Power Lists

The 2022 Brooklyn Power 100

Who’s who in a borough brimming with big shots?

City & State presents the 2022 Brooklyn Power 100.

City & State presents the 2022 Brooklyn Power 100. Andy Ryan

Brooklyn is beyond doubt a bastion of political clout. The new mayor of New York City is from the borough, so is the majority leader – at least for now – of the U.S. Senate and the heir apparent to the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. The borough is home to the state attorney general as well as New York City’s comptroller and public advocate. Brooklynites also chair the New York City Council’s Finance Committee and the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee. 

Perhaps because there’s so much political might in one borough, there are plenty of dividing lines. New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams just sought to oust Gov. Kathy Hochul, but she prevailed in the June primary with support from other key elected officials in the borough. Reform-minded progressives are waging battle with the county political machine. Veteran Brooklyn politicians – including former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon – are facing off in the primary for a new congressional district spanning Brooklyn and Manhattan. 

City & State’s Brooklyn Power 100 – written in partnership with journalist Aaron Short – tracks the rising and falling fortunes of the borough’s most politically powerful figures, including government officials, business executives, nonprofit leaders, activists, advocates and academics.

1. Eric Adams

New York City Mayor
Eric Adams / Erica Krodman/Brooklyn BP’s Office

Brooklyn is where Eric Adams’ heart is. New York City’s mayor filled his administration with borough luminaries like chief of staff Frank Carone, top adviser Ingrid Lewis-Martin and a new gun violence czar. Adams’ victories in Albany this year, including continued control over public schools and a deal to keep speed cameras turned on, should make borough schools safer, while a new public trust for NYCHA will fund thousands of apartment repairs. The former Brooklyn borough president also based new citywide zoning changes to help small businesses off of his work revitalizing Atlantic Avenue.

2. Chuck Schumer

U.S. Senate Majority Leader
Chuck Schumer / United States Senate

New York’s senior senator has the unenviable task of holding on to his slim majority during a midterm election likely to favor Republicans. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer led negotiations for a bipartisan deal on gun regulation after multiple mass shootings, including the Sunset Park subway attack, roiled the nation. He sought a vote on codifying abortion rights (albeit unsuccessfully) after a leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade spurred demonstrations across the country, including in Downtown Brooklyn, and has been in talks with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin over reviving climate and deficit reduction bills.

3. Letitia James

State Attorney General
Letitia James / Kyle O'Leary

State Attorney General Letitia James gave up a chance to challenge Gov. Kathy Hochul in the Democratic gubernatorial primary to, among other things, pursue civil charges against former President Donald Trump’s company. James has brushed back Trump’s lawsuit to halt her probe and won another appellate court decision allowing her to question Trump and two of his children under oath. But James has kept her attention on Brooklyn too, suing three bus operators for illegally idling near schools and working with the mayor’s office to indict 41 people in a retail theft ring takedown.

4. Hakeem Jeffries

House Democratic Caucus Chair
Hakeem Jeffries / Office of Representative Hakeem Jeffries

The No. 4 House Democrat was not thrilled with new congressional maps foisted upon the state by a court-appointed special master that not only wiped away likely Democratic gains, but put some members of his caucus in direct competition with each other. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries compared the appellate court’s ruling with “Jim Crow” tactics while saying he was confident Democrats could retain their majority in the midterms. If Democrats stave off a Republican takeover this fall, Jeffries is considered a favorite to become the next House speaker if Nancy Pelosi retires.

5. Brad Lander

New York City Comptroller
Brad Lander / Gerri Hernandez

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander is using his new office as a bully pulpit for progressive issues, such as sinking an affordable housing tax abatement for developers by arguing it costs the city $1.77 billion in lost revenue. He admonished Amazon for its high rate of worker injuries and is pushing the company to report them publicly. Lander asked his old colleagues in the New York City Council to set aside $2 billion for a rainy day fund and called on the Adams administration to prioritize composting, which could save the city $100 million on exporting organic waste.

6. Eric Gonzalez

Brooklyn District Attorney
Eric Gonzalez / Brooklyn DA’s Office

Eric Gonzalez contemplated running for state attorney general until the incumbent, Letitia James, dropped out of the governor’s race, which forced everyone looking at her seat to reevaluate their plans. Now, Gonzalez has focused on curbing violence by targeting people who sell ghost guns, hosting gun buyback events with the New York City Police Department and aggressively prosecuting hate crimes. Gonzalez has also developed a reputation as a progressive prosecutor while avoiding the criticisms his Manhattan counterpart absorbed by supporting tweaks to the state’s controversial bail reform law.

7. Nydia Velázquez

Member of Congress
Nydia Velázquez / U.S. House

Rep. Nydia Velázquez found herself drawn out of her own district after a court-appointed special master reshaped congressional lines following a court order. But Velázquez’s stature in North Brooklyn is so high that she is running for the seat that encompasses much of her prior district without opposition. Velázquez, who also represents a portion of Queens, drafted a bill in May allowing Puerto Rico residents to vote on either joining the United States or declaring full independence and has since traveled to the island with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for statehood talks.

8. Jumaane Williams

New York City Public Advocate
Jumaane Williams / Office of the Public Advocate

The Flatbush pol had an eventful year even before he won reelection as public advocate and announced his ultimately unsuccessful candidacy for governor. In July 2021, Jumaane Wiliams married lobbyist India Sneed, and they had a baby this past February. Sneed’s battle with cervical cancer and complicated birth inspired Williams to propose a maternal bill of rights measure. Williams, who also demanded stronger red flag laws after the Buffalo mass shooting, notched only around 20% of the vote in the Democratic gubernatorial primary against Gov. Kathy Hochul and Rep. Tom Suozzi.

9. Frank Carone & Ingrid Lewis-Martin

Chief of Staff; Chief Adviser, Office of the New York City Mayor
Frank Carone / Alex Towle Photography

There may be no one in city government who is closer to New York City Mayor Eric Adams than Ingrid Lewis-Martin and Frank Carone. Lewis-Martin, who previously served under Adams as Brooklyn’s deputy borough president and as chief of staff when he represented Central and brownstone Brooklyn in the state Senate, helped fill out his current administration and now is an influential adviser at City Hall. Carone, a Mill Basin attorney, deftly rose through the ranks in Brooklyn politics to become a top Democratic counsel and trusted campaign consigliere to Adams. Carone’s loyalty to Adams paid dividends when the newly elected Adams tapped Carone to be his chief of staff in December. Carone remains the same garrulous fixer in City Hall, he was in Brooklyn’s backrooms.

10. Justin Brannan

Chair, New York City Council Finance Committee
Justin Brannan / Katrina Hajagos

After trailing his New York City Council race by 255 votes on election night, Justin Brannan sweated out a mail-in ballot tally that ultimately put him ahead of Republican Brian Fox by a mere 601 votes. The narrow outcome may have weakened the Bay Ridge Democrat’s bid to become City Council speaker as labor leaders shifted support to other candidates. Brannan, who dropped out of the race and endorsed eventual winner Adrienne Adams in December, won the coveted Finance Committee chairmanship after intense backroom negotiations.

11. Yvette Clarke

Member of Congress
Yvette Clarke / U.S. House

The special master’s new congressional maps momentarily lumped Rep. Yvette Clarke and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries together in the same Central Brooklyn district, but after a final revision, the two veteran lawmakers won’t have to face each other in a primary election. Jeffries has taken up castigating the court’s decisions while Clarke has focused on scrutinizing the Biden administration over making federal networks more secure amid cyberattacks and ensuring her legislative colleagues don’t overlook everyday gun violence when discussing how to regulate gun trafficking.

12. Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn

Assembly Member and Kings County Democratic Party Chair
Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn / Kristen Blush

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn successfully forged alliances with the current and previous mayoral administrations in New York City. But tensions in the Brooklyn Democratic Party, which had been simmering since Bichotte Hermelyn cut ties with the party’s youth arm last spring, reached a boiling point in the fall when lawmakers called on her to resign after a Zoom call involving her husband went awry. The party boss survived and has endorsed longtime ally Bill de Blasio for Congress. Now, she is grappling with several losses in contested district leader races, key positions that determine who will lead the county’s party.

13. Antonio Reynoso

Brooklyn Borough President
Antonio Reynoso / Submitted

The Borough Hall leader went viral on his first day on the job when he posted signs barring cars from parking on the sidewalks surrounding its plaza. Since then, Antonio Reynoso has used his platform to demand more e-bikes for the Citi Bike fleet and faster bike lane installations, while announcing six new Open Streets. The former New York City Council member campaigned on promises to reform community boards and make them more equitable while developing a comprehensive planning process for new development throughout the borough.

14. David Greenfield

CEO and Executive Director, Met Council
David Greenfield / Met Council

David Greenfield left the New York City Council at the end of 2017, but he’s kept busy in the policy arena, whether it’s working with the Brooklyn district attorney to support victims of family violence, securing more funding for Holocaust survivors or advocating for the Jewish community in the redistricting process. He also opened the Met Council’s new Boro Park office, which has eight full-time staffers and serves 600 clients a week, and purchased a 22,000-square-foot warehouse to expand the organization’s major kosher and halal food pantry operations.

15. Randy Peers

President and CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce
Randy Peers / Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

Randy Peers has pressured policymakers to help Brooklyn businesses as the city’s pandemic recovery continues to lurch forward. The omicron wave stalled revenues during the holiday season – and by March, Peers warned that three-quarters of the borough’s businesses reported sales below pre-pandemic levels. Peers’ advocacy has helped convince the mayor to cut 30 fines and reduce scores of violations that have saved businesses millions in penalties while the chamber has received $20,000 for southeast Brooklyn businesses from the borough president.

16. Jed Walentas

CEO, Two Trees
Jed Walentas / Anne Joyce

Brooklyn’s most prominent real estate developer had no qualms about converting the former Domino Sugar Factory complex into a 460,000-square-foot office even as the coronavirus pandemic rendered offices temporarily obsolete. Now that people are returning to work, Jed Walentas has a number of properties along the Williamsburg and Dumbo waterfronts that are walkable for a workforce sick of commuting into Manhattan. Walentas’ latest mixed-use project, River Ring, was approved by the New York City Council in December and features 1,050 units, a 50,000-square-foot YMCA and a three-acre park.

17. Simcha Felder, Andrew Gounardes, Brian Kavanagh, Zellnor Myrie, Kevin Parker & Roxanne Persaud

State Senators
Simcha Felder, Andrew Gounardes, Brian Kavanagh, Zellnor Myrie, Kevin Parker & Roxanne Persaud / New York State Senate; New York State Senate; Office of Brian Kavanagh; New York State Senate; New York State Senate; New York State Senate

Ever since state Sen. Andrew Gounardes ousted Marty Golden from office in 2018, Brooklyn’s state Senate delegation has been made up entirely of Democrats. But there’s plenty of ideological diversity among the group, ranging from longtime incumbents with moderate or even conservative views to younger members with more progressive platforms. Gounardes, who chairs the state Senate Budget And Revenue Committee, and state Sen. Zellnor Myrie were among the cohort of challengers in 2018 who helped the party seize control from Republicans and punish former members of a breakaway Democratic group that had empowered the GOP. Myrie, the state Senate Elections Committee chair, championed a new voting rights law this year but saw his bill to seal certain convictions die in the Assembly. Brian Kavanagh, who’s been at the center of housing policy debates in recent years, was set to face a primary challenge from Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou, but now has an easier path to reelection with his fellow Democrat running for Congress instead. State Sen. Kevin Parker, a driving force on energy and environmental legislation, is still facing a primary challenge from the progressive left, although the strong performance by incumbents in the June Assembly primary bodes well for him. Another establishment incumbent is state Sen. Roxanne Persaud, who came out of former Brooklyn party boss Frank Seddio’s Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club and is in the middle of a lower-stakes district leader contest against a reform-minded rival. The most conservative lawmaker in the delegation is state Sen. Simcha Felder, an Orthodox Jewish lawmaker who used to caucus with the Republican conference. 

18. Regina Myer

President, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
Regina Myer / Julienne Schaer

Brooklyn’s economy has rebounded quicker than any other borough’s since the onset of the pandemic, according to a state comptroller report, with much of the recovery centered downtown. Regina Myer has prospered in making the neighborhood more welcoming for offices and more livable since she was tapped to lead the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership six years ago. Myer is spearheading a plan to create nearly 20 car-free streets, and this spring, she launched a lineup of live performances and public art installations at 300 Ashland Place.

19. A.R. Bernard

Senior Pastor, Christian Cultural Center
A.R. Bernard / Submitted

Under the Rev. A.R. Bernard’s leadership, the Christian Cultural Center has developed the largest following in the five boroughs and has been a mainstay on the Brooklyn political circuit. For instance, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer visited Bernard’s Starrett City-based church on Easter Sunday to tout the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court. But most congregants come to hear Bernard’s noted sermons, which he will soon be sharing on a gospel-based radio station. Bernard’s proposed 1.7 million-square-foot “urban village” in East New York is now under review by the city. 

20. Linda Johnson & Naila Rosario

President and CEO; Government Relations and Advocacy Manager, Brooklyn Public Library
Linda Johnson / Brooklyn Public Library

During the pandemic, the Brooklyn Public Library launched a series of initiatives, including curbside pickup and online resources for students. Linda Johnson made the library system even friendlier to patrons by eliminating late fees and providing free access to its e-Book system for young adults nationwide in response to a growing book-censorship movement. The Central Library heralded the return of its two most popular events, Night of Ideas and The People’s Ball, in May and its Brooklyn Heights branch reopened a month later. A key point person with city and state government officials is Naila Rosario, who has been with the library system for nearly a decade.

21. Breon Peace

U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of New York
Breon Peace / U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York

U.S. Attorney Breon Peace started his career clerking for a federal judge in the Eastern District of New York and serving as an assistant U.S. attorney there. A quarter-century later, Peace is running the place after President Joe Biden swore him in in October. He has since prosecuted members of the Brooklyn-based Woo gang for stealing COVID-19 relief funds, charged six members of an East New York gang for several shootings and convicted a Gambino mobster for killing a 77-year-old Brooklyn man.

22. Jabari Brisport, Julia Salazar, Phara Souffrant Forrest, Emily Gallagher & Marcela Mitaynes

Socialists in Office
Julia Salazar, Emily Gallagher, Marcela Mitaynes, Jabari Brisport, and Phara Souffrant Forrest / Michael Drake

The Democratic Socialists of America has enjoyed major victories and suffered setbacks in state politics in recent months. The organization has seen half a dozen candidates it supports elected to the state Legislature – all hailing from Brooklyn except for Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani of Queens – and they’ve helped secure some significant progressive policy goals. Just this session, state Sen. Jabari Brisport got Gov. Kathy Hochul to invest more state funds toward child care. Yet, while state Sen. Julia Salazar’s push for a “good cause” eviction bill garnered plenty of attention, the measure failed to advance. In the June primary, the DSA-backed Sarahana Shrestha beat Assembly Member Kevin Cahill while Assembly Members Mamdani, Phara Souffrant Forrest, Emily Gallagher and Marcela Mitaynes all won. However, DSA-endorsed candidate Samy Nemir Olivares fell short of defeating Assembly Member Erik Dilan.

23. Evan Thies

Co-Founder, Pythia Public Affairs
Evan Thies / Corey Torpie

Communications guru Evan Thies was a part of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ inner circle long before he launched his mayoral bid. But it was Thies’ disciplined approach to messaging about public safety and rapid response to stories on Adams’ residency that likely helped him emerge victorious in the Democratic primary last year. Thies helped lead Adams’ communications team during the transition, and the firm he leads with Alexis Grenell also guided New York City Comptroller Brad Lander to victory and helped pass the Adult Survivors Act. 

24. Lindsay Greene

President and CEO, Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp.
Lindsay Greene / JC CANCEDDA Photography

When David Ehrenberg announced in February that he would step down from his decadelong role at the helm of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp., New York City Mayor Eric Adams knew he needed someone with the technical savvy and emotional intelligence to lead one of the city’s most important job creation districts. Adams chose Lindsay Greene to take over. Greene, the first Black woman and first LGBTQ person in the role, promised to promote the shipyard’s businesses and advance diversity in entrepreneurship.

25. Mike Keogh, Juanita Scarlett & Teresa Gonzalez

Partners, Bolton-St. Johns
Mike Keogh, Juanita Scarlett & Teresa Gonzalez / Roger Archer; Guerin Blask

This Brooklyn-based trio brings plenty of firepower to Bolton-St. Johns, the No. 3 lobbying firm in New York City and the state as a whole. Mike Keogh, the former finance director for the New York City Council who also was legislative counsel and a lobbyist for the public sector union District Council 37, is also influential in Albany, where his wife, Karen Persichilli Keogh, is the top adviser to Gov. Kathy Hochul. Juanita Scarlett, who joined Bolton-St. Johns in 2019, has worked in a range of key political and policy positions, including as executive vice president with the Empire State Development Corp. Teresa Gonzalez, a partner at the firm since 2020, is also the co-founder of the boutique lobbying firm DalyGonzalez.

Editor’s note: Juanita Scarlett is a member of City & State’s advisory board.

26. Errol Louis

Host, “Inside City Hall"
Errol Louis / Spectrum News NY1

Errol Louis has been with NY1 for more than a decade and has known many of Brooklyn's leaders even longer. Louis’ columns and podcasts tracing the rise of Black political power are as compelling as his criticisms that New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ “get stuff done” rhetoric is falling short. But Louis saves his most trenchant analysis for “Inside City Hall,” where he interviews everyone from the governor and developers of controversial projects to corrections oversight leaders and homeless youth advocates.

27. Peter Abbate Jr., Robert Carroll, Monique Chandler-Waterman, Steven Cymbrowitz, Maritza Davila, Simcha Eichenstein, Latrice Walker & Helene Weinstein

Assembly Members
Peter Abbate Jr., Robert Carroll, Monique Chandler-Waterman, Steven Cymbrowiimctz, Maritza Davila, Simcha Eichenstein, Latrice Walker & Helene Weinstein / New York State Assembly

Assembly members have smaller districts than their state Senate counterparts and typically generate less press coverage than members of the New York City Council, but they nonetheless have the opportunity to shape key legislation. In the Assembly’s Brooklyn delegation, a number of members stand out. Assembly Member Peter Abbate Jr. of Bensonhurst is a reliable ally of public sector unions in his role as chair of the Assembly Governmental Employees Committee. Assembly Member Robert Carroll, a progressive reformer from Windsor Terrace and Kensington, has made headlines for clashing with the Brooklyn Democratic machine and his push, so far unsuccessful, for the Build Public Renewables Act. While Assembly Member Monique Chandler-Waterman has only been in office for a few weeks, she has achieved an unusual feat – beating a rival backed by New York City Mayor Eric Adams at the ballot box, not once but twice. Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz has been in the middle of contentious real estate policy battles as chair of the Assembly Housing Committee, while Assembly Member Maritza Davila heads the Assembly Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. Assembly Member Simcha Eichenstein represents an influential constituency as the state Legislature’s first Hasidic member. Assembly Member Latrice Walker spoke out against New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ efforts to tweak state criminal justice reforms. The Assembly Election Law Committee chair also passed a new voting rights measure, but failed to advance measures to reform the dysfunctional New York City Board of Elections and to ban voting machines criticized for cyberattack vulnerability. Assembly Member Helene Weinstein, who has served in the state Legislature for over four decades, chairs the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, which plays a critical role in the annual state budget process. 

28. Carlo Scissura

President and CEO, New York Building Congress
Carlo Scissura / New York Building Congress

The real estate industry leader nearly became the city’s economic development czar but withdrew his name from contention after several reports revealed he worked with a developer on projects without registering as a lobbyist. Now, Carlo Scissura is back doing what he does best: advancing the interests of the construction sector at the city and state level, and advocating for the repair of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. He’s already supporting the mayor’s new zoning initiatives, which make zoning rules more flexible.

29. LaRay Brown

CEO, One Brooklyn Health
LaRay Brown / Justin Persaud

Brooklyn’s fourth coronavirus wave swamped Interfaith Medical Center and Brookdale Hospital with patients to the point where LaRay Brown had to request city officials to divert ambulances to other hospitals. Brown had the unenviable task of keeping the hospital running with 400 staff sick at the beginning of January. Once patient loads eased, Brown urged Congress to provide more support for safety net hospitals while opening a new 2,500-square-foot medical facility in Flatbush. She also celebrated the completion of Interfaith’s behavioral health unit refurbishment in April.

30. Kenneth Gibbs

President and CEO, Maimonides Medical Center
Kenneth Gibbs / Maimonides Medical Center

Maimonides’ pandemic-punished staff worked through exhaustion as the omicron variant pummeled southern Brooklyn especially hard over the holidays. As the onrush eased, Kenneth Gibbs sought to strengthen hospital operations by rebranding and launching its new network, Maimonides Health, in March after its merger with New York Community Hospital. Gibbs also facilitated the hiring of 140 nurses during the winter as some patients and nurses complained about understaffing in its vaunted maternity unit.

31. Doug Steiner

Chair, Steiner Studios

Doug Steiner bet big that he could make the Brooklyn Navy Yard a destination for Hollywood productions looking for a New York-based studio lot. Two decades later, Steiner has 30 sound stages on his 780,000-square-foot site and has started building a new 500,000-square-foot film and TV production hub in Sunset Park. He is also marketing a six-building complex around Wegmans supermarket in the Navy Yard that includes 5,200 square feet of community space, and he installed green roofs on Admiral’s Row buildings last year.

32. Alexa Avilés, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Shahana Hanif, Crystal Hudson, Rita Joseph, Ari Kagan, Mercedes Narcisse, Sandy Nurse, Chi Ossé & Lincoln Restler

New York City Council Members
Alexa Avilés, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Shahana Hanif, Crystal Hudson, Rita Joseph, Ari Kagan, Mercedes Narcisse, Sandy Nurse, Chi Ossé & Lincoln Restler / Megan Magray; New York City Council; Anna and Jordan Rathkopf; John McCarten/New York City Council; Marc Baptiste; Ari Kagan 2021; Marc Jean Baptiste; Brandon Harrison; New York City Council; John McCarten/New York City Council

Much of the New York City Council is entirely new this year, and that’s certainly true in Brooklyn. And while the relative inexperience resulted in a slow start this year, the city’s legislative body did reach a record $101 billion budget deal with the mayor in June. Among the first-term Brooklyn members on the budget negotiating team were City Council Members Crystal Hudson and Mercedes Narcisse. Other first-term Brooklynites in key council roles include City Council Member Rita Joseph as chair of the Education Committee, Council Member Alexa Avilés as the Public Housing Committee chair and Council Member Chi Ossé as co-chair of the borough’s delegation. Other first-time City Council legislators from Brooklyn include Technology Committee Chair Jennifer Gutiérrez, Sanitation and Solid Waste Management Committee Chair Sandy Nurse, Immigration Committee Chair Shahana Hanif, Resiliency and Waterfronts Committee Chair Ari Kagan and Council Member Lincoln Restler. 

33. Joseph Tsai & Clara Wu Tsai

Co-Owners, Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets barely made the NBA playoffs and the team, and the Barclays Center still hemorrhaged $50 to $100 million last year, prompting Joe and Clara Wu Tsai to replace their CEO. Despite the losses, the Tsais continued expanding their presence in the borough by acquiring the WNBA’s New York Liberty team, investing $50 million in the Social Justice Fund for Brooklyn and sending 2,400 public school kids to a Basquiat exhibit. A comedy based on Tsai’s life is coming to Hulu soon.

34. Jennifer Jones Austin

CEO and Executive Director, FPWA
Jennifer Jones Austin / Robert White

Jennifer Jones Austin has honed in on the government’s shortcomings in addressing poverty and racism throughout her career. During the pandemic, Jones Austin has been tracking federal funding for social services agencies to ensure the Biden administration follows through on its promises. And in her capacity as chair of New York City’s Racial Justice Commission, she helped compile a report identifying patterns of racial inequities like inadequate access to capital, unequal access to safe housing and health care services, and lack of diversity among decision-makers.

35. Iris Weinshall

Chair, Prospect Park Alliance
Iris Weinshall / NYPL

Brooklynites in the know would never mistake Iris Weinshall for a Supreme Court justice – and she herself is more concerned with New York City’s parks and access to books than any Playbook misidentification snafu. Weinshall, who is married to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, secured $40 million from the city to restore Prospect Park’s 26-acre Vale of Cashmere, the largest allocation in the alliance’s history and one of Bill de Blasio’s final acts as mayor of New York City. As New York Public Library chief operating officer, she has sought to upgrade alarm systems amid escalating book-burning threats.

36. Scott Lorin

President, Mount Sinai Brooklyn
Scott Lorin / Brian Schutza

The first wave of coronavirus ripped through Mount Sinai Brooklyn so swiftly that a fifth of its staff – including President Dr. Scott Lorin – was sickened by it. Lorin has since sought to expand the Midwood hospital’s services with a new cardiology location on Flatbush Avenue and a mobile prostate cancer screening unit. The medical center’s stroke center also recently earned a Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission for using new technologies and treatments that led to better outcomes for its stroke patients.

37. Charles Barron, Farah Louis, Darlene Mealy & Kalman Yeger

New York City Council Members
Charles Barron, Farah Louis, Darlene Mealy & Kalman Yeger / Mike Groll; Roman Vail Photography; New York City Council; Councilman Kalman Yeger

While seniority is often an asset for legislators, the large, fresh-faced contingent of the New York City Council isn’t sticking to that norm. Apart from New York City Council Member Justin Brannan, who was first elected in 2017 and secured an influential role as the council Finance Committee chair this term, the few Brooklyn members with previous experience in the legislative body have not been fully rewarded for it. City Council Member Kalman Yeger, a second-term incumbent who’s to the right of most of his fellow Democrats, did get assigned to chair the Standards and Ethics Committee, a potentially pivotal role as the committee can recommend whether members should be punished or expelled. But City Council Member Farah Louis, who has been in office since she won a special election in 2019, and City Council Member Darlene Mealy, who previously served in the council from 2006 to 2017, were only given subcommittees to lead. Another legislator who, like Mealy, is returning after a previous tenure in the council is the radical leftist City Council Member Charles Barron, who was not named chair of any committee at all. 

38. Gregory Calliste, Svetlana Lipyanskaya & Sheldon McLeod

CEOs, New York City Health + Hospitals/Woodhull; New York City Health + Hospitals/Coney Island; New York City Health + Hospitals/Kings County
Gregory Calliste, Svetlana Lipyanskaya & Sheldon McLeod / Samuel Rodriguez/Woodhull Hospital; NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island; Alexis Davis

New York City Health + Hospitals, the city’s vast public safety net health care system, serves hundreds of thousands of Brooklynites each year. At the 320-bed New York City Health + Hospitals/Woodhull in North Brooklyn, CEO Gregory Calliste has overseen noteworthy developments, including a recent $5 million expansion with 16 new exam rooms and other improvements and the installation of new breast cancer screening technology. Calliste also served on the transition committee of Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. South Brooklyn’s New York City Health + Hospitals/Coney Island, which has 371 beds, is led by CEO Svetlana Lipyanskaya, a Russian-speaking Ukrainian immigrant. Her hospital campus is getting a multimillion-dollar upgrade and will be renamed New York City Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health later this year, with a new hospital building named after the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Sheldon McLeod runs the 627-bed New York City Health + Hospitals/Kings County, which is known for its world-class trauma center. 

39. Robert Guimento

President, NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital
Robert Guimento / NewYork-Presbyterian

During the four years that he has run Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, Robert Guimento has helped the Park Slope medical center play a vital role in the health and wellness of some 42,000 patients per year. One year after the pandemic struck, Guimento celebrated the opening of a six-story, 400,000-square-foot ambulatory care center featuring 12 operating rooms and six procedure rooms. He has also welcomed an influx of talent – including new vascular surgery and obstetrics and gynecology chiefs – within the past year.

40. Jocelynne Rainey

President and CEO, Brooklyn Community Foundation
Jocelynne Rainey / Brooklyn Community Foundation/Inspired Storytellers

Former Brooklyn Navy Yard executive Jocelynne Rainey joined the venerated Brooklyn Community Foundation in November on a mission to boost its engagement with donors of color while continuing to address systemic racism. Rainey has since welcomed new members to BCF’s board of directors and awarded $100,000 each to five Brooklyn nonprofits for their social justice work. In June, she joined the board of a new charity that Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso is launching to promote Brooklyn through events and programming that support local businesses.

41. Gary Terrinoni

President and CEO, The Brooklyn Hospital Center
Gary Terrinoni / Rick Schwab

Running one of the state’s only independent hospitals is a difficult task, but thanks to Gary Terrinoni’s lobbying efforts, The Brooklyn Hospital Center is raking in the dough. The Fort Greene medical center received a $9.2 million infusion from Congress in March toward the expansion of its emergency department. Its sold-out Founders Ball returned to the Brooklyn Museum for the first time since 2019 and raised $1.45 million, which will go toward doubling the size of the hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab.

42. Joni Yoswein

Founder and CEO, Yoswein New York
Joni Yoswein / Yoswein New York

The former Brooklyn Assembly member was once best known for providing crucial guidance on behalf of borough-defining projects like Red Hook’s Ikea, Industry City, the Navy Yard’s Wegmans and the Domino Sugar development in Williamsburg. These days, Joni Yoswein continues to work with the borough’s leading real estate developers, including Two Trees, Related and Glenwood Management, as well as other borough powerhouses including the Brooklyn Public Library, SUNY Downstate, the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and Brooklyn Defender Services.

43. Bill de Blasio

Former New York City Mayor
Bill de Blasio / Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

New York City’s 109th mayor didn’t have a job lined up after he left office. In January, Bill de Blasio nixed a long shot challenge against Gov. Kathy Hochul after raising money and seeking endorsements for weeks. In February, he considered a bid for the congressional seat that Rep. Nicole Malliotakis occupies – only to rule that out as well. But when the court-ordered redesign of congressional lines suddenly created a new district encompassing Park Slope and parts of Manhattan, de Blasio went all-in.

44. Jo Anne Simon

Assembly Member
Jo Anne Simon / New York State Assembly

Last summer, Jo Anne Simon was aiming to become Brooklyn’s first female borough president, but she didn’t fare as well as she had hoped, losing to Antonio Reynoso in the Democratic primary’s final round of ranked choice voting. Now, she’s launched a bid for Congress in a newly drawn district that stretches from Park Slope to lower Manhattan and has 14 other candidates. With 77% of voters undecided, if Simon’s Boerum Hill and Brooklyn Heights supporters show up in August, that might be enough to win.

45. Amelia Adams

President, Adams Advisors
Amelia Adams / Frank Guitierrez

Amelia Adams’ experience as one of then-New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s most trusted insiders landed her the role of political director on Bill de Blasio’s 2017 reelection campaign. The following year, Adams founded her own political consulting firm, eventually assisting former U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan with his mayoral bid. She won’t be able to help her old boss win a congressional seat in Brooklyn this year: Adams has already joined Rep. Mondaire Jones’ team, alongside several other de Blasio campaign alums, and helped Gov. Kathy Hochul win a commanding primary victory in June. 

46. Yvette Buckner

Chair, 21 in '21
Yvette Buckner / Jason Tanaka

Veteran political consultant Yvette Buckner helped female candidates gain a historic number of seats in the New York City Council last year as chair of 21 in ‘21, which garnered her citywide accolades. Buckner also serves as vice chair of the Brooklyn YWCA and was an organizer of a June fundraiser for the nonprofit group. Buckner, who's now the campaign manager for state Attorney General Letitia James' reelection campaign, previously was a key staffer at Tusk Strategies.

47. Sandra Scott

Executive Director, One Brooklyn Health Brookdale Hospital Medical Center
Sandra Scott / Netstruc Media

The physician and emergency department leader became the first woman and first person of color to lead Brookdale in its 100-year history when she was appointed executive director in June 2021. But Dr. Sandra Scott has long been familiar with the borough’s safety net hospitals, which have been grappling with waves of coronavirus infections and increasing gun violence. Scott has also led the medical center’s charity efforts, including a Martin Luther King Day food drive in Brownsville.

48. Jo-Ann Yoo

Executive Director, Asian American Federation
Jo-Ann Yoo / Mansee Kong

When a man pushed an Asian American woman in front of an oncoming train in the Times Square station in January, Jo-Ann Yoo was enraged by the lack of response from city leaders over spiking anti-Asian violence. Yoo, who has called for more mental health resources for hate crime victims, opened a satellite office in Flushing and celebrated passage of legislation to create an Asian American Pacific Islander museum on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall, says her community is still anxious about riding the subway.

49. L. Joy Williams

President, Brooklyn NAACP
L. Joy Williams / Maro Hagopian

The Brooklyn civil rights leader and host of the SiriusXM show “Sunday Civics” was a much-deserved finalist for Outstanding News and Information Podcast at the NAACP Image Awards this year. But L. Joy Williams has also built up her NAACP chapter’s membership with the next generation of Black leaders and promoted Black women political candidates. She has also worked behind the scenes to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act in the state Legislature. 

50. Floyd Rumohr

CEO, Brooklyn Community Pride Center

Floyd Rumohr had waited a decade for the Brooklyn Community Pride Center to move into its new headquarters at the Bedford Union Armory – which finally happened in October 2021. Rumohr kept Brooklyn Pride’s Fulton Street office with a goal of creating satellite spaces for homelessness and immigration services. By the time the Major R. Owens Health & Wellness Community Center opened, Brooklyn Pride launched LGBTQ sports leagues, classes and wellness activities. Rumohr also served on Antonio Reynoso’s Brooklyn borough president transition committee.

51. Risa Heller

CEO, Risa Heller Communications
Risa Heller / Sarah Holt Photography

The formidable crisis communications guru represents a murderers’ row of influential stakeholders while maintaining one of the funniest social media accounts in the city. Risa Heller has cemented her reputation for providing career-saving advice to politicians like Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who needed guidance following a backlash to his prosecutorial policies, and Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder, who needed help navigating a House probe. She also added two veteran Democratic communicators to her staff in recent months.

52. Ken Fisher

Member, Cozen O’Connor
Ken Fisher / Cozen O’Connor

Ken Fisher might be the only former Brooklyn politician not running for Congress in the new 10th District – because he’s been too busy assisting his firm’s political action committee and advising real estate clients about what to do after the 421-a tax abatement lapses in June. Fisher also wants the state and city to work together to prioritize replacing the dilapidated stretch of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway running through Brooklyn Heights – but the Adams administration has postponed funding repairs for the highway.

53. Robert Brennan

Bishop, Diocese of Brooklyn

Bishop Robert Brennan finally came home to New York City when Pope Francis installed the Bronx-born prelate as Brooklyn’s eighth bishop in November 2021, replacing Nicholas DiMarzio. The Vatican hopes Brennan won’t have as much baggage as his predecessor, whose 18-year tenure ended in turmoil following decades-old child abuse allegations, although a Vatican investigation cleared DiMarzio of any misconduct. Brennan promised not to shake things up and got to know his parishioners. In June, he rededicated St. Augustine Church after someone stole its gold tabernacle.

54. Jahmila Edwards

Associate Director, District Council 37
Jahmila Edwards / Khari Edwards

A fight over the city’s telework policy became one of the last unresolved conflicts between DC37 and the de Blasio administration, which wanted city workers back in their office despite the continuing pandemic. Now, hybrid work could be a sticking point in future DC37 bargaining negotiations as workers appear to have more leverage. Jahmila Edwards has also been in the middle of a busy campaign season as her union endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul, Rep. Jamaal Bowman and Brooklyn Assembly candidates Olanike Alabi and Hercules Reid. 

55. Michael Nieves

President and CEO, Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network
Michael Nieves / HITN

Michael Nieves was not happy that the state Democratic Party excluded Hispanic leaders like Reps. Nydia Velázquez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Adriano Espaillat from its initial lineup of speakers at its nominating convention in February. Those omissions were eventually corrected after Nieves and others spoke out. Nieves has helped the party expand its reach in Spanish-speaking communities for decades, with HITN adding over 10 million households to its audience and collecting three Emmy nominations since he joined the network in 2015. 

Editor’s note: Michael Nieves is a member of City & State’s advisory board.

56. Michelle Crentsil

Political Director, New York State Nurses Association
Michelle Crentsil / Isham Christie

Michelle Crentsil joined the New York State Nurses Association in March 2020 – right at the onset of the pandemic – after organizing airport workers at Newark and LaGuardia airports at Local 32BJ. She quickly got up to speed and contributed to a successful legislative effort to pass a safe staffing law for nursing homes and hospitals in 2021. Crentsil served on New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ health transition committee and continues to work on ending mandatory overtime in the wake of the omicron surge.

57. Jose Lopez, Arlenis Morel & Theo Oshiro

Co-Executive Directors, Make the Road New York
Jose Lopez, Arlenis Morel & Theo Oshiro / Make the Road New York

Make the Road New York’s next generation of leaders secured key significant legislative victories for undocumented immigrants. Jose Lopez, Arlenis Morel, and Theo Oshiro convinced the state to allocate $2.1 billion in unemployment aid for immigrant workers last fall and pushed lawmakers to expand health insurance coverage for undocumented individuals above the age of 65 in the state budget. Recently, Ana María Archila, who is Make the Road New York’s co-executive director, fell short in her campaign for lieutenant governor and a state judge blocked a bill the organization supported that would have allowed noncitizen immigrants to vote in New York City municipal elections.

58. Jovia Radix

Senior Vice President, Legislation, Kasirer
Jovia Radix / Frank Guitierrez

Jovia Radix’s firm has been an outlier during the coronavirus pandemic, hauling in a hefty $15.5 million in 2021. Radix earned a well-deserved promotion to senior vice president in March and has been one of Kasirer’s go-to reps on New York City Council initiatives and telecommunications matters. She remains extremely active in Brooklyn politics as vice president of the Thomas Jefferson Democratic Club’s Young Democrats arm and vice president of the Brooklyn Women’s Bar Association.

59. Alyssa Aguilera & Jeremy Saunders

Co-Executive Directors, VOCAL-NY

A silent epidemic of drug overdoses and deaths that coincided with the coronavirus pandemic prompted Alyssa Aguilera and Jeremy Saunders of the progressive advocacy group VOCAL-NY to grill the city’s mayoral candidates for their approach to drug treatment and decriminalization. They worked with the de Blasio administration to set up supervised injection sites and, with a long-term plan of opening an overdose prevention center in Brooklyn, Aguilera and Saunders are looking to access millions of dollars of opioid settlement funds the state attorney general secured from pharmaceutical companies.

60. Gabby Seay

Owner, Seay Strategies
Gabby Seay / Gabby Seay

Gabby Seay’s work on Maya Wiley’s 2021 New York City mayoral bid attracted attention from several corners, including that of state Attorney General Letitia James, who hired Seay to manage her gubernatorial campaign. James’ campaign didn’t take off the way she expected and, after a month on the trail, James opted to run for reelection instead. Seay, who previously served as political director at the influential labor union 1199SEIU, was involved with campaigns to reduce nurse staffing shortages and overtime burdens, and to organize Planned Parenthood workers.

61. Elizabeth Yeampierre

Executive Director, Uprose
Elizabeth Yeampierre / Pete Voelker

The fight for environmental justice as sea levels, temperatures and greenhouse gas emissions rise can be draining even for the staunchest advocates, but Elizabeth Yeampierre has stayed energized by organizing community-focused meals and learning groups in Sunset Park, as well as delivering testimony at hearings and leading direct actions. The result: State officials have cut carbon emissions and redefined how to identify disadvantaged communities affected by pollution. Yeampierre has also prioritized green reindustrialization, clean energy investment and shutting down fossil fuel-powered peaker plants.

62. Kirsten John Foy

President and CEO, The Arc of Justice
Kirsten John Foy / The Arc of Justice

The former New York City Council candidate and National Action Network alum has been a nationally sought-after voice advocating for investigations of police shootings and the release of police body camera footage. Kirsten John Foy has also advocated for changes to lawsuit lending practices after having firsthand experience needing a loan to pay for medical bills from injuries suffered during an arrest after the 2011 West Indian Day Parade. Foy has also noted the challenges Gov. Kathy Hochul faces among Black voters this year.

63. Alane Berkowitz & Jim Somoza

Senior Asset Manager; Managing Director and Partner, Industry City

In February, New York City Mayor Eric Adams named Andrew Kimball, then-CEO of Industry City, to serve as president and chief executive officer of the New York City Economic Development Corp. With the departure of Kimball, who had led Industry City since 2013, the Brooklyn waterfront complex is now being run by Alane Berkowitz, a senior asset manager for Industry City’s owner, the real estate management company Jamestown, and Jim Somoza, the managing director and partner at the 35-acre former industrial space.

64. David Niederman

Executive Director, United Jewish Organizations

When the New York City mayoral race was tightening last year, David Niederman smartly asked his Satmar followers to rank Eric Adams second in the primary after Andrew Yang. That maneuver likely enabled Adams to fend off his rivals and preserved a long-standing relationship once Adams won. Niederman has since been granted an audience on issues like rising antisemitism and funding for emergency food programs. Despite some criticism from a handful of rabbis, Niederman has touted his ties with the Met Council, which has fed thousands of people in his community. 

65. Jelena Kovačević

Dean, New York University Tandon School of Engineering
Jelena Kovačević / New York University Tandon School of Engineering

Four years after becoming the first woman to lead the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in its 164-year existence, Jelena Kovačević continues to work on diversifying the school’s student body and faculty while making its Downtown Brooklyn campus welcoming and accepting of everyone. That includes maintaining a healthy skepticism of letting algorithms and artificial intelligence hiring tools do the work of recruiters and administrators. Kovačević’s savvy leadership has helped NYU Tandon School of Engineering continue to jump in graduate school rankings.

66. Michelle Anderson

President, Brooklyn College
Michelle Anderson / David Rozenblyum

Two years ago, students protested Brooklyn College’s adjunct faculty layoffs and a heightened police presence on campus. College President Michelle Anderson has sought to be responsive to their concerns, unveiling the institution’s anti-racist agenda and planning a mix of in-person and hybrid courses while requiring all students to be vaccinated. Under Anderson’s leadership, Brooklyn College has continued to rank high in social mobility ratings, value for tuition costs and generosity in providing financial aid.

67. Miguel Martinez-Saenz

President, St. Francis College
Miguel Martinez-Saenz / Oscar Masciandaro

Miguel Martinez-Saenz has led Brooklyn Heights-based St. Francis College into a new partnership this year with Bay Ridge Catholic Academy that will give college students experience as student teachers while providing primary school kids access to science and engineering labs. Martinez-Saenz also worked out an arrangement with St. George University’s School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine in Grenada for St. Francis’ pre-med and pre-vet students to gain direct admission to the Caribbean school and be eligible for a $10,000 scholarship.

68. Bryan Grimaldi

Vice President of Corporate Affairs, National Grid
Bryan Grimaldi / James Diaz Photography

When National Grid announced in January it would hike electric and gas rates three times in the next 29 months, Bryan Grimaldi said the price increase would help the utility strengthen its infrastructure in the face of more powerful storms. Grimaldi also argued against a state bill banning gas hookups in new buildings and against moving away from gas in homes by 2024. That bill was stalled even as Brooklyn climate activists rallied for National Grid to change its position.

69. Rosemarie Montalbano

Judge, Kings County Surrogate Court

The reform wing of the Brooklyn Democratic Party scored a victory over Kings County bosses when Rosemarie Montalbano trounced previously favored Civil Court Judge Dweynie Esther Paul in the primary for surrogate court judge in June 2021. Montalbano, who snagged a Daily News endorsement, went on to win in November for a term that won’t be up until 2036. Her allies have argued that the judicial selection process should be significantly reformed although that likely won’t occur without support from the state Legislature.

70. Lupe Todd-Medina

President, Effective Media Strategies
Lupe Todd-Medina / Celeste Sloman

Longtime Rep. Hakeem Jeffries ally Lupe Todd-Medina lent her communications expertise to help former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire run for New York City mayor last year. McGuire didn’t make it, but Todd-Medina quickly pivoted to join Gov. Kathy Hochul’s gubernatorial campaign as a senior adviser, where she helped the governor dominate the competition in the June Democratic primary. Todd-Medina has also worked with clients like the New York County Defender Services and has argued for the decarceration of low-level offenders.

Editor’s note: Lupe Todd-Medina is a member of City & State’s advisory board.

71. Trip Yang

Owner, Trip Yang Strategies
Trip Yang / New Leaders Council

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and former President Barack Obama alum Trip Yang planted his flag in the city by helping Letitia James become state attorney general and Jumaane Williams become New York City’s public advocate. Yang launched his political consulting firm in September 2020 and advised on former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan’s Manhattan borough president bid and Gale Brewer’s New York City Council run. He also offered keen analysis of former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s political legacy and how Democratic state Senate candidates should strategize over where to run in the new legislative maps.Editor’s note: Trip Yang is a member of City & State’s advisory board.

72. Tara L. Martin

Founder and CEO, TLM Strategic Advisors
Tara L. Martin / Erin Silber Photography

Veteran New York public affairs and political professional Tara L. Martin charted her political path through Rep. Yvette Clarke’s office and two of the state’s preeminent labor organizations via stints at the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and with the New York State Nurses Association. Martin now runs her own firm, TLM Strategic Advisors, providing media training and brand advice for an array of government agencies, startups, labor groups and nonprofits. She recently served as head of public affairs in the Northeast U.S. for REEF Technology.

Editor’s note: Tara L. Martin is a member of City & State’s advisory board.

73. Wayne Riley

President, SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University
Wayne Riley / SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

SUNY Downstate Sciences University was designated a coronavirus-only hospital at the height of the pandemic, which led to personal protective equipment shortages and the need for a $159 million infusion. Even after the peak passed, Dr. Wayne Riley had to navigate staffing shortages due to vaccine holdouts and a flood of patients into the university’s emergency room during a recent surge. Riley recently secured $2 million from Congress for facility and equipment upgrades.

74. Lee Silberstein

Partner, Marino
Lee Silberstein / Marty Berman

The billion-dollar Industry City rezoning effort didn’t get off the ground two years ago despite Lee Silberstein’s best efforts – but the facility could be in for another revival now that former Industry City CEO Andrew Kimball is running the New York City Economic Development Corp. In the meantime, Silberstein has represented a number of heavy-hitting developers, medical facilities and colleges including Fortis Property Group, Touro University, Brooklyn Tech Triangle and New York University Tandon School of Engineering.

75. Colvin Grannum & Blondel Pinnock

Former President and CEO; President and CEO, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp.

For a generation, Colvin Grannum preached the importance of homeownership to the Black community as gentrification swept through North and Central Brooklyn. That’s why he worked with city government to build projects like The Norma, a 44-unit mixed-use development on Fulton and Howard, and helped secure $434 million to renovate nine public housing projects populated by 6,300 residents. Grannum is now passing the torch to Blondel Pinnock, the former chief operations officer at the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. who succeeded the longtime leader as of July 1. Pinnock, the first woman to lead the organization, will be able to rely on Grannum’s expertise for some time, as he’ll continue to assist on such projects as the Restoration Innovation Campus and the Restoration Breakthrough Technology Fellowship.

76. Patricia Ramsey

President, Medgar Evers College
Patricia Ramsey / David Patterson

In March 2021, CUNY named Patricia Ramsey president of Medgar Evers College, making her the first woman to lead the school in its half-century history. One of Ramsey’s first tasks at the beginning of the school year was to address student and staff complaints that campus facilities were not fully ventilated as the delta wave was surging. She also launched a cannabis minor degree program to help students gain a foothold in the industry – making MEC the first CUNY school to do so.

77. Linda Sarsour


Linda Sarsour has gone national, but she hasn’t forgotten her roots as a Brooklyn activist who stood up from Muslim New Yorkers following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Sarsour, who led the Arab American Association of New York for a time, went on to organize the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. The Palestinian American activist, who has drawn condemnation in some quarters for her criticism of Israel, remains involved with the Muslim Democratic Club of New York that she co-founded, backing Shahana Hanif’s successful New York City Council bid last year. 

78. Kimberly Peeler-Allen & Glynda Carr

Co-Founders, Higher Heights for America PAC
Kimberly Peeler-Allen & Glynda Carr / Margot Jordan; Regina Fleming Photography

Kimberly Peeler-Allen and Glynda Carr couldn’t have picked a better candidate to further their goal of advancing Black women in politics than state Attorney General Letitia James, who made a short-lived gubernatorial run last October. James chose to run for reelection instead, allowing Peeler-Allen, who served as campaign senior adviser, to focus on gender equality and abortion rights as the U.S. Supreme Court prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade. PAC co-founder Glynda Carr denounced the decision, calling it “catastrophic” for Black women.

79. Gabriel Gallucci

National Director of Governmental and Political Affairs, American Federation of School Administrators
Gabriel Gallucci / Bianca Tennyson

A stint organizing campaign workers and volunteers in North Carolina for then-President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign helped introduce Gabriel Gallucci to the world of high-stakes electoral politics. He started at New York Communities for Change and jumped to the city’s school administrators’ union before joining the national school administrators’ union as its political director. Now, Gallucci gets tapped for significant roles like serving on Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso’s transition team last fall.

80. Ifeoma Ike

Founder, Pink Cornrows
Ifeoma Ike / Ifeoma Ike

Over the past year, Ifeoma Ike served as an equity specialist for the Rockefeller Foundation's Equity First Vaccination Initiative aimed at protecting New Yorkers who are people of color, LGBTQ or immigrants during the coronavirus pandemic. She also became the first individual nominated by the New York City public advocate to the New York City Conflict of Interest Board in January, and she was confirmed in March. Ike is also a former Obama for America counsel, policy aide with the Innocence Project and executive with the de Blasio administration’s New York City Young Men’s Initiative. 

81. Bertha Lewis

Founder and President, The Black Institute
Bertha Lewis / The Black Institute

Civil rights leader Bertha Lewis, who had a public split with then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after helping him win his first mayoral primary, backed Eric Adams to be his successor last year, reasoning that he had the experience to lead the city in a difficult time. When one of her allies said there would be riots when Adams brought back the New York City Police Department’s controversial plainclothes anti-crime unit, Lewis said activists should give Adams a chance before passing judgment. 

82. Janelle Farris

Executive Director and President, Brooklyn Community Services
Janelle Farris / Sheena Kim/Unique Lapin Photography

When the pandemic struck, Brooklyn Community Services leapt into action to help thousands of at-risk children and families. Janelle Farris’ nonprofit donated laptops and software to high school students in need and dispatched a shower bus for homeless individuals to use in East New York, Coney Island and Park Slope. Her group continued programs for adults with developmental disabilities with help from the Neediest Cases Fund, offering hot meals, clothing, COVID-19 tests and even vaccinations to their Brooklyn clients as they became widely available.

83. Donald R. Boomgaarden

President, St. Joseph’s University, New York
Donald R. Boomgaarden / Jorg Meyer

The Clinton Hill Catholic college is now known as St. Joseph’s University, New York after the state Board of Regents approved Donald R. Boomgaarden’s request for a name change in April. Boomgaarden said the new designation was necessary because the school already provides a range of graduate courses as well as online instruction across two campuses, although the new moniker won’t have an effect on its annual tuition. The institution has continued making upgrades to its campuses, including a $17 million student center at its Patchogue branch.

84. Claudia V. Schrader

President, Kingsborough Community College
Claudia V. Schrader / Kingsborough Community College

After taking over CUNY’s “Harvard by the Bay” in 2018, Claudia V. Schrader pledged to be responsive to Kingsborough Community College’s undergraduate students and ensure the Manhattan Beach school’s graduation and retention rates remained the highest in the CUNY system. When Schrader couldn’t meet incoming students on campus during the pandemic, she visited some of them at their homes across the city. This past school year, Schrader was one of 25 academic leaders chosen for the Aspen Institute’s New Presidents Fellowship.

85. Jacqui Williams

Founder and CEO, 99 Solutions
Jacqui Williams / erika Fields Nalty

Real estate and telecommunications lobbyist Jacqui Williams founded 99 Solutions 13 years ago. Williams has since worked with Tishman Speyer and the Real Estate Board of New York and helped bring Wegmans to the Navy Yard. She’s also made her interests known at mayoral forums last year and has expanded her practice to include cannabis since the state legalized the sale and distribution of recreational marijuana.

86. Eric Soufer

Head of Crypto + FinTech Practice, Tusk Strategies
Eric Soufer / Tusk Strategies

Following a career in state government that included holding key posts in the state Senate and in the state attorney general’s office, as well as political work on behalf of the Assembly speaker and Andrew Yang’s 2021 New York City mayoral bid, Eric Soufer has worked in the private sector at Tusk Strategies since 2018. Since earlier this year, the Brooklyn resident has been leading the newly launched Crypto + FinTech Practice at Tusk Strategies, building on his previous work in the financial services and technology spheres. Among the firm’s clients are Paxos, Circle and eToro.

87. Gregg Bishop

Executive Director, Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation Social Justice Fund

Gregg Bishop had a fulfilling role providing financial and legal resources to small businesses to help them recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic. But when Joe and Clara Tsai approached the Flatbush leader last year about tackling systemic disparities in the workforce and entrepreneurship through their foundation, Bishop leapt at the opportunity. So far, their Brooklyn EXCELerate Loan Fund has provided $1.6 million to businesses – three-quarters of which are owned by Black women.

Editor’s note: Gregg Bishop is a member of City & State’s advisory board.

88. Paul Mak

President and CEO, Brooklyn Chinese-American Association
Paul Mak / BCA

The coronavirus pandemic rocked New York City’s Chinatowns – including Sunset Park, where some businesses laid off workers or were forced to close, and residents had one of the highest COVID-19 rates in the city. Paul Mak, who has led the response to a spike in hate crimes and harassment against Asian Americans, also successfully pressured the city to drop its plan to remove a lane of traffic to build protected bike lanes on Seventh and Eighth Avenues, arguing it would cause more congestion. 

89. Kitaw Demissie

Dean, SUNY Downstate School of Public Health
Kitaw Demissie / SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University

Dr. Kitaw Demissie has been studying the impact of racial inequities in public health throughout his career – so it didn’t surprise him that COVID-19 antibody rates among Black and Latino New Yorkers were double those of other residents. The SUNY epidemiologist suggested requiring negative COVID-19 tests from municipal workers to spur vaccinations and called for health care workers to boost nursing home residents to prevent hospitals from being overrun with seriously ill patients.

90. Inna Vernikov

New York City Council Member

The area around Sheepshead Bay, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach has long sent Democrats to City Hall, but Inna Vernikov broke the blue ceiling thanks to endorsements from former boss Dov Hikind and New York City Council Member Chaim Deutsch, and her staunch support of Israel and former President Donald Trump. The Ukrainian-born Republican, who stomped Democrat Steve Saperstein by 30 points, is now exercising her power by scoring discretionary funds for her district while revoking funds from CUNY School of Law for its support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.

91. Somia El-Rowmeim

Founder, Women’s Empowerment Coalition of NYC
Somia El-Rowmeim / Kalid Elrowmeim

Last year, the Yemeni American activist Somia El-Rowmeim was named a “Woman of Distinction” by the state Senate for her work leading voter registration drives and town hall meetings in Bay Ridge as well as organizing volunteers to demonstrate against former President Trump’s Muslim ban and participate in the Women’s March on Washington. This year, El-Rowmeim has been busy organizing grocery giveaways for her Southern Brooklyn community and celebrating International Women’s Day in March.

92. Clinton Miller

Pastor, Brown Memorial Baptist Church

The Rev. Clinton Miller has led his flock through the pandemic with rousing sermons that equally ignited the spirits of both those praying in their Washington Avenue pews and livestreaming at home (one sermon from February: “I’m shook but I’m still saved”). Miller, who served on the New York City Charter Revision Commission, is a co-founder of The 400 Foundation, which advances economic equality in the construction industry, and served as chaplain of the WNBA’s New York Liberty.

93. Russell Hotzler

President, New York City College of Technology

Russell Hotzler praised City Tech’s $410 million academic complex for helping inspire its students and professors to change the world when the building opened in Downtown Brooklyn three years ago. Last fall, Hotzler celebrated both the launch of an 18,000-square-foot DNA Learning Center expanding the school’s STEM facilities and a new patent that could revolutionize the field of quantum computing.

94. Frances Bronet

President, Pratt Institute
Frances Bronet / Lyndon French

In her State of the Institute address last spring, Frances Bronet explained she had to reconsider Pratt Institute’s strategic plan to incorporate lessons learned from the coronavirus outbreak. This year, enrollment remained steady, and Bronet secured a $3.5 million donation for a fashion design professorship and $1.9 million in federal funds for the Pratt Center for Community Development’s small homes initiative. She made other changes as well, naming interim provost Donna Heiland as the school’s permanent chief academic officer in April.

95. Andre T. Mitchell

Founder and CEO, Man Up!

As City Hall grapples with gun violence across the five boroughs, the mayor has recruited Andre T. Mitchell to assist. Mitchell, the founder of the nonprofit Man Up!, was announced in June as a co-chair, along with Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Sheena Wright, of a new Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. Man Up! has a history of working with the city, having been awarded millions of dollars by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice for “anti-gun violence” work, but the organization has also been flagged for financial irregularities. 

96. Whitney Hu

Founder, South Brooklyn Mutual Aid
Whitney Hu / Brian Ziegler

The former New York City Council candidate has continued her work providing groceries, diapers and baby formula for Sunset Park’s undocumented residents in the pandemic’s third year. Whitney Hu has since subleased a space in the Brooklyn Army Terminal for wholesale grocery donations and borrowed a cargo truck, even making some deliveries herself. Hu’s group has raised over $400,000 since the pandemic began, and she has taken on a greater role in the community, including demanding more community-focused public safety after the Sunset Park subway shooting.

97. Jude Bernard

Founder and CEO, The Brooklyn Bank
Jude Bernard / Jay Hollywood

Four years ago, Jude Bernard founded The Brooklyn Bank with a mission of providing financial literacy and wealth-building knowledge to communities of color in Central Brooklyn. Bernard, who was once overleveraged himself, now dispenses advice such as urging homeowners to get accurate, up-to-date appraisals before selling. This month, his Bedford-Stuyvesant nonprofit hosted the “Black Money Forum,” a free personal finance workshop, as part of the Juneteenth celebrations in the borough. 

98. Cara Noel

Senior Vice President, Actum
Cara Noel / Cara Noel

Cara Noel traded New Jersey pork roll sandwiches for Brooklyn egg creams and Grandma pizza slices when she joined Actum as one of three new hires in March. A former communications director for the New Jersey state Senate Democrats, the New York City Central Labor Council and 1199SEIU, Noel helped promote health care workers’ ability to make their own decisions over vaccinations during a standoff with New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

99. Marcia Maxwell

Eastern Regional Director of Government Affairs, Cresco Labs

Marcia Maxwell brought her experience as a state director for New York University and a public affairs specialist at Global Strategy Group to help the Chicago-based cannabis company become one of the fastest-growing marijuana brands in the Midwest. Now, Cresco Labs is expanding to “fancier sites” and raising prices as it has keyed in on the New York market by acquiring rival Columbia Care for $2 billion. Her experience in Albany should give Cresco a leg up as the state begins proposing cannabis regulations on packaging and distribution.

100. Wes Jackson

Incoming President, BRIC

Wes Jackson once produced concerts for Nas, Dave Matthews Band, The Roots, Fugees and A Tribe Called Quest, and founded the Brooklyn Hip-Hop Festival in 2005 – so he should have no trouble advancing the multidisciplinary mission of BRIC. The Downtown Brooklyn nonprofit arts organization, known for its Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival summer concert series, brought Jackson home in June after a stint at Emerson College running a business development program for undergrads interested in careers in the arts. 

Correction: An earlier version of the post had an incorrect title for Yvette Buckner.

NEXT STORY: Above & Beyond: Innovators