Amid major political upheavals in Albany and a gubernatorial election next year, many of Long Island’s power players have emerged as possible contenders to become New York’s next governor. Rep. Lee Zeldin has already rallied broad support among Republicans statewide. And notable Democrats, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Rep. Tom Suozzi, have been mulling whether to jump into their party’s potentially crowded primary. Whether a Long Islander manages to nab the coveted title, it’s apparent that the region holds immense political influence in the state. City & State’s Long Island Power 100 – written by City & State's Kay Dervishi – highlights the politicians, government officials, labor leaders, business executives and advocates who have shaped Nassau and Suffolk counties – and how they’ve wielded that power throughout the past year.
After nearly a decade representing the eastern portion of Long Island, Steve Bellone may be setting his sights on a gubernatorial run next year. He’d be leveraging his experience leading a purple county as a moderate Democrat in such a bid, but would face a potentially crowded field – including Gov. Kathy Hochul – and a long history of failure for county executives seeking higher office.
Laura Curran has a heated reelection battle against Republican candidate and Hempstead Town Council Member Bruce Blakeman in November, and her bid has been complicated by frequent clashes with the Republican-led Nassau Legislature this year. She vetoed a controversial bill pushed by the chamber this summer, which would have allowed police officers and other first responders to sue protesters for discrimination. Republican county legislators also threw cold water on her proposal to send $375 checks to local homeowners before it was eventually passed.
State Sen. Todd Kaminsky is an influential and active member of the chamber’s Long Island Democratic delegation. He’s leveraging that experience – and his past as a federal prosecutor – in his current bid to become Nassau County district attorney. Democratic leaders in the county nominated Kaminsky this summer, and he will face off against Republican candidate and prosecutor Anne Donnelly in a special election this November.
Repealing the SALT cap has been at the top of Rep. Thomas Suozzi’s agenda since it was enacted in 2017. The Long Island Democrat has pledged to refuse to vote on any change to the federal tax code that doesn’t remove the limit on state and local tax deductions. When he’s not pushing for the cap’s repeal, he serves as a vice chair of the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus. Suozzi has also been floated as a possible gubernatorial candidate.
Rep. Lee Zeldin faced calls for his resignation earlier this year for promoting former President Donald Trump’s false election fraud claims and voting against certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory after pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in January. Still, New York’s Republican leaders have largely rallied behind him in the upcoming gubernatorial election. But Zeldin will face a tough challenge campaigning in a predominantly blue state that hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office in close to two decades.
These four Democratic lawmakers, who all won reelection last fall, reflect their party’s growing clout on Long Island. This past year, state Sen. Anna Kaplan sponsored a new law to spur the state attorney general’s office to conduct more undercover tests to ensure real estate agents are complying with anti-discrimination law. State Sen. Kevin Thomas also sponsored legislation targeting housing discrimination, including one bill that would give victims of such discrimination some form of relief. Meanwhile, state Sen. Jim Gaughran has scrutinized the Long Island Power Authority and PSEG Long Island after failures during Tropical Storm Isaias, pushing a bill this year that would require the two entities to file public reports on their lobbying and advertising activities. And state Sen. John Brooks got his bill recognizing emergency dispatchers and operators as first responders under New York state law signed by the governor on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Rep. Kathleen Rice’s experience as Nassau County district attorney helped land her in Congress six years ago. Since then, she has established a reputation as a centrist Democratic representative and is part of the New Democrat Coalition, which is made up of fellow moderates. But Rice recently caught flak in the national media when she opposed House Democrats’ proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate prices for prescription drugs.
As head of the Long Island Rail Road, Phillip Eng has dedicated significant time to ensuring train ridership returns to its prepandemic levels as soon as possible. That recovery hit a new milestone in September when the LIRR broke its pandemic record with 150,895 customers boarding trains in one day. Eng also announced a plan in April to see if the LIRR could run battery-powered trains. If it succeeds, it would be the first commuter railroad in the country to do so.
Michael Dowling heads the largest health care provider in the state, reaching more than 2 million New Yorkers annually through its network of hospitals, primary care practices and other programs. A longtime ally of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Dowling played a major role in the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He has said he plans to prioritize improvement to Northwell’s infrastructure for emergency management to be better prepared for future health crises.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Breon Peace to head a key federal prosecutor’s office in October. As U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Peace will now oversee cases spanning across Nassau and Suffolk counties as well as Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island in New York City. The office has handled several high-profile cases, having prosecuted figures such as singer R. Kelly and Michael Cohen, who used to be former President Donald Trump’s personal attorney. Previously, Peace was a partner at the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton.
Newsday remains the go-to news source for Long Islanders under Patrick Dolan and Debby Krenek’s oversight. One of the paper’s recent investigations illustrated how Black and Hispanic people applying to become police officers were disproportionately rejected for jobs, prompting Nassau and Suffolk counties to reevaluate their police hiring practices. The bombshell burnished Newsday’s reputation for groundbreaking reporting, including its deep dive into housing discrimination against people of color on Long Island, and its investigation showing how the aerospace company Grumman polluted groundwater and covered it up.
Civil rights attorney Frederick Brewington has been a vocal advocate for changing Long Island’s approach to policing. He spearheaded a lawsuit against Nassau County officials late last year over their approval of police labor contracts and has criticized the county’s plans for police reform. Brewington also played an important role in pushing to end the at-large voting system in Islip, strengthening political representation for Latinos. That was not the first voting rights victory for Brewington – he won a similar case over disenfranchisement in Hempstead more than 20 years ago.
After Jay Jacobs finally called on Andrew Cuomo to resign as governor earlier this year, he quickly rallied behind Gov. Kathy Hochul. Jacobs, who saw Democrats gain a state Senate supermajority last year, has also been focused on county executive and district attorney races in Nassau County. Despite efforts to unify the party, Jacobs’ remark comparing socialist Buffalo mayoral candidate India Walton to a former Ku Klux Klan leader was widely criticized.
Scott Rechler is one of the most influential real estate players in New York for good reason: His company, RXR Realty, owns, manages and develops numerous commercial properties in New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Connecticut. The delta variant’s rise over the past several months has dampened expectations for workers to return to RXR’s buildings, with just 40% returning as of September. But for Rechler, physical offices can be made more enticing by offering benefits that aren't available to remote workers.
Matthew Cohen headed the Long Island Association’s lobbying efforts before becoming its president and CEO in May. Among his major priorities in leading the business group: ensuring federal infrastructure funds benefit Long Island and offering additional support to the region’s small businesses. In his previous role, Cohen pushed for the state property tax cap to be made permanent and for funding to be set aside for economic development projects in the area.
Tracey Edwards is one of the most prominent voices on Long Island advocating for racial justice. She has been active in recent conversations around police reform in Nassau and Suffolk counties, criticizing Nassau officials for putting out a reform plan without sufficient community input and opposing a bill proposed by Nassau County legislators that would allow police officers to sue protesters for discrimination. In addition to her leadership position in the NAACP, Edwards is a commissioner of the state Public Service Commission.
John Durso serves as president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, advocating for labor rights across Long Island. For the past 22 years, Durso has also fought on behalf of workers at grocery stores, drug stores, school bus companies and other organizations as head of the union Local 338. This past year, he lent support to Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s proposal to give direct cash payments of $375 to some residents.
Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini was elected in 2017, in no small part because of his promises to tackle corruption in an office that was engulfed in scandal. His rise to district attorney was also fueled by his experience as police commissioner in Suffolk County and as a federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. He will face off against Republican candidate and former federal prosecutor Ray Tierney in his reelection bid next month.
In August, Susan Poser became Hofstra University’s ninth president – and the first woman to lead the Hempstead-based school. She brings with her experience as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Illinois Chicago. While there, she helped lead a successful acquisition of the John Marshall Law School, which created the first public law school in Chicago. Her leadership at Hofstra will play an important role in determining the university’s next steps through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Queens is where Rep. Gregory Meeks wields particularly strong influence. But the powerful House Democrat also represents a sliver of Nassau County, encompassing Inwood and portions of Valley Stream and Elmont. Meeks recently took the helm of the House Foreign Affairs Committee – one of Congress’ most powerful posts – and played an important role leading oversight of the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan earlier this year.
The freshman member of Congress succeeded longtime Republican Rep. Peter King, overseeing a district that spans part of Nassau and Suffolk’s South Shore. With this year marking the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Rep. Andrew Garbarino joined other members of New York’s congressional delegation to push for more medical funding for 9/11 survivors. The former state Assembly member is among the members of Congress who make up the bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus.
Rich Schaffer has long been a political power broker in Suffolk County. In addition to serving as the supervisor of the Town of Babylon, Schaffer has headed the county’s Democratic Party for about two decades. Schaffer’s persistent feud with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone led him to throw water on Bellone’s potential gubernatorial campaign early on this year, while joining Jay Jacobs, the state and Nassau County Democratic chair, in endorsing Gov. Kathy Hochul for reelection.
As chair of the legislative body’s Judiciary Committee, Assembly Member Charles Lavine played a key role when state lawmakers launched an impeachment inquiry into then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo. That includes overseeing the creation of a long-awaited report on Cuomo’s alleged misbehavior while in office. Assembly Member Michaelle Solages chairs the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus, and has championed legislation that was recently signed into law to protect immigrant New Yorkers. Helming the Committee on Environmental Conservation, Assembly Member Steve Englebright led an oversight hearing this summer on the Long Island Power Authority’s new contract with PSEG Long Island. A former police officer, Assembly Member Phil Ramos sponsored legislation that would prohibit police departments from hiring officers that have been fired for cause or resigned while facing criminal charges.
Doon Gibbs heads a laboratory that employs more than 2,500 staff members and boasts seven Nobel Prizes. Brookhaven National Laboratory remains one of the state’s largest scientific research centers, bolstered by hundreds of millions of dollars of funding, primarily from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Last year, Gibbs and other Long Island leaders celebrated plans to build a new $2 billion atom-smashing supercollider at the laboratory that is expected to fuel new research and create thousands of jobs.
For more than three decades, Stanley Bergman has chaired the board of Henry Schein, the Melville-based Fortune 500 company that boasts a reputation as one of the world’s largest providers of dental supplies and other health care products, operating across 32 countries and territories. This past spring, Bergman called on federal officials to expand COVID-19 vaccination efforts to primary care doctors and other office-based physicians.
After more than 14 years in leadership positions at Catholic Health, Patrick O'Shaughnessy became the health system’s new president and CEO this past April. O’Shaughnessy now leads an institution that employs about 17,000 staff members and operates six hospitals on Long Island, several of which are undergoing expansions. Before taking the helm at Catholic Health, he served as its executive vice president and chief clinical officer.
These elected officials represent Long Island’s four largest towns. Islip Supervisor Angie Carpenter has led the town’s response to the illegal dumping of toxic waste at Roberto Clemente Park, which predated her time in office, and pushed for improved service at the Long Island MacArthur Airport. In Hempstead, Supervisor Donald Clavin Jr. is up for reelection this year and is calling for tax relief, while his Democratic opponent criticized his use of federal CARES Act funding. Longtime public servant Edward Romaine has served as supervisor of Brookhaven since 2012 and has many environmental issues on his plate, especially addressing matters related to the town’s landfill that is slated to close in 2024. And Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, who has served in the post for about four years, has touted his accomplishment in reducing the town’s debt.
Democrat Waylyn Hobbs Jr. beat out the incumbent Republican mayor and two other candidates in his bid to become Hempstead Village’s next mayor this past spring. Having previously served as a village trustee, Hobbs has since made it a priority to rebuild the area’s downtown. Under his leadership, the village has applied for funding from the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative and has other redevelopment projects in the works.
One of Wall Street’s most important companies is also one that doesn’t stand in the spotlight. Most public companies in America get regulatory communications support from Broadridge Financial Solutions, which also processes $6 trillion in securities daily. Its founder, Richard Daly, started the fintech company almost 30 years ago in his home in East Northport. Today, the company is an over 10,000 employee-strong behemoth.
Nassau County Republican Committee chair Joseph Cairo has an opportunity this year to flip major countywide positions back to Republican control. The conservative power broker has taken a particularly strong interest in the Nassau County district attorney’s race, hoping that concerns about shootings in nearby New York City and the state’s bail reform law passed by Democrats will fuel a Republican victory in the race. Cairo is also backing Hempstead Council Member Bruce Blakeman in his bid to become county executive.
A longtime fixture of Brookhaven’s political landscape, Jesse Garcia has led the Suffolk County Republican Party for nearly three years, during which time he has helped boost Republican power in the county, including flipping a state Senate seat and helping freshman Rep. Andrew Garbarino snag a victory in his competitive congressional race last year. Garcia has also been working to build support for Rep. Lee Zeldin as he ramps up for next year’s gubernatorial election.
As president and CEO of the Urban League of Long Island, Theresa Sanders works to empower and support Black Long Islanders. She oversees a range of programs for educational and career development, while also pushing for broader change to reduce racial inequities in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Government officials have turned to her for insight on various issues, as illustrated by her appointment to Nassau County’s committee to increase diversity among police officers and the state’s Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.
Over the course of his 47 years with Canon USA, Seymour Liebman has held numerous influential roles at the company. In his current position, the West Hempstead resident oversees legal affairs and corporate administration related to the company's operations in North, Central and South America. Liebman also lends his expertise as a board member at companies such as T2 Biosystems, Canon BioMedical and Spartan Bioscience.
Dan Eichhorn has headed PSEG Long Island’s operations of the Long Island Power Authority’s electric grid over the past four years, with the utility company delivering electricity to about 1 million customers across the region. The company is negotiating a new contract with the Long Island Power Authority, although that process has been complicated by state legislative efforts to make the public authority fully municipal and by the ascension of Gov. Kathy Hochul.
When Maurie McInnis became president of Stony Brook University last year, one of her first priorities was to ensure the school was adhering to the latest COVID-19 safety measures. Those efforts ended up drawing praise from Deborah Birx last year during her stint leading the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Before joining Stony Brook, McInnis served as executive vice president and provost at the University of Texas at Austin.
Joyce Smith became Nassau County’s first-ever Black district attorney when she was sworn in this summer after Madeline Singas left the office to become an associate judge on the state Court of Appeals. Smith brings experience as a staff attorney in the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ Office of the General Counsel and as assistant commissioner and deputy chief of staff in the New York City Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence.
Former Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas ascended to a new post this summer as associate judge on the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court. She was replaced on an interim basis by Joyce Smith, the county’s first Black district attorney, while state Sen. Todd Kaminsky is a frontrunner to replace her permanently. Her appointment spurred some controversy, as later reporting revealed that, while district attorney, Singas hadn’t disclosed potential conflicts of interest related to her husband’s firm taking in $1.6 million from contracts with county agencies.
Attorney Thomas Garry has attracted numerous clients seeking his expertise in election law. That includes President Joe Biden, whose campaign retained Garry for legal advice in New York last year (Garry also served as New York state counsel for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign). As the office managing partner at Harris Beach Uniondale, Garry largely represents developers, municipalities and others on matters involving land use and zoning.
Brothers Robert and James Coughlan launched Tritec Real Estate Co. in 1986. In the 35 years since, the company has become one of Long Island’s largest developers with properties spanning the region as well as Northern Virginia. Tritec recently brought on Kevin Law, longtime head of the Long Island Association, to help with its building projects in downtowns across Long Island. But it’s possible Law won’t be around too long – Gov. Kathy Hochul has reportedly been considering selecting him to lead Empire State Development.
For six years, Wayne Grossé has headed operations and strategy at Bethpage Federal Credit Union, one of the country’s largest credit unions. Under his leadership, Bethpage expanded its pool of membership to anyone nationwide in a 2016 initiative. Linda Armyn, the credit union’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, also played an important role in the expansion, and has built up some of the credit union’s most successful community outreach campaigns and philanthropic efforts.
This year marks the Long Island Builders Institute’s 80th year representing builders, developers, contractors and other professionals in the building industry. Mitchell Pally heads the association’s efforts to push for legislation and practices that benefit and support residential home construction. He has joined local elected officials in supporting a bill in the state Legislature that would streamline the building permit process, which is creating backlogs on Long Island.
Long Island Power Authority CEO Thomas Falcone has spent the past year outlining a vision for how to best operate Long Island’s electrical grid in the wake of PSEG Long Island’s mishandling of the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias last summer. Falcone has indicated that it would be better for LIPA to renew its contract with the utility company – but only with new terms that would mandate certain performance metrics.
Richard Kessel’s goal as chair of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency is to promote economic growth in the county through initiatives like the agency’s recently outlined plan to expand the media and entertainment, health care and technology sectors to create more jobs. Kessel, who previously served as the president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, also served this year on Nassau County Executive Laura Curran’s economic advisory council, which helped shape how the county should spend its federal relief funding.
Garrett Armwood has spent significant time in Long Island’s Democratic political scene, working on local campaigns and serving as deputy district director to then-Rep. Steve Israel. That launched him into U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s orbit, where he became the powerful lawmaker’s Long Island director. He now serves as Schumer’s deputy state director, at a time when Schumer wields immense influence in Congress and across New York. He joined Schumer in denouncing deportations of Haitian migrants earlier this year.
Bruce Stillman has spent 18 years leading one of the nation’s premier laboratories and educational institutions, where he conducts and disseminates research on cancer, neuroscience, plant biology, genomics and quantitative biology. The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory employs 1,000 scientists, students, technicians and other staff, and typically hosts over 12,000 scientists from across the globe on its Long Island campuses, in addition to one located in Suzhou, China.
After New York required law enforcement agencies across the state to reevaluate their practices, Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon Jr.’s office unveiled its proposed reforms, which include recommendations to create a review board to evaluate police use of force and to connect incarcerated people dealing with mental illness to social services. Toulon has served as Suffolk County’s top law enforcement official since 2018, when he became the first Black sheriff in the county.
Howard Lorber has overseen a record boost in revenue at Douglas Elliman, which saw $43.2 million in net income for the second quarter this year. And he has high hopes that the real estate brokerage firm’s success will continue into the future. “I’m pretty bullish on where we are at today and where the near future, at least for the next couple of years, will be,” Lorber, who also serves as CEO of Douglas Elliman parent company Vector, said in August.
When Superstorm Sandy struck Long Island in 2012, Kathleen Wisnewski was among the leaders at National Grid responding to immediate concerns on Long Beach. As a member of the company’s community liaison program, she worked with colleagues to distribute needed supplies and went on to distribute more than $1.8 million in grants to local small businesses recovering from the disaster. Having spent about three decades working at National Grid, Wisnewski now serves as the utility company’s regional manager for Long Island.
Former Rep. Steve Israel’s experience on Capitol Hill informs his leadership at Cornell University’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs, where he heads up programs and events enriching political discourse on domestic and international issues. His insights can also be found on MSNBC, where he is a regular political commentator, and in op-eds published in news outlets such as The Hill. President Joe Biden considered appointing him as U.S. ambassador to Israel, but the Oyster Bay Cove resident declined so he could stay close to his family.
Political consultant Resi Cooper is an influential force in Long Island’s political and business circles. Her consulting bona fides were earned through years spent working with Hillary Clinton: She led Clinton’s 2016 presidential primary campaign in New York and served as head of her Long Island office during Clinton’s tenure in the U.S. Senate. Cooper is also a member of Long Island’s Regional Economic Development Council, which helps guide economic growth in the region.
Daniel Levler, who leads Suffolk County’s largest public employees union, had plenty to celebrate this year. The county managed to avoid proposed employee and service cuts thanks to an influx of federal aid this past spring – a major win for the union’s more than 6,000 members. Levler also managed to secure a third term as union president this summer, beating out two competitors in a tight race.
Rev. Sedgwick Easley has led the 99-year-old Union Baptist Church located in Hempstead since 2006. A local leader in Nassau County, Easley has spent time this past year encouraging congregants and other residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and denouncing racial injustice and police misconduct on Long Island. In addition to his leadership at Union Baptist Church, Easley also serves as an executive assistant to Hempstead Village Mayor Waylyn Hobbs Jr.
The New York Islanders have been on a steady rise recently, having made it to the Stanley Cup semifinals each of the past two seasons. And team co-owner Jon Ledecky aims to see this upswing continue in November, when the team’s new $1.1 billion home arena is slated to open. The UBS Arena at Belmont Park is on track to be completed on time despite construction challenges throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adam Barsky heads the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the state board tasked with overseeing Nassau County’s finances. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Barsky reported that the county managed to finish 2020 with a budget surplus with help from the board – though other fiscal challenges remain for the future. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority also commissioned a report this year on NuHealth, which runs Nassau University Medical Center, that recommended enacting major reforms to keep the public hospital going.
As the founder and longtime head of the LGBT Network, David Kilmnick is responsible for a range of programs providing health and community services to LGBTQ people across Long Island and Queens. Residents make more than 30,000 visits annually to the LGBT Network for support. The nonprofit achieved a new milestone this year with the opening of its new LGBTQ-friendly senior housing complex in Bay Shore, the first of its kind on Long Island.
Having spent 15 years at the helm of the Long Island Contractors’ Association, a trade group for the heavy construction industry, Marc Herbst has become one of Long Island’s most prominent leaders pushing for infrastructure improvements. The former Assembly member oversees training and programming for more than 170 firms that are under the association’s purview, and wields his political knowledge to advocate on behalf of the industry. Herbst has been outspoken in pushing for Long Island’s leaders to dedicate more funding toward local infrastructure.
As the leader of Long Island’s United Way chapter, Theresa Regnante supports more than 100 nonprofit partners and has engineered a number of programs to respond to local crises. Earlier this year, she launched the nonprofit’s new initiative to provide renewable energy job training to Long Islanders. Regnante also formed United Solution, a partnership with fellow community organizations addressing pressing needs for food access, housing and other resources.
Howard Fensterman’s law firm has grown significantly since its founding in 2000, when it employed just 13 attorneys. Abrams, Fensterman, Fensterman, Eisman, Formato, Ferrara, Wolf & Carone, LLP is now one of the largest full-service law firms on Long Island, with more than 300 lawyers and employees. And its footprint continues to expand: The firm opened a new office in Albany this fall, its sixth office in New York state.
Kevin O’Connor runs the bank created by the merger of Dime Community Bank and BNB Bank earlier this year. The $489 million deal resulted in a new bank that retains the Dime Community Bank name, has combined assets worth $12.5 billion, and operates more than 60 locations spanning across Long Island and New York City. O’Connor, who headed BNB Bank, brings more than three decades of experience in financial services to his leadership position at Dime Community Bank.
Joseph Greco served as chief medical officer NYU Langone Hospital–Long Island – when it was known as NYU Winthrop – before taking on the task of leading the Mineola hospital in 2019. He spearheaded the 591-bed medical center’s response after it received the first documented case of COVID-19 on Long Island, overcoming the challenges of treating an influx of COVID-19 positive patients early on in the pandemic.
Noel DiGerolamo wields significant influence as head of the Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association, which represents more than 2,500 active-duty police officers. The police union is a major contributor to both political parties and campaigns for county and state-level seats. DiGerolamo actively criticized New York’s decision to repeal a rule last year that restricted public access to police disciplinary records, and he has opposed COVID-19 vaccine mandates for police officers.
Kimberly Cline has a long career in college administration in New York. After holding leadership positions at Mercy College and the State University of New York, Cline joined the Long Island University in 2013 and has since overseen innovative changes at the school. Cline led the charge to create the School of Arts and Communication at LIU Brooklyn and spearheaded the college’s partnership with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment to restore the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre on campus.
Figuring out how to navigate Adelphi University throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been President Christine Riordan’s top priority for 19 months and counting. That includes maintaining safety measures, reopening Adelphi’s campus and keeping student enrollment up after pandemic-related declines. Beyond her leadership at the Garden City-based university, Riordan also chairs the board of trustees for the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities, which represents colleges and universities across New York state.
Timothy Sams came to SUNY Old Westbury with nearly 30 years of experience in higher education under his belt. Sams took over as the university’s president in January, succeeding Calvin Butts III, who retired in August 2020. Upon taking the helm at the public college, Sams said that he would prioritize responding to needs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and improving the school’s financial stability.
Prominent tax attorney Laureen Harris became the first non-real estate developer to head the Association for a Better Long Island in 2016 and now leads the charge to challenge tax policies that developers in the region oppose. Harris oversees the organization’s advocacy to ensure Long Island stays business-friendly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This past year, the association sent a letter to the Biden administration calling for more federal aid for restaurants and bars.
The waters around Long Island have long been ripe for offshore wind projects to boost New York’s transition toward renewable energy. Denmark-based Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind is among the companies eyeing the area: It is developing a South Fork offshore wind farm that is expected to be operational by the end of 2023. Jennifer Garvey heads efforts to support Ørsted’s projects throughout the region.
Anthony Simon first joined the Long Island Rail Road as a station cleaner, eventually working his way up to become a conductor. Today, he heads the Long Island Rail Road’s largest union, representing conductors, car repairpersons and other workers that keep the transit system running. When the Metropolitan Transportation Authority proposed significant service cuts to the LIRR last year, Simon emerged as a vocal opponent to those measures.
Elaine Gross leads one of Long Island’s most prominent organizations fighting systemic racism and housing discrimination in the region. She has praised recent measures approved by federal, state and local government to stem racial discrimination in housing, but continues to advocate for more to be done to end persistent segregation on Long Island. As a member of Suffolk County’s Fair Housing Task Force, Gross helped shape recommendations on extending housing protections for people with previous criminal convictions and residents with limited English proficiency.
More than three decades ago, Robert Zimmerman launched a marketing communications agency along with partner Ron Edelson. The Great Neck-based ZE Creative Communications – known as Zimmerman/Edelson Inc. until 2019 – has since gained a reputation for snagging notable clients on Long Island. The Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency, Canon USA and Hofstra University are among the major local institutions that have sought the firm’s guidance on public relations, crisis management and other areas.
George Siberón leads the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, a 43-year-old organization that provides after-school tutoring, translation services and other support to residents of the Village of Hempstead and surrounding areas. In the past, he has worked as executive director of the Nassau County Youth Board and as district manager for Rep. Nydia Velázquez. Nassau County Executive Laura Curran tapped Siberón to serve as a member of the Nassau County Police Diversity Committee, which aims to improve police hiring practices, earlier this year.
Patrick Guidice oversaw tense contract negotiations with National Grid over the course of several weeks early this year, which ended with its unionized workers approving a contract proposal in March. As business manager of Local 1049 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Guidice supports its 4,200 members working with utilities such as National Grid and the Long Island Power Authority. He recently joined the board of directors for the United Way of Long Island.
Gwen O'Shea’s organization aims to ensure Long Islanders can access the affordable housing they need. The Community Development Corporation of Long Island played an important role helping to connect renters in need of additional help amid the COVID-19 pandemic to government funds. And that’s while also continuing to offer other forms of support in the region: developing affordable housing units, distributing loans and rental subsidies and offering financial counseling services.
Fighting housing bias is a priority for Ian Wilder, executive director of Long Island Housing Services. His organization’s investigation of an apartment complex in Bay Shore that allegedly discriminated against people with disabilities and people with housing vouchers resulted in an $11,250 settlement. As a member of Suffolk County’s Fair Housing Task Force, Wilder also offered insight into expanding equitable access to housing.
Luis Vazquez leads the Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce as Latinos on Long Island increasingly take on important positions in businesses and government throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties. Vazquez is integral to his organization, overseeing initiatives that connect Hispanic business leaders through workshops and networking events. In April, Vasquez joined the board of directors for the Long Island Association, one of Long Island’s largest business groups.
Liza Milgrim became the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association’s new president last year, bringing with her significant experience as a personal injury attorney at Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C. A partner at the law firm, she secured one of the largest settlements for a pedestrian struck by a motor vehicle in New York state. Under her leadership, the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association has brought more seminars and networking events to Hispanic legal professionals and students in the region.
Craig Johnson’s tenure in elected office informs his lobbying practice at Long Point Advisors today. He spent time as a Nassau County legislator before heading to the New York state Senate in 2007, where he served for four years. Uber, Southern Land Company, Robin Hood and Airbnb number among the corporate, real estate and nonprofit clients seeking his guidance on government relations and political strategy in New York.
Long Island's $6 billion tourism industry has taken a major hit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As head of Discover Long Island, Kristen Reynolds is taking steps to ensure that it bounces back. The organization has partnered with the Nassau and Suffolk County Industrial Development Agencies on an initiative that provides mobile travel passes to encourage people to explore Long Island’s downtown areas. In February, they expanded the initiative to Bay Shore to support the area’s small businesses.
In the wake of a nationwide reckoning with systemic racism and police brutality, Shanequa Levin convened LI United to Transform Policing & Community Safety, a new coalition of activists seeking to reimagine policing in Long Island. The group helped develop a slate of reforms, including the creation of a Civilian Complaint Review Board. Levin, the founder and CEO of the Women's Diversity Network, successfully pushed for Suffolk County to create a task force examining maternal mortality rates last year.
Todd Shapiro has made a name for himself as one of Long Island’s most recognized public relations names. In the more than 25 years since he established his firm, Shapiro has built up a notable list of clients, including New York State Democratic Committee Chair Jay Jacobs, the Nassau County Democrats and major police unions in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Even former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani tapped Shapiro for his expertise in communications and crisis management this year.
A small fraction of Nassau County contracts have been awarded to minority- and women-owned firms in recent years. To address the disparity, Lionel Chitty has been working with a consulting firm on a study commissioned to determine how the county can increase its contracting with minority- and women-owned businesses. His background in Long Island’s business world is likely an asset to those efforts, as he also serves as executive director of the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce.
With the climate crisis accelerating across the world, The Nature Conservancy’s Kevin McDonald is leading the charge to fight it locally. He had a major hand in the creation of the Community Preservation Fund, a government program launched in 1999 to protect land and water resources on the East End of Long Island. Earlier this year, McDonald praised Suffolk County’s $100 million commitment to improving water quality in the region.
Black-owned businesses have faced immense financial obstacles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As president of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Phil Andrews has been committed to ensuring they get the guidance and support they need to survive and thrive. Andrews, who joined the board of directors at the Long Island Association this year, previously served as president of both 100 Black Men of Long Island and of the Black Public Relations Society-New York.
As managing partner at Farrell Fritz, Robert Creighton counsels businesses on mergers and acquisitions, in addition to other matters related to corporate law. He also brings with him expertise in the health care industry, having represented Winthrop-University Hospital – now known as NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island – in its affiliation with the NYU Langone Health System. In addition to his legal work, Creighton also serves on the board of directors at organizations such as the Long Island Housing Partnership and EPIC Long Island.
Over the past 36 years, John Cameron Jr. has grown Cameron Engineering into a top engineering and planning firm in the New York metropolitan area. Alongside municipal, commercial, industrial and other clients, the company has managed projects encompassing everything from airports to hospitals to power plants. Cameron also chairs the Long Island Regional Planning Council, which advocates for solutions around economic development, sustainability, affordability and other issues in the region.
For the past two years, Amy Flores has headed Nassau County’s Office of Hispanic Affairs. She serves as a liaison between county government and Hispanic residents, while also coordinating with other county agencies on how to best implement policies that supportaffect the Hispanic community. Having worked as a vice president at People's United Bank before her current role, Flores also serves as treasurer on the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency’s board of directors.
Farrah Mozawalla has led Nassau County’s response to a rise in anti-Asian hate, fielding reports of bias incidents from the community and supporting Asian American residents. Having led the Nassau County Office of Asian American Affairs since 2019, Mozawalla communicates with Asian American locals on behalf of the county government, helps Asian-owned businesses seeking to contract with the county and makes sure government policies take into account their needs and perspective.
Facing criticism for its shortfalls during Tropical Storm Isaias, PSEG Long Island turned to Gary Lewi at Rubenstein to advise the company through the challenges that followed its failure. And that’s just one of the major clients that look to Lewi for his public relations expertise. Companies such as Disney and Stop & Shop Supermarkets have also tapped his firm for support. Before joining Rubenstein, Lewi served as a press secretary to former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, and as director of communications for Hempstead Town.
Ross Wallenstein launched Wall to Wall Communications in July, bringing with him years of experience in state government and public relations, with stops at J Strategies, Marathon Strategies and Marino. The Long Island resident has worked with elected officials such as former Rep. Gary Ackerman and former Govs. Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson. Wallenstein spent this past year heading communications for Assembly Member David Weprin during his campaign for New York City comptroller.
Retha Fernandez is preparing to enter her third year as Suffolk County’s first-ever chief diversity and inclusion officer. She has worked in coordination with County Executive Steve Bellone and other local officials to implement new initiatives to adjust the county’s hiring practices while also evaluating other areas for improvement. Before joining county government, she was a project manager at the Urban League of Long Island and led its State of Black Long Island Equity Council.
Gregory Lisi and Daniel Tambasco head associations dedicated to supporting and guiding legal professionals in Nassau and Suffolk counties respectively. Lisi, who leads Forchelli Deegan Terrana LLP’s Employment & Labor practice group, became the president of the Nassau County Bar Association this past June, and has recently resumed in-person meetings and networking events. Tambasco, of Gentile & Tambasco, took over at the Suffolk County Bar Association the same week.
New York Communities for Change Deputy Director Lucas Sanchez played a key role backing a lawsuit against the Town of Islip, arguing that its approach to conducting elections systematically undermined the votes of Latino residents. That lawsuit resulted in a settlement that required the town to divide into geographic council districts, including one that includes largely Latino communities. Sanchez has also been an active advocate on the state level, calling for strengthening eviction protections for tenants.
Rebecca Sanin’s top two priorities as president of the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island are connecting low-income Long Islanders to needed social services and advocating for policies that help the region’s most vulnerable. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Sanin has highlighted the importance of access to food stamps and the expanded federal child tax credit. She’s also set her sights on elected office as she campaigns to become Huntington supervisor.
Anthony Villa first joined a union in 1999. Throughout his time working as a carpenter in the New York metropolitan area, he became more active in labor and went on to become business manager for Carpenters Local 290 on Long Island. Last year, Suffolk County officials appointed Villa to serve on a task force to identify potential wage theft and tax fraud in the region. He also serves as a trustee at the broader North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.
Whether she’s pushing for measures to fight climate change or protect Long Island waters, Adrienne Esposito remains one of the most experienced and outspoken environmental activists on Long Island. The longtime head of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment has supported the region’s expanding infrastructure for offshore wind and recently backed legislation that would ban certain pesticides that environmentalists say threaten populations of bees and birds.
After serving as U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s regional director on Long Island, Magdalonie Paris-Campbell took her government affairs expertise to AT&T. Her portfolio encompasses a wide range of responsibilities at the company: analyzing legislation, communicating with state lawmakers, participating in community events on Long Island and supporting the company’s local charitable grant program. Recently, Campbell celebrated a program funded by AT&T to teach local youth to create promotional videos for Black-owned businesses.
Shelley LaRose-Arken provides crucial leadership to the Long Island MacArthur Airport, which serves three million residents in Nassau and Suffolk counties and offers a less busy alternative to New York City’s major airports. The airport has spent this past year taking on new COVID-19 safety measures while also undergoing construction to bump up its usage. Last October, LaRose-Arken unveiled the airport’s new 31,800-square-foot hangar for Hawthorne Global Aviation Services.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of Metropolitan Realty Group’s founding. Since Scott Jaffee launched the company in 2001, it has grown into a major affordable housing developer in the New York metropolitan area. The Great Neck-based company boasts properties across New York City as well as in Nassau and Westchester counties, and often partners with local nonprofits to connect tenants to job training and educational programs.
Isma H. Chaudhry made history in 2015 as the first woman to serve as the president of the Islamic Center of Long Island, one of the region’s largest mosques. She now serves as co-chair of the center and is an outspoken advocate of interfaith dialogue on Staten Island. Chaudhry, who is also a physician, joined other leaders on Long Island in denouncing anti-Asian hate crimes this past spring. She also serves as an adjunct professor in Hofstra University’s Department of Health Sciences.
Long Island’s manufacturers have a staunch ally in Patrick Boyle. As the executive director of the trade association Ignite Long Island, Boyle advocates to state lawmakers about the industry’s legislative priorities, like expanding workforce development and extending a reduced tax rate for manufacturers. His work may become all the more important as new manufacturing opportunities in the region emerge, such as creating personal protective equipment and supporting cannabis distribution.
Aryeh Lemberger has nearly two decades of experience working on complex projects throughout Long Island, including leading various planning and transportation initiatives for Nassau County. Among those initiatives: improving signal timing on major travel corridors, and conducting safety studies. Lemberger has taken that expertise to the consulting firm WSP, where he now advises on transportation, resiliency and safety projects for both municipal and private clients.
Correction: An earlier version of this post had an incorrect title for Isma H. Chaudhry.
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