Power Lists

The 2022 50 Over 50

The age disruptors who changed New York.

President of the NAACP New York State Conference Hazel Dukes.

President of the NAACP New York State Conference Hazel Dukes. Celeste Sloman

Some years ago, Betsy Gotbaum suggested to City & State Publisher Tom Allon that we were missing something by only highlighting younger New Yorkers with our 40 Under 40 lists. The former New York City public advocate and current executive director of the good-government group Citizens Union had a point – and we’ve been honoring our elders with an annual 50 Over 50 feature ever since. 

The list, which extols the accomplishments and experience of 50 individuals who are over the age of 50, makes a lot of sense. While more and more up-and-coming politicians are winning elected office and taking on key roles at the city, state and federal levels in New York, there is plenty to be learned from the life lessons of these long-serving leaders.

This is the seventh year City & State has partnered with AARP in praising 50 venerable New Yorkers. In this issue and at a virtual gala celebration on Jan. 31, we recognize the contributions of an impressive group, including behind-the-scenes power brokers as well as well-known leaders. This includes Westchester County Executive George Latimer, NAACP New York State Conference President Hazel Dukes, former state Office of Addiction Services and Supports Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez and former New York City Council Member Margaret Chin – and even Gotbaum herself.


Former President and CEO, Hudson Square BID
Ellen Baer / Hudson Square BID

When Ellen Baer was growing up in Manhattan’s Peter Cooper Village, she didn’t remember visiting Hudson Square. “It was the printing district then,” she recalls. “You would hear old lawyers say, ‘I have to go to Varick Street.’ It was not a place you had any reason to go unless you were picking up your printing.”

Baer spent more than a decade in public service in the Koch and Dinkins administrations before helping to launch the Hudson Square Business Improvement District. At the time, the area had been attracting architecture firms to set up shop in spacious lofts before media companies like Edelman and Viacom moved in.

“Then there was a long time when the buildings were empty and a bunch of architects first started to discover the neighborhood because the rent was cheap and the physical spaces lent themselves to having benching and drafting tables and a need for light,” Baer says. “They really found the neighborhood first.”

Once Trinity Church, which owns 14 acres in Hudson Square, persuaded the New York City Council to rezone the area in 2013, more companies flocked there. Now, Google and Disney’s campuses are poised to draw thousands of workers to the neighborhood’s cobblestone streets.

Baer, who retired from the BID last fall, expects Hudson Square to continue to thrive. “A BID can’t do something about whether someone can come back to the office or not,” she says. “But we can make sure when people do come back, the neighborhood is a joyful, safe and welcoming place to be.”


Managing Principal, BFC Partners
Donald Capoccia / BFC Partners

Donald Capoccia’s real estate career has come full circle on the Lower East Side.

Capoccia got his start in a consultant’s office after obtaining a master’s degree in planning at Hunter College. The first project he worked on was developing 72-74 E. 3rd St. after the city put out an RFP for $1. One-bedroom units sold for $67,000 and two-bedrooms went for $82,000.

“Things have changed since then, but it was a very rough, difficult neighborhood right across the headquarters of the Hells Angels,” Capoccia recalls. “I never ran into them.”He met his business partners Greg Baron and Peter Ferrara at the end of that job and founded a company with them on a handshake deal. Nearly four decades later, BFC Partners has completed a myriad of transformative affordable housing projects through the metro area, including a 446-unit mixed development in Coney Island and the Bronx Commons in Melrose. Many of its developments feature amenities that meet community needs, like a fitness center and a pool at the former Bedford Armory in Crown Heights, a food hall and space for a theater at Empire Outlets in Staten Island, and a new home for the Essex Market at the Lower East Side’s Essex Crossing – not far from Capoccia’s first development.

“What we’ve learned along the way is that the ideal project serves the vast array of different incomes and socioeconomic populations,” he says. “The more we can pack into a project, the better opportunity we can serve the families who live in the building and the community as well.”


Former New York City Council Member
Margaret Chin / Celeste Sloman

Margaret Chin represented lower Manhattan for the past 12 years, but she traveled farther to get to the New York City Council than any of her colleagues.

Born in Hong Kong, Chin moved with her family in 1963 when she was 9 years old and settled in an apartment on Mott Street north of Canal. Her mother became a garment worker and her father got a job in a restaurant on the block making dim sum.

“He made shrimp balls,” Chin says. “The skin was very thin and you could see the shrimp from inside and they were very tasty.” 

Chinatown was slowly growing, but all their Mott Street neighbors were Italian American. Chin and her brothers played with neighborhood kids in a shared backyard. Special occasions were spent at Vincent’s, where they would chip in and get calamari.

Chin’s world broadened even further when she went to Bronx Science and City College and then worked at LaGuardia Community College to help immigrants get an education. She ran for the New York City Council three times before becoming the first Chinese American to represent Chinatown in 2009.

Her tenure has been marked by battles over development, securing COVID-19 aid for restaurants and condemning anti-Asian attacks. Chin is most proud of increasing the city Department for the Aging’s budget, securing affordable housing at Essex Crossing and converting the Elizabeth Street garden into senior housing. 

“I hope the next administration continues these efforts making sure affordable housing is being built, tenants are protected and we continue to support people who are in need,” Chin says.


President, NAACP New York State Conference
Hazel Dukes / Celeste Sloman

When Hazel Dukes was a college student at Adelphi University, an activist gave a talk about voting rights and exhorted the audience to get engaged. “He said, ‘You’re born in politics and you die in politics. When you’re born, someone signs your birth certificate, and when you transition, someone signs your death certificate,’’’ Dukes recalls. “We kind of joked about it after, and then I began to think about what that meant.”

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Dukes remembers her father, a Pullman porter, complaining about the prejudice he faced. “He would say, ‘We have to do something. We’re not treated right, we should be equal with other people,’” Dukes says. “From that, it gave me an outlook about skin color.” Dukes joined the NAACP through her church in Roslyn and rose through the ranks to become its national president from 1989 to 1992. She ran for state NAACP president in 1999.

Dukes is so respected in the Black community that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought her support in the face of a sexual harassment scandal. Dukes has since endorsed his successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, and stood with her when she unveiled Brian Benjamin as her lieutenant governor.

Dukes, who also served on New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ education transition committee, says Adams must combat inequities in public schools. “We have to turn the Tweed building upside down. The resources need to be out in our districts,” Dukes says. “They can’t do all of it in four years, but they can begin to address the inequality we have in our education system.” 

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Arlene González-Sánchez

Former Commissioner, State Office of Addiction Services and Supports
Arlene González-Sánchez / Alma Media

Arlene González-Sánchez didn’t start out planning to be a public health leader. 

The West Side native was a pre-med major at Fordham and researched cardiac cells and DNA cloning at Cornell for eight years before she got another master’s in psychiatric social work.

That led to several leadership positions within the city’s department of mental health in the Dinkins administration. 

She primarily worked with New Yorkers with physical disabilities and those suffering from addiction. But sometimes she assisted the city’s rapid response team. When TWA Flight 800 crashed near Brookhaven in 1996, she ensured counselors accompanied family members to identify the remains. Following the 9/11 attacks, she coordinated mental health support for first responders.

“Mayor Giuliani used the docks for makeshift control centers where we coordinated everything we needed for food and clothing,” González-Sánchez says. “They were large Navy ships that provided food for those of us who were on site 24/7 and we could sleep there.”

After a stint in Nassau County integrating the county’s health and human services departments, González-Sánchez joined the Cuomo administration to run the state’s addiction office. She added outpatient clinics and Medicaid-assisted treatment programs, especially in rural areas. 

She also set up mobile treatment vans, or “clinics on wheels,” that provide substance abuse services in court parking lots. “The judge knows there’s a van in the parking lot and can say, ‘Either you go down there, get assessed and start a program or you do time,’” González-Sánchez says. “What we have found is that has really brought down the numbers of re-offenders.”


Executive Director, Citizens Union
Betsy Gotbaum / Julienne Schaer

Betsy Gotbaum’s first job could have inspired a Graham Greene novel. 

She taught at an American school in Brazil while her first husband established peasant cooperatives for the CIA to counteract Fidel Castro’s cooperatives. “There was a military coup, the generals overthrew the government and the governor was a communist, so that made everybody very nervous,” Gotbaum recalls. 

Gotbaum returned to New York and, recently divorced and seeking a career path, completed a graduate degree at Columbia University. She then took an assistant position in the Lindsay administration. “It was the only job of substance that I got offered,” she says. “Back then there were only secretarial jobs, and I’m a terrible secretary.”

She then held leadership stints at the Police Foundation, the parks department and the New-York Historical Society before beating a crowded field in 2001 to become New York City’s public advocate. She transformed the office into a problem-solving laboratory for New Yorkers who had nowhere else to turn. One February, Gotbaum received frantic calls from parents whose children didn’t come home after school, and she discovered the city had changed bus routes. “They messed up the bus schedule because they never did a pilot project and with help of the press we got that reversed,” she says.

At Citizens Union, Gotbaum has focused on depoliticizing the notoriously incompetent New York City Board of Elections, which nearly botched the count for the Democratic mayoral primary. “They should be as professional as possible,” she says. “There are examples of well-run boards of elections in the country. We should try to become like them.”


Westchester County Executive
George Latimer / Celeste Sloman

George Latimer developed his first policy position at age 9.

The Latimers lived in Mount Vernon, but his father had been born in Brooklyn. Once he asked his father why he moved. “He scowled and said, ‘It’s near New York City. It’s not New York City,’” Latimer says. “In those two sentences, my father gave me my economic development plan.”

After a detour to Fordham and NYU for graduate school, Latimer embarked on a career in sales and marketing. He utilized his corporate training to win over moderate suburban voters and was elected to the Rye City Council in 1987.

Four years later, he flipped a Republican seat in the Republican-controlled Westchester County Legislature. Soon, he found himself in the majority as Democrats moved up from the city while conservatives relocated to Florida. “When Democrats come along and show we’re responsible, concerned about taxes and can deliver services properly, we get support on both aisles and in the middle,” Latimer says. 

After serving in the Assembly, Latimer ousted Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in 2017. He retained most of Astorino’s commissioners, which surprised some observers. “I don’t consider myself a great leader – success in leadership is a function of hiring good people around you,” he says. “I didn’t treat it as politics first.”

Containing COVID-19 is now Latimer’s top priority. He has avoided issuing mandates, but reduced spectators for school sports and opened testing sites. “We made it very easy to get vaccinated and tested,” he says, “but that’s being stretched right now since no jurisdiction is keeping up with the demand of testing.”


President and CEO, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Daniel H. Weiss / Celeste Sloman

Daniel H. Weiss first visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art as a high school junior. “I remember having a special relationship with the museum once I came and saw what it had to offer and learned how to navigate entry,” Weiss says. “I thought I would have a lifelong relationship, but I didn’t have any idea how it would play out.”

As an art history professor at Johns Hopkins University, Weiss returned regularly to the Met and the Cloisters with his students. Weiss was later tapped to run Lafayette College and Haverford College in Pennsylvania.

In 2015, the Met recruited Weiss to lead the museum, which faced climbing operating deficits and a wish list of capital projects. He prioritized renovating the European and the Africa and Oceanic wings while balancing its books. He changed the museum’s admissions policy to generate more revenue. Attendance soared. 

“I had a lifelong love for the institution and respect for what it does,” Weiss says. “Because of my experience as a leader for mission-driven institutions, I felt like it was a good fit.”

When COVID-19 shuttered the museum for six months, Weiss estimated $150 million in losses. He implemented public health measures to keep visitors safe and raised money to support an emergency fund. Now flush, the Met announced plans to rebuild its contemporary wing.

“New York is one of the most committed cities in the world to a strong cultural life as an essential part of what it means to be a resident here,” Weiss says, “and I’m honored to be part of that.” 


President, Social Service Employees Union Local 371
Anthony Wells / Americo J. Santiago III

Anthony Wells’ brief detour to Kansas made him appreciate New York.

After high school, Wells won a football scholarship to a small college in Baldwin City, where he was one of fewer than 100 Black students. “The town was so small, it had only a blinking traffic light,” he recalls. “I saw a plane land over the wheat fields. It was a great culture shock.”

Wells returned home, enrolled at Baruch College, and started doing casework at a juvenile center where he learned how unions improve working conditions. In 1988, he began organizing for Local 371.

Now the president of SSEU Local 371 and a vice president of District Council 37, Wells has had a hand in reducing the workweek from 60 to 40 hours, helping 300 laid off Administration for Children’s Services workers find jobs within the city Human Resources Administration and passing legislation making it a felony to attack social service workers.

In response to COVID-19, Wells called on municipal workers to wear masks on the job, secured remote work options and ensured city workers didn’t lose pay or benefits. 

He caught the coronavirus himself, losing 30 pounds after spending two weeks in a Queens hospital. “That was not so much as scary as horrible – not being able to breathe and making sure I didn’t go on a ventilator,” Wells says. “I went home with oxygen. Thank God I had good care.”

Wells is hopeful New York City Mayor Eric Adams, whom his union endorsed, will keep workers safe. “Eric has his hands full. The violence, the pandemic, the economy,” Wells says. “We hope to be a part of that when that happens.”


President and CEO, Partnership for New York City
Kathryn Wylde / Celeste Sloman

Kathryn Wylde thinks New York City’s pandemic-induced woes are comparable to the 1970s. 

The city isn’t at the brink of bankruptcy and people are moving back. But back then, the city shifted abruptly from manufacturing to a service-based economy. Now businesses are transitioning from providing services to a digital economy, forcing many industries to adapt.

“Remote work, remote education and e-commerce displacing local retail all happened much faster than would otherwise have been the case,” Wylde notes. “It creates a whole set of challenges for the city and state on top of conquering the virus.”

Wylde should know. The Wisconsin native came to New York in 1966 and got an up-close look at changes to the waterfront as community relations director for Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park. “All the manufacturing was moving overseas and blue-collar jobs disappeared,” Wylde says. “We lost a million residents and there was no work for the middle class.”

During the pandemic, Wylde’s group of CEOs urged then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to address the city’s quality of life issues. Wylde and her team have also helped Black- and immigrant-owned businesses improve their online presence and advised public agencies bogged down by lengthy procurement processes.

Mayor Eric Adams has asked Wylde to develop job training and placement programs for those who lost work during the pandemic. “There are technical skills that can be taught more quickly than a two- or four-year college degree that will allow people to get work because their old jobs have disappeared,” Wylde says.

Omar Alvarellos

Vice President, Kasirer
Omar Alvarellos / Don Pollard

Omar Alvarellos joined Kasirer, New York City’s top lobbying firm, in 2008 after working in former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s office for two terms and then directing government affairs for KeySpan Energy Corp., a natural gas company which was acquired by National Grid during his tenure. In his KeySpan role, Alvarellos dealt with environmental issues and was a liaison with city officials. At Kasirer, he helps lead the firm, which represents heavyweight clients in real estate, health care, nonprofits and other fields.

Richard Ball

Commissioner, State Department of Agriculture and Markets
Richard Ball / Kevin P. Coughlin/Executive Chamber

Before he became agriculture commissioner in 2014, Richard Ball had a fruitful farming career. Ball, who started out as a laborer on a vegetable farm as a teenager and later owned and operated Schoharie Valley Farms, has seen the agricultural sector evolve as well. The industry has been embracing crops like hemp, grappling with a lack of racial diversity or responding to COVID-19 and climate change. “If you look at farming over the years, the biggest thing is change,” he told the Times Union last fall.

Ana Bermúdez

Commissioner, New York City Department of Probation
Ana Bermúdez / M.M.LaFleur/Rich Gilligan

When Ana Bermúdez was named commissioner of the New York City Department of Probation in 2014, she broke ground as the first Latina, first openly gay person and only the second woman in the role. The former Legal Aid Society attorney has during her tenure sought to implement more humane approaches to dealing with children and teenagers. “To me, the work of criminal justice has to be the work of social justice,” she said on a 2020 Brown University podcast. “We've done a lot of work in reshaping the work.”

Charles Bertolami

Dean, NYU College of Dentistry
Charles Bertolami / Sorel/NYU Photo Bureau

Nearly 1 in 10 dentists nationwide was trained at the NYU College of Dentistry, but that’s not the only outsized impact it has. It’s a major safety-net provider too, with around 300,000 patient visits a year. Dr. Charles Bertolami, the school’s dean since 2007, also considers its $12 million oral health center that opened in 2019 for individuals with disabilities to be one of the college’s greatest accomplishments. “I think (providing dental care for people with disabilities) is a real deficiency in the profession,” Bertolami told Becker’s Hospital Review last year.

Christopher Burke

Executive Director, New York State Preferred Source Program for New Yorkers Who Are Blind
Christopher Burke / Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany

For nearly two decades, Christopher Burke has helped the blind or visually impaired to achieve independence. Last summer, Burke took the helm of the New York State Preferred Source Program for New Yorkers Who Are Blind, which directs government agencies to buy products and services from nonprofits employing people who are blind. He previously led the Northeastern Association of the Blind at Albany, which doubled in size under his tenure. “This achievement coupled with creating a cohesive statewide network of agencies for the blind is my greatest professional success,” he says.

Al Cardillo

President and CEO, Home Care Association of New York State
Al Cardillo / HCA

Less than a year and a half into his tenure leading the Home Care Association of New York State, Al Cardillo was confronted with a global pandemic that has repeatedly disrupted the operations of the nearly 400 home and community-based service organizations he represents. But Cardillo has been a staunch advocate, drawing attention to the “decadeslong and growing challenges in the home care workforce” that have been “greatly worsened by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.” Cardillo was previously executive director for health in the state Senate.

Corinne Carey

Senior Campaign Director, Compassion & Choices
Corinne Carey / O'Loughlin Photography

Corinne Carey played a key role in the push to pass a 2019 law allowing terminally ill patients in New Jersey to obtain medications to end their life. Now she’s trying to pass similar legislation in New York through the nonprofit advocacy organization Compassion & Choices. Carey previously spent nearly a decade with the New York Civil Liberties Union. “I take on issues that haven’t yet gained widespread acceptance, but I keep faith in what the evidence shows to be sound public policy,” she says. 

Natasha Cherry-Perez

Community Engagement Manager, New York Charter Schools Association
Natasha Cherry-Perez / New York State Charter Schools Association

“If I could use one word to describe myself it would be servant,” says Natasha Cherry-Perez, whether that’s serving members of her family, representing her neighborhood through her local block association, community garden and community board, launching a mentoring program for girls of color or her work with the New York Charter Schools Association. “It is not only my duty but it is an honor to serve in all of these capacities.” The Brooklynite joined the group last year after seven years with the charter school network Uncommon Schools.

Donna Colonna

CEO, Services for the UnderServed
Donna Colonna / Services for the UnderServed

When Donna Colonna steps down this month as CEO of Services for the UnderServed, she’ll wrap up a decadeslong career combating the stigma surrounding disabilities and homelessness. The former city and state official spent two decades leading S:US, a nonprofit serving those dealing with mental illness, disabilities and homelessness in the greater New York City area. “Service to S:US and the people we support has been a labor of love, and I will be eternally grateful for having had this opportunity,” she says.

Terrence M. Connors

Founding Partner, Connors LLP
Terrence M. Connors / Terrence M. Connors

Terry Connors has a reputation as a trial lawyer who thrives on challenging cases. Connors, who founded his namesake firm in 1986, has received a number of honors as one of Western New York’s top criminal defense and civil litigation attorneys. High-profile clients over the past few years include the Diocese of Buffalo, state Supreme Court Judge Mark Grisanti and fellow attorney Ross Cellino Jr. “Every day I have the opportunity to make a difference in someone's life,” Connors says of his legal work.

Robert Cordero

Executive Director, Grand St. Settlement
Robert Cordero / Grand St. Settlement

For Robert Cordero, it has been an honor to go from being a beneficiary of Head Start growing up to running several of the federal early learning program centers. Cordero leads Grand St. Settlement, a nonprofit settlement house that assists around 15,000 families and whose operating budget increased from $15 to $36 million since he took over in 2015. “Expansion of our early childhood program model in Sunset Park and Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn is my proudest accomplishment,” says Cordero, a former teacher and community organizer.

Marie Corrado

Senior Director for the Gateway Program, Amtrak
Marie Corrado / Amtrak/Petra Messick

Marie Corrado joined Amtrak in 2015 to fix the commuter rail bottleneck between New York and New Jersey – and the $11.6 billion plan for a new tunnel and two new tracks finally has federal support. Corrado previously spent 33 years at the state Department of Transportation and oversaw the West Side Highway reconstruction following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “We modified our contract from 16 phases to almost 100 – making our work harder, but recognizing that the priority had to be the WTC and saving the public hundreds of millions of dollars,” she recalls.

Sonia Daly

Executive Director, Operations, IDNYC
Sonia Daly / Ricardo C. Sandy/RCS Images LLC

In 2015, New York City launched IDNYC, a municipal identification program aimed at allowing undocumented and homeless residents to access social services. The program, which enrolled more than a million New Yorkers within two years, is run by Sonia Daly. In 2018, the city’s immigrant affairs commissioner sent Daly to a conference in Stockholm. “She advocated for me to do this with full confidence I would represent the agency fully to a consortium of over 100 European cities eager to learn best practices in launching a municipal identification card program,” Daly says.

Sean Doolan

President, Hinman Straub
Sean Doolan / Hinman Straub

Hinman Straub’s Sean Doolan has a deep understanding of the complex apparatus that is New York’s state government. Doolan, who has spent his entire 35-year career at the Albany law firm and now serves as its president, has navigated clients through complex health care and insurance regulations and initiatives in recent years, positioning the firm as a trusted adviser on pandemic-era compliance. “Far and away my proudest accomplishment is being afforded the honor of working with and leading a group of extraordinarily talented professionals,” Doolan says.

Arthur Goldstein

Partner and Chair of New York City Government Relations Practice Group, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron
Arthur Goldstein / Davidoff, Hutcher & Citron LLP

Arthur Goldstein, who got his start in government working for former New York City Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr. and former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, has long been a key player at the top-tier lobbying firm Davidoff Hutcher & Citron. “Whether consistently guiding nonprofits seeking funding for education, workforce development and foster care; representing associations that stand up for hardworking men and women; or navigating large-scale, job-creating projects like the AirTrain, seeing my efforts successfully impact every facet of the city’s economy has been my proudest accomplishment,” he says.

William R. Guarinello

President and CEO, HeartShare Human Services of New York
William R. Guarinello / HeartShare

When the Willowbrook State School’s deplorable conditions were exposed in 1972, a social worker named William R. Guarinello responded by expanding programs for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities at the nonprofit where he worked. He has spent over half a century at the nonprofit, now called HeartShare Human Services of New York, and has led it since 1993. Guarinello says he’s proud of how it has developed into “one of the premier New York City social services agencies” while “keeping its core values and not getting lost in bureaucracy.”

Lawrence Hammond

Senior Vice President, Director of ACCESS, Community Preservation Corp.
Lawrence Hammond / CPC/RLG Media

Lawrence Hammond’s role at the Community Preservation Corp. is all about access – and ACCESS, a $20 million fund whose name means “acquiring capital and capacity for economic stability and sustainability.” An ordained minister and a distinguished finance executive who joined the nonprofit affordable housing and community revitalization funder CPC in 2015, Hammond says he’s proud of how ACCESS assists entrepreneurs of color in the real estate industry. “We’ve already provided millions in financing and technical support to small developers statewide,” he says.

Kevin Hauss

Chief Operating Officer, New York Edge
Kevin Hauss / Kevin Hauss

Kevin Hauss was the first college graduate in his family, and it wasn’t easy: He worked for six years before enrolling, and his father dipped into retirement savings for tuition. “My dad died before I graduated, but from that point on, I wanted to keep learning and doing things to make a difference,” Hauss recalls. The experience made him a lifelong learner – and ultimately led him to New York Edge, one of New York City’s largest nonprofit providers of school-based afterschool and summer programming, in 2015.

Juanita Holmes

Chief of Training, NYPD
Juanita Holmes / NYPD Photo Unit

Juanita Holmes made history in 2020 as the New York City Police Department’s first female chief of patrol, a post in which she ran the largest bureau in the country’s largest police force. Holmes, who recently was named chief of training, is proud of her trailblazing career and how she has paved a path for other women and people of color. But her proudest accomplishment isn’t work-related. “It is being a mother and a grandmother and all of the joys of raising a family,” she says.

Christian Hylton

Partner, Phillips Nizer LLP
Christian Hylton / Behr/Hylton

After gaining a deep understanding of the local real estate landscape as general counsel to the New York City Council’s Land Use Division, Christian Hylton has capitalized on that knowledge in the private sector. In 2017, he returned to the international law firm Phillips Nizer as partner. Hylton, who co-chairs the firm’s land use and government relations practice, says he finds it rewarding to play a role “in land use applications that revitalize communities across New York City, especially my own in Flatbush, Brooklyn.”

Terry Kaelber

Director, Institute for Empowered Aging, United Neighborhood Houses of New York
Terry Kaelber / Jennifer Weil

Terry Kaelber is reenvisioning what it means to be an older New Yorker. As director of the United Neighborhood Houses of New York’s Institute for Empowered Aging, Kaebler seeks to promote active roles for the elderly within their communities. Kaelber says he is driven “to inspire older people to take their rightful place in society – to help us all recognize that in our old age we are not done yet – and that we have much left to contribute and to give back to society and our communities.”

Roberta Katz

Founder, Roberta Katz Consulting
Roberta Katz / Great Neck Photographers

After spending 15 years in nonprofit finance, Roberta Katz founded her own nonprofit consulting business. Her financial acumen is the result of holding key nonprofit positions and as an auditor for a Big Four accounting firm. “My proudest accomplishment is revamping the finance department of a nonprofit organization with a $110 million budget by implementing efficient and effective processes, internal controls, policies and procedures and automated systems,” she says. “My actions resulted in their finance department producing more accurate and timely financial reporting, increased productivity and streamlined workflow.”

Ida Landers

Senior Director of Domestic Violence Emergency and Transitional Shelters, Urban Resource Institute
Ida Landers / Ida Landers

Ida Landers has worked in the fields of psychotherapy and domestic violence advocacy for over two decades. As a senior director with the Urban Resource Institute, she oversees one of the largest providers of domestic violence shelter services in the country. “I am motivated by the fact that in my field, I am an agent of change,” she says. “I am motivated to continue working and mentoring, coaching and training new employees and encouraging the staff and the clients to do the best they can.”

Lois C. Lee

Director, Queens Early Childhood Center, Chinese-American Planning Council
Lois C. Lee / Anqi Xu

The leader of the Lois C. Lee Early Childhood Center in Queens is none other than Lois C. Lee. Lee, whose Flushing-based universal prekindergarten center was opened by the Chinese-American Planning Council in 2017, got her start over 50 years ago as a part-time teacher in Chinatown. She now plays a central role at CPC, from mentoring volunteers and staff to community organizing and advocating for quality child care services in the city and state. “My passion is to make a difference,” she says, “despite difficult circumstances.”

Rick Lustig

Senior Vice President, Human Resources, Mission Society of New York City
Rick Lustig / Mission Society Picture

A highly experienced human resources professional who has worked at Consumer Reports, the Physician Affiliate Group of New York and other nonprofits organizations, Rick Lustig joined the Mission Society of New York City five years ago as a senior vice president. Lustig is a key player at one of the city’s oldest social service organizations, which serves around 5,500 children and parents annually. Among his proudest accomplishments is successfully leading the organization’s “human resources function during the chaos created by the pandemic.”

Gregorio Mayers

Founder and CEO, GM Consulting
Gregorio Mayers / Carlos Mayers

Gregorio Mayers is a key advocate for New York City’s minority and women-owned business enterprises, helping to craft a landmark 2013 city law as part of the Bloomberg administration that has increased government contracting with so-called MWBEs. “As an attorney, my motivations are rooted in reversing systemic injustices and inequalities through advocacy and implementation of sound public policy and legislation,” Mayers says. Now the head of his own company, GM Consulting, Mayers also served on New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ transition team.

James McCarthy

President, Uniformed Fire Officers Association
James McCarthy / Jill Friedman

A second-generation firefighter who climbed the ranks of the New York City Fire Department over his 33 years, Lt. James McCarthy has been a union member for most of his professional career. In September, McCarthy was elected president of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, which represents 8,000 active and retired fire officers. “The fire officer gives so much of themselves to all the residents of New York City,” he says, “operating above and beyond the call of duty every day.”

Paul Monte

Co-Managing Partner, New York, Peckar & Abramson, P.C.
Paul Monte / Tony David Photography

For over three decades, Paul Monte has represented contractors in a myriad of infrastructure projects. As a co-managing partner of Peckar & Abramson in New York City, Monte is an expert on large-scale infrastructure projects such as bridges, tunnels, highways and railways. He attributes his success to “pushing myself out of my comfort zone” and learning from mentors, including his father, a civil engineer. “He taught me the value of hard work and gave me an appreciation of New York and its infrastructure,” Monte said. “He pointed me to the law and construction.”

Ross Moskowitz

Partner, Stroock
Ross Moskowitz / Stroock

As a top land use attorney, Stroock’s Ross Moskowitz is a key player in New York City’s influential real estate industry. Among his many successes was lobbying for the Flushing waterfront rezoning, which was approved in late 2020. “I have been fortunate to have been involved in many amazing projects during my career, including Citi Field, Essex Crossing, World Trade Center and Domino Sugar,” he says. “However, being recently honored nationally as Chambers’ ‘Outstanding Ally’ of the year for my efforts in promoting diversity stands out as my most proudest.”

Kerron Norman

Chief Program Officer, Lutheran Social Services of New York
Kerron Norman / Michelley Garcia

As Lutheran Social Services of New York’s chief program officer since 2018, Kerron Norman oversees the nonprofit agency’s programs, including early childhood education, educational services, foster care, housing services, immigration legal services and community services. “My anti-racist advocacy strategy led to the Undoing Racism Workshop and Community Organizing training for all child welfare staff in Westchester County Department of Social Services, ancillary programs and the Family Court,” she says, adding that the effort “significantly reduced disproportionate minority representation in foster care.”

Nora OBrien-Suric

President, Health Foundation for Western & Central New York
Nora OBrien-Suric / Luke Copping

After decades spent advocating for the aging, Nora OBrien-Suric was named president of the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York in 2017. She says she’s proud of her “career working towards creating a better society for older people regionally, nationally and internationally” and working with colleagues to contribute to the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing and establish the national Aging and Disability Business Institute. She previously oversaw national grant initiatives aimed at improving care for older adults at The John A. Hartford Foundation.

Geoff Plante

Partner, KPMG LLP
Geoff Plante / Timothy H. Raab

Geoff Plante has assisted government agencies for over three decades with KPMG. Plante is the accounting firm’s lead partner in New York state and runs the firm's finance transformation practice for state and local government. Outside of work, he served as board president of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Capital Region. “We were able to expand our capacity by 50% through an expansion plan that limited the debt of the organization and provided a safe place for families to stay while their children were being treated,” he says. 

Luis Scaccabarrozzi

Vice President and Director of Health Policy and Advocacy, Latino Commission on AIDS
Luis Scaccabarrozzi / Latino Commission on AIDS

Luis Scaccabarrozzi plays a vital role in health policy advocacy surrounding HIV/AIDS and hepatitis in New York. A vice president with the Latino Commission on AIDS and a Peruvian immigrant, he seeks to ensure local governments target Spanish-speaking and Latino communities in their outreach. Scaccabarrozzi says he’s driven by the results, even when they’re delayed, as the “result of perseverance in obtaining the services needed by members of the community most impacted by COVID, HIV, hepatitis, STIs and other chronic conditions that are prevalent in Hispanic/Latinx communities.”

Karl Sleight

Member, Harris Beach
Karl Sleight / Harris Beach

Karl Sleight enjoyed a distinguished career in state government before joining Harris Beach, a law firm where he specializes in emerging or evolving industries in the state, including casinos and cannabis. What’s Sleight most proud of? “Leaving government after 16 years and founding the Harris Beach Government Compliance and Investigations Practice Group based on nothing more than an idea,” he says. “Seeing the group develop from a concept to a thriving segment of the firm over the past 15 years has been very rewarding.”

Frank Torres

Attorney, Duffy & Duffy
Frank Torres / Serengeti, Merrick, New York

The son of Spanish-speaking immigrants, Brooklyn-born Frank Torres capitalized on the opportunities available to him. “My proudest accomplishment is being the first in my family to graduate college and later attending and graduating from Columbia Law School and becoming an attorney,” he says. For the past 37 years, he has specialized in personal injury, general negligence and medical malpractice law, representing injured parties throughout the tri-state area. As a bilingual attorney, Torres also represents many Latino clients and serves as a mentor on various Latino bar associations.

Dave Wehner

Senior Adviser, Ostroff Associates
Dave Wehner / Martin Kerins

Dave Wehner joined the Albany lobbying firm Ostroff Associates in 2011, following stints running the state Insurance Fund and chairing the state Workers’ Compensation Board. Wehner, an expert in insurance, labor and business development, also leads Kids’ Chance of New York, which provides college scholarships to students whose parents suffer catastrophic injuries. “Whether it was during my public service career or on behalf of clients, I have been motivated to play a small role to see that government works for the people that it serves,” he says.

Jeffrey M. Wice

Adjunct Professor & Senior Fellow, Census and Redistricting Institute, New York Law School
Jeffrey M. Wice / Rolland Smith

A leading New York expert on state redistricting and census figures, Jeffrey Wice is now in the thick of his fifth redistricting cycle. An adjunct professor and senior fellow at New York Law School, where he directs the New York Census and Redistricting Institute, Wice has decades of experience navigating redistricting matters for the state Legislature and the New York City Council. He says he’s proud of his work “to promote fair and equal political representation, including by writing and teaching next generations.”

Darlene Williams

President and CEO, Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow
Darlene Williams / Darlene Williams

Darlene Williams last fall took the reins of Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow, a Brooklyn-based social services provider with a mission “to break the cycle of poverty and inequity through education, job training and employment.” Williams, who’s focused on anti-racism and diversity, is proud of the doctorate degree in public policy and administration that put her on this path. “At a young age I told my parents that I wanted to be a doctor,” she says. “I’m grateful that my father was able to see that dream fulfill before his passing.”

Thomas Wright

President and CEO, Regional Plan Association
Thomas Wright / Regional Plan Association

Two years after Tom Wright took the helm of the Regional Plan Association, the independent research and advocacy organization released its ambitious Fourth Regional Plan, proposing a series of reforms and transportation policy recommendations around addressing climate change and modernizing regional transit. According to Wright, the plan “integrated health and equity with RPA’s more traditional issues of transportation and community development” and was developed in partnership with “civic partners to produce a living document that would improve communities across the region and set a new standard for metropolitan planning.”

Michelle Yanche

Executive Director, Good Shepherd Services
Michelle Yanche / Brenda Gladding

Since Michelle Yanche was named executive director of the child welfare nonprofit Good Shepherd Services in 2019, she has emphasized anti-racism initiatives and improved programming. Yanche, who has been at the agency nearly 30 years, helped launch the Campaign for Children in 2011, uniting over 150 New York City child care and after-school advocacy organizations. “The campaign drove an extraordinary expansion of child care and after-school programs, secured investment of well over $500 million in both systems and won significant increases in per-participant-rates,” she says.

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