Westchester County has shifted blue over the past several years. While Republicans regained ground in the 2021 elections on nearby Long Island, Democrats have continued to hold strong in Westchester. What’s more, many of the region’s power players wield immense influence on the state and federal level. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins played a critical role in former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ouster and continues to serve as one of Albany’s most powerful elected officials under the new Hochul administration. Some politicos had floated County Executive George Latimer as a possible gubernatorial candidate, but he squashed those rumors – while leaving the door open for consideration as a lieutenant governor candidate. And the next generation of elected leaders in Westchester are making their mark. First-term Reps. Jamaal Bowman and Mondaire Jones have carved out their distinctive approaches to progressive lawmaking in Congress, while District Attorney Mimi Rocah is making waves with a new investigation into the Trump Organization.
City & State’s Westchester Power 100 – researched and written by City & State’s Kay Dervishi – identifies many of the county’s movers and shakers in politics, organized labor, business, health care and other sectors – and ranks them based on their influence in the region and beyond.
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has been one of the most powerful politicians in the state since her conference secured a majority during the 2018 elections. Stewart-Cousins, who previously served on the Westchester County Board of Legislators and as a city official in Yonkers, was first elected to the state Senate in 2006. As the legislative body’s first Black female leader, she presided over a flurry of progressive lawmaking and went on to secure a veto-proof supermajority last year.
While some suburban Democrats in New York struggled on this year’s Election Day, Westchester County Executive George Latimer coasted to reelection. The former state lawmaker has been an effective executive, finding ways to keep the county’s budgets balanced, including cutting property taxes and securing a new deal with the operators of the Playland Amusement Park in Rye. He has also made progress on other fronts, such as developing a multipronged police reform plan. While Latimer has shot down the idea of running for governor, a statewide bid could be in his future.
State Sen. Shelley Mayer knows the ins and outs of Albany, having served as chief counsel to the state Senate Democrats before getting elected to the Assembly and, in 2018, moving up to serve in the state Senate, where she chairs the influential Committee on Education. Prior to that, she was senior counsel at the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School – an experience that will undoubtedly inform her recently launched campaign for state attorney general.
With nearly a decade of experience as the mayor of Westchester’s largest city and a longer tenure in the Assembly, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano is reportedly in the mix for a potential gubernatorial run following former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s downfall. The Republican-turned-Democrat, who had a hand in crafting the state School Tax Relief program and the state’s property tax cap, has argued that unfunded state mandates hinder his ability to tackle crime and criticized the implementation of the state’s bail reform law.
Since his upset victory over then-Rep. Eliot Engel made national news last year, Rep. Jamaal Bowman has continued to make headlines as he aligns with other far-left members of Congress to promote progressive legislation. Bowman backed democratic socialist India Walton’s Buffalo mayoral campaign and joined Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other members of “the Squad” in voting against President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill since it was not coupled with a major social spending measure.
Rep. Mondaire Jones made history in 2020 while winning his congressional race by becoming one of the first two openly gay Black members of Congress. The progressive representative, whose district encompasses central and northern Westchester and all of Rockland County, has become an outspoken critic of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate and has worked on legislation protecting voting rights. His other priorities include making the Child Tax Credit permanent and fighting alongside fellow Westchester Democrats to pass the SALT cap repeal.
The Trump Organization faces yet another investigation, this time led by Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah, whose office is investigating whether the company misled local officials about the property value of the Trump National Golf Club Westchester. Rocah’s other high-profile actions since taking office include calling on the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division this spring to investigate allegations of improper use of force and other misconduct by the Mount Vernon Police Department.
For the past two decades, Marsha Gordon has been a vital ally for Westchester’s business community. Throughout her tenure as head of The Business Council of Westchester, she has spearheaded a coalition pushing to get the new Tappan Zee Bridge built and helped direct more than $300 million in state funding to local initiatives through the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council. Her latest challenge has been guiding the county’s top businesses, developers, universities, nonprofits and other institutions through the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, access to effective COVID-19 treatment remains a major objective. That makes Regeneron’s COVID-19 antibody cocktail particularly coveted, with the U.S. government buying an additional 1.4 million doses of the drug this September. Under Dr. Leonard Schleifer’s direction, the pharmaceutical company now has plans to spend $1.8 billion to expand its research and development capabilities at its Tarrytown-based campus.
After Texas lawmakers passed their controversial abortion law, Assembly Member Amy Paulin has tried to fight it in New York. The Texas law enables private citizens to sue anyone who helps a person access an abortion – and awards them at least $10,000 if their lawsuit succeeds. Paulin’s bill protects New Yorkers who could be subject to such lawsuits from having to pay up. Paulin also sponsored major legislation this year that repealed a loitering law advocates said was used by police to harass transgender people.
Westchester is home to the global technology giant IBM, and since the start of the year, Arvind Krishna has been chair of the Armonk-based company managing a wide range of responsibilities. That includes overseeing a major new announcement on its new quantum processor – which IBM says could address problems that even high-performing traditional computers currently can’t – and trying to accelerate IBM’s financial growth.
With Democrats retaining a stable majority on the Westchester County Board of Legislators, County Board Chair Benjamin Boykin II has had a smoother path to building consensus on various pieces of legislation. In the past year, the county’s legislative body has adopted new police reform proposals, passed a bill overhauling Westchester's ethics rules and approved a new revised plan for Playland Amusement Park’s management. Boykin now has a focus on budget negotiations going into December.
Getting Empire City Casino state approval for a full-scale gambling license remains a top priority for Ed Domingo as the casino celebrates its 15th anniversary this year. And Domingo has gained numerous allies in the fight, with leaders from Westchester’s business community and labor unions supporting the push for the expanded license in an effort to boost the region’s economy. In the meantime, mobile sports betting may be another boon to Empire City Casino in the near future.
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson has guided his city through turbulent times. New Rochelle saw New York’s first confirmed case of COVID-19 in March 2020 and was one of the first places to implement coronavirus-related safety restrictions. More than a year later, Bramson is focused on shaping a post-pandemic future for the city. He is overseeing new development projects, cultivating plans for preserving open space and expanding transportation options across New Rochelle.
As the No. 2 official under Westchester County Executive George Latimer, Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins speaks at COVID-19 briefings, ribbon-cuttings and other various press conferences, proclamations and celebrations. Jenkins is the former chair of the Westchester County Board of Legislators and the Yonkers Democratic Committee, he’s also a past president of Yonkers NAACP. Recently, he has been rumored to be a candidate for Latimer’s post when it comes open.
With a population of nearly a million people, Westchester is one of the biggest counties in the state – and it’s Joan McDonald’s job to keep everything running on time and on budget. The former state transportation commissioner took on the role of director of operations for the county in 2018 when George Latimer took office as the county executive. Among her responsibilities are overseeing county agencies and managing around 4,000 county employees.
Yonkers School District Superintendent Edwin Quezada is the leader of New York’s fourth-largest school district, which educates nearly 27,000 students and employs 3,500 staff members. He has guided the district through reopening after coronavirus closings, fears of budget shortfalls, school bus driver shortages and other challenges throughout the past year. Despite those and other obstacles, under Quezada’s leadership, graduation rates at Yonkers public schools rose in 2020.
Assembly Member J. Gary Pretlow finally succeeded in his push to get mobile sports betting legalized in New York this year. But Pretlow – who serves as chair of the Assembly Committee on Racing and Wagering – has been critical of the way the state has set up its model for sports betting and has called on state officials to approve all companies that applied for a license to engage in online sports betting. The lawmaker will likely be keeping a close eye on how the state’s new market develops.
During his decade in office, White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach has helped facilitate the growth of White Plains. Now, Roach is focused on making sure that development and local businesses continue to thrive despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. One notable current municipal project is the Galleria shopping mall’s overhaul, which will accommodate more patrons and create more public open space and mixed-use development.
The food and beverage titan PepsiCo Inc. has held on to its headquarters in Purchase while allowing employees more flexibility to work remotely. That means it will continue to be one of the major multinational companies to call Westchester home. Under Ramon Laguarta’s leadership, PepsiCo Inc. has experienced growth recently as stores reopened and customers have been eating out more. The company’s CEO must now navigate the challenges of continued supply disruptions, increased labor and transportation costs in the short term.
The Indian Point nuclear power plant finally ended operations in April, thanks in no small part to Assembly Member Sandy Galef. Galef sponsored legislation signed into law that same month requiring the company shuttering the plant to pay employees the prevailing wage and follow collective bargaining agreements. As chair of the Assembly Real Property Taxation Committee, Galef also orchestrated the inclusion of $382 million in property tax relief into this year’s state budget.
As CEO, Timothy Cawley helms the state’s largest power utility company – Con Edison. He has spent three years as president of the company, which delivers electricity to all of New York City and most of Westchester County while also supplying natural gas service. Throughout his tenure, Cawley has prioritized a shift to renewable energy, greater battery storage and other measures that will help the company reach its goal of relying solely on clean electricity by 2040.
Prior to his election to the state Senate, Pete Harckham served as Democratic majority leader on the Westchester County Board of Legislators, was director of intergovernmental affairs for the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge project and was active in a number of local nonprofit organizations. So when former Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino sought to oust the Democrat from office last fall, Harckham relied on his deep roots in the county to propel him to a second term in office
State Sens. Jamaal Bailey and Alessandra Biaggi are known as lawmakers from the Bronx: Bailey is the borough’s Democratic Party chair and Biaggi’s grandfather was a famous Bronx member of Congress. Yet, both senators represent significant portions of Westchester as well. Bailey, whose district includes much of Mount Vernon, has introduced legislation that would create a state oversight board to monitor that city’s finances. Biaggi, who represents part of Mount Vernon and Pelham, recently joined Westchester County Executive George Latimer to discuss the benefits of the Penn Station Access project for Westchester commuters.
As the founder and owner of Empire Strategic Planning, an Albany-based lobbying firm with deep Westchester roots, Nick Spano remains a key player in local and state politics despite having left elected office years ago. He grew up in a political family – his brother, Mike Spano, is the mayor of Yonkers – and spent years serving in the Assembly and state Senate. Today, he represents heavyweights such as the Greater New York Hospital Association and the Westchester County Police Benevolent Association.
The next president of the Yonkers City Council will be Lakisha Collins-Bellamy, who upset incumbent Mike Khader in June and went on to defeat Republican Ronald Matten in November for the leadership post. With her election, Collins-Bellamy will become the first Black woman in the role. In addition to her job as legal counsel for the Municipal Housing Authority for the City of Yonkers, she was appointed to the city’s Board of Education last year and also sat on the city’s Police Reform Committee.
Suzanne Berger became Westchester Democrats’ first new leader in 16 years, after the party’s longtime chair, Reggie Lafayette, dropped out of last year’s race. Having spent nearly 20 years as head of Greenburgh’s Democrats, she is also the first woman to serve in the role. Berger helms the party at a time when Democrats reign supreme across Westchester, holding nearly all leadership positions at the county level.
With nearly 40 years of experience in law enforcement in Westchester, Thomas Gleason has served since 2018 as the county’s high-profile public safety commissioner. Gleason has spent the past year coordinating with government officials and community leaders on countywide police reform proposals and participating in a law enforcement task force to tackle gun and gang violence locally. Before taking on his current position, Gleason was chief inspector for the county police.
The Construction Industry Council of Westchester & Hudson Valley represents more than 600 businesses in the construction industry, such as contractors, suppliers and consultants. Ross Pepe heads the trade organization’s efforts to lobby local and state officials, negotiate labor agreements and educate its members on laws and regulations affecting their work. Pepe has joined local leaders in advocating for New York state to launch a project to widen Route 17 in the Hudson Valley.
Having served as president and CEO for 16 years, Michael Israel has played a major role in defining Westchester Medical Center’s coronavirus pandemic response. Under his direction, Westchester Medical Center coordinated the distribution of 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccines across the Hudson Valley this year. Now, the network of hospitals has focused its energy on a new program to help people who continue to face long-term symptoms of COVID-19.
Earlier this year, Susan Fox celebrated a major new development at White Plains Hospital: the new Center for Advanced Medicine and Surgery, a $272 million outpatient complex spanning 252,000 square feet. It’s just one of the many projects focused on expanding quality care that Fox has taken on since joining White Plains Hospital in 2010. Her expertise in the health care industry also helps in her position as board chair of the Westchester County Association, a role she assumed last month.
Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard entered office in 2020 in the wake of a series of upheavals that rocked the city’s political leadership. Patterson-Howard has navigated a myriad of challenges since taking up residency in City Hall, including feuding with the city’s comptroller over alleged delays in paying the city’s fuel bills that threatened city services. She continues to lead the city through the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Developers and property owners across Westchester turn to Mark Weingarten for guidance on land use, zoning and government relations. One of his recent clients is Saber-North White Plains LLC, which tapped Weingarten to help the company move forward with its proposed $120 million development at 70 Westchester Avenue in White Plains. Before joining DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr LLP, he served as a partner in the law firm of Weingarten & Weingarten.
Peekskill Mayor Andre Rainey is finishing up his final months in office after deciding not to seek a third term this fall. During his four years as mayor, Rainey has overseen booming development in the city. Rainey also helped Peekskill secure $10 million from the state to revitalize its downtown area, which will be used to improve street safety and bolster the local arts community.
George Lence and Cristyne Nicholas have led one of New York’s top public affairs firms since co-founding it in 2007. Lence focuses on government and community relations efforts at Nicholas & Lence Communications, while Nicholas brings with her extensive experience as a public relations professional known for helping to revitalize New York City’s tourism industry after the 9/11 attacks. Nicholas & Lence has attracted clients from across Westchester County, such as the city of New Rochelle and the Westchester Community Foundation.
Civil rights attorney Mayo Bartlett and consultant Leroy Frazer, who was previously a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office, have spearheaded Westchester’s efforts to reform policing across the county. Westchester County Executive George Latimer tapped them to lead the Westchester County Police Reform and Reimagining Task Force last year. Since then, the task force has developed a set of recommendations that the county’s elected officials have adopted, including expanded de-escalation and implicit bias training.
Westchester County has seen a blue wave in recent years, one that’s held strong even after a weak showing for Democrats in the tri-state area in several 2021 elections. As founder of Indivisible Westchester, Shannon Powell has played a key role ensuring progressive Democrats get elected across the county. She’s now also helping to launch No Surrender New York, a new PAC aiming to help New York Democrats win congressional seats after the redistricting process is finalized.
Robert Martin Co. remains a real estate powerhouse in Westchester, overcoming some of the challenges that have plagued the industry during the coronavirus pandemic. Under Timothy Jones’ leadership, the firm managed to secure about 400,000 square feet in leases during the first half of the year and sold several other buildings, including two office buildings in Yonkers leased by Montefiore Medical Center for $36.6 million.
Martin Ginsburg has spent more than five decades focused on major residential and mixed-use developments across the Hudson Valley. He’s managed to keep that pace up during the COVID-19 pandemic: He unveiled Westchester County’s first major redevelopment transforming office space into a residential building this summer. The founder and principal of Ginsburg Development Cos. is also overseeing notable projects such as Ludlow Point, a 520-unit apartment complex in Yonkers.
Belinda Miles helms Westchester County’s largest college, which currently boasts more than 26,000 students. Since becoming president of Westchester Community College in 2015, she has helped improve both graduation rates and student retention. Miles has refocused the college’s work and safety measures throughout the pandemic and directed much of its federal COVID-19 relief funding to provide emergency grants to students in need.
John Fareri and his affiliated companies have developed, renovated and now own nearly $1.5 billion worth of real estate across the lower Hudson Valley and Fairfield County in Connecticut. He is a top developer and manager of commercial, industrial and residential properties, including office buildings, mixed-use developments and retail locations. One of his most notable projects is creating the proposed $1.2 billion Westchester BioScience & Technology Center in Valhalla, which is undergoing an environmental review process and is slated to start construction next year.
Westchester Democrat David Imamura heads New York’s redistricting commission, a never-before-tested body created under a 2014 constitutional amendment. Appointed by state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Imamura was elected to serve as chair by his fellow commissioners in May. The commission has already released draft maps to mixed reactions; now, Imamura and other appointees must work to tweak them according to public input. An attorney at Debevoise & Plimpton, Imamura is also co-chair of Westchester County’s Asian American Advisory Board.
John Ravitz’s experience as an Assembly member has given him the political chops to advance The Business Council of Westchester’s legislative priorities. He manages the organization’s policy, government affairs and community relations efforts, advocating on behalf of more than 1,000 members, including multinational corporations, universities and nonprofits. In the past year, he has backed Empire City Casino’s push for a full gaming license and praised Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano’s decision to veto a bill that would have expanded affordable housing unit requirements.
The Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus celebrated its 45th anniversary last month, bringing accolades from top New York power players such as state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and state Attorney General Letitia James. Subomi Macaulay became caucus president this year and is laser-focused on its work to get Black women in Westchester elected to office. This past summer, she coordinated a trip to Washington, D.C., to join marchers fighting for voting rights.
Thomas Carey is one of Westchester’s most prominent labor leaders, serving as president of the Westchester-Putnam Central Labor Body. Several top elected officials have also appointed him to advisory positions, including as a member of the Mid-Hudson Regional Economic Development Council and the Indian Point Closure Task Force. He joined other labor union heads this year to call on the state to grant Empire City Casino a full gambling license.
Since joining CareMount Medical more than 20 years ago, Dr. Scott Hayworth has helped guide the organization through a nearly 15-fold expansion. It now boasts more than 45 locations across the Hudson Valley and New York City and also affiliations with major hospitals such as Northwell Health and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. After CareMount Medical became part of Optum Tri-State last year, Hayworth became the president of the merged entity.
As the executive director of Neighbors Link, Carola Bracco connects immigrants in Westchester County to legal services, job training support and educational programs. She has led the organization’s tenfold growth since taking over in 2014 by doing things like expanding its reach across the county over that time. She joined other nonprofit leaders in praising Gov. Kathy Hochul’s decision to extend financial relief to undocumented immigrants affected by the remnants of Hurricane Ida this year.
Robert Weisz founded RPW Group about four decades ago, growing it into a top developer with commercial properties spanning across Westchester County. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Weisz is keeping an optimistic perspective on the region’s growth and future development. His company continues to push forward with several projects, including a new residential building near the “Platinum Mile” and a luxury apartment building in White Plains.
Ruth Hassell-Thompson spent five years as a state senator, representing Mount Vernon and swathes of the northern Bronx, in addition to having served as City Council president and acting mayor of Mount Vernon. Now, her primary focus is on supporting New York’s efforts to build and preserve affordable housing. She has served as state Homes and Community Renewal’s special adviser for policy and community affairs since 2016.
Deborah Milone advocates for the needs of the business community as the executive director of the Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber of Commerce, which boasts more than 500 members across Westchester County. Her role encompasses everything from leading the group’s lobbying efforts before local and state government and guiding small businesses through the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. Milone has served in leadership positions at the chamber since 2010, after a career in marketing and sales.
Reginald Lafayette has spent years as a top Democratic power broker in Westchester. And while he may not serve as chair of the Westchester County Democratic Committee, he continues to wield immense influence elsewhere. This includes helming the Mount Vernon Democratic Party, where he helps shape the city’s political present and future. Lafayette also serves as the co-commissioner of the Westchester County Board of Elections.
Westchester-Putnam Building and Construction Trades Council President Edward Doyle is a powerful advocate for construction workers in the region. He negotiated new regulations with the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency and other county officials that would incentivize project developers to hire 85% of their construction workers locally. Doyle continues to push to get more jobs to unionized workers and has lauded Westchester County Executive George Latimer’s promotion of more capital projects that would benefit union workers.
Michael Fosina, Stacey Petrower and Dr. Philip Wilner are the top health care executives leading NewYork-Presbyterian’s network of hospitals stretching across Westchester County. Fosina has served as president of NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville since 2015 and has played a key role guiding it throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, while Petrower has spent five years leading the NewYork-Presbyterian Hudson Valley Hospital in Cortlandt Manor. As senior vice president and chief operating officer at NewYork-Presbyterian Westchester Behavioral Health Center, Wilner has helped boost its reputation as a top hospital for psychiatric care.
As head of the NAACP New Rochelle chapter, Minister Mark McLean has been outspoken in advocating for police accountability and civil rights protection. Earlier this year, McLean criticized the New Rochelle Police Department for clearing Officer Alec McKenna of any wrongdoing after he killed Kamal Flowers last year and called for his firing. McLean has also joined other activists in pushing for the state to make it easier for older incarcerated people to be considered for parole.
The Rev. Steve Lopez heads the Yonkers Board of Education, creating and managing policies for the city’s school district. Having served on the board since 2013, Lopez has helped shape COVID-19 safety measures and other pandemic-related changes to education in Yonkers public schools over the past year. The longtime educator is also an associate pastor at Calvary Center Church and is the chair for the Conference of Big 5 School Districts.
As head of the Yonkers Federation of Teachers, Samantha Rosado-Ciriello negotiates with Yonkers school officials to support the union’s 3,600 members. That includes keeping a close eye on the process for reopening schools and navigating changing COVID-19 safety rules. When there was generalized fear of potential budget cuts last year, Rosado-Ciriello pushed Yonkers leaders to avoid staff and service reductions and called for additional state funding.
Derek Anderson and Eileen Egan each helm two notable hospitals in Westchester under the Northwell Health umbrella. Anderson held numerous leadership positions at Northwell Health before taking the reins at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco in 2019, where he now manages more than 650 physicians. Egan is in charge of operations at Phelps Hospital, located in Sleepy Hollow; she initially joined the community hospital in 1981. She has held numerous leadership roles throughout the years, most recently as vice president of administration.
As head of the Westchester Children’s Association, Allison Lake fights for policies that support the county’s most vulnerable youth. She has headed the organization’s efforts to collect more data about homeless children in Westchester and monitored the difficulties students across the county have while learning remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Lake, who has been with the nonprofit since 1998, became its executive director in 2018.
In the Cappelli Organization’s 36 years of operation, the company has built 26 properties with a gross asset value of over $10 billion. Its work is fueled by Louis Cappelli, who founded the company and also serves as the chair and CEO of its subsidiaries, Fuller Development and LRC Construction. He is also active in local philanthropy: His foundation committed $200,000 to help New Rochelle through the COVID-19 crisis last year.
Assembly Member Nader Sayegh has represented Yonkers in Albany since 2019, when he took office after winning the race to fill the seat vacated by state Sen. Shelley Mayer. The former president of the Yonkers Board of Education now chairs the Assembly Subcommittee on Students with Special Needs and was also named to the Committee on Racing and Wagering. As the first Jordanian American in the state Legislature, Sayegh met with King Abdullah II of Jordan in New York City this fall.
The Westchester Institute for Human Development delivers needed services to people with disabilities and children in need across Westchester. Susan Fox has enabled the organization to continue doing so despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under her leadership last year, the organization provided about 32,700 clinical and medical visits to nearly 4,200 people and conducted thousands more for primary care, dental services and audiology.
As senior pastor of the historic Grace Baptist Church in Mount Vernon, the Rev. W. Franklyn Richardson has led his growing congregation throughout the pandemic. He has navigated reopening plans for the church, educated congregants and others on COVID-19 vaccination and also offered guidance as the chair for the Conference of National Black Churches. This year, Richardson worked to launch a partnership between Grace Baptist Church’s development arm and Mountco Construction and Development Corp. to create a new 267-unit apartment building with additional space for the church’s use.
In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pace University President Marvin Krislov took on the task of outlining a vision for the institution. That culminated in a new strategic plan announced in February, with proposals to expand experiential learning, invest in more research and address racism in university policies. Krislov, who has been with Pace since 2017, previously served as president of Oberlin College and vice president and general counsel at the University of Michigan.
Keith Olson, a veteran of the Yonkers Police Department, helms Westchester County’s largest police union. As president of the Yonkers Police Benevolent Association, Olson has pushed back against the idea of COVID-19 vaccine mandates for the city’s nearly 500 police officers and opposed the state’s recently passed Clean Slate bill. He also serves as president of the Affiliated Police Associations of Westchester, which more broadly fights on behalf of officers across the county.
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic began to whipsaw the United States, Anthony Viceroy worked to make sure Westmed Medical Group was ready. He proactively secured personal protective equipment for staff and shored up the health care organization’s finances ahead of the onslaught. As CEO of Westmed, Viceroy oversees 500 physicians and more than 1,500 employees across 13 locations in Westchester County and Fairfield County in Connecticut.
Michael Romita became president and CEO of the Westchester County Association, one of the region’s top business advocacy groups, just as COVID-19 hit New York last year. He had to champion the business community’s needs while trying to develop long-term plans to help bolster the county’s health care industry and close gaps in internet access. Romita previously was an executive with Castle Oil Corp. and a litigator in the U.S. Department of Justice.
Tim Hall’s leadership informs the operations at Mercy College, which educates 5,700 undergraduate students across its locations in Dobbs Ferry, Manhattan and the Bronx and through its virtual classes. As Mercy’s president, Hall has advocated for higher education institutions to use the COVID-19 pandemic to change up the status quo, highlighting the value of online learning and the benefits that mergers and partnerships can provide.
Milagros “Milly” Peña became Purchase College’s sixth president last year just as the school’s fall semester was set to begin, putting her in the position of guiding the college through a pivotal time in the COVID-19 pandemic. She previously served as dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at the University of California, Riverside, where she managed a $105 million annual budget and led strategic planning initiatives.
Westchester County Clerk Tim Idoni has spent the past 15 years in his current role, overseeing the county office responsible for managing court records, processing passport applications and mortgages as well as handling other administrative responsibilities. The longtime government official – who first entered elected office as mayor of New Rochelle in 1991 – managed to weather a tough primary election this year. On the campaign trail, Idoni touted that he saved the city $37 million during his tenure and made strides in diversifying the clerk’s office.
Many of Westchester’s municipal workers, building trades workers and school bus drivers count on Teamsters Local 456 President Louis Picani to fight on their behalf. Picani, who has spent about two decades as a Yonkers sanitation worker, has headed the union since 2016 and initially served as its business agent in 2005. Among his efforts this year: He joined public workers in Mount Vernon in February to call on city officials to pay the overtime owed to them for nearly three months.
Christian DiPalermo’s experience in politics, policy and law has primed him to successfully guide his corporate and nonprofit clients through economic development and infrastructure projects. As a principal at CDD Strategies, DiPalermo focuses on helping clients in the energy, transportation and recreational land use space. He brings with him experience as a former aide to former Rep. Nita Lowey and was vice president at the public affairs firm TLM Associates.
The Open Door Family Medical Center and Foundation in Ossining has conducted vital outreach to make sure vaccine-hesitant Westchester residents get their COVID-19 shots. Lindsay Farrell has led those efforts as its president and CEO, a role she has held since 1998. During her time with the organization, its budget has grown to $59 million, and the medical center has increased the number of patients it serves to 60,000.
Mount Vernon’s newly elected comptroller, the Rev. Darren Morton, faces an uphill battle once he enters office next year. Current Mount Vernon Comptroller Deborah Reynolds has feuded with Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard this past year as the city’s bills piled up, and the city has historically struggled to get its finances in order. Morton’s varied experience in government – including most recently serving as Patterson-Howard’s chief of staff – may help him take on the difficult task.
Hunger has been a persistent problem for Westchester’s low-income residents throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and Karen Erren has been fighting it as president and CEO of Feeding Westchester, one of the region’s largest food banks. The nonprofit distributed about 22 million pounds of food last year – doubling its efforts compared to 2019 – and worked closely with a network of 300 local food pantries and charities to get it done.
After extended deliberations, Westchester lawmakers approved a bankruptcy court settlement with Standard Amusements that would leave the company in charge of operations at Playland Amusement Park in Rye. Nicholas Singer, Standard Amusements co-founder, applauded the agreement after a long delay since its initial contract with the county agreed to under the previous administration was terminated by current Westchester County Executive George Latimer. The new agreement with Standard Amusements comes with more requirements for park improvements and greater oversight from the county.
Iona College President Seamus Carey closed on a major deal this year, absorbing Concordia College’s campus and remaining students as of this fall. The newly acquired campus will now become a health sciences-focused school at Iona, which is continuing its expansion after launching a new nursing program last year – the latest indication of Carey’s dedication to boosting enrollment and expanding educational offerings at the college.
Under Cristle Collins Judd’s leadership, Sarah Lawrence College secured its largest donation this fall: a $20 million gift to support the college’s strategic plans. It’s just one example of how Judd has transformed the college’s trajectory since becoming president in 2017. Other notable achievements include her shepherding of the school’s successful $200 million capital campaign – which resulted in the creation of the college’s first new building in 15 years – and establishing partnerships with local community colleges to support potential transfer students.
State Attorney General Letitia James has become a prominent leader in New York and nationally, spearheading high-profile lawsuits against former President Donald Trump and leading the investigation into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment accusations. As James’ special adviser, Tai Johnson plays a key, behind-the-scenes role supporting the attorney general’s work. She previously also worked as intergovernmental affairs director for James when she was New York City public advocate.
Westchester County Legislators Christopher Johnson, MaryJane Shimsky and Alfreda Williams hold key leadership posts on the Board of Legislators. And with Democrats holding a majority on the legislative body – and continuing to do so into next year – that allows these lawmakers to drive new policies shaping Westchester. Majority Whip Johnson has represented Yonkers in the Westchester County Board of Legislators since 2017, working on legislation to prevent employers from asking about criminal convictions and managing appointments to boards such as the Rent Guidelines Board. Majority Leader Shimsky has focused on infrastructure and environmental issues during her legislative tenure, such as transportation improvements and storm preparedness in Westchester. Meanwhile, Vice Chair Williams is wrapping up her time in office after years working on legislation related to child care funding, human services and other issues. But her legacy will live on in her daughter, who is filling her seat starting next year.
The 78-year-old Westchester Jewish Community Services is one of the county’s largest human services nonprofits. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Seth Diamond has worked to keep up its numerous programs that provide mental health treatment, access to group homes for adults with disabilities and early childhood education for local youth. As part of that effort, New York state delivered $25,000 in federal funding to the nonprofit earlier this year to support students and families throughout the health crisis.
The Business Council of Westchester, United Way of Westchester and Putnam and Westchester Community College are just a few of the prominent groups that have sought out Thompson & Bender’s help with advertising, marketing and public relations campaigns. The firm is headed by partners Dean Bender, Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson and Geoff Thompson. Bender and Thompson focus on public relations, crisis management and governmental relations, while Bracken-Thompson manages the firm’s advertising, marketing and special events efforts.
As one of Westchester’s top experts in disaster medicine, Robert Amler has provided important guidance on responding to the coronavirus pandemic. He has previously held top posts in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, having worked on regional hospital preparedness for emergencies and coordinated on anthrax response. Amler now serves as the dean of New York Medical College’s School of Health Sciences and Practice.
Tony Alfano has led Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital since 2013, helping to build up the hospital after Montefiore took control of the fiscally unsound Sound Shore Medical Center. The 242-bed facility has transformed significantly since then, especially after it completed its $44.3 million renovation project this year. Montefiore Mount Vernon Hospital also launched in 2013, with Jaccel Kouns taking over as vice president and executive director a year later. Having been with Montefiore since 1994, Kouns has also played a major role bolstering the hospital’s inpatient, critical care and ambulatory services.
Saber Real Estate Advisors has more than $2 billion worth of developments and acquisitions under its belt. The Armonk-based company’s continued success is driven by longtime real estate professionals Martin Berger and Michael Klinger. Berger founded McCann Development Series II – the predecessor to Saber – and spearheaded projects such as the Rivertowns Square in Dobbs Ferry and The Collection in White Plains. Klinger’s background includes 12 years spent managing real estate investments for The Blackstone Group and Related Companies.
The Anti-Discrimination Center launched a lawsuit in 2006 that resulted in a major settlement requiring Westchester County to take more substantial steps to desegregate its communities by building more affordable housing. A federal judge determined this summer that the county has fulfilled the terms of the settlement, thus winding down Westchester’s housing obligations. But the center’s leader, Craig Gurian, has called the decision premature and continues to fight for fair housing.
Eddie Monroy and Aleida Frederico work to ensure the Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce provides vital guidance and support to Hispanic businesses throughout the county. They each have plenty of business expertise: Monroy served as director of consulting services at Strategy Leaders, and Frederico works as senior relationship manager and vice president in commercial banking at TD Bank. Under their leadership, the chamber has provided vital guidance for COVID-19 aid and training to local business owners.
In Michael Geisler’s five years heading Manhattanville College, he has worked to expand and enhance educational initiatives for its approximately 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Under his direction, the Purchase-based college opened a new School of Nursing and Health Sciences, as well as a Center for Design Thinking that helps shape learning courses, college offices and other facets of the campus. Geisler has also launched numerous initiatives focused on improving diversity, equity and inclusion at Manhattanville.
Juanita Lewis is a longtime organizer with Community Voices Heard who most recently led advocacy efforts for the progressive organization in the Hudson Valley. Throughout her time as an organizer, Lewis has spearheaded initiatives to politically mobilize Black women statewide and successfully pushed Westchester officials to dedicate more funding for social programs. As Community Voices Heard’s executive director, a position she started this summer, she is focused on helping the organization’s activism expand even further.
Catherine Lederer-Plaskett’s top priority is fighting for reproductive rights. Through her political action committee, WCLA - Choice Matters, Lederer-Plaskett has opposed the Texas law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and has pushed to cement New York as a safe state for people across the country seeking abortions. Her group is also active in electoral politics in Westchester, endorsing Democrats who support abortion-rights across local and countywide races this year.
White Plains Mayor Tom Roach tapped Janice Griffith to chair the city’s new Police Reform Committee last year to develop potential plans to change policing practices. Griffith, the president of the NAACP branch encompassing White Plains and Greenburgh, launched a series of public hearings and coordinated with other leaders on the committee to ultimately create a draft report this past March. Its recommendations included creating a Civilian Complaint Review Board and providing more public data on arrests.
Peter Scherrer has guided the Westchester County Airport through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, navigating new safety measures and contending with a declining number of passengers. Now, the county-run airport near White Plains is seeing an upswing in usage as coronavirus vaccination rates have improved. Westchester County Executive George Latimer recently proposed a $28 million capital investment for the airport, which offers flights operated by seven passenger airlines for travelers in the tri-state area.
Robert Martinelli oversees the production of Westchester’s premier publication spotlighting its latest events, developments and influential leaders: Westchester Magazine. His family-owned media company, Today Media, owns it and many other glossy magazines and titles spanning the Hudson Valley, the state of Delaware and other areas. Under his oversight, Westchester Magazine continues to be a go-to source of news for the biggest shifts in the county’s business community and its biggest movers and shakers.
Black Westchester is a popular news source for people of color in Westchester, providing a range of articles and radio shows focused on politics, culture and other top issues in the county. The seven-year-old magazine’s work is directed by publisher Damon Jones – who is also an outspoken local activist and county correction officer – and AJ Woodson, who serves as the publication’s editor-in-chief. Black Westchester has become an important source for local political stories, both in Mount Vernon and countywide government.
Some of the country’s largest financial institutions count on Thomas Leslie’s expertise. As the managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s office in Westchester County, he focuses on guiding his clients through purchasing and selling real estate, handling loan portfolios and financing collateral. Leslie has a strong background in zoning and planning matters locally as well, having previously been special counsel to the Village of Bronxville Planning Board.
Stacey Cohen heads Co-Communications, a firm she founded in 1997 that dispenses key marketing and public relations insight to clients in real estate, health care, education and other sectors. Her organization has spearheaded campaigns on behalf of organizations such as Manhattanville College and the Construction Industry Council, which sought help on a campaign to rebuild the Tappan Zee Bridge, now known as the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
Jeffrey Cohen and Robert Spolzino are two of Abrams Fensterman’s high-powered attorneys based in Westchester. Cohen is a retired appellate justice and former Westchester County Court judge who serves as of counsel at the law firm, with a hand in its appellate, litigation, municipal and white-collar criminal law practices. Currently a partner at Abrams Fensterman, Spolzino has spent 35 years as an attorney and more than eight years as a justice on the state Supreme Court. He uses that experience now as an appellate, municipal and commercial litigator.
Longtime nonprofit executive Tom Gabriel has served as president and CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam since 2019, where he has managed its research on low-income households in Westchester and the programs it creates in response to those households’ needs. Under his leadership, the nonprofit got Westchester residents connected to the state’s rental relief program and committed funding to a new Westchester Center for Racial Equity launched by the YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester.
For more than two decades, the nonprofit 100 Hispanic Women has sought to guide Latinas in Westchester into leadership roles. As its president, Meiling Macias-Toro helps the organization achieve that goal through scholarship programs and networking events for local residents. She is a business leader in her own right, having founded MMT Media Inc. and having gained extensive experience in content production across a number of advertising agencies.
Community organizer Diana Sanchez advocates on behalf of undocumented immigrants in Yonkers and across Westchester County. She co-founded the Yonkers Sanctuary Movement, a grassroots group that fights for immigrant rights, alongside other progressive organizations, and is also a board member at the Hudson Valley Community Coalition. Over the past year, Sanchez fought for the passage of the Excluded Workers Fund to provide aid to undocumented workers.
Under Cynthia Delfino’s leadership, the YMCA of Central Northern Westchester continued to provide Westchester youth with vital programs and services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The nonprofit raised $303,180 to provide families with financial assistance to cover the costs of summer camp and child care last year and served 600 children across locations in North Salem, Putnam Valley and White Plains. Delfino is now in her eighth year leading the organization.
Correction: Due to an editing error, this post initially had an incorrect title for Standard Amusements' Nicholas Singer.
NEXT STORY: The 2021 Staten Island Power 100