There’s a new generation of leadership ascending on Long Island. Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman knocked Laura Curran out of office last year, and Republicans flipped both district attorney offices from blue to red as well. At least three members of Congress – Lee Zeldin, Tom Suozzi and Kathleen Rice – are wrapping up their time in Washington, D.C., although Zeldin does have a shot at becoming the state’s next governor. And in the state Legislature, Todd Kaminsky has already departed the state Senate, state Sen. James Gaughran is following him and a few more Democratic state senators are in tough reelection battles that will conclude on Election Day.
City & State’s Long Island Power 100 – researched by City & State staff in partnership with writer Lon Cohen – tracks all these changes and assesses the new power structure in Nassau and Suffolk counties. This list features not just elected officials, but also government appointees, business CEOs, hospital executives, attorneys, union chiefs, nonprofit leaders and many other influential individuals shaping the future of Long Island.
Steve Bellone has had his hands full this year as executive of one the most populous counties in the state, most recently navigating a cyber incident affecting Suffolk’s computer systems. He is also awarding grants to battle the opioid crisis using the $25 million the county received in settlements. Bellone cemented his own fate this summer by helping to strengthen term limits. After his third and final term as executive, he won’t be making a long-rumored run for the state’s top seat just yet; he recently gave his endorsement to fellow Democrat Gov. Kathy Hochul. But the avid marathoner – who is frequently seen at races across the county – is keeping his options open.
Leaning on his experience in homeland security as commissioner for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey after 9/11 and his term as a Hempstead council member, Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman made fighting crime and cutting taxes a part of his platform when he upset incumbent Laura Curran last year to take the top job in the county. He also challenged Gov. Kathy Hochul on mask mandates – a hot-button issue on Long Island. Since being sworn in this year, Blakeman has had a host of issues to tackle, from the resignation of Nassau County Sheriff James Dzurenda to polio being detected in the county’s wastewater.
Rep. Lee Zeldin has climbed the political ladder from state Senate to the U.S. House of Representatives, and he has his sights set on Albany again, this time on the governor’s chair, running as the Republican candidate against Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. Zeldin will not be mistaken for a centrist in this race. One of New York’s most prominent supporters of Donald Trump, Zeldin objected to certifying the election of President Joe Biden in 2020. In his campaign, Zeldin highlights taking a stance against rising crime, rolling back bail reforms, enacting tax cuts and reversing the ban on natural gas extraction – and in recent weeks polling has shown him closing in on the incumbent.
Representing New York’s 2nd District, Rep. Andrew Garbarino is facing an old foe this November in a rematch race against Democrat Jackie Gordon, whom he defeated two years ago when he took the congressional seat once held by Rep. Pete King. Garbarino is in a competitive race against Democrat Jackie Gordon, but is favored to win in the midterms. He spent his first term on the Hill in the House Committees on Small Business and Homeland Security and has recently been advocating for Congress to address the deficit in a federal health care program for 9/11 survivors and first responders.
Most people don’t think of curbing gun violence when they think of health care policy, but Northwell Health’s President and CEO Michael Dowling does, having outlined his plan in Harvard Business Review this fall. Dowling focuses on the future of medical care not just in New York but globally: Northwell Health joined forces with the Ukrainian military on a telemedicine platform this spring. The provider also marked other milestones this year, like surpassing $1 billion in funds raised for medical initiatives and earning a spot as one of Fortune magazine’s top five places to work in health care.
Nominated during one of the most fraught times for law enforcement in recent memory, Breon Peace took the role of U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York late last year. Tasked with reining in rising crime, many hope Peace can also restore the faith of those skeptical of prosecutors and the justice system. This year, his office oversaw some high-profile cases on Long Island, including a conviction for the drug-related death of a Massapequa woman and the sentencing of a man in an $8.9 million mortgage fraud scheme.
Long Islander Thomas DiNapoli is running for the state comptroller position again this year against Republican Paul Rodriguez, a former Wall Street analyst. The job is a big one, including managing the state's pension fund valued at over $246 billion. DiNapoli has been the state’s chief fiscal officer for 15 years and is looking to keep his duties, which this year included pleading with the governor to restore oversight of certain state contracts to his office and advising the state to sock away billions to weather the turbulent economic storm ahead.
Democratic state Sens. Anna Kaplan and Kevin Thomas have neighboring districts in Nassau County. They both immigrated to the United States when they were young, and both are defending their seats in the upcoming election, hoping to turn back the red wave that swept across Long Island last year. Kaplan, who represents the 7th District, is running for her third term this November. A Jewish Iranian refugee who immigrated when she was just a teenager, Kaplan has taken up passing gun safety laws, protecting reproductive rights and making Long Island more affordable as her key stances. Thomas, who became the first Indian American to serve in the state Senate in 2019, immigrated to the U.S. when he was 10 years old. Representing the 6th District, he recently backed a bill that would exempt student loan relief from New York state taxes and voted to make the 2% property tax cap a permanent fixture.
The midterm elections loom. Last year’s results across Long Island didn’t go how Democrats expected or wanted. As chair of the state Democratic Party, Jay Jacobs is responsible for helping to craft the strategy of state Democrats to bolster their chances. He has spent the year trying to unify the disparate parts of the party, encouraging a more moderate (and supposedly winnable) stance and combating the message coming out of the Republican Party. Especially pressing for Democrats are issues such as rising crime, which many have blamed on bail reform, and abortion rights.
Given their party’s insurmountable majority in the Assembly, Democrats on Long Island retain outsized clout even as Republicans have made gains in Nassau and Suffolk over the past year. Among the most senior Assembly Democrats on Long Island are Steve Englebright, who chairs the Environmental Conservation Committee, and Charles Lavine, who chairs the Judiciary Committee. Assembly Member Michaelle Solages also holds a key post as chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus, while Assembly Member Fred Thiele Jr. was just named as a co-chair of the Legislative Commission on the Future of the Long Island Power Authority, a public-private utility that poses perennial policy questions. Assembly Member Phil Ramos, a former police officer, fell short in his bid for state Senate this year, but due to a quirk in this year’s primary calendar, he remains up for reelection in the Assembly.
A Nassau County attorney who was previously deputy chief of divisions prosecuting organized crime, racketeering, cybercriminals and violent felons, Anne Donnelly won her 2021 upset bid for Nassau County district attorney, riding a red wave into office. She wants to roll back bail reform laws and has thrown her support behind automobile alcohol impairment detection systems technology to curb drunk driving. Recently, her office was involved in the bust of two men who transported illegal handguns from Georgia to Long Island.
After serving as assistant district attorney in Brooklyn and Suffolk County, Ray Tierney unseated Democrat Timothy Sini as Suffolk County district attorney, riding a wave of Republican victories in last year’s election season with a stance of being tougher on crime, especially gang violence, and rolling back bail reform laws. Since then, he has proposed reimplementing ShotSpotter tech to alert law enforcement to gunfire. Tierney also oversaw the creation of a combined unit to try animal abuse and environmental cases.
Over a year into his tenure as the youngest CEO of the Long Island Association in the business organization’s history, Matthew Cohen’s top priorities have been investing in infrastructure, promoting diversity in the business sector, creating more affordable places to live and stemming the flow of brain drain. He also serves on the board of the Discover Long Island tourism agency. In an effort to be more inclusive, the Long Island Association recently kicked off a series of joint meetings with the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce and Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor, county executive, member of Congress. Rep. Thomas Suozzi tried to add governor to his list by running in the primary against incumbent Kathy Hochul. He came in third. He successfully opposed Hochul’s plan to rid the state of laws that prevent homeowners from adding second units, but his battle to repeal a $10,000 limit on federal deductions for state and local taxes failed. Suozzi steps down from his seat this year, and his next play remains to be seen – but no one is ruling out a stab at U.S. Senate.
After serving four consecutive terms in New York’s 4th Congressional District, Rep. Kathleen Rice surprised Democrats when she decided not to seek reelection this year – setting up what looks to be a tight race between Democrat Laura Gillen and Republican Anthony D’Esposito. The former district attorney, who prosecuted some large corruption cases, including one where she exposed a bribery scheme involving former Nassau County legislators, has not given a definitive reason for stepping out of the race – or any hint of what she’s got cooking now.
Since 1940, Newsday has been one of the most influential newspapers on Long Island, winning 19 Pulitzer Prizes in that time. While, like other papers, Newsday has seen a dip in readership – with a reported drop of 12% in its print circulation from last year – it remains in the top 10 newspapers by circulation in the country and continues to publish hard-hitting investigations to hold elected officials accountable. Patrick Dolan, who owns the paper, and Debby Krenek, a former editor who serves as publisher, continue to guide the region's largest news outlet online through innovations like the Newsday TV streaming app.
For almost 20 years John Durso has been leading the charge of organized workers as president of the 250,000-member Long Island Federation of Labor. He’s also been at the helm of Local 338 since 1999, representing 16,000 agricultural, health care and supermarket workers. Union membership is gaining ground locally, with recent successes including workers at four Starbucks locations on Long Island voting to unionize, so that influence is only going to get bigger. More than 26% of workers on Long Island are unionized, a number that has grown over the past three years, according to a study by Hofstra University.
Having started her career in telecommunications as an operator for the New York Telephone Company, which became Verizon in 2000, Tracey Edwards retired as a regional president after 37 years with the company. As regional director of the NAACP on Long Island, Edwards oversees 10 local branches of the civil rights organization. Edwards is also a commissioner with the state Public Service Commission, which regulates the state’s utilities. She was previously a member of the Huntington Town Council and a member of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.
With billions of dollars in commercial real estate assets, Scott Rechler, CEO of Long Island-headquartered RXR Realty, is used to steering economies of scale. He’s now putting that experience to work as a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a position he was elected to late last year, starting a three-year term in 2022. The Fed currently has the unenviable job of taming record-high inflation and managing maximum employment through its monetary policy without sending the U.S. economy into a recession.
Babylon Town Supervisor Rich Schaffer hasn’t strayed far from his roots, having graduated from North Babylon High School in 1981. A self-described “homebody,” Schaffer prefers local politics. Schaffer is also the chair of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, guiding the party in the county – where some say that homebody mindset is a liability. He’s been accused of letting local political concerns and backroom deals get in the way of actually supporting Democrats. Of particular interest is the Suffolk County executive seat, which will be up for grabs next year when Steve Bellone term limits out of the position.
With over a year under her belt as Hofstra University’s first female president, Susan Poser has focused on innovation, diversity, and building up the different schools, especially engineering and health. One of her first duties was managing the transition back to campus in the wake of the pandemic. She was also elected to the board of directors at the Long Island Association to help promote the future of business in the region, and is a member of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.
A leading civil rights lawyer, Frederick K. Brewington challenges discriminatory practices in court, focusing on voter rights, employee discrimination, fair representation in government, and affordable housing. This year he filed a federal whistleblower suit for five Girl Scouts of Suffolk County employees who claimed they were fired after making internal complaints about the organization. He was also vocal in his displeasure over how proposed redistricting on Long Island for congressional races would impact communities of color. Brewington is also an adjunct professor at Touro University.
Stanley Bergman, the septuagenarian leader at Melville-based Henry Schein, has been leading the company since 1989 and has no immediate plans to retire. A global provider of health care supplies and services for office-based dental and medical practitioners in 32 countries, the company continues to expand with more acquisitions completed in 2022. The company saw some pushback against its executive pay plan this year when 48.5% of shareholders voted against it. But with the pandemic hopefully winding down, all those patients returning to doctors’ offices can only be good for the Long Island supplier.
For outsiders, the term “town” on Long Island is a bit misleading – Hempstead is the second-largest municipality in the state behind New York City, with a population of nearly 800,000. Meanwhile, the towns of Brookhaven, Islip and Oyster Bay are all bigger than Buffalo, New York’s second-largest city, while Huntington is nearly as big as Yonkers. That means the Republican supervisors running these particular towns have massive constituencies while wielding significant budgetary powers. In Brookhaven, Supervisor Edward Romaine is one of the longest-serving elected officials on Long Island, having spent a decade in the post. Angie Carpenter made history in 2015 as the first female town supervisor of Islip, while former Assembly Member Joseph Saladino took over in Oyster Bay in 2017, and Donald Clavin Jr. was elected town supervisor of Hempstead in 2019. Last year, Edmund J. Smyth was elected town supervisor of Huntington.
In the race to replace outgoing Rep. Tom Suozzi, who lost his bid for governor in the Democratic primary this year, the one sure thing is that the victor will be a member of the LGBTQ community, as it’s the first general election matchup of two gay congressional candidates. Robert Zimmerman came into the race with some name recognition, having run a local communications firm for decades while also being active in Democratic politics on the island. He faces Republican George Santos, a Wall Street investor who lives in Queens and has highlighted his immigrant background. The contest is widely viewed as highly competitive.
As Rep. Lee Zeldin is closing the gap on Gov. Kathy Hochul in the polls, Nick LaLota may enjoy a tailwind from the top of the ticket as he tries to keep Zeldin’s House seat in Republican hands. A Navy veteran, former Amityville trustee and now chief of staff to the Suffolk County Legislature, LaLota has emphasized cracking down on crime – and appears to have a slight edge in this competitive district. His Democratic rival, the former prosecutor and former Southampton Town Council Member Bridget Fleming, has hammered away at LaLota’s calls to limit abortion rights in the wake of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
Following Rep. Kathleen Rice’s surprise decision not to seek reelection, fellow Democrat Laura Gillen jumped into the 4th Congressional District race and won Rice’s endorsement, helping her come out ahead in a crowded primary battle. Gillen, a former supervisor of the town of Hempstead, is now facing Republican congressional nominee Anthony D’Esposito in yet another competitive congressional contest on Long Island. D’Esposito, a Hempstead Town council member, advanced to the general election with no primary. The former New York City Police Department detective has played up crime and public safety concerns as he seeks to flip the seat.
After serving for 10 years as the CEO of the Long Island Association, Kevin Law stepped down to take a job as executive vice president at Tritec, a major commercial real estate developer. Law is no stranger to volunteering his expertise to advance smart public planning on Long Island. He is the former co-chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, having given up the role after Gov. Kathy Hochul selected him last year to be chair of Empire State Development. He’s also chair of the Long Island Housing Partnership, a not-for-profit developer of affordable housing.
Last year, Nassau County Republican Committee Chair Joseph Cairo helped engineer an upset win in the county executive race and a win for Nassau County district attorney. Those victories led to the state’s GOP convention being hosted in Nassau County earlier this year. With seats up for grabs in the U.S. House, the Assembly, the state Senate and the governor’s office, Cairo and his fellow Republicans are hopeful they can chip away at the Democrats’ supermajority in Albany.
The GOP regained control of the Suffolk County legislature this year for the first time in over a decade, and the county went red for Trump in the past two elections. Now, Suffolk County Republican Committee Chair Jesse Garcia is looking to add to those gains in November and in 2024. Garcia helped the county GOP deal with the House seat vacated by Lee Zeldin in his run for governor and with the last-minute unanimous bipartisan approval of Suffolk’s legislative redistricting after a stalemate in August.
Seven Nobel Prizes have been awarded for research conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratory, which has a budget of over $550 million and employs over 2,500 staff members. Doon Gibbs, who was named director in 2013, has made the laboratory his home since he started there in 1983 as an assistant physicist. Gibbs recently announced that he’s retiring this December. During his time as director, Brookhaven National Laboratory was selected as the site for a multibillion-dollar Electron-Ion Collider to study the force that holds together nearly all visible matter.
Twenty years ago, Howard Fensterman co-founded the law firm that would become Abrams Fensterman. Since that time the practice has grown into a powerhouse with over 100 attorneys, covering a diverse array of specialties, including health care, insurance and family law. Just last year, the firm opened a new office in Albany, further expanding its influence in the state. The firm, which has ties to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, also has offices in Brooklyn, White Plains, Rochester and Manhattan.
Encouraging diversity – not just in people but also in opportunities – is what drives Urban League of Long Island CEO Theresa Sanders, whose organization provides people with access to educational and employment opportunities. Sanders, who has been with the Urban League for almost 30 years, was the first Black woman to serve as board chair of Suffolk County Community College. She is also on the boards of the Community Development Corporation of Long Island and the Long Island Regional Planning Council.
In a region where land is finite and valuable, attorney Thomas Garry provides insight on development projects to local municipalities and developers through the law firm Harris Beach, where, as managing partner, he manages the day-to-day operations of 35 attorneys and staff. Garry is a leader in election law and he has advised both the Biden and Clinton campaigns on Long Island. As vice chair of the Nassau County Democratic Party, he helped capture the Hempstead Village mayoral seat for Democrats last year in an upset against a Republican incumbent.
Seymour Liebman’s focus is on guiding Huntington-headquartered Canon USA to continue to innovate. The company has earned a Top 5 ranking for most patents filed every year for 36 years running – the only company to have done so. His leadership doesn’t stop in the business sphere. Liebman was named to the transition team for Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman last year. He also serves on the board of advisers for the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts and is vice chair of the board for the Long Island Association.
As managing partner of the largest law firm on Long Island, with more than 200 lawyers across five offices, Evan Krinick is responsible both for running the day-to-day operations of the firm and for growing the practice. One of his commitments as managing partner is to increase the diversity of his firm’s staff, an effort for which Rivkin Radler has been recognized. Krinick also frequently publishes his interpretations on decisions involving insurance fraud in the New York Law Journal.
It’s been a big year for Patrick O’Shaughnessy in his new gig as CEO of Catholic Health. The health care provider broke ground on two new facilities: a $500 million patient care pavilion on the Good Samaritan Hospital campus and a $17 million urgent care facility. Catholic Health also became the exclusive presenting sponsor of LIU Post’s Tilles Center for the Performing Arts. O’Shaughnessy was also picked by Gov. Kathy Hochul to join the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.
A scholar and author whose expertise is in the confluence of art and politics in the colonial and antebellum South, Maurie McInnis was not the typical candidate for a Northeast university, but after two years she has made her mark as president of Stony Brook. Just this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul officially designated Stony Brook a flagship university in the State University of New York system. The school also received its highest-ever ranking in the U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges. This year, McInnis was named a successor trustee at Yale, her alma mater.
In 1994, Bruce Stillman succeeded none other than James Watson – who, along with Francis Crick, first described the now-familiar double helix structure of DNA – as director of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Since taking the reins in 2003 as president, Stillman has encouraged an expanded, innovative and collaborative lab that is consistently billed as a top academic research institution. This year, Stillman was a recipient of the Long Island Excellence in Healthcare Award from the Long Island Herald.
With Wayne Grossé at the helm, Bethpage Federal Credit Union has grown from just over $1 billion to $10.6 billion in assets, becoming the 13th largest credit union in the nation, and the largest in the Northeast. Along with some significant branding opportunities like the Bethpage Air Show, Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer Linda Armyn has been the driving force behind dozens of the bank’s community assistance initiatives, like the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program – through which volunteers prepare tax returns for local low-income residents – and the Bethpage Cares charitable giving program.
A linchpin of financial markets that provides vital back office services to Wall Street companies and brokerage firms, Broadridge Financial Solutions is a multibillion-dollar company founded by Richard Daly in his Long Island home back in 1987. Daly currently serves as the company's executive chair on its board of directors. He is also a founding member of the Suffolk County chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and is on the board of the Sifma Foundation, a financial literacy organization.
As deputy state director for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Garrett Armwood is intimately familiar with the Long Island political landscape. His previous work includes stints with former Reps. Steve Israel and Tim Bishop, and Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski. Armwood’s boss is facing a challenge in the general election from Republican candidate Joe Pinion and independent candidate Diane Sare.
When you’re running the third-largest publicly owned electric utility in the country, you have to expect some static. Long Island Power Authority CEO Thomas Falcone started the year by defending himself against a report that said highly paid LIPA execs didn’t live on Long Island: Although LIPA rules don’t stipulate that they do, Falcone admitted it was a bad look. Then, former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato called for him to be fired in an editorial. On the bright side, Fitch Ratings gave an “A” rating to LIPA bonds, and the project to deliver wind power to Long Island kicked off this year.
After PSEG Long Island chief Daniel Eichhorn announced that he was retiring, the energy utility promoted David Lyons as interim president and COO in May. Lyons had previously been vice president of construction and operations services. PSEG Long Island came under fire for what was perceived as a bungled handling of power restoration after Tropical Storm Isaias in 2020, so Lyons will have to manage the power company’s promises to do better. The United Way of Long Island recently elected Lyons to its board.
As CEO of the largest association for the home construction industry on Long Island, Mitchell Pally has wielded his influence to get the trade group’s legislative priorities pushed through. But after 12 years, the Long Island Builders Institute will look for a new leader, now that Pally has said he will retire at the end of the year. This year he supported expanding sewers in Suffolk County and opposed a plan by Gov. Kathy Hochul to create an all-electric grid in New York by 2027.
From crossing guards to information technology workers, as president of the Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees, Daniel Levler represents the interests of over 6,000 active and retired essential employees in the Suffolk County system. Levler is also a co-chair of the New York State Public Employee Conference, a statewide organization that advances legislation in support of public employees. Last year, Suffolk AME helped get a law passed that recognized 911 dispatchers as first responders in the state.
As the executive director of the Long Island Contractors’ Association, Marc Herbst advocates for the industry on behalf of 170 member firms. Herbst is fighting to use federal funding for new infrastructure construction on Long Island, instead of siphoning off those dollars to help pay for already completed projects. A report recently released in partnership with the association proposed a special toll lane to pay for improvements to the Southern State Parkway, especially a dangerous section dubbed “Blood Alley” due to its high number of fatal crashes.
Reelected last year for a second term as Suffolk County’s highest-ranking law enforcement agent, Errol Toulon Jr. has focused on trying to make good on his campaign promises to lower crime through an organized force and by addressing mental health and substance abuse, and to create an information network connecting jails and prisons nationwide. The department donated bulletproof vests to fighters in Ukraine and launched a database to register and locate missing pets in the county.
With transformative redevelopment projects like the Ronkonkoma Hub, New Village in Patchogue, and Port Jefferson’s Shipyard, Tritec has been at the forefront of the downtown revitalization boom on Long Island. Robert and James Coughlan launched Tritec Real Estate Co. in 1986 and their brother Daniel runs the Washington, D.C., office. Heavily involved in business and real estate organizations, the brothers have served on boards and volunteered for the Long Island Association, the Community Development Corporation of Long Island, and the Stony Brook Children’s Hospital Task Force.
The Nassau County Industrial Development Agency gives tax incentives to projects it thinks will stimulate the local economy. Richard Kessel has led the agency since 2018 as chair of the board. The IDA recently ended a tax agreement with Amazon when the online behemoth failed to deliver promised jobs at its Syosset facility. Kessel, who has tried to foster a more inclusive environment at the IDA, is navigating a new regime under Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman: An editorial in Newsday blasted Blakeman for swapping out three Democrats on the IDA board this spring for Republicans.
If you’re looking to get someone in a position of power on the phone, then you probably want to hire Resi Cooper. Cooper’s consulting firm has connections to all the centers of influence around Long Island from government to the private sector. A former Senate aide to Hillary Clinton, Cooper directed New York state operations for Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid. She is also on the board of the LGBT Network, an advocacy group for LGBT people.
State Senate Republicans Anthony Palumbo, Mario Mattera & Alexis Weik are aiming to win reelection this fall and are hoping to see their party gain seats in the state Senate, thanks to a midterm backlash against Democrats and concerns about inflation and crime. Alexis Weik may have an easier reelection path, while Anthony Palumbo and Mario Mattera are in districts that look to be more competitive this time around simply due to redistricting. Yet even if all three win in a Republican red wave, they’re highly likely to remain in the minority in Albany. Another Republican state Senate candidate, former Assembly Member Dean Murray, is expected to win his bid for Weik’s old seat as she moves from Senate District 3 to Senate District 8.
Democratic state Sen. John Brooks initially opted not to run for reelection in the 8th District, but – in a complicated game of musical chairs – he jumped back into the fray with a bid for the 5th District that was redrawn and opened up by the retirement of fellow Democrat James Gaughran. In what is expected to be one of the closest state Senate contests on Long Island, Brooks is taking on Republican Steve Rhoads, a member of the Nassau County Legislature who has hit the incumbent on crime and public safety issues.
Democratic former state Sen. Monica Martinez is in the midst of a comeback bid, although this time she’s running in a different district thanks to redistricting. A former member of the Suffolk County Legislature, Martinez went on to serve one term in the state Senate before losing to Republican Alexis Weik two years ago. After beating Assembly Member Phil Ramos in the Democratic primary this cycle, she’s now facing Republican Wendy Rodriguez, a small-business owner, for the seat being vacated by Republican Phil Boyle. Given Joe Biden’s sizable margin of victory in 2020 under the redrawn lines of the 4th state Senate District, Martinez has the advantage going into Election Day.
The 9th state Senate District has a history as a swing seat on Long Island. It was flipped by Todd Kaminsky in 2016, which paved the way for Democrats to make major inroads in what had once been deep-red territory across Long Island. Republicans have been on the upswing lately, however, Kaminsky himself lost a bid for district attorney of Nassau County last year. With Kaminsky subsequently heading to the private sector, there’s a competitive matchup for his vacant seat between Democrat Ken Moore, who is the mayor of Bellerose, and Republican Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, a trustee of Malverne.
After a failed bid for Nassau County district attorney last year, Todd Kaminsky unexpectedly resigned as state senator in the 9th District to join law firm Greenberg Traurig in Albany in August, leaving his seat up for grabs this November. The former chair of the state Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, Kaminsky will focus on advising clients on environmental, social and governance issues. Another key Long Islander at Greenberg Traurig is Mark Lesko, who like Kaminsky has a background in elected office and as a former prosecutor. Lesko served as acting assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division and also served as supervisor of the town of Brookhaven.
Waylyn Hobbs had served in a number of different roles for Hempstead Village before winning a four-way race for the mayor’s office last year. Hobbs has already had his share of adversity to deal with as mayor, including when a teenager was fatally shot in the village in September. He says that pending mixed-use development projects will help fix antiquated infrastructure and revitalize the downtown, and has floated the idea of turning Hempstead into a city – a move that he says would divert more taxes back to the community.
With over 30 years at National Grid wearing a number of different hats, Kathy Wisnewski was promoted to director of customer and community management on Long Island last year. In her role she promotes National Grid’s energy efficiency programs to key stakeholders and manages relationships with the communities that the utility services. This year, the company helped with the formation of Long Island’s first LGBT chamber of commerce, which aims to support local LGBT-owned businesses. Wisnewski is also on the boards of Vision Long Island and Girls Inc.
In 2014, Jon Ledecky parlayed part of his office-supply company fortune into a stake in the New York Islanders. The team is celebrating its 50th anniversary in a newly opened arena – and Ledecky is credited with helping the successful effort to keep the team in Nassau County. Even though they failed to make the playoffs this year, the Islanders are the 10th most valuable team in the NHL, valued at $950 million – an increase of 147% over the last five years.
Adelphi University, which had its 125th anniversary this year, is both celebrating its longevity and making plans for the future. As president of Adelphi University since 2015, Christine Riordan has put her focus on providing a quality and affordable education for its students. After unveiling a newly renovated university building in June, the college emphasized its dedication to inclusiveness by adding a multicultural center and mindfulness space. Riordan is currently writing a book about adapting to create a successful career in a fast-changing world, titled “Shift Happens.”
Long Island University President Kimberly Cline showed her dedication to putting her school at the forefront of educational opportunities when she partnered with Jay-Z on the Roc Nation School of Music, Sports & Entertainment, which admitted its first students in 2021. Cline has also overseen advancements in other areas at LIU, including a project to digitize 65,000 pages of local historical documents and a partnership with a French software company to expand its medical science research.
For Timothy Sams, who took over as president of SUNY Old Westbury at the beginning of 2021, navigating the school through the pandemic and supporting a diverse student body have been early priorities. This year, the school initiated a program to increase the enrollment of veterans and was recognized as one of the top institutions for social mobility by the U.S. News & World Report. Previously, as vice president of student affairs at Prairie View A&M University, he helped create an LGBTQ resource center.
Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital is getting recognition for its excellent care and expanded services under the leadership of its executive director, Dr. Nick Fitterman. The hospital won its fifth Magnet designation from the American Nurses Credentialing Center for excellence in nursing – a first for a Long Island institution – and accreditations for stroke and cancer care. A newly built caregiver center will offer respite and resources, and the hospital is moving its Family Health Center to a renovated space closer to the patients it serves.
As chief of its hospital operations, Dr. Joseph Greco has been increasing the reach of NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island, expanding eastward by affiliating with Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue and buying a nearby vacant property to house a new surgical center. Greco’s work leading the hospital is paying off: NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island was ranked as the No. 1 hospital in New York this year by U.S. News and World Report. Greco was recently elected to the board of the Long Island Association.
Richard Margulis has been with Long Island Community Hospital (previously Brookhaven Memorial Hospital) since 1982, when he started as an X-ray tech before getting a series of promotions that culminated in his being named CEO in 2013. The 306-bed medical center stood out as the last independent hospital on Long Island until this year, when it made its affiliation with NYU Langone Health official. NYU Langone is now planning $100 million in upgrades.
With Theresa Regnante at the helm of United Way of Long Island since 2009, the organization has advanced its mission to connect the most at-risk individuals in the community with services through its programs and partnerships. Regnante also keeps busy connecting with the companies and agencies that help fund the organization’s goals. With a budget of almost $18 million per year, fundraising is a key part of her job. Regnante stressed that as federal and state pandemic aid ends, the need for local social services is increasing.
As an expert in tax grievance law at Cronin, Harris & Associates, attorney Laureen Harris has helped clients lower their property taxes in an area where that can make a huge difference to a homeowner’s quality of life. She took that experience to the Association For a Better Long Island in 2016 to become the organization's first female president. The group advocates for changes to improve the economy and make Long Island a better place to live and work, like increasing affordable housing. She has also been on the board of the Long Island Power Authority since 2020.
Jennifer Garvey is helping to get New York’s first offshore wind farm off the ground. The 12-turbine South Fork Wind Farm will sit 35 miles off Montauk Point and is expected to come online in December 2023. Garvey’s time as deputy chief of staff in the town of Southampton and co-founder of the Stony Brook University’s Center for Clean Water Technology certainly helped hone her chops for navigating the legislative landscape and building coalition support for the project.
In January, veteran government communications professional Harrison Feuer joined Equinor, the Norwegian energy company that’s a big player in the U.S. renewables industry. Earlier this year, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm joined Gov. Kathy Hochul to tout finalized state contracts for the Empire Wind 2 and Beacon Wind offshore wind projects, which Equinor is partnering on with BP. Feuer brings a wealth of Long Island governmental experience, including with Nassau County Comptroller Jack Schnirman, then-Rep. Steve Israel and Assembly Member Charles Lavine.
Steve Israel has turned down many opportunities since retiring from politics, including a potential ambassadorship to Israel, which had been considered by President Joe Biden. One he couldn’t turn away was bookstore owner. The former member of Congress and author opened an indie bookshop in Oyster Bay last year called Theodore’s Books – an homage to the village’s former presidential resident. He’s currently director of Cornell University’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs, a nonpartisan platform to discuss political issues. He also serves as senior counselor at the lobbying firm Michael Best Strategies. Israel is often sought out for comment by major news outlets.
Mercury’s bipartisan Long Island team is led by Patrick Halpin, the former Suffolk County executive, who has been with the consulting firm since 2014. Two other top Mercury executives operating on Long Island are Senior Vice Presidents Matt Coleman, who has held key roles with the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Town of Hempstead, and the New York State Senate Republican Campaign Committee, and Greg Lavine, who served as Rep. Grace Meng’s district director and has deep expertise in Queens as well. Among the firm’s clients are Lidl, Posillico, PSEG Long Island and the Scott J. Beigel Memorial Fund.
As chair of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, which was created in 2000 to oversee the county’s finances in response to budgetary woes, Adam Barsky leads Nassau County’s long-term finances and approves its budget. NIFA was embroiled in union contract negotiations with county workers this year due to a dispute over whether the county owed workers millions in back pay. In April, the state expanded NIFA’s authority to oversee the Nassau Regional Off-Track Betting Corp., Nassau University Medical Center and the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency. The county recently received an improved bond rating from S&P Global, which credited NIFA oversight for the change.
The Rev. Sedgwick Easley wears multiple hats in his commitment to helping the residents of the village of Hempstead. As pastor of the 100-year-old Union Baptist Church, he has helped grow the congregation and address issues of racism, including when he gave the keynote address at the State of Black Long Island Equity Council retreat in Plainview in October. Easley also serves as director of publicity and executive assistant to the village of Hempstead mayor, Waylyn Hobbs.
As business manager of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049, Patrick Guidice represents 4,500 electricians who work on the utility systems across Long Island, including workers at PSEG Long Island and National Grid. Guidice is focused on issues like legislation introduced to convert the Long Island Power Authority into a public utility – which he opposes on the basis that it would cut out PSEG’s management role – and supporting the shift toward reusable energy sources and the jobs it will create.
The fight for LGBTQ rights came to Long Island when a national furor erupted over Smithtown Library’s June decision to remove Pride displays from its children’s section – a move that drew the ire of bestselling author Jodi Picoult, who once worked at the library. The ban, which was eventually reversed, highlighted how much work needs to be done on the issue, according to LGBT Network’s CEO David Kilmnick. This year, the organization hosted its second annual LGBT job fair and launched Long Island’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce.
As managing partner of Uniondale-based Ruskin Moscou Faltischek PC, Adam Silvers is responsible for the day-to-day running of the firm while also being a member of its corporate and securities department, and its intellectual property and technology practice. This year, the firm helped an East End grower secure one of Long Island’s few available conditional cannabis licenses via its cannabis law group.
At a time when law enforcement has come under fire for misconduct and overreach, Suffolk County Police Benevolent Association President Noel DiGerolamo is pushing back. He went on television this year to lament what he sees as a lack of support from politicians in the state. Last year, the PBA and Suffolk County hammered out a deal on police reform, including key concessions like body cameras and greater civilian oversight.
As president of the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Phil Andrews’ main concern is to advocate for small business owners, particularly those owned by people of African ancestry. He says that access to capital is one of the biggest challenges facing Black business owners today. Addressing the issue directly, the chamber is using a grant to connect minority business owners to funding sources for free through a consultation company. Andrews is also on the board of the Interfaith Nutrition Network, which runs soup kitchens all across Long Island.
While a narrowly averted nationwide freight railroad strike this year did not directly affect Long Island Rail Road, Anthony Simon, general chairperson of the local division of SMART, the commuter railroad’s largest union, said his members stood in solidarity with their fellow workers. The event showed the vital role railroads still play in America’s transportation system. In his role representing the workers who keep the trains running in one of the largest commuter rail systems in the Northeast, Simon oversees the board, handles employee trials and arbitration, and helps negotiate contracts.
At Farrell Fritz, attorney Robert Creighton’s practice is centered on corporate mergers and acquisitions and commercial lending. As the firm’s managing partner, Creighton oversees the day-to-day operations of more than 80 lawyers. Farrell Fritz represents a number of companies in multimillion-dollar development deals on Long Island, including the effort to transform the former Grumman site in Calverton into a logistics hub for air cargo delivery to the region. Creighton serves on the boards of the Long Island Housing Partnership and Epic Long Island.
Among Gary Lewi’s recent responsibilities as managing director at public relations powerhouse Rubenstein: taking care of clients like Northrop Grumman and Disney, and being brought in to help PSEG Long Island manage the fallout over its failures during Tropical Storm Isaias. He was also named a community ambassador for the Long Island Rail Road Expansion Project. Lewi’s previous jobs include director of communications for the Town of Hempstead and press secretary for Republican U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato.
Travel is up as the pandemic winds down and Long Island tourism represents a $6 billion industry. Kristen Reynolds, who has been steering the ship as president and CEO at Discover Long Island for seven years, looked to take advantage of that boom this year. Thinking outside the box, the tourism agency hopped on the viral coattails of Wordle with a version called LongIslandle using locally inspired words. It also hired a marketing agency and ran its first ad campaign outside of the Northeast, touting Long Island’s wonders in Arizona (Reynolds’ home state).
As vice president of growth properties for both the Long Island Nets and the Nets Gaming Crew, Alton Byrd oversees operations for both the NBA G League team and the organization’s NBA 2K League online gaming team. Byrd, a basketball lifer, had a long career playing in Britain, where he became the first person of color to serve as the general manager of a British sports organization. He is also on the board of Book Fairies, a nonprofit that promotes literacy on Long Island.
The Haugland Group and its subsidiaries work on large infrastructure projects, including contracts with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. William Haugland’s company was the first to win a contract in the bid to construct the South Fork Wind Farm off Montauk Point – the first of its kind in the state. Haugland, who previously gave money to then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has donated heavily to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign for governor. Previously, he was president of Asplundh Construction before opening his own company.
If there is a big, transformative project being scoped out on Long Island, chances are that John Cameron’s company, Cameron Engineering, is involved – or that he himself has worked on it in his role as chair of the Long Island Regional Planning Council. The stalled multibillion-dollar Midway Crossing project that will create a transit hub around the Ronkonkoma train station is an example of an undertaking Cameron is involved in through both Cameron Engineering and LIRPC.
When Dime and Bridgehampton National Bank merged last year, Kevin O'Connor – who had led BNB – became the CEO of the combined entity. Now, with over $12 billion in assets, Dime Community Bank is one of the region’s largest community banks with branches from Manhattan to Montauk. This year, Dime received an “outstanding” rating from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York for its Community Reinvestment Act examination. O'Connor is on the board of directors of the Long Island Association and the board of trustees of Suffolk County Community College.
With a family history in construction that dates back over 100 years, Matthew Aracich is a union guy through and through. As president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, Aracich represents upward of 65,000 members spanning a multitude of trades. Aracich advocates for projects that not only provide jobs but also improve the environment and quality of life on Long Island, like the recently completed Long Island Rail Road third track and the just-launched South Fork Wind project.
Laura Harding became president of Erase Racism NY this fall, succeeding Elaine Gross, who had led the organization since its founding in 2001. This past year, the organization released a startling report spotlighting the disparity of resources at school districts based on racial composition. Harding, an attorney and a facilitator for a diversity certification program at Adelphi University, previously worked for education departments in New York City and Washington, D.C.
Ian Wilder oversees Long Island Housing Services’ mission to ensure fair housing practices in Suffolk and Nassau counties. This year, LIHS was one of the plaintiffs in a successful case against online real estate powerhouse Redfin. The lawsuit alleged that Redfin’s policies violated the federal Fair Housing Act. Part of the $4 million settlement will be directed toward homeownership programs on Long Island. In another case, a Long Island apartment landlord settled a disability discrimination allegation brought against them by the organization.
As a former state senator – when he won a 2007 special election, he was the first Democrat to represent the 7th Senate District in a century – attorney Craig Johnson uses his expertise at the consulting firm he founded to help clients like the Boy Scouts of America, Uber and Airbnb with government relations and lobbying. Prior to opening Long Point Advisors, Johnson served as vice president of government affairs at Altice USA and as managing director of new business development at Bloomberg Law.
Adrienne Esposito spends much of her time as executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment protecting Long Island’s water sources and wildlife habitats. Initiatives range from partnering with the village of Northport in a rain garden project that will help preserve the Long Island Sound to speaking out against the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to allow dredge spoil dumping in the sound. She is leading a campaign to educate voters about Proposition 1 on the November ballot, which would secure $4.2 billion to protect clean drinking water and preserve green spaces.
As policy adviser for The Nature Conservancy’s efforts in Long Island, Kevin McDonald has worked on numerous initiatives over the years to help protect the area’s delicate ecosystem. McDonald helped wage a battle against building interest groups to create the Community Preservation Fund, which saves open space on the East End. He also works on revitalizing local waterways that have been decimated by waste from stormwater runoff. His decades spent protecting the environment garnered him an award from Vision Long Island this year.
Scott Jaffee founded Metropolitan Realty Group over 20 years ago with a focus on providing affordable housing to people living in the New York metropolitan area. Today, his company manages $1 billion worth of properties, with Jaffee overseeing more than 3,500 Mitchell-Lama and Section 8 units. Jaffee, who says that education is the key to a successful community, has created college-preparedness and financial literacy programs for families living in buildings managed by his company.
George Siberón leads the 45-year-old Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association, providing – among many other services – after-school tutoring, which Siberón says is extremely useful for kids with non-English speaking parents. Adults can also take advantage of the association’s English as a second language program. Siberón is outspoken about creative solutions to find more affordable housing, including the acquisition of so-called zombie homes to repurpose them for low-income residences.
Todd Shapiro – whose eponymous agency has an enviable list of clients – developed his craft while at Howard Rubenstein Associates, one of the biggest and best in the biz. It’s no wonder that he is often feted as a power player on Long Island. He stepped in to run cover for former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani last year and has represented the Nassau County Democrats, the villages of Hempstead and Freeport, and both the Suffolk and Nassau County police unions. He writes a column called “High Profile” for Dan's Papers – where he is also an associate publisher – that covers interesting and innovative figures.
Ross Wallenstein has worked behind the scenes crafting communications at all levels of government and in the private sector. Last year, Wallenstein leveraged all of that experience to open his own agency, Wall to Wall Communications. Recently, Wallenstein has been in the news as the spokesperson for the Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center after the village of Brookville had the organization’s summer camp shut down due to a zoning dispute.
Magdalonie Paris-Campbell draws from her experience serving as U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Long Island regional director in her role as AT&T’s regional manager responsible for external and legislative affairs and community outreach. This year, Paris-Campbell’s leadership is being put to good use outside of her corporate duties. She was elected to the boards of the Long Island Association and United Way of Long Island.
Ron Gurrieri’s job as president of the Civil Service Employees Association’s Local 830 is to fight for the interests of the 9,000 members in the state’s second-largest chapter of public workers. After battling then-Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Gurrieri found himself on the other end of the negotiating table with a new administration this year after Republicans unexpectedly took control of the county. The union finally was able to mediate an agreement for workers to receive the longevity pay they had been fighting for after 11 years.
After Timothy Sini lost his bid for reelection last year as Suffolk County district attorney to Ray Tierney, the former Suffolk County police commissioner landed at Nixon Peabody LLP, a global law firm. Sini is now bringing his expertise to his work as a partner in the firm’s government investigations and white collar defense practice. As Suffolk’s district attorney, Sini’s achievements included indicting 96 MS-13 gang members and associates, delivering what Sini called a “major blow” to the gang’s operations on Long Island.
Long Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce head Luis Vazquez helps bring together its 300 members for networking opportunities as well as to celebrate accomplishments. This year, at the group’s inaugural Latino Leaders Luncheon, they honored Riverhead Town Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick J. Ryder, among others. Vazquez has expressed dismay that more minority business owners didn’t get Paycheck Protection Program loans during the pandemic. The chamber recently kicked off a series of joint meetings with the Long Island Association.
Last year, Congress passed a $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill. That translates into a lot of hammer swings – and as business manager for Local 290 of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, Anthony Villa hopes it will also mean more work for his members. Villa started out as an apprentice carpenter before being tapped to run large jobs in New York City. In 2020, he was elected as a trustee on the executive board of the NASRCC.
As executive director of the Nassau County Office of Minority Affairs, Lionel Chitty connects minority residents with programs and opportunities to help them thrive. Chitty’s office is assisting with a bi-county disparity study that will address the county’s use of minority- and women-owned, service-disabled and veteran-owned businesses. The study is currently in the draft stage as the survey data and anecdotal feedback is analyzed. Chitty is also the executive director of the Hicksville Chamber of Commerce.
Retha Fernandez was picked by Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to become the county’s first chief diversity and inclusion officer. Her background as a project director at Urban League of Long Island, where she co-chaired that organization’s State of Black Long Island Equity Council, made her ideal for the role. She arrived just in time to work on the task force for Suffolk County police reform and has been involved in the creation of a number of initiatives to track diversity, raise awareness of institutional bias and enact change in the county.
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