It has been said that 70 is the new 50. And if the individuals featured here are any indication, that’s certainly the case. No longer are septuagenarians (or octogenarians and even nonagenarians) expected to retire and fade away into obscurity. Indeed, many New Yorkers in the world of government and politics are still going strong well into their eighth decade and beyond, whether it’s running thriving businesses, endorsing policies and politicians or simply imparting the wisdom they’ve gained through years of experience. City & State’s 7 Over 70 recognizes a group of exceptional New Yorkers who exemplify this rising trend.
Lilliam Barrios-Paoli has spent decades among New York City government’s top ranks, leading four agencies under the Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani administrations, and serving as city Department for the Aging commissioner and deputy mayor for health and human services in the Mike Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio administrations, respectively. Barrios-Paoli has also led Safe Space NYC Inc. and served in executive positions for United Way of New York City, Lincoln Hospital and NYC Health + Hospitals. Barrios-Paoli is currently Hunter College president’s senior adviser, focusing on special projects and community partnership – allowing her to mix her civil service and nonprofit expertise.
Tonio Burgos helms his eponymous 32-year-old consulting and lobbying firm Tonio Burgos and Associates – now branded as TBA – with five decades of government and legislative experience under his belt. Burgos entered the political sphere under Mario Cuomo’s gubernatorial and lieutenant governor administrations, holding numerous positions over 15 years. Since then, Burgos has served as commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and vice chair of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, before being appointed to then-President Bill Clinton’s Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS in 1995.
Having clinched nearly every major literary award, including two Pulitzer Prizes, Robert Caro is perhaps most well-known for his prominent placement on every New York politico’s bookshelf, whether it be in the form of his first book “The Power Broker,” a biography of Robert Moses, or his multivolume Lyndon Johnson biography – which the former Newsday reporter is still finalizing. Another claim to fame, however, is then-President Barack Obama’s admission in 2010 of the influence that “The Power Broker” had on his own life, when he awarded Caro the National Humanities Medal.
After serving New Yorkers in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly 50 years, Charles Rangel retired at the end of his term in 2017, making him the second-longest serving representative at the time. During his tenure, Rangel chaired the influential House Ways and Means Committee – during which he called for equity in the Internal Revenue Code and tax legislation – the Congressional Narcotics Abuse and Control Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus and the New York State Council of Black Elected Democrats.
Bruce Ratner formed the Forest City Ratner Cos., an affiliate of his family’s national real estate enterprise Forest City Enterprises, in 1982, following a four-year stint teaching at New York University School of Law and serving as consumer affairs commissioner in New York City under Ed Koch’s administration. Since he began digging his hands into New York City real estate development, Ratner has erected office buildings in Brooklyn and hotels in Manhattan, alongside numerous other projects, and eventually purchased what was then the New Jersey Nets in 2004.
As a prolific writer and women’s rights activist, Gloria Steinem was a founding force behind publications like New York magazine and Ms. Magazine as well as nonprofit organizations, including the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Women’s Media Center and the Women’s Action Alliance, through which she championed nonsexist, multiracial children’s education. As a result of her enduring influence, Steinem was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President Barack Obama in 2013 and the National Civil Rights Museum’s Freedom Award in 2019.
Power duo Tim and Nina Zagat – deities of the hospitality industry – launched Zagat Survey in New York City in 1979, initially as a hobby. The two attorneys, who first met at Yale Law School, saw it skyrocket over the decades to become the world’s leading consumer survey-based dining, travel and entertainment information provider. Tim Zagat also chaired NYC & Company and the New York State Tourism Advisory Council, and Nina Zagat worked for 24 years as an attorney at Shearman & Sterling LLP. Zagat Survey remained under the leadership of the Zagats until 2018.
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