For a place that has long been beset by oversimplified stereotypes, the Bronx is a complex and complicated place. It’s part of New York City, yet it’s the only borough that’s not on an island (and the only county in the city not named after royalty). It has struggled through decades of urban decay, yet it’s also the home to vast green spaces. Even though it includes the nation’s poorest congressional district, up until the COVID-19 pandemic, it had been enjoying a significant economic turnaround. And while it’s a Democratic bastion, it has become an epicenter of the intraparty battle between establishment moderates like Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
City & State’s Bronx Power 100 recognizes the remarkable local leaders, both in and out of government, who are battling on behalf of their borough, whether it’s electing more women to office, passing laws to protect tenants, combating pollution or creating jobs.
The last of the “four men in the room” who dictated policy from Albany until 2018, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie continues to maintain a strong grasp on his caucus he’s controlled since 2015 and the Bronx Democratic Party he took over nearly 15 years ago. He brought Vice President Kamala Harris – his cousin’s college roommate – to the Northeast Bronx YMCA he built. Heastie has remained effective while largely avoiding scandal during one of the longest tenures atop the Assembly in state history.
Second only to U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the face of the nation’s progressive movement. Her endorsement is coveted by left-wing candidates across the country, and she made national news by declining to say if she would endorse President Joe Biden in 2024. In New York, she’s gotten behind the state Legislature’s growing democratic socialist contingent and is taking on one of Congress’ most powerful Democrats, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, by backing Bronx state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in a primary challenge.
With public safety and gun violence on the minds of New Yorkers, few legislators are as involved in crafting the state’s criminal justice policies than state Senate Codes Committee Chair Jamaal Bailey. Backed by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and favored by Gov. Kathy Hochul, the Bronx Democrats party boss was reportedly a finalist for Hochul’s first lieutenant governor’s pick – and perhaps would have been a wiser choice than the short-lived tenure of Brian Benjamin.
A young, progressive, outspoken member of Congress from the Bronx? No, not Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but Rep. Ritchie Torres, who has made a name for himself in Washington, D.C., since arriving in January 2021. Torres has no problem positioning himself in contrast to AOC or Democratic leadership. A proud supporter of Israel, Torres capitalized on the Middle East peace Abraham Accords and his friendship with the ambassador from the United Arab Emirates to refurbish a soccer field in his district.
A longtime ally of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz continues to outlast his local contemporaries, retired or ousted by progressive challengers outside the Bronx Democrats’ party apparatus. He helps run the Assembly Democrats campaign arm and easily beat his own Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez-backed primary challenger. With his son, Eric Dinowitz, on the New York City Council, the Assembly member has constructed his own mini-dynasty that will outlast his nearly 30-year tenure in Albany.
While her Manhattan counterpart faces calls for removal from Democrats and Republicans alike, Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark seems built for the current criminal justice climate in New York. She supported many of the tweaks passed in the state’s budget, and her prosecutorial tendencies align well with New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ policies. She has cracked down on gun-toting gangs and went after drill rappers, a favorite target of the mayor’s. And her office continues to target gun traffickers amidst a rise in gun violence across the city.
Few positions on the New York City Council bestow as much influence as the Land Use Committee chair, and City Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr. continues to wield that influence as he enters his second term. A staunch critic of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ housing policies, Salamanca has taken on New York City Housing Authority inefficiencies, raised more money than most of his Bronx colleagues in the City Council and supported the demise of the Harlem One45 project.
A more mild-mannered, establishment-oriented version of his younger House Democratic colleagues representing the Bronx, Rep. Adriano Espaillat is just as progressive as the bunch – and more effective in some ways. From White House meetings with the president to successfully shaming state Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs into including Latino speakers at the party’s state convention, the first former undocumented immigrant to serve in Congress is known to flex his political muscles as a local power broker and a leader in New York’s Latino and immigrant communities.
The first woman and first Black borough president in the Bronx, Vanessa Gibson has helped constituents contending with the Twin Parks fire claiming the lives of 17 Bronxites, a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and a number of fatal shootings of children. She’s used her bully pulpit and influence from her New York City Council days to coordinate resources and advocate for the victims. And she remains close with her borough president counterparts, pushing environmental initiatives and defending the Right to Counsel law she passed while on the City Council.
The progressive “Squad” member Rep. Jamaal Bowman was applauded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as a “relentless voice” for working families on her March visit to the Bronx, withstood criticism from the Democratic Socialists of America over his views on the Israeli-Palestinain conflict and avoided a battle with Rep. Mondaire Jones after new district lines pitted the Democratic incumbents against each other. Following the racist mass shooting in Buffalo and the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, the former middle school principal emerged as a prominent voice on gun violence and extremism.
With the retirement of his Assembly counterpart, Richard Gottfried, state Sen. Gustavo Rivera is the preeminent champion of the New York Health Act, the proposed single-payer health care bill that has been long stalled in Albany. Twenty of the more than 100 bills sponsored by Rivera this session were passed by both houses, with six signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul so far. Forced to switch districts after the redrawing of state Senate maps, Rivera will face a moderate primary challenger from Riverdale backed by the county party, but has the backing of major unions, including the New York State United Teachers and 1199SEIU.
State Education Department Commissioner Betty Rosa has withstood criticism from the New York Post editorial board and the third-ranking Republican in Congress, Rep. Elise Stefanik, to emerge with the full-throated endorsement of Gov. Kathy Hochul. After the Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, shootings, Rosa quickly canceled the U.S. history Regents Exam out of concern the topics on the test could traumatize students. And her department scored more funding than it ever has – $31.5 billion – in the 2022 state budget.
Entering his 15th year atop one of the state’s largest and most influential labor unions, 1199SEIU President George Gresham is a powerful champion of the nurses and health care workers his union represents, securing higher wages and better working conditions both before and during the coronavirus pandemic. He recently partnered with state Attorney General Letitia James and the Rev. Dr. William Barber II’s campaign to demand better conditions for nursing home employees, home health care aides and workers across the country.
In a state where labor unions are politically powerful, it pays to be chair of one of the state Legislature’s labor committees. Assembly Member Latoya Joyner is coasting to reelection without a primary challenger to fend off this cycle. Thousands have poured in from heavyweights like the Hotel Trades Council, District Council 37, 32BJ SEIU and 1199SEIU. In the Assembly, she has taken on Amazon and Chipotle, advocated for an increase of the minimum wage and fought for better conditions for freelance workers.
Stanley Schlein continues to assert quiet influence over the Bronx Democrats and Democratic lawmakers across New York. A top election lawyer, Schlein is recruited from all corners of the five boroughs by Democratic politicians of every stripe, including Andrew Yang, Kathryn Garcia, Corey Johnson, New York City Council Member Justin Brannan, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson and City Council Member Eric Dinowitz. In his past few years of work as a lobbyist, he has represented the Yankees, Dominion Voting Systems, the PGA Tour, the NBA, MLB, Airbnb and a number of influential real estate developers.
Randy Levine has built the Bronx Bombers into a $7 billion enterprise over two decades. The team, which last won a World Series in 2009, has been atop the MLB standings this year – and remains one of the borough’s most politically connected companies. A slew of lobbyists work on their behalf in Albany, and the team’s parent company has poured tens of thousands into Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign. A former deputy mayor, Levine is also of counsel at the New York City office of Jackson Lewis.
In a union town like New York, few labor leaders are as dynamic as Bhairavi Desai. The executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance organized a successful hunger strike outside City Hall last fall that garnered support from the city’s congressional delegation as cabbies that owned taxi medallions faced tense negotiations with then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and lenders. In the end, Desai won her drivers hundreds of thousands of dollars in relief and forced the city to guarantee every loan.
Facing primary challengers from the right and the left for Assembly District 82, Assembly Education Committee Chair Michael Benedetto this summer found himself at the center of a proxy war between New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who endorsed him, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who backed progressive Jonathan Soto. Benedetto capitalized on his fundraising advantage and support from powerful unions and the state Democratic Party to notch a pivotal primary victory. Benedetto has also been a champion of Adams’ education policy priorities in Albany.
A nurse who went back to work during the worst of the pandemic, Assembly Member Karines Reyes is a progressive advocate – whether she’s backing tuition subsidies at CUNY schools, restrictions on law enforcement and state jails’ relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, abortion rights or single-payer health care. She shares office space with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and was reportedly on the short list to replace Brian Benjamin as Gov. Kathy Hochul’s lieutenant governor.
Assembly Member Nathalia Fernandez is aiming to move to the other side of the state Capitol, mounting a bid to replace state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who’s running for Congress. And Fernandez is in a strong position to win, thanks to the backing of the Bronx Democratic Party. Regardless of the outcome in the Democratic primary in August, Fernandez will return to Albany for the next session, as she is still running for reelection in the Assembly.
A former Bronx borough president and Obama administration official, Adolfo Carrión Jr. was selected by New York City Mayor Eric Adams to lead the city’s Department of Housing Preservation & Development as City Hall seeks to address the housing crisis and encourage more affordable housing construction. Carrión left his role as an executive vice president at Stagg Group, one of the Bronx’s largest affordable housing developers, to take the job.
Paloma Izquierdo-Hernandez runs one of the largest health care providers in the Bronx, Urban Health Plan, which was founded by her father, Dr. Richard Izquierdo, a beloved leader in the borough for decades. She serves on a number of boards, including for the National Hispanic Medical Association and a charter school named for her father. She oversaw Urban Health Plan’s ambitious expansion across the city and worked with then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo to orchestrate the vaccination of bodega and grocery workers.
After her brief but impactful tenure as New York City schools chancellor, Meisha Porter took on a new challenge: launching The Bronx Community Foundation as its inaugural leader. Porter has deep roots in the borough, where she lives, and was a longtime educator and school administrator. The foundation, which aims to “eradicate inequity and build sustainable futures for all Bronxites,” has gotten off to a strong start, forging partnerships with the City University of New York, New York City Health + Hospitals and a number of nonprofits across the borough.
With New York City in the midst of a housing crisis that she calls “the No. 1 problem,” New York City Council Member Pierina Sanchez advocates for tenants from her position as the housing committee chair. She has joined City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams in opposing the Rent Guidelines Board’s rent hikes and called on New York City Mayor Eric Adams for more concrete details on how to carry out his housing policies. After gunfire outside her Bronx office twice in two weeks, Sanchez called on the city to tackle the underlying economic causes of gun violence.
A former nonprofit executive, New York City Council Member Althea Stevens in a few short months in office was already teaming up with City Hall to create more summer youth programming. She has also secured local coronavirus-testing sites and successfully advocated for longer hours for the High Bridge walkway connecting her district with Manhattan. And she has pushed for better pay for the city’s contracted human services workers and Fair Fares for low-income transit users.
Marlene Cintron, a longtime Bronx political and business leader, was appointed by President Joe Biden last fall to serve as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region II administrator, overseeing the agency’s operations in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. For a decade, Cintron led the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. after serving in the administrations of then-New York City Mayor David Dinkins and then-Puerto Rico Gov. Pedro Rosselló.
New York City Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez was one of the few de Blasio-era officials reappointed by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, with the full backing of the New York branch of the AARP and a number of major elder care providers in the city. She continues to serve on the board of trustees for CUNY and previously served on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors. She was floated by some in the Latino community as a replacement of Brian Benjamin as Gov. Kathy Hochul’s lieutenant governor.
Dr. Philip Ozuah leads Montefiore Health System, one of the largest health systems and employers in the Bronx and the broader region. He also oversees the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, a medical school and research institution that ranks among the top in the country. Montefiore continues to expand its footprint in the Bronx and beyond, opening a $44 million expansion at its New Rochelle campus in October. In June, Ozuah was named to the “New” New York blue-ribbon panel by Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
Teamsters Local 202 President Daniel J. Kane Jr. last year led his 1,400 members through their first strike since the 1980s, securing support from Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ritchie Torres, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and a slew of Bronx lawmakers. He secured a three-year contract with increased wages and improved health care benefits for Hunts Point workers. Kane was honored at the Bronx Democrats annual fundraising dinner in September.
Since Phillip Grant took over at the Hunts Point Produce Market, one of the world’s largest, he has overseen much of the region’s produce shipments, reaching over 23 million people with nearly $2.3 billion in annual sales from the 1 million-square-foot market. He successfully helped negotiate the end of a Teamsters strike and secured $100 million from New York City to improve the market’s infrastructure. In late 2021, Grant committed to donating fresh produce to a food pantry at the Bronx campus of Mercy College, his alma mater.
The son of longtime former Rep. José E. Serrano, state Sen. José M. Serrano has emerged as a progressive voice in his own right, while remaining favored by state Senate leadership. He chairs the state Senate Democrats’ majority conference, as well as the state Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee. He has called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to close South Bronx power plants over pollution concerns and saw his bill that would ban the leasing of state forests and wildlife management areas for gas production pass the state Senate 61-1.
With New York City Council Member Eric Dinowitz’s election victory in 2021, the Dinowitz clan continued its run of success in the northwest Bronx against insurgent progressives. Though he benefited from the connections and name recognition of his father, Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, state Attorney General Letitia James and other big names attended his inauguration – the younger Dinowitz has forged his own path advocating for universal child care and clashing with pro-Palestinian activists over the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement at the City University of New York.
The dynamic duo that once ran the Bronx from their perches atop the Bronx Democrats have reunited in post-government life. Former party boss Marcos Crespo was soon followed into retirement from public office by former Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. to help manage strategic initiatives and community affairs at one of the borough’s most important institutions, Montefiore Medicine. Crespo and Diaz give the medical institution considerable political and governmental firepower as it continues to assert itself as one of the Bronx’s top employers, educators and health care providers.
Assembly Member Kenny Burgos has been outspoken in his tenure in Albany since taking office in 2021. He has criticized conditions at Rikers Island, which is in his district, and called for a ban on “all the goddamn assault rifles” in the wake of a series of mass shootings and demanded $15 billion for climate investments. His bill expanding the definition of firearms was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul as part of her larger gun control package.
In the wake of the Buffalo and Uvalde mass shootings, first-term Assembly Member Chantel Jackson sponsored a bill to raise the minimum age to purchase and own a semi-automatic rifle in New York to 21, a signature piece of legislation that made national headlines when it was signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul. From her seat on the Assembly’s Education Committee, Jackson challenged New York City schools Chancellor David Banks on his decision to eliminate the executive superintendent role. And in March, she loudly joined calls to re-rename the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
An ally of Rep. Adriano Espaillat, Oswald Feliz spent years defending tenants in the Bronx before winning his New York City Council seat in 2021, a victory for New York’s increasingly influential Dominican population. After the Twin Parks fire in January killed 17 of his constituents, Feliz emerged as a vocal champion of the tenants, and his legislation aiming to prevent future fatalities was signed into law this summer by New York City Mayor Eric Adams. He also co-chairs the council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.
Since taking office and becoming the first Latina to represent the Bronx’s 13th Council District, New York City Council Member Marjorie Velázquez has faced what she described as violent threats over her position on the proposed Bruckner Boulevard rezoning, as well as outrage from her district’s Albanian community over a street renaming kerfuffle and criticism from her predecessor Mark Gjonaj, a leader among Bronx Albanians. But she’s a strong ally of City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, a champion of outdoor dining and a supporter of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ gun violence prevention initiatives.
For a new New York City Council member, it doesn’t hurt for your closest allies to be Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Bronx Democratic Party boss Jamaal Bailey. Riley has aligned himself with striking Co-op City workers and also allied with Republican City Council Member Joe Borelli on property tax reform, as he represents a district known for its inequitable property tax rates. This year, Riley lunched with the mayor on Arthur Avenue and stood beside him at the announcement of the city’s new gun czar.
Overseeing two of the Bronx’s most important public hospitals, New York City Health + Hospitals/Jacobi and New York City Health + Hospitals/North Central Bronx, Christopher Mastromano has faced increasing challenges while garnering support from the city and the state’s top officials. In February, after a U.S. Department of Defense medical team was dispatched to North Central Bronx to assist staff during the omicron surge, Gov. Kathy Hochul paid an in-person visit to thank staff for their efforts. And in June, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams hand-delivered a $10 million check to replace Jacobi’s hyperbaric chamber. On top of his role as New York City Health + Hospital’s chief growth officer, Christopher Roker runs the public hospital system’s Lincoln Hospital. The nearly 200-year-old institution has a Level I trauma center and has one of the busiest emergency rooms in the country. Lincoln Hospital is affiliated with the Weill Cornell Medicine Medical College at Cornell University. And in April, a social responsibility hospital index ranked Lincoln No. 44 out of more than 2,800 hospitals for racial inclusivity.
Cristián Samper has had a remarkable decadelong run at the helm of the Wildlife Conservation Society. He oversees a collection of zoos including the Bronx Zoo and the Central Park Zoo, and headed the rebuilding of the New York Aquarium after Superstorm Sandy. He also developed the society’s 2030 strategy to promote biodiversity and conservation. Samper is set to depart this fall for a new position as managing director and leader of nature solutions at the Bezos Earth Fund. His colleague, John F. Calvelli, has spent the last 20 years managing public affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s portfolio of zoos, aquariums and conservation programs. From the Bronx Zoo to the newly reopened New York Aquarium, Calvelli is the public face of the iconic parks that draw millions of New Yorkers and tourists each year.
A little over a year into his tenure as president of Lehman College, Fernando Delgado has seen his institution land $5.4 million in grants from the state Education Department and the U.S. Department of Education for a health care literacy certificate program within the college’s Institute for Literary Studies and Adult Learning Center. Lehman’s post-coronavirus workplace development program – The Bronx Recovery Corps, a partnership with The James and Judith K. Dimon Foundation-backed nonprofit HERE to HERE – also received $250,000 from the federal government.
New York City Council Member Amanda Farías joined the legislative body amid an unprecedented wave of women, Latinas and progressives forming a powerful bloc after the 2021 elections. She has partnered with transit organizations to call for improved transit options in the Bronx, including a Citi Bike expansion, direct connections to Queens and an elimination of two-fare zones. She also backed a major tax cut on city hotels in hopes of promoting increased hiring and assistance to the rebounding tourism industry.
Since winning the Democratic nomination in 2020 despite being spurned by the Bronx Democratic Party, Assembly Member Amanda Septimo has made waves adamantly defending the state’s bail reform laws, showing up daily at the Hunts Point Teamsters strike, getting arrested at the city’s taxi drivers’ hunger strike, calling for the shutdown of polluting power plants in her district and even advocating for a casino in the South Bronx. Facing primary challengers in her reelection bid this year, Septimo capitalized on the backing of the Working Families Party and won.
A leading voice among public defenders in New York and nationwide, Justine Olderman is an unapologetic advocate for incarcerated and prosecuted Bronxites. She pushed back on Gov. Kathy Hochul’s bail reform tweaks during the state budget process and denounced calls for more policing after the Sunset Park subway mass shooting. And in March, The Bronx Defenders and the New York Civil Liberties Union announced a settlement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to end its practice of indefinitely detaining arrested New Yorkers facing alleged immigration offenses.
The Bronx’s air quality is poor, and Bronxites’ health outcomes are even poorer. Mychal Johnson knows it, but he needs you to know it too. Slowly, but certainly not fast enough, powerful officials are joining his cause to bring more green spaces and reduce pollution in the South Bronx. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer joined his call to cap the Cross Bronx Expressway, and Rep. Ritchie Torres has consistently aligned himself with Johnson and the other environmental advocates trying to make it happen.
Wilma Alonso has been a leader in the Fordham Road business community for nearly three decades, including 17 years heading the Fordham Road Business Improvement District, which promotes the biggest shopping district in the Bronx. When she counted over 200 sidewalk vendors in the area last July, the press reported on it and then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio responded by sending in police to clear them out. Alonso serves on the board of trustees for St. Barnabas Hospital and the board of directors for the city’s tourism arm, NYC & Company.
After five years in state government, Lourdes Zapata returned to the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. in 2019 to lead the organization she helped run for over 15 years in the 1990s and 2000s. SoBro helps create affordable and special needs housing, offers youth and workforce development, and assists businesses growth across the borough. When Gov. Kathy Hochul announced she was asking the federal government for $150 million for community development financial institutions – small, alternative lenders for low-income communities – she did it at SoBro in February.
State Sen. Luis Sepúlveda was on the outs with his colleagues in Albany and the Bronx after a January 2021 domestic violence arrest, losing his committee memberships and a race for Bronx borough president in the months that followed. But when the charges were dropped last fall, Sepúlveda began to be welcomed back by the party establishment. He was reinstated to his committee memberships and now chairs the state Senate Cities Committee. In June, New York City Mayor Eric Adams called him “my good friend” and “brother.”
Larry Scott Blackmon is FreshDirect’s eyes and ears in the New York City political arena, building relationships with the communities surrounding its 40,000-square-foot Port Morris facility, which employs hundreds of Bronxites. Blackmon uses his over 20 years of experience working for mayors, U.S. senators and New York City Council members to further the home delivery grocery service’s interests in New York. He’s also the founder of The Blackmon Organization, which he bills as a “government affairs, public relations, lobbying and entertainment firm.”
Editor’s note: Larry Scott Blackmon is a member of City & State’s advisory board.
The brother-and-sister duo of Hawk Newsome and Chivona Newsome emerged as key voices during the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in New York, and they continue to garner coverage as they speak out against police brutality in their community. Yet, they’ve also made enemies across the political spectrum, with New York City Mayor Eric Adams rejecting Hawk Newsome’s heated rhetoric and the national Black Lives Matter movement repudiating their organization.
A veteran of Bronx Democrats under the Heastie administration and former chief of staff to current party boss, state Sen. Jamaal Bailey, Laidley has moved into the consulting world, joining Moonshot Strategies as the firm’s senior vice president of government relations. He continued to serve as Bailey’s campaign manager and has launched his own firm, London House. Laidley was also on the transition teams of New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard.
Nilka Martell’s campaign to cap the Cross Bronx Expressway and convert it into green space may finally be reaching fruition. After years of lobbying local elected officials, Martell was joined by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Rep. Ritchie Torres and a slew of other officials in November to celebrate the allocation of federal funds to cap the expressway from the $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by Congress. The project will take years, but the end to the flow of pollution from the Cross Bronx into surrounding neighborhoods is in sight.
One of New York’s most influential lobbying and consulting firms, The Parkside Group has racked up an impressive client list that includes state Senate Democratic leadership, 32BJ SEIU, FanDuel, DraftKings, FreshDirect, Microsoft, Uber, AMC, the NBA, MLB and AT&T. Partner Paul Thomas is a veteran of the offices of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and then-state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo. He also serves on the board of the New York League of Conservation Voters.
A senior associate at Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates, Bharati Kemraj is one of the Bronx’s most prominent South Asian leaders. She helps run the Hindu temple in Soundview founded by her father and started her own advocacy group, the Bharati Foundation. Through her foundation, she organized events in response to an increase in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, created a memorial to the victims of the Uvalde and Buffalo mass shootings, and coordinated resources after the Twin Parks fire.
Charlie Samboy and Michael Stinson are two New York City politics veterans bringing their firepower to Kasirer, one of New York’s premier government relations and lobbying firms. Stinson, a veteran of the offices of former New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and former Rep. Steve Israel, is Kasirer’s vice president of corporate and legislation. Samboy, who’s worked for the New York Building Congress and the New York City Economic Development Corp., is vice president of real estate for the firm. The Bronx residents lobby on behalf of dozens of clients in Albany.
Michael Brady spends his days trying to make the South Bronx a more enticing place for new business and a more thriving place for the businesses that already call the area home. He’s a vocal opponent of unlicensed street vendors, as well as car and truck congestion. Brady has helped the business community he represents navigate coronavirus-era regulations, bringing state and city officials to the table to hear their concerns. And in March, he was part of the first LGBTQ contingent to march in the Throggs Neck St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Raised in the Bronx in the 1970s and 1980s, Abe Fernández found direction and opportunity in education. For nearly two decades, he has sought to give those same opportunities to Bronx students through community schools and comprehensive social services. Children’s Aid runs 22 community schools across New York City and works with schools across the country to build community-specific educational models. Fernández also oversees Children’s Aid’s National Center for Community Schools.
Born and raised in the South Bronx, Plinio Ayala has spent the last 20 years growing Per Scholas’ footprint across the five boroughs and across the country, training thousands with the skills they need to pursue successful careers in technology. Per Scholas’ workforce development programs now have a footprint in 19 states. Its board is stacked with executives from major banks, accounting firms and technology companies. Ayala was named to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ transition team’s economic and workforce development committee in December.
Few know Bronx politics and the issues the borough’s voters care about like Gary Axelbank, the Van Cortlandt Village resident and longtime host of BronxNet’s “BronxTalk.” In 2021, the race for Bronx borough president and every single Bronx New York City Council district had a debate moderated by Axelbank. And in 2022, the borough’s encyclopedic emcee hosted debates between Assembly Members Jeffrey Dinowitz and Michael Benedetto, and their respective primary challengers. In June of 2021, Axelbank funded a Marble Hill Nursery School library in honor of his mother. Michael Max Knobbe is in his 20th year running BronxNet, producing a lineup of political, educational and cultural content that far surpasses the network’s community television status. In August, Knobbe added hip-hop legend Grandmaster Melle Mel to his roster for a new fitness show.
When New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul name officials to boards and committees, don’t be surprised to see Lisa Sorin’s name on the list. In 2022 alone, the Bronx business community leader was appointed to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board and the New York Secure Choice Savings Program board by Hochul; and the city’s districting commission and COVID-19 Recovery Roundtable and Health Equity Task Force by Adams. Her Bronx Chamber of Commerce is an active advocate for local businesses in the borough.
Mark Stagg remains one of the most prolific developers and landlords in the Bronx and Westchester, building thousands of units of affordable housing since he launched his company in 1996. Next year, the developer plans to build 733 housing units in the Bronx, with nearly a third of them being affordable. Stagg is highly visible in the borough, appearing alongside Bronx officials and distributing thousands of turkeys on Thanksgiving. And his former associate, Adolfo Carrión Jr., is now one of the city’s top housing officials.
A veteran of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine’s cardiology division, Dr. Gordon F. Tomaselli was named dean at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Morris Park in 2018. With more than 900 students and 1,900 full-time faculty members, Einstein is one of the nation’s leading biomedical research universities, receiving $185 million from the National Institutes of Health in 2021 for research that includes a study into the health impacts on the Hispanic and Latino communities in the Bronx.
Karen Meyerhoff has led one of the Bronx’s most lauded green spaces and cultural centers since 2015. Each year, Meyerhoff brings music and dance performances, curated art shows and stunning horticultural displays to Riverdale, earning Wave Hill lauded spots in media guides as one of the best places to visit in the Bronx. Wave Hill brings in millions in donations and grants each year. And early this year, the gardens were one of 14 cultural locations to partner with New York City Health + Hospitals to provide coronavirus tests during a surge.
Sandra Lobo leads one of the Bronx’s most active and rambunctious advocacy groups, pressing legislators to go further on tenant protections and racial justice. The Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition coordinates with tenant associations to demand better conditions from landlords. The group has led rallies outside Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Manhattan office that resulted in arrests and brought protestors to Albany to camp outside Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s office.
Under Daisy Cocco De Filippis’ leadership, Hostos Community College has emerged as a favorite institution of New York City Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul. In June, she was named by the pair to the “New” New York blue-ribbon panel to develop strategies that would advance the region’s economy after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adams and the City University of New York also included Hostos in the development of a digital game design degree path, as part of the mayor’s push to make New York City a global hub for the digital games industry.
Planning on retiring in the mid-2010s, Carlos Naudon instead left his Midtown banking law job in 2014 to become president of the Castle Hill-based Ponce Bank. The banking outfit has locations in four boroughs and New Jersey, and focuses on personal banking and local economic development. Last June, the bank received $1.8 million from the U.S. Department of the Treasury to distribute to small businesses. Naudon was named to New York City Comptroller Brad Lander’s transition team after the 2021 election.
Four decades into his work at BronxCare Health System, Miguel Fuentes Jr. oversees one of the largest hospitals and employers in the borough, continuing to expand and burnish its operations. In November, BronxCare Health System cut the ribbon on a 10,000-square-foot cancer facility on Grand Concourse in partnership with Mount Sinai. And last May, the hospital network received a full, three-year accreditation from The Joint Commission, the nation’s top hospital accrediting body.
When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi came to the Bronx in March to host a town hall with Rep. Jamaal Bowman, the venue was the College of Mount Saint Vincent, the Catholic institution with a Hudson River campus in the Bronx’s northeastern-most corner. Susan R. Burns, a psychologist, took over as the school’s president in 2021, following a stint as vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Clarke University in Iowa. In June, the college launched the Bronx’s first physician assistant program to bolster the region’s health care workforce pipeline.
For 181 years, the Bronx’s most prestigious university was led by male priests. On July 1, Tania Tetlow became the first woman and first layperson to lead Fordham University. A former federal prosecutor and president of Loyola University New Orleans, Tetlow now oversees almost 17,000 students, 750 faculty, a $650 million budget and a $1 billion endowment. She succeeded Joseph McShane, who held the leadership post for nearly two decades and said on her first day on the job that she has “such big shoes to fill.”
A nationwide leader in elder care, Daniel Reingold oversees the renowned Hebrew Home at Riverdale, as well as elder abuse shelters and affordable housing for seniors across the Bronx. Reingold was named to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ transition team after guiding RiverSpring Living through the coronavirus pandemic. Reingold, who has attended White House conferences and testified in front of Congress, remains politically active, donating to the 2022 campaigns of Gov. Kathy Hochul, Rep. Ritchie Torres and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz.
For over a decade, Sean Coleman has guided and aided the Bronx’s LGBTQ community, which has often had limited access to local resources. Destination Tomorrow offers job programs, financial literacy and GED courses, helps coordinate health care with LGBTQ-friendly providers in the borough and temporary housing for sex workers. When New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced a more than $6 million investment in services for LGBTQ New Yorkers, he came to Destination Tomorrow to do so.
Dedicated to hospice and palliative care for patients approaching the end of their lives, Calvary Hospital operates its largest facility in the Bronx, a 200-bed hospital in Morris Park. Frank Calamari has led the health care network, which has expanded into Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, for over 35 years. Calamari, who led the hospital through the COVID-19 pandemic, backed the Adams administration’s efforts to crack down on crime in the city. Calvary Hospital this spring launched a first-of-its-kind education program for registered nurses looking to specialize in end-of-life care.
At the helm of the Jerome Gun Hill Business Improvement District and the Mosholu Preservation Corp., Jennifer Tausig works to unite the businesses and residents of the North Central Bronx. Backed by Montefiore Health System, Tausig’s work at the Mosholu Preservation Corp. includes beautifying the neighborhood, coordinating business initiatives and overseeing the Norwood News, a biweekly newspaper. Tausig co-chairs the New York City BID Association, coordinating the shared interests of the city’s business improvement districts.
Marc Jerome continues to expand the presence of his private, for-profit Fordham Heights college both at home and abroad. He forged partnerships with the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and drew students from across the Caribbean to Monroe College’s New Rochelle and Bronx campuses. Monroe hosts their commencements in Radio City Music Hall and draws New York City luminaries to its events, including Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark and Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Sheena Wright.
Since New York City Football Club’s 2015 debut, it has been nomadic – but New York City Mayor Eric Adams wants to change that. Major League Soccer’s 2021 champion squad is playing many home games at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx this season, and the hope is that NYCFC could have its own stadium sited in the borough – perhaps in the South Bronx – or in Queens. Brad Sims, a former NBA executive who came on as CEO in 2019, has said that a new stadium wouldn’t require any public funds.
As the leader of the Greater Hunts Point Economic Development Corp., Donald Eversley has fought to improve the quality of life for South Bronx communities after decades of neglect, mistreatment and pollution. Affiliated with Urban Health Plan – where Eversley also serves as a senior director for planning, capital projects and community development – GHPEDC works closely with Hunts Point food distributors and the South Bronx business community. Eversley has called on the state to close South Bronx peaker plants that contribute to the region’s notoriously poor air quality.
Thomas Isekenegbe has led Bronx Community College through the coronavirus pandemic and the economic turmoil of the last few years, maintaining it as a safe haven for low-income and immigrant students. In March, his school landed a partnership with Amazon to cover tuition costs for Amazon workers enrolled in over 40 associate degree programs. At the college’s first in-person commencement in two years this spring, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson offered remarks.
Rafael Roger is Marlene Cintron’s replacement at the helm of the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. while also continuing to lead the Business Initiative Corporation of New York, where he supports and advocates for current and prospective New York businesses and assists in securing federal loans. He represents Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson on five Bronx business improvement district boards, having previously served in the same role on behalf of Gibson’s predecessor, Ruben Diaz Jr.
Charles Moerdler has been an attorney and government adviser in New York City for decades, and he isn’t slowing down. He still holds considerable sway in Riverdale, chairing Bronx Community Board 8’s land use committee. And the senior counsel at Stroock still goes to bat for his clients, including the American Federation of Teachers. Moerdler also serves on the board of the New York City Housing Development Corp., and he’s donated thousands of dollars to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz.
A leader in the City Island community and a spokesperson for one of the borough’s most important hospitals, John Doyle is always in the mix. Whether it’s serving as a district leader in Assembly District 82 or successfully guiding Assembly Member Michael Benedetto to reelection as his campaign manager, Doyle continues to play a significant role in the East Bronx political landscape. Before redistricting was finalized, the onetime New York City Council candidate considered a run to replace Alessandra Biaggi in the state Senate.
Praised as a visionary by New York City Economic Development Corp. President Andrew Kimball for her work fighting for Hunts Point, Maria Torres is driving efforts to reshape the neighborhood that is being matched with New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Hunts Point Forward plan. With a 15-year commitment from the city to improving the safety, economic viability and quality of life for Hunts Point, the groundwork Torres has laid at the head of The Point Community Development Corp. will be the foundation for the revitalization of a long-struggling neighborhood hammered by COVID-19.
Based in Hunts Point, Manhattan Beer Distributors distributes beverages across the five boroughs, Long Island and the downstate region from over 1.5 million square feet of warehouses. Simon Bergson is making his company more environmentally friendly, inspired by a conversation with then-Rep. José E. Serrano about 20 years ago, including a transition to an electric fleet and the installation of solar panels at its headquarters. The son of Holocaust survivors, Bergson is also speaking out against antisemitism as co-chair of The Spirit of Tolerance Council.
Headquartered in the Bronx, Morton Williams operates over a dozen stores in the New York City-area. Co-owner Avi Kaner is also the founder and principal of Samawal Foundations, an advisory firm working with clients to capitalize on the economic opportunities of the Abraham Accords. For 12 years, Kaner served as a selectman in Westport, Connecticut. Kaner has come out strongly against 15-minute grocery store apps. The company’s other co-owner is the more low-profile Steven Sloan.
The Bronx Democrats of 2022 look very different from the Bronx Democrats of even a few years ago. Ariana Collado runs the party’s operations and helps recruit candidates under new party boss, Jamaal Bailey. Their leadership has so far been much less polarizing than previous administrations and has been part of an effort to reshape the county party to center women after years of a male-dominated power structure. The Bronx has its first female borough president and majority-women delegations in the New York City Council and the Assembly.
Odetty Tineo joined District Council 37 at a busy time. The influential New York City public sector union, which helped secure a pay increase for human services workers in the state budget, endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul for reelection, with Tineo promising in May that “the Green Machine stands ready to organize and engage our membership in support of the candidates we’ve endorsed.” Tineo, a Bronx resident, helped deliver in June, with Hochul and most of DC 37’s endorsed candidates winning their primaries.
A 40-year-old community-based health center, Morris Heights Health Center operates 12 locations in the Bronx and one in Brooklyn, providing primary care, behavioral health care, telehealth, dental care, health insurance enrollment and other services to Bronxites in need. Mari G. Millet joined the provider in 2017 after working for New York City Health + Hospitals and other community health systems. She worked with then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration on the “Caring Neighborhoods” initiative and other health disparity programs.
For nearly a decade, Eileen Torres has led BronxWorks, an overarching social services organization that works with over 60,000 Bronxites and employs over 900 people. After the Twin Parks apartment fire in January, both Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams allocated millions to BronxWorks to assist and provide direct cash assistance to the victims. A frequent op-ed writer, Torres’ writing has appeared in CNN, City Limits, the New York Daily News, NYN Media and City & State.
Liz Neumark’s Great Performances, a top-end catering service staffed by women in the arts, continues to rack up prestigious clients and expand her company’s Bronx presence. The newly reopened Wollman Rink brought her aboard as the food and beverage partner. And in June, Great Performances expanded its Bruckner Building headquarters by 10,000 square feet, bringing the facility to over 60,000 square feet. Neumark serves on the boards of the Fund for Public Housing and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce.
The Bronx-based Golden Krust is a staple across the city, with over a dozen locations in its home borough alone. Founded by their father, Daren and Hawyood Hawthorne – the presidents of restaurants and retail, respectively – now help run the Jamaican fast-casual empire. They also helped found a Black-owned women’s beauty brand with their mother, Lorna Hawthorne. In 2018, the family launched a foundation named for their father, Lowell Hawthorne, to provide scholarships to students in high school, college and other educational institutions in the United States and the Caribbean.
When Brennan O’Donnell stepped down this summer after 13 years as president of Manhattan College, the institution turned to Daniel Gardner to lead the Riverdale-based institution on an interim basis during the national search for a permanent successor. Gardner, who assumed the new role in July, brings a deep understanding of the college’s mission and inner workings, having served since 2016 in various roles as an assistant director of admissions, assistant director at the Center for Graduate School and Fellowship Advisement, and adjunct professor.
A favored ally of then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo and an endorser of Ray McGuire in the 2021 New York City mayoral race, Daniel Barber has not wielded as much influence under the current city and state leadership as he once did. But as the chair of the Citywide Council of Presidents for the New York City Housing Authority – and a lifelong resident of public housing in the Bronx – Barber continues to be a loud advocate for public housing residents, opposing the establishment of the Public Housing Preservation Trust signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in June.
Deborah Charlemagne oversees 20 Chase retail banks in the Bronx and is committed to providing banking and financial services to the chronically underserved borough. A native of East Tremont, Charlemagne has spent the past 25 years at Chase. Last August, she stood alongside Rep. Ritchie Torres, then-Assembly Banks Committee Chair Victor Pichardo and future New York City Council Member Pierina Sanchez to mark the reopening of the Burnside Avenue branch after multiple banks had left the community.
A rear admiral tasked by SUNY to oversee the training of the next generation of merchant marines, Michael Alfultis has brought in millions to upgrade SUNY Maritime College’s fleet and facilities. In April, Alfultis broke ground on a $6.25 million education center alongside Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, former Bronx Democratic Party boss Marcos Crespo, and other state and local officials. And in September, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez secured $800,000 for the college’s training program.
Sheila Garcia, who has served as a tenant representative on the New York City Rent Guidelines Board since 2014, spoke out against its decision this year to hike rents more dramatically than at any other point in her tenure. Garcia, who is also the director of community organizing at the Bronx-based housing, community development and educational nonprofit New Settlement, and her boss, Rigaud Noel, warned that the push to raise rents for rent-stabilized tenants in the city would force low-income New Yorkers “out of their homes.”
In the Bronx, Anderson Torres oversees a dozen senior centers, two senior residences, home meal delivery, case management assistance and other programs to help older Bronxites receive the support they need through his role as president and CEO of Regional Aid for Interim Needs Total Care Inc. R.A.I.N. has close ties with the Bronx business community, including with Joseph Kelleher, who manages the Hutchinson Metro Center, and Lisa Sorin, the Bronx Chamber of Commerce president.
In a rare contested judicial delegate primary in June, Clarisa Alayeto’s slate beat out two others in the South Bronx’s Assembly District 84. Alayeto is the manager of community engagement and government affairs for Dream, a network of charter schools that’s constructing a 188,000-square-foot K-12 school on Bruckner Boulevard in Mott Haven. Alayeto also serves on Bronx Community Board 1 and advised the city on its boroughs-based jails plan.
Haydee Morales helms the nealy 90-year-old Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, a Hunts Point charity focused on serving Latinos. Operating out of a 90,000-square-foot educational facility, Casita Maria partners with the New York City Department of Education to work with students of all ages. This summer, Morales welcomed the Adams administration’s new “Hunts Point Forward” initiative aimed at revitalizing the neighborhood. Prior to joining Casita Maria in 2015, Morales worked for New York City’s Planned Parenthood chapter for 13 years as vice president of education and training.
The driving force behind the Universal Hip Hop Museum is a collaboration between the hip-hop community and the New York City political establishment in the borough where the musical genre was born. Slated for an official opening in 2024, the museum aims to be the premier destination for hip-hop history, celebrating foundational figures through the golden age and into the modern era. Rocky Bucano partnered with then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on a summer concert series and helped get a resolution passed in Congress recognizing November as National Hip Hop History Month.
Founded in 2007, Spring Bank provides community banking services to Bronxites and is one of the few banks based in the borough. Demetris Giannoulias guides Spring Bank in its mission to serve underserved communities and small businesses, including helping Bronxites access tax credits and financing e-bikes for front-line workers. Spring Bank also worked to enroll New Yorkers in the IDNYC program to help those without other identification access banking services.
Typically, a county party organization endorses influential incumbents seeking reelection – but that’s not happening in state Senate District 33, where the Bronx Democrats are backing attorney Miguelina Camilo’s primary challenge against state Sen. Gustavo Rivera. The unusual situation occurred because Camilo won the party backing in another district that was erased in another round of redistricting, and then stood by her when she ended up facing Rivera. There’s no guarantee she’ll win, though, given Rivera’s name recognition and union support.
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