The billionaire owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins has also been a supporter of former President Donald Trump and delved into local politics with a political action committee that had some success opposing a number of progressive New York City Council candidates this cycle.
New York City Council speakers have historically been unlucky when pursuing higher office – and Corey Johnson was no exception to this rule this year as he fell short in his race to become city comptroller. But the term-limited City Council member isn’t too bothered, telling reporters in July that he looks forward to taking a break once he exits office at year’s end. Plenty is still on his plate in the meantime, however, as the COVID-19 pandemic and other challenges in the city continue.
New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera – whose district includes the East Village, Kips Bay and the Lower East Side – ranks among the leading contenders seeking to become the next council speaker. She has already gained the support of Rep. Nydia Velázquez early on for the influential post. Over the course of the past year, Rivera has sponsored legislation that would make the city’s Open Streets program permanent and that would fine restaurants that do not permit delivery workers to use their restrooms.
As chair of the New York City Council’s criminal justice committee, Council Member Keith Powers has been a key voice in the city’s response to deteriorating conditions at Rikers Island. He has also overseen part of the city’s plans to shutter the jail complex on the island. Powers – who represents neighborhoods such as Carnegie Hill, Stuyvesant Town and the Upper East Side – is also among the contenders vying to become the legislative body’s next speaker.
New York City Council Member Diana Ayala successfully fended off three challengers in this year’s Democratic primary for her Bronx-Manhattan seat. Now she’s got her eyes set on becoming the City Council’s next speaker, with the Daily News reporting former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito – Ayala’s old boss – and political consultant Luis Miranda Jr. as early supporters. Last year, Ayala introduced legislation with Council Member Francisco Moya to increase wages for security officers working at privately run homeless shelters.
As one of the outspoken members from a contingent of younger progressives in the state Legislature, Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou has been a champion of investing more money into New York City public housing, protecting local tenants and assisting small businesses, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. The lower Manhattan lawmaker also teamed up with her former boss, Assembly Member Ron Kim, to create the Asian Pacific American Task Force to address issues the local Asian American community faces.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. will not match the longevity nor achieve the legendary status of his predecessor, Robert Morgenthau. But Vance, the scion of a distinguished political family, can look back and say he forged his own path as he leaves office at the end of the year. Vance’s investigation of former President Donald Trump for potential tax-related crimes is still in progress, but could have major national implications. Vance also – eventually – brought former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein to justice.
Harlem native Alvin Bragg is on track to become the top local prosecutor for Manhattan, after emerging victorious in this year’s crowded Democratic primary. Bragg, who is poised to likely succeed District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and become the borough’s first Black district attorney, has pledged to reduce racial disparities in prosecution and to pursue fewer cases against low-level offenses. Once in office, the high-profile probe of former President Donald Trump’s family business will fall under Bragg’s purview as well.
As chair of the New York City Council’s health committee, Council Member Mark Levine has developed a reputation for being outspoken about how the city should tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. That persona, in part, helped fuel his successful primary campaign to become the next Manhattan borough president. Set to fulfill this likely upcoming role, Levine has pledged to create a COVID-19 Recovery Unit in his office and pushed for the city to change its approach to zoning.
In August, President Joe Biden nominated Damian Williams to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York – referred to by some as the Sovereign District of New York, given its prestige and headline-grabbing cases. Assuming Williams is confirmed, he would be the first Black person to head the Manhattan-based office, where he has served since 2012 as an assistant U.S. attorney.
The first openly gay man in the Assembly following his election in 2002, Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell has been a progressive stalwart. Among the notable bills he has sponsored include the Marriage Equality Act and the Dignity for All Students Act, an anti-bullying measure. In recent years, he has made headlines for his criminal justice reform legislation, including increasing transparency surrounding police discipline, a proposal to end grand jury secrecy and the restoration of voting rights for convicted felons on parole.
Long before he was elected to the New York City Council in 2001, Robert Jackson had spent years battling in court for more state aid for the city's public schools as part of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. Jackson went on to serve 12 years in the City Council and returned to elected office in 2019 after winning his Senate seat representing northern and western Manhattan. This year, a major boost in state funding finally put school aid at a level Jackson has been seeking for decades.
Lin-Manuel Miranda is a star on Broadway and in Hollywood, but his dad, Luis Miranda, has had his own long-running string of hits in New York politics. (The elder Miranda did capitalize on his son’s breakthrough musical, launching a political consulting division named Hamilton Campaign Network.) A veteran of City Hall and founding president of the Hispanic Federation, he teamed up with Bronx politico Roberto Ramirez to launch the MirRam Group in 2000. Most recently, the firm has been advising state Attorney General Letitia James on a potential gubernatorial bid.
The strategic communications firm Rubenstein has been protecting reputations and doling out a positive spin for its clients for more than 60 years and shows no signs of slowing down under the leadership of Steven Rubenstein. Rubenstein, whose father, Howard Rubenstein, launched the venerable PR company, also serves as chair of the Association for a Better New York, which hosts talks with political luminaries like state Attorney General Letitia James and played a big role in boosting turnout in New York during the recent census.
More than a decade in the state Legislature has made state Sen. Brian Kavanagh a figure to be reckoned with. After spending 11 years in the Assembly, he now represents a district spanning lower Manhattan and Brooklyn in the state Senate. Kavanagh has been an advocate for affordable housing as the chair of the state Senate Housing, Construction and Community Development Committee and has been outspoken about gun violence prevention as well. However, he’s facing a primary challenge on his left flank from attorney and criminal justice reform advocate Alana Sivin.
Since he was elevated to lead the Real Estate Board of New York in 2019, James Whelan has had to grapple with the impact of COVID-19 while continuing to advocate for the real estate industry. In New York City, REBNY is opposing a proposed commercial rent control measure, and in Albany, Whalen expressed concern about the recent extension of the state’s eviction moratorium. REBNY is also partnering with City Hall to reduce carbon emissions from buildings in the city.
Since he stepped down in 2017 after establishing himself as one of the most influential members of the Assembly, Keith Wright went on to join the politically connected law firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron while also running the Manhattan Democratic Party. The lifelong Harlemite, who spent more than two decades in the state Legislature and chaired the Housing Committee during his tenure, is now DHC’s director of strategic planning.
Sheena Wright is no stranger to disasters – and how to respond to them – having joined the United Way of New York City just as Superstorm Sandy was about to make landfall in New York. She now oversees her Manhattan-based organization’s COVID-19 response to combat hunger, support students and provide access to personal protective equipment. The nonprofit executive is also poised to use her expertise in government, politics and nonprofits as head of Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams’ transition team.
Suri Kasirer’s lobbying firm held onto its top spot among New York City lobbyists for the fourth year in a row in 2020. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Kasirer pulled in about $14 million working with clients ranging from Restaurants Organizing Advocating Rebuilding – an organization advocating on behalf of restaurants – and the Hotel Association of New York City. The firm, which already has strong established relationships with city leaders, is cultivating ties with the new Hochul administration.
Capalino ranked as the second-place lobbying firm by compensation last year, raking in close to $10 million under James Capalino’s leadership. Among the firm’s recent highlights include helping clients such as FWD.us pass state legislation to establish COVID-19 safety rules and supporting Lime’s push to launch an electric scooter pilot program in New York City. Capalino is gearing up to develop stronger relationships with incoming city leaders to continue to have close ties to City Hall.
Two big reasons that Bolton-St. Johns is perennially one of the top lobbying firms in New York City are Emily Giske and Violet Moss. Giske, a senior partner at the firm, has played a role in Bolton-St. Johns’ growth at the city, state and federal level while also fighting for LGBTQ rights and increasing female representation in elected office. Moss, who joined the firm in 2016, has extensive experience in state government and specializes in higher education, hospitals, organized labor, for-profit and nonprofit entities.
Manhattan is the financial center of New York, the country and even the world, making Jessica Walker’s role as a proponent of businesses in the borough a particularly important one. The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, which marked its 100th year last year, has been a proactive advocate for small businesses that struggled to survive during COVID-19 shutdowns. Walker previously served as vice president for government affairs at the Partnership for New York City.
While some fret that New York City won’t bounce back from COVID-19, Google is doubling down on Manhattan and its vast pool of worker talent. The company recently announced a $2.1 billion purchase of the 1.3 million-square-foot office building it already leases on Manhattan’s West Side. William Floyd, a longtime point person in New York for Google, told The Wall Street Journal that the tech company’s New York workforce has risen from about 7,000 in 2018 to 12,000 today.
Following an impressive tenure in the state Legislature, Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa is about to drop her Albany commute after winning a New York City Council primary this summer. Starting out as a staffer with Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell and New York City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, she went on to win her northern Manhattan Assembly seat in 2016. This year, the Dominican American lawmaker sponsored the $2.1 billion Excluded Workers Fund, which provides unemployment benefits to undocumented immigrants.
Greenberg Traurig, a law firm with offices all over the globe, is a political powerhouse in New York. Its Manhattan office, which has more than 300 lawyers, is led by Ed Wallace, a former New York City Council member who is now one of the city’s leading real estate attorneys. John Mascialino, who has held a number of roles in city government, is head of the firm's New York Government Law & Policy Practice. And former Manhattan Assembly Member Jonathan Bing, who joined the firm two years ago, is an expert on budgets and legislation.
Now in her 15th term in the Assembly, Assembly Member Deborah Glick is one of New York’s longest-tenured state lawmakers. The first openly gay state legislator in New York and a vocal member of the LGBTQ community, the Greenwich Village resident has worked on a range of legislative efforts designed to support LGBTQ New Yorkers and women. This includes the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, the Women’s Health and Wellness Act and the Reproductive Health Act.
Assembly Member Inez Dickens has been in politics since the 1990s, starting out as a district leader, serving in the New York City Council for a decade and then filling the Harlem Assembly seat vacated by Keith Wright at the end of 2016. Dickens, who grew up in a political family and has focused on boosting women- and minority-owned businesses in office, may move up again: She’s an early front-runner in the race to replace Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin in the state Senate.
Upper West Side Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal has been a force in Albany since she was first elected a decade and a half ago. She has advocated for a wide variety of causes, including supporting same-sex couples adopting nonbiological children together within the state and opposing the sale of electronic cigarettes to minors. Currently, she chairs the Assembly Committee on Social Services and has been vocal about protecting New York City tenants struggling to cover rent during COVID-19.
With this year marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11, several news outlets have reflected on how significantly lower Manhattan has transformed and recovered throughout the years. As president of Downtown Alliance, Jessica Lappin has made it a priority to ensure the area weathers the COVID-19 crisis and continues to thrive in the future. The business improvement district has been conducting research regularly to monitor the economic health of lower Manhattan.
The former New York City Council speaker-turned-nonprofit leader has made housing policy a priority this past year, calling for an extension of the statewide eviction moratorium and for rent relief to be distributed more quickly. Christine Quinn was particularly successful in vocally advocating for the city to increase the value of the city’s rental assistance vouchers. As head of Win, Quinn oversees a network of 13 shelters and more than 400 supportive housing units serving homeless families across the five boroughs.
The Chinatown Partnership was created in the aftermath of 9/11 to help the Manhattan neighborhood recover after the attack. Wellington Chen was the first employee at the organization – and now, as executive director, he has been tasked with helping Chinatown make it out of another crisis. Chen has been committed to supporting the neighborhood's businesses as they face a challenging road to recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, made all the more challenging with rising anti-Asian hate.
David Jones has advocated on behalf of low-income New Yorkers at the Community Service Society of New York for the past 35 years. That work has taken on new urgency amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as the organization has pushed for more rent relief and supported legislation to give formerly incarcerated New Yorkers a path to seal and expunge their past convictions. Jones also serves on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board and writes a column for the New York Amsterdam News dedicated to political issues affecting New York City.
NYU Langone Health was facing an operating loss of $120 million when Dr. Robert Grossman became its CEO in 2007. Since then, Grossman has increased the health system’s revenues and expanded its clinical and research space in New York. That includes a merger this year with Long Island’s last independent community hospital, Long Island Community Hospital. Grossman is also the dean of the affiliated NYU School of Medicine, where he made waves in 2018 by offering full-tuition scholarships to all students.
Dr. Steven Corwin has contended with numerous crises throughout the course of his career, having faced the HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as the aftermaths of 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy. But the persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly challenging for the hospital executive and for NewYork-Presbyterian, which had to ramp up care to meet New Yorkers’ needs. The hospital system also made headlines after it became the first in the state to announce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for its workers.
Dr. Kenneth Davis recently agreed to stay on through the end of 2024 as the chief executive of Mount Sinai Health System, while Margaret Pastuszko is taking over as president and chief operating officer of the largest academic medical system in New York City. In addition to treating a flood of patients for COVID-19, Mount Sinai has taken a number of forward-looking steps to confront the pandemic, from launching a post-COVID-19 care center to building a massive virus testing program and mandating vaccination for all of its workers.
Darren Walker has made waves in the philanthropic world. Last year, the Ford Foundation managed to raise $1 billion to be used for funding charities and advocacy groups while preserving its endowment, an unprecedented strategy in philanthropy. Walker has also emphasized that fellow philanthropists should approach their work through the lens of justice. “I think for too long we have focused on Band-Aids – on charity, generosity – which is all admirable and necessary but insufficient,” he told The Associated Press this year.
These New York City Council members are coming to the end of their terms, and questions remain about where they’ll head next. Since Council Member Ben Kallos fell short this summer in his bid to become Manhattan borough president, there has been speculation that he could seek a seat in the Assembly – especially if Upper East Side incumbent Dan Quart doesn’t run for reelection. Council Member Helen Rosenthal exited the city comptroller race early – and indicated that she has no plans to run for office in the near future. Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez’s political future may well benefit from his close ties to Democratic mayoral nominee Eric Adams, who could conceivably appoint him to a post at City Hall. The future is also uncertain for Council Member Margaret Chin, who has spent the past year pushing for the reopening of senior centers and for legislation that expands the number of street vendor permits. Last year, her spokesperson told City & State that she had no “concrete plans” and that there is “no doubt she will continue to stay engaged on the issues important to lower Manhattan communities.”
The growth of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire knows no bounds. His News Corp brand owns some of the best-known conservative media companies, including Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post – which he has used to amplify his conservative views. He recently launched a new United Kingdom-based brand, talkTV, signing on controversial news anchor Piers Morgan to bolster the network. His influence, both local and overseas, has been so pervasive, it inspired the popular HBO television show “Succession.”
Over the course of two decades as president of Hunter College, Jennifer Raab has helped raise $400 million in philanthropic funding for CUNY’s largest college and shaped its positive reputation in New York City’s higher education space. She also oversees Hunter College High School. Last year, Raab convened a new racial equity task force for the high school, which is now charged with responding to calls to ensure a more inclusive admissions process.
As Albany mulled a transfer tax on stock sales, Stacey Cunningham was quick to threaten state lawmakers with the possibility that the New York Stock Exchange might exit the Big Apple. But with the tax proposal failing to pass – and other states’ attempts to lure the NYSE proving unsuccessful – the exchange remains an influential part of New York’s landscape. Cunningham, who has led the exchange throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, became the first woman to run the organization in 226 years when she took the helm in 2018.
Cristina Contreras and William Hicks lead two of the major public hospitals that have helped Manhattan weather the COVID-19 pandemic. Contreras became CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan in East Harlem this past February, after serving in leadership roles with NYC Health + Hospitals in the Bronx. Hicks has led Bellevue in Kips Bay for five years, bringing with him more than four decades of experience in health care.
Kramer Levin is led by Paul Schoeman, who specializes in white-collar defense and investigations, and Howard Spilko, who deals with corporate matters, including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and middle-market transactions. The firm is also known for its work on local land use matters, while partner Barry Berke recently returned from a high-profile stint as the House of Representatives’ chief impeachment counsel. The law firm also hired Nada Llewellyn this summer as its first chief diversity and inclusion officer. Headquartered in Manhattan with offices in California and Paris, Kramer Levin is among one of the largest law firms in the New York area, with more than 300 attorneys.
Five victors in this year’s Democratic primaries are on track to join the New York City Council, representing each corner of Manhattan. Kristin Richardson Jordan managed to unseat political veteran Bill Perkins in a tight election in Central Harlem, making her one of several democratic socialists expected to join the legislative body. Christopher Marte, who’s most likely set to represent much of lower Manhattan, has already made waves opposing the proposed SoHo/NoHo rezoning. The adjacent Council District 3, which encompasses Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, is set to likely be represented by Erik Bottcher, who would be replacing his former boss, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. On the Upper East Side, Julie Menin successfully convinced voters that her record in city government, including her recent work on the 2020 census and her post-9/11 efforts chairing Manhattan’s Community Board 1, make her well-qualified to join the City Council. Tenants’ rights lawyer Shaun Abreu managed to beat a whopping 11 candidates in this year’s primary to represent parts of Upper Manhattan, propelled with support from Rep. Adriano Espaillat and current Council Member Mark Levine.
Bradley Tusk helped then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg win a third mayoral term in 2009 as his campaign manager, and for a time, it appeared that Tusk would propel another unconventional candidate into City Hall. Although Tusk and his staffers couldn’t capitalize on Andrew Yang’s early front-runner status in the mayor’s race this year, Tusk Strategies has continued to establish itself as a leading consulting firm in New York and nationally, especially with the help of political veterans Chris Coffey, Eric Soufer and Yvette Buckner.
As New York City has grown increasingly Democratic over the years, one Republican stalwart who’s still operating in the city is billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis. The supermarket and oil magnate sought the Republican line for mayor in 2013. He has since flirted off and on about mounting another mayoral campaign and has donated significant campaign sums to candidates from both parties. His daughter, Andrea Catsimatidis, has served as chair of the Manhattan Republican Party since 2017.
While Manhattan is known as a bastion of liberalism, the Manhattan Institute is decidedly conservative in the borough that it takes its name from and makes its home in. The nonprofit think tank has been led since 2019 by Reihan Salam, a writer who previously edited the National Review and is currently a contributing writer at The Atlantic as well. While much of the Manhattan Institute’s commentary focuses on national issues, its writers also delve into rising crime, land use, homelessness and other issues in New York City.
Leecia Eve has been the public face of Verizon and its efforts to expand broadband across New York since she joined the telecommunications giant in 2013. Eve, whose father was an Assembly member from Buffalo, previously served as New York’s deputy secretary for economic development. She was also a senior adviser to then-U.S. Sen Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and, in the mid-1990s, counsel to then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden.
As one of two sons of Estée Lauder, Ronald Lauder is the chair of the family company’s Clinique brand. But the billionaire makes headlines just as often in the political arena, as president of the World Jewish Congress and an ally of former President Donald Trump. In New York, Lauder has waded into congressional and state legislative races, either supporting Republicans or opposing Democrats, and backs an effort to continue using a single entrance exam for New York City’s elite high schools.
Anthony Marx leads the New York Public Library, the largest library in the country and one of the most iconic, with its pair of lion statues outside its flagship library at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street. Marx has led the system of 88 neighborhood branches for a decade. "New Yorkers have faced unprecedented challenges in the last year, and we know how much they need their libraries as they prepare to enter a chapter of recovery and renewal,” Marx said when city libraries reopened this spring.
The longtime charter school leader had plenty to contend with while leading the Success Academy Charter Schools throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Eva Moskowitz’s leadership, the network of charter schools made the decision to mandate vaccines for all employees in May. The decision resulted in all of the network’s teachers and staff being vaccinated in time for when 23,000 students returned to school buildings in August.
As the leader of the Grand Central Partnership, Alfred C. Cerullo III advocates for the Midtown neighborhood as it weathers the shutdowns and slowdowns that have hindered Manhattan during COVID-19. Recently, he has called for bringing more pedestrian-friendly space to Park Avenue. The Staten Islander, who is also a commissioner on the New York City Planning Commission, previously served as a member of the New York City Council. Cerullo was also a commissioner at the city Department of Consumer Affairs and the city Department of Finance.
The New York Landmarks Conservancy was formed too late to save the magnificent old Pennsylvania Station that was razed in the mid-1960s. But since the organization’s founding in 1973, the Manhattan-based conservancy has helped to preserve a number of historically significant edifices, from Ellis Island to the Fraunces Tavern. Peg Breen, who came on board in 1994, has played a key role in saving artifacts from the 9/11 terror attacks and supporting the conversion of the Farley Post Office into the new Moynihan Train Hall.
If you want to start a business improvement district in New York City, Dan Biederman is the guy who can tell you how it’s done. Before he launched his consulting firm Biederman Redevelopment Ventures in 1999, Biederman created the Grand Central Partnership, the 34th Street Partnership and the Bryant Park Corp., which played a major role in turning around those Manhattan neighborhoods. He has also urged Midtown executives to return to their offices in Manhattan which have mostly been left vacant due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In her five years at Charter Communications, Camille Joseph-Goldman has steadily risen through the corporate ranks and now is group vice president at the Stamford, Connecticut-based broadband and cable company. Charter is known in political circles for its Spectrum News programming that covers city and state politics, including the iconic NY1 station. It is also known for its role in government-driven efforts to expand broadband access across the state. Joseph-Goldman was previously a New York City deputy comptroller and was a staffer to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
New York real estate developers often delve into politics, but few are as engaged as Winston Fisher. He co-chairs the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, serves on the Citizens Budget Commission board and is a member of the Real Estate Board of New York’s executive committee. Last year, he even co-authored a book, “The Opportunity Agenda: A Bold Democratic Plan to Grow the Middle Class.” He has also offered ideas on how New York City can recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic. As a partner at Fisher Brothers, he oversees financing and investing, acquisitions and new developments.
As the longtime leader of the East Midtown Partnership, Rob Byrnes has used the business improvement district to help the neighborhood thrive – and survive the COVID-19 pandemic. At the helm of the East Midtown Partnership since its launch nearly two decades ago, Byrnes has come out against a New York City Council commercial rent proposal while supporting the removal of barricades around Trump Tower earlier this year.
Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez has represented his East Harlem district for over a decade, focusing on affordable housing and economic development and emerging as an early proponent of congestion pricing in Manhattan to fund mass transit. A centrist Democrat, Rodriguez is also the Assembly chair of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, which oversees a redistricting process in New York that is expected to end up with politically gerrymandered districts benefiting Democrats.
After overcoming years of opposition and even pulling the plug on the project temporarily, Barry Diller this spring finally unveiled the new Pier 55 – or “Little Island” – an artificial park rising out of the Hudson River on Manhattan’s West Side. Diller, the billionaire businessman behind the Manhattan-based digital and media conglomerate IAC, funded the $260 million, 2.4-acre pier, which The New York Times applauded as “a charmer, with killer views.”
Dr. Rajiv Shah’s resume has primed him for the current health crisis. He worked on the U.S. government’s response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa while at the U.S. Agency for International Development and reviewed the world’s pandemic readiness as part of a United Nations group. Shah now oversees The Rockefeller Foundation’s efforts to bolster COVID-19 testing and vaccination, in addition to its other grant-making focused on expanding access to renewable electricity and strengthening the global food system.
Before moving into private practice at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, Robert Abrams had a distinguished career in elected office, including serving as a member of the Assembly, as Bronx borough president and as New York’s state attorney general. Abrams, who nearly toppled then-U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato in 1992 while he was attorney general, might have some helpful insight for current state Attorney General Letitia James, who’s the latest politician in the post to mull a run for governor. Currently, Abrams is a senior counsel at Stroock, specializing in civil and criminal investigations.
As Manhattan continues to emerge as a destination for the tech sector, some of the credit is due to Fred Wilson and other founding fathers of New York’s so-called Silicon Alley. The venture capitalist launched Union Square Ventures, his New York City-based tech venture capital firm. He is also a founding member and co-chair of Tech:NYC, a coalition pushing for tech-friendly policies in New York.
Rashida Jones made history earlier this year when she ascended to the top leadership post at MSNBC, becoming the first Black woman to run a major television news network. Jones, who was previously a managing editor overseeing breaking news at the left-leaning network, notched an early win when she secured a new deal to keep the popular MSNBC host Rachel Maddow in the fold. She has also been focusing on adding more digital content as viewer habits evolve.
The New York Knicks returned to the playoffs this past season for the first time since 2013, which was a win for team owner James Dolan. Dolan runs Madison Square Garden Entertainment Corp., which includes Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall, in addition to Madison Square Garden Sports Corp., which was spun off into a stand-alone company last year. Recently, Madison Square Garden has been subject to renewed speculation about whether the arena could be moved to make way for a new Penn Station.
Elizabeth Velez isn’t just a trailblazer in a construction industry that’s long been dominated by white men. As the president and chief contract officer for the family-run Velez Organization, she’s a leading construction executive in her own right. In Manhattan alone, the company’s portfolio includes work at Hudson River Park, Battery Park City, Columbia University and Con Edison’s corporate headquarters. Last year, Velez was named as chair of the New York Building Congress.
Throughout B.J. Jones’ seven years at Battery Park City Authority, he has focused on improving community relations and bolstering climate resiliency in Battery Park City. Jones brought with him a long tenure in New York City government dating back to the Bloomberg administration, having held positions in the city Department of Buildings and the Mayor’s Office of Operations. The state authority faced some pressure this past summer after some lower Manhattan residents opposed a proposed monument to essential workers that was initially slated to be built in Battery Park City’s Rockefeller Park.
While many Black newspapers in the United States have folded over the years, the New York Amsterdam News has continued to serve its African American readership with stories about local politics, social justice, education, health care, labor and other pressing issues. The publication, which bills itself as the city’s oldest and largest Black newspaper and one of the oldest ethnic newspapers in the country, has long been led by Elinor Tatum.
The Manhattan Times, which bills itself as “the bilingual community newspaper serving all the communities of northern Manhattan,” is led by Debralee Santos. The Dominican American journalist oversees The Bronx Free Press along with the Manhattan Times, and both publications are published by MirRam Group founders Luis Miranda Jr. and Roberto Ramírez. The Manhattan Times covers political issues – such as immigration policy, education and rezonings – as well as arts, sports and opinions.
With some major polling outfits staying out of New York City’s mayoral race this year, George Fontas filled the vacuum with headline-grabbing polls that not only captured the state of the race but positioned him as an expert on the pivotal primary contest. It’s just the latest savvy move by Fontas, an experienced government affairs professional who launched his own boutique lobbying firm in 2017. His growing firm, Fontas Advisors, works for a variety of corporate, real estate, tech and nonprofit clients.
In recent weeks, Assembly Member Al Taylor has been in the press for his potential candidacy for Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin’s former state Senate seat. The Harlem lawmaker, who was first elected in 2017, has been a staunch advocate for reducing gun violence which prompted him to start the Man Up! In Harlem program that used prayer walks to limit shootings. The program has been lauded for its success and has been used as a model for similar programs in Upper Manhattan as well.
DoorDash has enjoyed booming revenue as more customers seeking meals turned to the food delivery app. That success helped bump CEO Tony Xu into billionaire status last year. The company has clashed with New York City officials, suing the city over legislation that caps the amount of fees they can collect from restaurants and another law that requires delivery companies to share customer data with restaurants.
Lisa Linden, a veteran public relations professional, is one of the leaders of The LAKPR Group, a Washington, D.C.-based communications firm with an outsized but largely behind-the-scenes presence in New York City. Her firm has worked with Clearview AI, the Hotel Association of New York City, Abrams Fensterman and The Fortune Society. Also, Linden previously served as president and CEO of LAK Public Relations, which she co-founded in 1993.
Jocelynne Rainey oversees Getting Out and Staying Out’s reentry work with formerly incarcerated New Yorkers. The Harlem-based nonprofit’s programs have helped more than 10,000 men get access to education and jobs over the years. Before leading the organization, Rainey served as executive vice president and chief administrative officer for the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. While there, she reduced barriers to employment for disadvantaged communities and increased job placements for formerly incarcerated people.
Central Park has been a key site during COVID-19, from the temporary field hospital set up there early on in the pandemic to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “homecoming” concert to celebrate the city’s comeback in August. Elizabeth Smith, whose Central Park Conservancy manages the park, has bounced back from an early case of COVID-19 herself. Recently, she hosted the conservancy’s 40th anniversary gala in September – delayed by a year due to the coronavirus – to bolster its revenues.
Under the Rev. Phillip Jackson’s direction, Trinity Church Wall Street has distributed more than $30 million in grants and loans to nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The church nearly tripled its grant-making last year compared to 2019, increasing funds to New York City organizations and helping undocumented immigrants, formerly incarcerated people and other communities in need. Jackson also spearheaded a new coalition made up of other faith-based organizations calling on the city to keep people released from jail and prison safe and housed throughout the pandemic.
Ralph Bumbaca oversees small business and commercial banking activity in New York City for TD Bank, where he has worked since 2010. Bumbaca has been in the financial sector for three and a half decades, with stops at Popular Bank, Mellon Financial Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. He sits on the board of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and has an extensive track record of civic engagement and creating community partnerships.
Jonelle Procope has been leading the Apollo Theater for nearly two decades, taking the historic venue to new heights. The Harlem theater and the nonprofit that runs it now offer various education and community programs – while continuing its top-notch performances and its famed amateur night. Procope has masterminded the theater’s partnerships with Carnegie Hall and other groups and facilitated town halls with community members and political figures.
Peggy Shepard’s involvement in environmental activism dates back to 1988 when she protested against a sewage treatment plant in West Harlem that had been causing health problems for residents. Over the years, Shepard has become a renowned leader in the environmental advocacy space in New York and nationally. She has emphasized the importance of pursuing environmental justice in communities of color, which are disproportionately hurt by the effects of pollution and climate change.
Dan Garodnick is dedicated to ensuring that Riverside Park, which stretches across six miles of Manhattan alongside the Hudson River, is thriving. He has served as the head of the Riverside Park Conservancy for the past three years, overseeing its fundraising and operations, after a decade as a member of the New York City Council. The former elected official also came out with a new book this year focused on the battle to preserve middle-income housing in Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.
Over a quarter century ago, Barbara Askins created the first business improvement district in Harlem. Today, she’s ensuring the neighborhood successfully rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic. The 125th Business Improvement District, alongside the Apollo Theater and the Harlem Commonwealth Council, launched a grant program to help small and independent local businesses last year. The organizations continued the initiative into 2021, distributing 20 $1,000 grants to businesses and nonprofits in Harlem.
Tourists are steadily flocking back to Times Square, with the average number of visitors doubling in 2021 compared with the previous year. As the new president of the Times Square Alliance, Tom Harris is optimistic that the area will get livelier with Broadway’s return and more restaurants reopening in Midtown. The business improvement district recently partnered with local nonprofits to have community navigators connect vulnerable people in Times Square to needed social services.
After serving as a senior adviser to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Darren Bloch joined the West Village-based Greenwich House just two months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the city. The social services nonprofit, which serves 12,000 New Yorkers annually, pivoted to connect isolated seniors to meals, offer telehealth services and provide other needed support. Bloch, who previously led the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, also used his experiences across government, advocacy and the private sector to fight for better pay for nonprofit providers and workers.
In September, the hospital executive Eboné Carrington joined Manatt, Phelps & Phillips’ New York office as a managing director with the law and consulting firm’s growing health care group, Manatt Health. Carrington previously served as chief executive and chief operating officer at New York City Health + Hospitals/Harlem. While leading the 272-bed facility that’s part of the city’s public hospital system and the largest one in Central Harlem, Carrington significantly reduced patient readmission rates and reduced a multimillion-dollar budget deficit.
Heaven Berhane is responsible for all community initiatives based at the First Corinthian Baptist Church, connecting with Harlem residents as well as local business and political leaders. Most recently, Berhane has led COVID-19 vaccine drives through the church and helped organize the annual Hope for Harlem event. The initiative draws in thousands of donations of food, hygiene products and school supplies that are then distributed to families in Harlem.
Damon LoSchiavo has risen steadily through the ranks at the telecommunications company T-Mobile, where he’s now a New York City-based vice president. LoSchiavo, who joined T-Mobile nearly two decades ago, had previously worked at AT&T Inc. and ABC. He is an expert on T-Mobile’s services that are tailored for government and recently has been focused on meeting customers’ shifting needs during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jaime Estades co-founded the Latino Leadership Institute about 25 years ago. Since then, the nonprofit has trained thousands of people in campaign management and public policy and led civic engagement projects across the Northeast and Florida. Estades has also worked with other nonprofits, such as the Boriken Neighborhood Health Center, and led advocacy initiatives in New York City for the Alliance for Quality Education.
The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts took advantage of its access to expansive outdoor space when it first renewed its live performances this spring. Also, there are plans for more expansive reopenings for the Metropolitan Opera, Jazz at Lincoln Center and other organizations at the arts complex. Leah Johnson has helped guide the institution throughout the pandemic, telling the Christian Science Monitor it has proven that the center can be more nimble and inventive.
Correction: This list has been updated to reflect that William Hicks has led NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue since 2016.
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