Power Lists

The 2023 NYC Power 100

The leaders of the center of the universe.

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

If New York is the center of the universe, then who are the leaders of the city? It’s not a simple question, but it’s one we try to answer every year with our New York City Power 100. The mayor is always a lock for a top position on the list, even with his lackluster approval ratings. And Albany often has a say in what the downstate metropolis can and can’t do, making key state officials critically important players as well. (One recent former mayor was regularly outranked by one recent former governor, for example.) Members of Congress are mainstays as well, even though the city’s mostly Democratic congressional contingent saw their majority slip away in November. And even fresh-faced members of the New York City Council have significant clout, starting with their ability to unilaterally block major development projects in their home districts. Yet, the New York City Power 100 – which was researched by City & State staff and written with the assistance of journalist Aaron Short – extends beyond elected officials, putting a well-deserved spotlight on influential political appointees, prosecutors, union presidents, business and health care executives, lobbyists, journalists, nonprofit leaders and advocates who are shaping politics and policies across the city’s five boroughs.

1. Eric Adams

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

Eric Adams’ first year in City Hall ended with stubbornly high crime rates, a migrant influx and an increasingly personal feud with the city’s rat population. In his State of the City address, the mayor emphasized his accomplishments while announcing plans to expand the city’s composting program, rezone Midtown and grow the city’s apprenticeship program. But a public sector staffing shortage could stymie his goals, and his $102.7 billion budget’s cuts to libraries and other social services roiled the City Council. Adams announced he would create his own newsletter too – let’s just hope he stays away from Power 100 lists.

2. Carl Heastie & Andrea Stewart-Cousins

Assembly Speaker; State Senate Majority Leader
Carl Heastie & Andrea Stewart-Cousins / Erik McGregor, LightRocket; Lev Radin, Pacific Press, LightRocket

Albany’s legislative leaders stood up for themselves when confronted with frustrated executives who haven’t gotten their way. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie dismissed New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ demand to hold a special session to change bail laws last summer after making more crimes bail-eligible in the state budget – and chided the mayor for complaining to the press without calling him. And despite Gov. Kathy Hochul’s threats of a lawsuit, state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins refused to hold a floor vote for Hector LaSalle’s chief judge nomination after it failed in the Judiciary Committee.

3. Kathy Hochul

Kathy Hochul / NYS Governor's Office

The state’s first female governor survived an unexpectedly close challenge from Republican then-Rep. Lee Zeldin last year to win a full four-year term. With political capital to burn, Gov. Kathy Hochul debuted a sweeping housing agenda to create 800,000 units over the next decade, invest $1 billion into overhauling the state’s mental health system and fill the state’s open chief judge slot with Hector LaSalle. Even though the state Senate rejected Hochul’s judicial pick, the governor boasts her highest job approval rating yet (56% to 36%) in a January Siena College poll.

4. Adrienne Adams

New York City Council Speaker
Adrienne Adams / William Alatriste, New York City Council

The other Adams atop city government leads more quietly than her vociferous high school chum. But don’t mistake Adrienne Adams’ low-key demeanor with indecisiveness. The council speaker castigated City Hall’s initial plan to house migrants seeking asylum and rebuked the mayor for not keeping her in the loop. Smarting over cuts to schools in last year’s budget, the speaker clashed with the mayor over funding reductions for CUNY, libraries and early childhood education in his preliminary budget for this year. She’s also dealing with a more combative – and growing – minority caucus.

5. Chuck Schumer

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

Chuck Schumer’s victory margin in November was his slimmest in decades thanks to energetic Republican turnout, but Brooklyn’s U.S. Senate majority leader didn’t sweat the challenge. More importantly, he retained his title and expanded the Democrats’ Senate majority after picking up an open seat and defending his incumbents. Schumer’s next challenge is to negotiate with House Republicans over a debt limit deal while opposing further restrictions on abortion. At least he doesn’t have to travel far to strategize with the new House minority leader – Hakeem Jeffries is right down the street.

6. Hakeem Jeffries

House Minority Leader
Hakeem Jeffries / Office of Representative Hakeem Jeffries

Hakeem Jeffries waited years for Nancy Pelosi to retire from the Democratic leadership, only for Republicans to retake control of the House – thanks in part to losses Democrats incurred in his own state. So far, the new minority leader and first Black conference leader has united his party with lyrical speeches and backroom tactics, forcing Republicans to vote 15 times to elect their speaker. Jeffries has already fought with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over seating two House Intelligence Committee members, while seeking to mend fences with progressive members after privately feuding with some of them.

7. Letitia James

State Attorney General
Letitia James / Kyle O'Leary

Letitia James gave up running for governor to continue her full-court press against The Trump Organization and former President Donald Trump – for which she is increasingly becoming a national household name. The state attorney general subpoenaed records, got Trump held in contempt of court, and deposed Trump and his adult children before filing a lawsuit against the company over financial fraud claims. Trump countersued but withdrew after a judicial warning. Meanwhile, James' chief of staff departed in the midst of a misconduct allegations and she now faces a lawsuit for allegedly protecting the aide.

8. Brad Lander

New York City Comptroller
Brad Lander / Gerri Hernandez

New York City’s most powerful progressive has always been more aligned with Public Advocate Jumaane Williams than Mayor Eric Adams. But New York City Comptroller Brad Lander has sought to keep conflicts with his mayoral rival at a minimum in his new role. Lander’s first major audit showed the NYPD missed its savings goals, and a report on the 421-a abatement’s costs to the city helped sink the lucrative housing tax break. But Lander’s remarks criticizing Adams’ stance on accommodating asylum-seekers drew ire from the mayor, and their disagreement swiftly became a very public feud.

9. Philip Banks & Keechant Sewell

New York City Deputy Mayor for Public Safety; NYPD Commissioner
Philip Banks & Keechant Sewell / NYPD; The Nassau County Police Department, New York

Philip Banks was installed as New York City’s deputy mayor for public safety despite being an unindicted co-conspirator in a police corruption case while serving as a high-ranking New York City Police Department official. He has since remained out of the spotlight as he oversees two key agencies, the Fire Department and the Department of Correction. Banks, the brother of schools Chancellor David Banks, has also reportedly met surreptitiously with NYPD chiefs – at times without Keechant Sewell – while spearheading efforts to utilize new technologies to fight crime as he drives public safety policies in the city.

The mayor’s emphasis on reducing crime is his top priority, putting pressure on his first-time police commissioner. But Sewell impressed both her new force – with an impassioned speech following the deaths of two officers – as well as her boss for questioning the Manhattan district attorney’s lenient tactics. Last year, homicides and shootings declined, but major crimes rose 22%, and Sewell contended with low morale in the department. But at her State of the NYPD address, Sewell emphasized how technology like a new high-tech patrol car and overhauling the real-time data app on officers’ phones will make policing easier.

10. George Gresham

President, 1199SEIU
George Gresham / Belinda Gallegos

The health care workers union’s endorsement of Gov. Kathy Hochul arguably helped her fend off a furious challenge from then-Rep. Lee Zeldin last fall. But George Gresham may have had an even larger effect on policy, after health care workers stood with thousands of nurses demonstrating over staff shortages and poor working conditions at two of the city’s private hospitals. Now, Gresham is looking to the next generation, and he has urged fellow union leaders to mentor younger organizers as the labor movement grows.

11. Sheena Wright

First Deputy Mayor, Office of the New York City Mayor
Sheena Wright / Margot Jordan

The former United Way of New York City CEO joined a historic cohort of five female deputy mayors at the start of the Adams administration. When Lorraine Grillo departed a year later, Sheena Wright became the first Black woman to serve in the city’s highest unelected position as first deputy mayor. Wright had been involved in the administration’s public safety and homelessness initiatives as well as clearing backlogged child care vouchers, expanding the city’s youth employment program and helping nonprofits receive $4.2 billion in overdue payments. Now, she’ll be running the city’s day-to-day operations.

12. David Banks

New York City Schools Chancellor
David Banks / New York City Public Schools

The schools chancellor has grand ambitions to turn New York City schools around after young children lost ground in reading and math scores due to remote instruction. Nearly three years after the pandemic started, David Banks is still mediating conflicts over weaking masks, but might start relaxing rules requiring proof of vaccination to enter school buildings. He has held off racial integration efforts – arguing that working-class families instead want better schools in their own neighborhoods – and a plan to co-locate charter schools within Bronx and Queens complexes was scuttled despite Banks’ charter-friendly reputation.

13. Ingrid Lewis-Martin

Chief Adviser to the Mayor, Office of the New York City Mayor
Ingrid Lewis-Martin / Benny Polatseck

Not since Kevin Sheekey patrolled City Hall has a political strategist had such enormous influence over a mayor’s decisions. For nearly two decades, Ingrid Lewis-Martin has played the role of campaign manager, gatekeeper, fixer and protector for Eric Adams as he ascended to the city’s top perch as mayor. (Along the way, she got ordained.) She declined a deputy mayor role and instead reports directly to Adams. But that role has come with added scrutiny too: Lewis-Martin was recently fined for misusing her post to lend money to a subordinate in 2014.

14. Meera Joshi, Maria Torres-Springer & Anne Williams-Isom

Deputy Mayor of Operations; Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development; Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, Office of the New York City Mayor
Meera Joshi, Maria Torres-Springer & Anne Williams-Isom / Mayoral Photography Unit; NYC HPD; Sal Bets

The former taxi commissioner had an important federal gig regulating freight traffic but couldn’t say “no” to a role ridding city streets of garbage and pestilence and cleaning its water and air. So far, Meera Joshi is overseeing an expansion of the city’s organic composting program after a successful Queens pilot and removing more curbside trash piles at night. She’s hiring a “rat czar” to control its fast-multiplying rodent population. Traffic fatalities fell in 2022 under her watch. And Joshi has sought to reduce greenhouse gases by expanding the city’s EV fleet.

Maria Torres-Springer has been the force behind the mayor’s economic agenda since she joined the administration a year ago. The former housing and small business services commissioner unveiled a jobs proposal to bring workers back to their offices in March, rolled out a plan in June for increasing homeownership and transforming the New York City Housing Authority, then released the mayor’s “Get Stuff Built” program to create 500,000 units of affordable housing and cut red tape in December. Now, Torres-Springer is overseeing an effort to convert underutilized offices into homes.

Anne Williams-Isom was tasked with managing the city’s most intractable problems when she joined the Adams administration as a deputy mayor. The former Fordham leader initially ran the city’s COVID-19 response but has since pushed the mayor to tackle a bevy of women’s health issues, including restarting a sex education task force and expanding contraceptive care at clinics. Williams-Isom also helped craft the city’s controversial involuntary hospitalization program in order to provide mental health treatment for homeless New Yorkers.

15. Michael Gianaris

State Senate Deputy Majority Leader
Michael Gianaris / Office of NYS Senator Michael Gianaris, Cormac Nataro

The Astoria state senator’s opposition to Hector LaSalle’s Court of Appeals nomination spelled doom for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s quixotic chief judge campaign, giving other Democratic senators cover to reject the judge. Michael Gianaris declared the vote a defeat of backroom politics, but emphasized the conflict won’t impact his negotiations with the governor over the budget and legislation. But Gianaris has overplayed his hand before. He oversaw the state’s redistricting process, but the courts rejected his Democratic-leaning maps, leading to a new batch that helped Republicans win 11 of the state’s 26 House seats.

16. Jumaane Williams

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

After nearly toppling Kathy Hochul in the lieutenant governor race in 2018, Jumaane Williams craved a rematch, now that Hochul moved up a rank as governor. But in the primary, the New York City public advocate couldn’t recapture the magic of his first statewide bid, despite his pointed criticisms of Hochul’s crime and housing records. Since then, Williams sought to ban solitary confinement in city jails, called for more federal resources to help the city aid asylum-seekers and warned the mayor not to cut funding for city housing and building departments.

17. Henry Garrido

Executive Director, District Council 37
Henry Garrido / Clarence Elie-Rivera

Henry Garrido has dealt with unpopular decisions before, but the move to shift retirees’ health plans to Medicare Advantage has roiled the municipal labor leader’s membership. Garrido argued that rising health care costs have depleted a fund to pay for city worker premiums and that current members shouldn’t sacrifice raises anymore. In the meantime, Garrido’s negotiations with Mayor Eric Adams for new contracts for DC 37’s 150,000 municipal workers have stalled despite the union’s primary endorsement of Adams and its support for the city’s 2024 Democratic National Convention bid.

18. Ashwin Vasan

Commissioner, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Ashwin Vasan / DOHMH

The Columbia-affiliated epidemiologist had big shoes to fill when he replaced Dr. Dave Chokshi as New York City health commissioner, who had guided the city through much of the pandemic. Dr. Ashwin Vasan’s mandate has been to move the city beyond its COVID-19 crisis footing to tackle long-standing mental health inequities and systemic racism. But Vasan has responded to other crises, including arsenic at a public housing complex and a spike in opioid overdose deaths. And the health department will soon become the first in the country to provide free abortion pills through its clinics to the public.

19. Mitchell Katz

President and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals
Mitchell Katz / NYC Health + Hospitals

After this public hospital executive earned the trust of then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, who put him in charge of the city’s contact tracing apparatus during the pandemic, Mayor Eric Adams nominated him for a second term running NYC Health + Hospitals. Now that COVID-19 has become less of an emergency, Dr. Mitchell Katz has had to grapple with the U.S. Supreme Court decisions loosening gun control restrictions and overturning abortion laws. His hospitals have since launched their own gun prevention efforts and are providing free abortion pills to the public.

20. Janno Lieber

Chair and CEO, MTA
Janno Lieber / Jessie Mislavsky, MTA

After 15 years of effort and $11 billion in costs, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority welcomed Long Island commuters directly to Grand Central. Janno Lieber, whose agency is facing a $600 million budget shortfall and threatened to hike fares 5.5% later this year, also saw Gov. Kathy Hochul propose a $1.6 billion bailout for the transit authority in her latest budget. What’s more, ridership is rebounding, surpassing 1 billion trips in 2022. But the MTA’s next megaproject, four Bronx stations and Penn Station access for Metro-North trains, is facing months of delays.

21. Camille Joseph Varlack

Chief of Staff, Office of the New York City Mayor
Camille Joseph Varlack / JaDee Murphy

When the mayor’s chief of staff Frank Carone announced he would step down last year, speculation over who would get a promotion ran rampant for months. But Mayor Eric Adams chose Camille Joseph Varlack, a senior adviser with extensive experience in the Cuomo administration as state operations deputy director and state ethics chair, to run the day-to-day operations of the mayor’s office. She also serves as a trustee for the State University of New York and is on the board of Avangrid, an energy company that does business with the city.

22. Michael Mulgrew

President, United Federation of Teachers
Michael Mulgrew / UFT

Michael Mulgrew won reelection as president of United Federation of Teachers in May, albeit with his lowest margin of victory since he was first elected in 2010. That hasn’t discouraged the veteran union leader, who has since pushed for raises for teachers and has gotten state leaders to cap class sizes while strategizing how to slow down charter school co-locations in city-run public school buildings. Not every move has been cheered: Mulgrew got heat from some retirees who worried they might receive worse care under the union’s proposed switch to a new health plan.

23. Rick Cotton

Executive Director, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
Rick Cotton / Brian Caraveo, PANYN

Rick Cotton has overseen the impossible. Once regarded among the worst airports in the country, New York’s three major hubs are undergoing a stunning $25 billion transformation, including the $2.7 billion rehabilitation of Newark Liberty International Airport’s Terminal A, a $4 billion overhaul of LaGuardia’s gleaming new Terminal B that opened last summer and the opening of LaGuardia’s Terminal C, as well as multibillion-dollar overhauls at John F. Kennedy International Airport. Even the New York-New Jersey port saw record growth and became the top port in the country. Cotton will have an $8.3 billion budget in 2023 as he works to replace the aging Midtown bus terminal.

24. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Member of Congress
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Franmarie Metzler, US House Office of Photography

Last year, the world’s most famous member of Congress thought about leaving public office, but stayed the course. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez castigated the U.S. Supreme Court for “going rogue” after overturning Roe v. Wade and called on men to stand up for abortion rights. She still inspires fear in veteran politicians like U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who avoided a primary bid by cozying up to progressives, and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whom AOC has not ruled out challenging in 2024. Now, Ocasio-Cortez is urging President Joe Biden to open pathways for immigrants seeking asylum.

25. Jerry Nadler

Member of Congress
Jerrold Nadler / U.S. House

The Upper West Side icon was forced into a bitter clash with then-Rep. Carolyn Maloney last year after the courts rejected Democratic-drawn congressional maps, and the final maps pitted the two liberal lions against each other. Rep. Jerry Nadler prevailed in a hard-fought primary, but Democrats ultimately lost the House – in part due to their performance in the state’s suburbs. Nadler relinquished the House Judiciary Committee chair to Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, and now he faces questions about whether he can counteract Jordan’s investigations into the “weaponization” of the federal government.

26. Adriano Espaillat

Member of Congress
Adriano Espaillat / Celeste Sloman

The Upper Manhattan member of Congress couldn’t pass legislation protecting Dreamers despite Democrats ruling the House. Now that Republicans have taken control, Rep. Adriano Espaillat has struck a balance, chiding the Biden administration for not consulting Congress over its border policy while defending its homeland security secretary from attacks from the right. Back home, Espaillat is a driving force in Latino politics and has assembled a “Squadriano” of Dominican American elected officials in northern Manhattan and the Bronx – although his candidate couldn’t defeat state Sen. Gustavo Rivera and his preferred chief judge was rejected.

27. Damian Williams

U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York
Damian Williams / U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

Preet Bharara prowled Foley Square as the feared sheriff of Wall Street, and Damian Williams has taken up his mentor’s mantle. Crypto has been a fruitful target for the federal prosecutor. Less than a year after his confirmation, the Southern District’s first Black U.S. attorney made history prosecuting the first NFT insider trading case. Then he indicted FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried in one of the largest financial frauds in American history. Williams also formed a new civil rights unit in response to a rise in antisemitic and anti-Asian hate crimes.

28. Alvin Bragg

Manhattan District Attorney
Alvin Bragg / Office of District Attorney of New York

As Manhattan’s top prosecutor, Alvin Bragg is used to dealing with unwanted attention – though being threatened with removal by a Republican gubernatorial candidate for refusing to prosecute certain crimes was undoubtedly unnerving. But Bragg had the last laugh after Lee Zeldin lost in last year’s race for governor. In court, Bragg’s tax fraud conviction of The Trump Organization earned him the best coverage of his career. Now, he has impaneled a grand jury to hear evidence over Donald Trump’s role paying hush money to Stormy Daniels.

29. Gregory Meeks

Member of Congress
Gregory Meeks / U.S. House

After a shaky start as Queens Democratic Party leader, Rep. Gregory Meeks rebounded to help his ally Adrienne Adams become City Council speaker and filled several appointments in Mayor Eric Adams’ administration. Meeks’ other prominent role, running the House Foreign Affairs Committee, had him leading bipartisan visits to Belgium and Ukraine, and accompanying then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on a historic trip to Taiwan. Now that he’s no longer a committee chair, Meeks has been sifting through resumes to reclaim the congressional seat held by serial fabulist Rep. George Santos.

30. Keith Powers, Diana Ayala, Gale Brewer & Justin Brannan

Members, New York City Council Leadership Team
Keith Powers, Diana Ayala, Gale Brewer & Justin Brannan / New York City Council

After New York City Council Member Adrienne Adams overcome opposition from Mayor Eric Adams to win the top post in the legislative body, she assembled a leadership team that could aptly be described as a “team of rivals.” Apart from two Republicans – Majority Leader Joe Borelli and Minority Whip Inna Vernikov – who are technically part of the leadership, she also brought four former rivals for the council speakership on to her team: Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala, Majority Leader Keith Powers, Finance Committee Chair Justin Brannan and Oversight and Investigations Committee Chair Gale Brewer. Adams also named Selvena Brooks-Powers, a fellow Queens representative, as majority whip.

31. Rafael Salamanca Jr.

Land Use Committee Chair, New York City Council
Rafael Salamanca Jr. / Office of Council Member Rafael Salamanca

Rafael Salamanca Jr. explored a Bronx borough president bid but instead decided to run for reelection and keep his chair of the powerful New York City Council Land Use Committee. He retained his post after Adrienne Adams secured her speakership with the Bronx delegation’s support. Salamanca’s calendar has been full, with a showdown over Harlem’s One45 project before the developer withdrew the plan, and votes passing the Bruckner Boulevard rezoning in the Bronx and Innovation QNS, an Astoria, Queens, megaproject. He will now be entrusted with evaluating the mayor’s plan to convert Midtown office towers into residential units.

32. Kathryn Wylde

President and CEO, Partnership for New York City
Kathryn Wylde / Buck Ennis

Unlike some New York City stakeholders, the business advocate understands that the city must adjust to shifting economic trends or lose workers. Kathryn Wylde’s priorities for a business-friendly environment – creating affordable housing, reducing crime and tackling mental illness – have been incorporated in both the mayor and governor’s visions for the city’s future. Easier said than done. At a summit she hosted, CEOs warned Adams' people would leave if crime continues to rise. Still, Wylde is encouraged with the city’s direction, especially if Midtown office buildings can be turned into housing.

33. Suri Kasirer

President, Kasirer
Suri Kasirer / Sara Beth Turner

Suri Kasirer’s lobbying shop continues its reign as the most lucrative firm in New York City. Her firm, which has enjoyed close relationships with the New York City Council and City Hall, hauled in $15.5 million in revenue in 2021, $1.3 million more than it collected the previous year and twice as much as the city’s second-highest-compensated lobbying firm. Kasirer attributed her success to helping the city’s hospitality sector, which may not fully recover until 2026. She also represents real estate heavyweights, including Related Cos.

34. James Capalino

CEO, Capalino
James Capalino / Leigh Beckett

The coronavirus pandemic has done little to hinder New York City’s lobbying industry, and James Capalino’s government affairs firm is proof. Capalino hauled in $9.9 million in 2020 and another $8 million in 2021 for its government relations work, as the need to press flesh with politicians can’t be done entirely over Zoom. They’re poised to do even better in the coming years. Mayor Eric Adams hired Capalino veteran Fred Kreizman, who has worked for shelter and condo developers, to run City Hall’s community affairs office.

35. Emily Giske, Mike Keogh & Juanita Scarlett

Partners, Bolton-St. Johns
Emily Giske, Michael Keogh & Juanita Scarlett / Sippakorn Ponpayong; Roger Archer

Bolton-St. Johns is a powerhouse government affairs firm, consistently ranking in the top three annually in terms of lobbying compensation in New York City. The firm’s success stems from the experience, expertise and extensive networks of its executives, including Emily Giske, Mike Keogh and Juanita Scarlett. Giske, a stalwart supporter of LGBTQ rights, is a player in New York City, Albany and Long Island. Keogh, whose wife serves as a top aide to Gov. Kathy Hochul, developed an in-depth understanding of budgets and fiscal matters during his many years in city government and his work with the major public sector union District Council 37. Juanita Scarlett, who has served under several governors, brings a diverse skill set, including communications and consulting for political campaigns and on policy matters.

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

36. Errol Louis

Host, “Inside City Hall”, NY1
Errol Louis / Spectrum New NY1

Few broadcast journalists treat guests with the same amount of respect and inquisitiveness as Errol Louis – but the renowned host has long separated himself from the media horde. Each night, Louis peppers the city’s top stakeholders on “Inside City Hall,” where he recently hosted the mayor, public advocate and Manhattan district attorney within the span of a week. His New York magazine columns present worthy counterpoints to media narratives on topics like how Hector LaSalle’s nomination got railroaded and the mayor’s lack of plans to help unhoused people.

37. Michael Dowling

President and CEO, Northwell Health
Michael Dowling / Northwell Health

The state’s largest health care provider withstood the pandemic’s onslaught despite nursing staff shortages and increasingly transmissible variants. Now that the Biden administration is ending its COVID-19 emergency order, Michael Dowling has been contemplating the hospital system’s post-pandemic future. Protecting health care workers from assaults, reducing maternal mortality and providing access to abortion after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision were among his top priorities. Dowling also launched a national campaign framing gun violence as a public health crisis since it is the leading cause of death for American children.

38. Eric Gonzalez, Melinda Katz, Darcel Clark & Michael McMahon

District Attorneys, Brooklyn; Queens; Bronx; Staten Island
Eric Gonzalez, Melinda Katz, Darcel Clark & Michael McMahon / Brooklyn DA’s Office; Lynn Savarese; Joao D’alessandro; Richmond County District Attorney’s Office

Not so long ago, district attorney elections were sleepy affairs, and one commonly used method of assessing their performance in office was their conviction rate. These days, New York City’s borough-based prosecutors have largely drifted to the left, focusing instead on reforming their policies, overturning wrongful convictions and scaling back enforcement of low-level offenses. One of the pioneers on this front is Brooklyn’s Eric Gonzalez, who picked up where Kenneth Thompson left off after Thompson’s death in 2016. The Bronx’s Darcel Clark, who has targeted gun violence in her borough, and Queens’ Melinda Katz have adopted some reforms as well, though haven’t gone quite as far as Gonzalez. Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon, a former member of Congress, is perhaps the most moderate of the group, which is not surprising given his borough’s more conservative bent. 

39. Rich Maroko

President, Hotel and Gaming Trades Council

It’s no surprise Rich Maroko picked up the hard-edged tactics his predecessor Peter Ward used to build the Hotel Trades Council into one of New York City’s most influential labor organizations. After Ward unexpectedly retired, Maroko lobbied the city for a special permit that would require City Council approval for new hotel construction and endorsed Eric Adams in the New York City mayoral primary. Most significantly, Maroko has kept the Paramount Hotel from being turned into supportive housing in an effort to preserve unionized hotel jobs. Now, nonunionized hotels have been targeted for conversion. And the union is poised to benefit from the looming downstate casino expansion.

40. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez

Chancellor, CUNY
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez / Marcus Beasley, CUNY

The higher education leader has his work cut out for him once the mayor suggested slashing funds for CUNY in his $102.7 billion budget proposal. Last year, Félix V. Matos Rodríguez secured a $1.2 billion boost in funding from the state, and City Council leaders are already refusing to vote for the mayor’s budget draft, giving the chancellor some leverage. In the meantime, Matos Rodríguez’s Reconnect initiative enrolled 14,000 returning students who stepped away from college during the pandemic and will provide pathways to internships and careers after they graduate.

41. Al Sharpton

Founder and President, National Action Network
Al Sharpton / Michael Frost

The civil rights leader’s role as America’s conscience on race relations has only grown as unjust police violence has continued to roil the country. The Rev. Al Sharpton delivered a poignant eulogy at Tyre Nichols’ funeral and called for legislation to curb police brutality. Sharpton can easily conjure an audience of legislators, welcoming President Joe Biden, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Mayor Eric Adams to NAN events each year. In January, the reverend hosted a public safety summit, drawing city stakeholders to discuss reducing gun violence.

42. Grace Meng

Member of Congress
Grace Meng / Congresswoman Meng's Office

The spate of anti-Asian attacks that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic so alarmed Rep. Grace Meng that she passed bipartisan legislation that made reporting hate crimes easier. A year later, legal advocacy groups called the law a promising step toward combating violence. Meng also recently introduced legislation to lower the voting age to 16 years old and recognize the Lunar New Year as a federal holiday – although those could be heavy lifts in a GOP-controlled House.

43. Nydia Velázquez

Member of Congress
Nydia Velázquez / Celeste Sloman

Rep. Nydia Velázquez’s efforts to undo Puerto Rico’s territorial status culminated in the House’s vote allowing residents to decide between statehood or independence – but the U.S. Senate stalled the measure. The Brooklyn member of Congress helped the territory move forward with its debt restructuring, though other legislative goals haven’t gotten much traction. Congress failed to pass a legal pathway for DACA recipients, whose fate is in the hands of federal courts. Now, she’s pushing for a $32 billion federal investment for New York City Housing Authority repairs and demanding the Biden administration loosen restrictions on asylum-seekers.

44. Gary LaBarbera

President, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York

Opportunities abound for New York’s unionized construction workers as the city ramps up housing production and as federal investment in the Hudson rail tunnel and other projects continues. Their leader, Gary LaBarbera, has worked to ensure the state’s infrastructure projects employ unionized members and that contractors receiving taxpayer funds are held accountable through a new state registration system. LaBarbera is currently partnering with the mayor on a campaign to enroll 30,000 New Yorkers into apprenticeship programs by 2030.

45. Jeff Blau & Bruce Beal

CEO; President, Related Cos.

Related executives have been eyeing a casino for its Hudson Yards megadevelopment since the state Legislature fast-tracked three new licenses into the budget last year. Stephen Ross’ company announced a bid for a 1,500-room gaming complex that CEO Jeff Blau said would be the “highest-end ever built” and revitalize tourism, although several public officials oppose it. Last fall, Related, along with the mayor and New York City Football Club, announced plans for redeveloping Willets Point in Queens to include 2,500 units of affordable housing and the city’s first soccer stadium. Blau has also spearheaded recent renewable energy projects, and President Bruce Beal is an integral executive for the firm in New York as Ross expands his real estate empire in Florida.

46. Timothy Cawley

Chair and CEO, Con Edison

At Con Edison’s annual meeting in May, Timothy Cawley told shareholders the utility aims to provide emissions-free energy as soon as 2040. But the transition to clean energy could be a pricey one. Con Ed expects to invest $72 billion, including $15.7 billion by the end of next year, on green investments and reliability projects. Cawley, who was named chief executive of the energy company in 2020 and board chair in 2021, also works closely with Con Edison of New York President Matthew Ketschke.

47. James Whelan

President, Real Estate Board of New York
James Whelan / Kris Panko

This could be the year policymakers seriously tackle New York’s housing crisis. After years of denigrating developers and deriding tax breaks, progressive lawmakers are now more open to rezonings and new housing complexes. REBNY’s James Whelan cheered the governor’s plan to create 800,000 units of housing and develop more homes near train stations, as well as the mayor’s proposal to turn Midtown offices into housing. Now Whelan eagerly awaits details of tax incentives that would spur the private sector to meet these goals.

48. Neal Kwatra

Founder and CEO, Metropolitan Public Strategies
Neal Kwatra / Laura Brett

When politicians or other political players have a tough campaign they’re planning to launch, they call Neal Kwatra. The longtime labor strategist has helped governors, mayors and other candidates seeking office. In addition to its push into more climate action related work, Kwatra’s Metropolitan Public Strategies has also been doing more work in health care, tackling the Medicaid reimbursement rate in New York that safety net hospitals say is hurting their finances. Kwatra also helped Ørsted become a power player in New York’s offshore wind industry.

49. Evan Thies & Alexis Grenell

Co-Founders, Pythia Public Affairs
Evan Thies & Alexis Grenell / Corey Torpie

Considered a member of Eric Adams’ inner circle, Evan Thies cultivated Adams’ anti-crime campaign strategy and kept him on message through the rigors of two tough campaigns. The public affairs guru has defended the mayor in probing stories about his eccentric habits and presidential prospects, and from criticism of overhyping crime ahead of the midterms. His Pythia co-founder Alexis Grenell has developed a national following for her columns on sexual misconduct in the workplace, the politics of reproductive rights and threats to democracy.

50. Harry Giannoulis

Founding Partner and CEO, The Parkside Group

Just a few short years ago, the state Senate was controlled by the GOP. How times have changed. Thanks in no small part to the expertise of Harry Giannoulis – the strategist for the state Senate Democrats’ campaign committee – that balance of power shifted in 2019. Known for his sensible no-B.S. Queens patois, Giannoulis this year helped Democrats hold a supermajority in Albany’s upper chamber for the second cycle in a row – with a historic all-female first-year class to boot.

51. Nathan Smith & Katie Moore

Founding Partner; Partner, Red Horse Strategies
Nathan Smith & Katie Moore / Rob Arnow; David Yoon

One of the smartest political hires Eric Adams made in 2020 was bringing in Katie Moore to run his New York City mayoral campaign. The Hotel Trades Council’s former political director helped the mayor hone his message and build a diverse coalition to advance out of a crowded primary. Moore served as executive director of the mayor’s transition and became a partner at Red Horse Strategies, the political consulting firm home to other members of Adams’ inner circle. She won campaign manager of the year at the 2021 Pollies. Nathan Smith, a founding partner of the firm, was another key adviser on Adams’ 2021 campaign and remains a trusted confidante of the mayor.

52. Rita Joseph, Lynn Schulman, Pierina Sanchez & Kamillah Hanks

Chairs, Education Committee; Health Committee; Housing and Buildings Committee; Public Safety Committee

A majority of the current class of the New York City Council is in their first term, and it’s also the first time most of the members are women. So it’s little surprise that some of the most important committee assignments went to female lawmakers. Council Member Rita Joseph of Brooklyn, who had a career as a public school teacher, now chairs the influential Education Committee. Queens Council Member Lynn Schulman, an LGBTQ activist, chairs the Health Committee, which has focused on the ongoing COVID-19 response, access to health care and budget spending. Bronx Council Member Pierina Sanchez, who chairs the Housing and Buildings Committee, has scrutinized the enforcement of a sustainable buildings law and called on City Hall to focus on creating more affordable housing. And Staten Island Council Member Kamillah Hanks chairs the Public Safety Committee, a key role given that reducing crime is one of the mayor’s top priorities.

53. Vito Pitta

Member, Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno LLC

The loyal Eric Adams insider and member of a New York lobbying dynasty served as the mayor’s campaign lawyer and connected the Brooklyn pol with the city’s business elite. Vito Pitta then helped the mayor fill top administrative appointments, before the campaign set about raising donations for Adams’ reelection bid that is still years away. A massive $1.3 million haul from real estate owners sparked questions over the mayor’s ambitions for even higher office – but Pitta said Adams is focused on being mayor for the foreseeable future.

54. LaRay Brown

CEO, One Brooklyn Health

Hospitals in Brooklyn have long struggled to stay open, and the coronavirus pandemic only exacerbated the crisis. As the leader of One Brooklyn Health, LaRay Brown is doing all she can to keep the doors open and provide access to care for patients. The safety net system, which is made up of Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center, and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, has teamed up with city and state officials to keep all three hospitals afloat, while also running Interfaith.

55. Dennis Trainor

Vice President, Communications Workers of America District 1

When a wave of layoffs swept through the technology and media sectors in December and January, the Communications Workers of America reached out to Microsoft and other large companies to remind them to bargain over reductions. Dennis Trainor and other CWA leaders have fueled efforts to unionize workers at Alphabet, clerks at Apple stores and developers at video game giant Activision Blizzard. The New York Power Authority board member also coordinated a campaign against Frontier Communications for outsourcing union jobs in favor of subcontractors after its bankruptcy case and backed a successful nurses strike in western New York.

56. Nicole Malliotakis

Member of Congress

Rep. Nicole Malliotakis’ reelection effort was endangered when Democratic-drawn maps carved liberal Sunset Park and Park Slope into her district. But when the state Court of Appeals rejected the maps and a new draft was released in May, the Republican’s district had far more favorable terrain. Malliotakis easily defeated challenger former Rep. Max Rose by 26 points and wound up in the majority. She has been selected to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee as some Republicans may seek to sunset Social Security and Medicare in debt limit talks.

57. Yvette Clarke

Member of Congress

After narrowly winning her primary four years ago, Rep. Yvette Clarke cruised to victory two years later against the same opponent – and no one even bothered to run against her in 2022. That has allowed her to focus on cybersecurity – one of her passions – and regulating facial recognition technology as its use has become more common. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ elevation to House minority leader could be good for his friend and Brooklyn neighbor. Expect Clarke to have a say on the application of algorithms and new artificial intelligence laws.

58. Ritchie Torres

Member of Congress

After honing his investigative skills on New York City Housing Authority lead poisoning and lack of heat inquiries and spiraling taxi medallion debt while in the City Council, Rep. Ritchie Torres has a new target. The Bronx member of Congress has hounded his colleague Rep. George Santos by introducing the SANTOS (Stopping Another Non-Truthful Officer Seeker) Act to penalize congressional candidates who knowingly lie about their identity and demanding an investigation into Santos’ past work. Meanwhile, Torres had become an ally of the crypto industry and introduced legislation to bring transparency to exchanges after FTX’s meltdown.

59. Keith Wright & Sid Davidoff

Director of Strategic Planning; Founding Partner, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP
Keith Wright & Sid Davidoff / Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP

Keith Wright, the Manhattan Democratic Party leader, is no stranger to power struggles, having staved off a coup from fellow Democrats intent on toppling him. But Wright’s nomination of a close ally to the New York City Board of Elections met resistance from Rep. Adriano Espaillat, his leading rival in the borough. In his day job, Wright works at the firm co-founded by longtime lobbyist Sid Davidoff, a veteran City Hall observer (and a City Hall veteran himself) who largely remains above the fray, commenting that Mayor Eric Adams shouldn’t sweat criticism over his appointments and that then-Rep. Tom Suozzi shouldn’t have run a negative gubernatorial campaign.

60. Michael Woloz

President and CEO, CMW Strategies
Michael Woloz / Lisa Berg

Longtime lobbyist Michael Woloz has represented clients in a wide range of industries, from taxis to tech, cultural institutions to corporate heavyweights, nonprofit organizations to health care institutions. Woloz, who’s active in Queens Democratic politics, enjoys close ties with City Hall, where his former staffer Jeff Rodus worked during the first year of the Adams administration before heading to the City University of New York. Woloz recently lobbied city officials on behalf of The Legal Aid Society regarding the rental assistance program and on outdoor dining matters for the state Latino Restaurant, Bar and Lounge Association.

61. Jon Silvan

Founding Partner and CEO, Global Strategy Group

Gov. Kathy Hochul stuck with Global Strategy Group to do her polling in a challenging year for Democrats, just as the firm did for her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, and many other high-profile Democrats in New York and nationally. That’s because Jon Silvan and his team have been fiercely loyal to their client, whom they helped win a congressional seat in a special election a dozen years ago. Silvan’s firm is poised for further growth after the Italy-based company SEC Newgate purchased a significant stake in Global last spring.

62. Anthony Constantinople & Perry Vallone

Partners, Constantinople & Vallone Consulting
Anthony Constantinople & Perry Vallone / William Alatriste

Anthony Constantinople and Perry Vallone are familiar presences at City Hall, having wooed council members and wined and dined the mayor’s staff on behalf of their clients. The public affairs firm – co-founded by Peter Vallone Sr., who was a member of the City Council for decades, eventually becoming council speaker – has its hands in some of the most significant land use matters, including a huge mixed-use development in Queens and the Brucker rezoning in the Bronx.

63. Edward Wallace

New York Co-Chair, Greenberg Traurig
Edward Wallace / Greenberg Traurig LLP

During the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, Greenberg Traurig helped keep its many clients – in real estate, technology, nonprofits and more – connected with New York City government. A former New York City Council member-at-large, Wallace helps huge clients with business before the city, like getting approvals for Fordham University, New York University and Columbia University to expand and open new campuses in Manhattan.

64. Jamaal Bailey & Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn

Chairs, Bronx County Democrats; Kings County Democrats

It’s a tough time to be a boss. Bronx boss state Sen. Jamaal Bailey tried to replace his state Senate colleague Gustavo Rivera, a machine critic, with a novice candidate. But Rivera outlasted the challenge in a win for progressives. And after fighting with reformers since her installation, Brooklyn boss Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn barely won reelection. When Assembly incumbents lost their seats in unexpectedly tight midterms, they blamed party leadership for not mobilizing voters. But Bichotte Hermelyn has since tried to make peace, reaching out to reformers to run a new judicial screening process.

65. Patrick Lynch

President, New York City Police Benevolent Association

The New York City police union’s longest-serving leader grappled with rising crime and low morale that led 3,701 cops to leave their jobs last year, often for higher-paying suburban jobs. Patrick Lynch blamed the city for relying on officers to work overtime instead of hiring more cops to patrol the subway. But he largely avoided criticizing the mayor and governor, even as Republican gubernatorial candidate then Rep. Lee Zeldin made reducing crime his top message. Now, Lynch faces a challenger of his own as rank-and-file frustrations over stalled contract negotiations mount.

66. Murad Awawdeh

Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition
Murad Awawdeh / Theo Cote, New York Immigration Coalition

Since he was promoted to lead the New York Immigration Coalition in 2020, Murad Awawdeh has advocated for rights and protections for a recent influx of immigrants and asylum-seekers, helped pass legislation extending the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of noncitizen residents of New York City – although the measure was struck down in court last year – and is now calling on Gov. Kathy Hochul to invest more in providing health care access to undocumented New Yorkers.

67. Manny Pastreich

President, 32BJ SEIU
Manny Pastreich / Dave Sanders

Kyle Bragg had hoped to retire after 40 years of service to the 32BJ SEIU, but longtime President Héctor Figueroa’s unexpected death and looming contract negotiations postponed his exit. Fortunately, he had Manny Pastreich to help him lead the 175,000-member union as its building workers kept residents safe during the pandemic and authorized a strike to compel property managers to pay for raises and paid sick leave. Pastreich became president when Bragg retired in December and has already made waves sidelining Gov. Kathy Hochul’s chief judge pick.

68. Stuart Appelbaum

President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union
Stuart Appelbaum / RWDSU

Stuart Appelbaum isn’t afraid to take on the biggest e-commerce and retail behemoths to make working conditions safer and secure livable wages. The labor leader, who played a key role in preventing Amazon from building a second headquarters in Queens, has more recently helped the company's workers organize a contested unionization effort in Alabama. Appelbaum has also lobbied for state legislation requiring warehouse workers’ quotas to be transparent and demonstrated against Amazon’s labor practices on Black Friday. An RWDSU local also was behind New York's first union for farmworkers. 

69. Luis Miranda

Founding Partner, MirRam Group

When the governor selected Hector LaSalle to be her choice for chief judge on the state Court of Appeals, she enlisted veteran political consultant Luis Miranda to pull him over the finish line. Miranda formed Latinos for LaSalle and mobilized much of the state’s Democratic Party establishment to rally for his confirmation in January, although a state Senate panel ultimately rejected the nomination. Last fall, after Hurricane Fiona, Miranda and his son, megastar Lin-Manuel Miranda, urged businesses and other organizations to inject cash into the stricken Puerto Rico.

70. Chris Coffey

CEO, Tusk Strategies
Chris Coffey / Heidi Hartwig

When Bradley Tusk stepped back from the firm he founded in part to open an independent bookstore, he left his baby in capable hands. Last year, Chris Coffey oversaw a national expansion of Tusk Strategies with a new West Coast office, launched a fintech practice and made key staff additions like Shontell Smith, the state Senate Democrats’ former chief of staff. Coffey has become an adept political analyst on mayoral matters. He also ran a pro-Hector LaSalle digital campaign designed to drum up support for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s chief judge pick.

71. Mike Morey & Kerri Lyon

Partners, SKDK
Mike Morey & Kerri Lyon / SKDK

Veteran New York communications consultant Josh Isay recently handed the reins of SKDK to Washington, D.C.-based CEO Doug Thornell, but the firm’s New York office won’t be playing second fiddle to their U.S. capital colleagues with partners Mike Morey and Kerri Lyon still serving on the leadership team. Morey, like many top political public relations professionals in New York, had a stint as communications director for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and has built up SKDK’s foundations and philanthropic practice. Lyon, a former television journalist at NY1 and WCBS-TV who also served as communications director for the New York City Department of Education, now works with high-powered corporate and nonprofit clients and executives.

72. Valerie Berlin & Jonathan Rosen

Co-Founders and Principals, BerlinRosen
Valerie Berlin & Jonathan Rosen / CEOPortrait

The public relations firm BerlinRosen had a breakthrough win in 2013 when Bill de Blasio was elected New York City mayor, and another come-from-behind victory more recently when Brad Lander was elected New York City comptroller. But those successes are just the tip of the iceberg for Valerie Berlin and Jonathan Rosen’s massive communications and campaign consulting firm, which is also among the market leaders in representing nonprofit organizations, arts and cultural institutions, labor unions and health care providers as well as driving deft issue advocacy campaigns.

73. Ethan Geto and Michele de Milly

Principals, Geto & de Milly
Ethan Geto and Michele de Milly / Geto & de Milly

For more than 40 years, public affairs firm Geto & de Milly has helped major corporations and nonprofits navigate the complex regulatory structures of city and state governance. The firm helped advance the South Street Seaport’s mixed-use redevelopment and the massive 82-block Gowanus rezoning on behalf of PMG and other Brooklyn developers. Ethan Geto also strengthened his ties to Mayor Eric Adams by serving on the board of his nonprofit from his Brooklyn borough president days, One Brooklyn Fund.

74. Stuart Shorenstein

Member, Cozen O’Connor
Stuart Shorenstein / Cozen O’Connor

There aren’t many Democratic dynastic families left in New York politics, but Stuart Shorenstein is carrying on the legacy of Hyman Schorenstein, who became Brooklyn’s first Jewish Democratic boss in 1919. (Stuart’s daughter Melissa is a prominent public relations strategist and the new chair of the Citizens Budget Commission). The co-founder of the firm’s Public Strategies practice group helped foster the next generation of legal lobbyists, Rose Christ and Katie Schwab, who have since taken over the firm’s New York and Albany practice.

75. Dan Garodnick & Edith Hsu-Chen

Chair, New York City Planning Commission; Executive Director, New York City Department of City Planning
Dan Garodnick & Edith Hsu-Chen / NYC Department of City Planning

Mayor Eric Adams proposed creating 500,000 new homes over the next decade, and he’ll rely on two top urban planning strategists to figure out where to put them. Dan Garodnick and Edith Hsu-Chen were handed a mission to modernize the city’s zoning codes, create more public space and continue neighborhood rezonings that sputtered during the previous administration. They’ll have the gargantuan task of implementing the 111 recommendations in the mayor’s plan to turbocharge the creation of new housing, including turning underused Midtown office towers into residences.

76. Tiffany Raspberry

Senior Adviser for External Affairs, Office of the New York City Mayor

When the mayor needed someone to advance his agenda with less-than-friendly audiences in the New York City Council and Albany, he leaned on an old friend with deep Brooklyn political ties. Tiffany Raspberry joined City Hall after running her own consulting shop and serving as a top Adams campaign adviser, who helped with past bids as well. But Adams struggled to get bail law changes and the 421-a housing tax break reinstated in Albany, and the city’s intergovernmental office, of which Raspberry has some oversight, received criticisms for thwarting street safety projects and for having a muddled chain of command.

77. Vincent Alvarez

President, New York City Central Labor Council

In the most significant labor action of the year, thousands of nurses went on strike for better working conditions and pay in January. Vincent Alvarez stood with health care workers as they negotiated with hospital executives for safe staffing ratios and better compensation packages. Alvarez pushed for the state Legislature to tie minimum wage hikes to inflation, which Gov. Kathy Hochul included in her budget proposal, and he was recently named chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s board of directors.

78. Andrew Kimball

President and CEO, New York City Economic Development Corp.
Andrew Kimball / NYCEDC

After New York Building Congress President Carlo Scissura withdrew from consideration, the mayor swapped him for another Brooklyn economic leader who has shaped New York City’s recovery. The former CEO of Industry City, Andrew Kimball understands the city’s shifting economy and is betting its future on “live-work hubs.” He’s gravitated toward luring life sciences companies with a biotech incubator and artificial intelligence jobs. And Kimball hasn’t been afraid to jettison development blunders like Staten Island’s New York Wheel or to raise ferry fares after an audit found taxpayers were heavily subsidizing rides.

79. Richard Davis

President, Transport Workers Union Local 100
Richard Davis / TWU Local

When Tony Utano abruptly stepped down in December a year after winning his second term, the 41,000-member New York City transit workers union turned to its secretary-treasurer to take the wheel. Richard Davis started as a bus operator 27 years ago before working his way up to run the union’s finances. With the Metropolitan Transportation Authority facing a $600 million budget hole and the threats of fare hikes looming, Davis already warned state officials not to cut its workforce to close the gap. He’s also calling for giving judges the power to ban people who assault transit workers from the subway, which the governor proposed in her budget.

80. Donovan Richards, Mark Levine, Antonio Reynoso, Vito Fossella & Vanessa Gibson

Borough Presidents, Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bronx
Donovan Richards, Mark Levine, Antonio Reynoso, Vito Fossella & Vanessa Gibson / Queens Borough President’s Office; Deneka Peniston; Office of the Brooklyn Borough President; Maureen Maydick; Finalis Valadez

When New York City Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan blocked the One45 development in her Harlem district, she did so despite Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine backing it thanks to more affordable housing at the site. Indeed, while borough presidents typically must garner more votes than a legislative candidate at the city, state or even congressional level, they have less of a say in land use matters – and a harder pathway to passing legislation. Still, borough presidents still have some sway, and the post can be a springboard to higher office – or in the case of Staten Island’s Vito Fossella, an avenue for a comeback bid. Of course, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards played a role in City Hall’s recently unveiled plans for a New York City Football Club stadium and thousands of new affordable housing units at Willets Point. Levine has the identified sites in his borough that could be ripe for new housing developments, while the Bronx’s Vanessa Gibson is notably pro-development, backing the Throggs Neck and Bruckner Boulevard rezonings in her borough. Meanwhile, Brooklyn’s Antonio Reynoso has historically been more skeptical of land use proposals coming out of City Hall, calling for more community input.

81. Jenny Sedlis & Jason Ortiz

Co-Founders, Moonshot Strategies
Jenny Sedlis & Jason Ortiz / John Rossi

In September 2021, Jenny Sedlis and Jason Ortiz joined forces to launch the buzziest consulting firm New York City has seen in years. Sedlis, a veteran from the charter school wars when she led StudentsFirstNY, ran a political action committee that helped Eric Adams win the Democratic New York City mayoral primary. Ortiz added marquee clients including the New York Mets, Genting, Bally’s and his former employers, the Hotel Trades Council, as gaming operators and developers prepared bids for a New York City-based casino license.

82. Jed Walentas

CEO, Two Trees
Jed Walentas / Anne Joyce

While Midtown commercial buildings struggled to fill vacancies as remote work went mainstream, Jed Walentas saw an opportunity to continue building his empire on the East River. Several fintech companies, advertising firms and startups have moved to Two Trees’ 10 Grand tower in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, because of its proximity to employees’ homes. Now with a $250 million investment, Two Trees has been redeveloping the former Domino Sugar factory into a 460,000-square-foot office complex. By 2028, a new beach will open along the river, making lunch breaks even more pleasant.

83. Carlo Scissura

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

As the leader of the New York Building Congress, a century-old organization representing some 550 organizations and entities in the building industry, Carlo Scissura has played a crucial role making the case that New York must build its way out of its housing crisis. The former Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce CEO has also advocated for the replacement of the expired 421-a housing tax incentive to spur development and called for reimagining sections of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway with safe and responsible alternatives, including tunnels.

84. Steven Rubenstein & Melva Miller

Chair; CEO, Association for a Better New York
Steven Rubenstein & Melva Miller / Rubenstein; Dezirae Bradley

A half-century after its private sector founders mobilized to pull New York City out of its fiscal doldrums, the Association for a Better New York remains the preeminent power breakfast venue for testing visions for the city’s future. At an ABNY event in December, the mayor and governor did the unthinkable and shared the same stage, where they debuted proposals to transform Midtown into a more livable neighborhood. Melva Miller, who became CEO in 2020, ensured that the group continued to grow through the pandemic by recruiting labor organizations and small businesses. The organization is chaired by Steven Rubenstein, the head of the influential public relations firm Rubenstein.

85. Dan Goldman

Member of Congress
Dan Goldman / House of Representatives

When revised district maps created a new congressional seat, a who’s who of Democratic stalwarts jumped into the primary. But Dan Goldman, a novice candidate and former House Intelligence Committee adviser, topped the crowded field with a mere 26% of the vote. Goldman relished an opportunity to tangle with GOP rabble-rousers and debunk their conspiracies as a member of the House oversight and homeland security committees. He filed an ethics complaint against Rep. George Santos and joined the Republicans’ newly created subcommittee on the “weaponization” of the federal government.

86. Camille Joseph-Goldman

Group Vice President for Government Affairs, Charter Communications

The Scott Stringer and  U.S. Sen Kirsten Gillibrand alum has helped shape Charter’s government affairs policy since she joined seven years ago. When the telecommunications giant acquired Time Warner Cable in a $56 billion deal, Camille Joseph-Goldman assured New Yorkers it would hire in local markets and raise its minimum wage from $15 to $20 per hour. Spectrum has since provided free high-speed internet service to families at the start of the pandemic to help with the remote learning transition.

87. Joseph Strasburg

President, Rent Stabilization Association
Joseph Strasburg / Rent Stabilization Association

State lawmakers’ enthusiasm for passing tenant protections and an eviction moratorium during the pandemic have slowed Joseph Strasburg’s progress in recent years. But the landlord advocate fought back, filing lawsuits to halt the governor's moratorium extension and overturn the state’s rent stabilization laws, clashing with tenant lawyers over the reopening of the rent relief portal and spending on lobbying to successfully block good-cause eviction from passing the state Legislature. Strasburg has been pleased with Mayor Eric Adams’ appointments to the city Rent Guidelines Board, which narrowly approved increases for rent-stabilized apartments in 2022.

88. Louis Coletti

President and CEO, Building Trades Employers Association

As New York’s economy shifts toward hybrid workplaces, Louis Coletti knows that union contractors must adapt to those changes, like smaller office footprints and more work renovating interiors. Coletti supported measures to revive the 421-a tax incentive and convert office spaces to residences. He said the coming infrastructure investments spurred by post-pandemic federal funding will do wonders for the struggling construction industry. Coletti lobbied to eliminate minimum fines in a law penalizing companies whose construction workers die or get injured on the job, but the governor signed it in December.

89. David Greenfield

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

The number of antisemitic hate crimes in New York City has climbed for the third straight year, a dismaying trend that David Greenfield has been tracking. The well-connected former New York City Council member has tripled the Met Council’s budget over the past five years and expanded services to bridge the divide between communities by providing senior programs and emergency crisis and domestic violence services. Greenfield’s Met Council food pantry has also provided over 20 million pounds of food for 135,000 people over Thanksgiving and fed thousands of Holocaust survivors during Hanukkah.

90. Sochie Nnaemeka

State Director, Working Families Party

The past election cycle was a mixed bag for progressives in New York: Republicans picked up seats in the state on their way to winning a narrow majority in the House of Representatives and saw gains in portions of the outer boroughs and Long Island, and yet the Democrats retained supermajorities in the state Senate and Assembly. For the Working Families Party’s Sochie Nnaemeka, it’s on to the next battle, whether it’s helping to block state Court of Appeals chief judge nominee Hector LaSalle, criticizing the “fearmongering” of Mayor Eric Adams or opposing plans to revive a state tax credit to spur affordable housing development.

91. Rupert Murdoch

Executive Chair, News Corp

There will likely never be a media mogul as influential as Rupert Murdoch. Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Post continue to set the conservative agenda in the country. (The Post’s relentless campaign for then-Rep. Lee Zeldin nearly swung the governor’s race.) But the inspiration behind HBO’s Emmy-slaughtering dramedy “Succession” has been undergoing a succession battle of his own. Murdoch sought to merge his two companies, Fox and News Corp., then backtracked amid shareholder opposition, signaling that his heirs will continue jockeying over his media empire.

92. Ydanis Rodriguez

Commissioner, New York City Department of Transportation

Ydanis Rodriguez vowed to make walking and cycling safer in New York City when he took the reins of the Department of Transportation. A year later, traffic fatalities fell 7% from the previous year (but were still 24% higher than in 2018). Rodriguez touted the city’s car-free Open Streets program for helping boost outdoor dining during the pandemic. He promised to add more dedicated busways and upgrade flimsy bike lane dividers – though some bus routes remain the slowest in the nation, and deadly streets in Brooklyn and Queens have been largely ignored.

93. James Merriman

CEO, New York City Charter Center

After eight years of war with then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s charter-hostile administration, James Merriman is finding the new city and state leaders more receptive. The education reform leader asked the governor to raise per-pupil funding and give out more charter licenses as enrollment climbed. Mayor Eric Adams supported Merriman’s calls to reissue licenses for “zombie” charter schools that closed, and this year Gov. Kathy Hochul proposed lifting the charter cap and reissuing licenses in her budget. But the city scrapped plans to co-locate three schools in Queens and the Bronx after local opposition.

94. Jacques Jiha

Budget Director, New York City Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget

Jacques Jiha might not be the most popular person in City Hall these days. In November, the city budget director requested city agencies trim 3% from their budgets, a move that could save $350 million a year but would keep many departments short staffed by removing 4,300 jobs. Then when the mayor released his preliminary $102.7 billion budget, City Council members decried its proposed cuts to libraries and social services. Jiha must also account for the rising costs of housing asylum-seeking migrants, which the mayor estimated could reach $4.2 billion.

95. Jessica Katz & Adolfo Carrión Jr.

New York City Chief Housing Officer; Housing Preservation and Development, Commissioner
Jessica Katz & Adolfo Carrión Jr. / Gerri Hernandez; NYC Department of Housing Preservation, Development

Mayor Eric Adams is leaning on two seasoned policy wonks to solve the city’s housing crisis. Jessica Katz helped the mayor unveil his plan to build 500,000 homes in 10 years. She will have to balance the demands of tenant groups that want more rent protections with the real estate industry that wants rollbacks. Adolfo Carrión Jr. sought to bulk up his agency after staff departures stalled plans to construct affordable apartments and boosted enforcement on space heaters and self-closing doors after a Bronx fire killed 17 people in 2022.

96. Laura Kavanagh

Commissioner, FDNY
Laura Kavanagh / FDNY

When Daniel Nigro retired after half a century in the New York City Fire Department, a succession battle raged. But Laura Kavanagh, who had never been a firefighter, guided the department through on-duty deaths and an EMT captain’s fatal stabbing in the interim. By October, Mayor Eric Adams removed the “interim” tag, making Kavanagh the first woman to lead the department and its youngest in a century. Kavanagh has sought to diversify the FDNY by hiring a diversity officer and adopting measures to expand recruitment, like improving privacy for women in firehouses. Yet after a recent leadership shakeup, she saw several other chiefs protest.

97. Manuel Castro, Kevin Kim & Jessica Tisch

Commissioners, New York City Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs; New York City Department of Small Business Services; New York City Department of Sanitation

There are dozens of agencies and offices with New York City’s sprawling government, but three of the most important departments at the moment – due to Mayor Eric Adams’ agenda as well as outside forces beyond of his control – are the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, Department of Small Business Services and the Department of Sanitation. Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro, who is Mexican American, has been at the center of City Hall’s response to the current migrant crisis. Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Kevin Kim is overseeing the mayor’s efforts to cut red tape for small-business owners and is also playing a role in the rollout of recreational marijuana in the five boroughs. And Jessica Tisch, the city’s sanitation commissioner, is driving composting initiatives and will handle snowstorm response – and, of course, is dealing with Adams’ pet issue of terminating rats.

98. Jeremy John

Chief of Staff, New York City Council

New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams has entrusted Jeremy John to run her operations and manage scores of staff in her City Hall office. John came to city government after crafting District Council 37’s legislative agenda, managing one of state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s campaigns and serving as a state Senate aide. He has his plate full uniting competing interests to respond to Mayor Eric Adams’ $102.7 billion budget, addressing the city’s staffing shortage crisis and negotiating with council staffers demanding a hybrid workplace.

99. Sanjiv S. Shah

Chief Medical Officer, MetroPlusHealth
Sanjiv S. Shah / MetroPlusHealth

MetroPlusHealth is integral to ensuring health care access for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, as it offers low-cost coverage largely through the NYC Health + Hospitals safety-net system. That makes Dr. Sanjiv S. Shah’s work as MetroPlusHealth’s chief medical officer critical for improving the health of residents and reducing the number of uninsured individuals in the city. Shah, who took the position in 2019, was previously medical director at Mount Sinai Health System.

100. John Catsimatidis

CEO, Red Apple Group

Many politicos know Gristedes owner John Catsimatidis as a billionaire grocery store magnate and erstwhile Republican New York City mayoral candidate. But Catsimatidis has also become an insightful interviewer on his talk radio show, “Cats at Night,” and has been building 77 WABC into a conservative alternative to NPR with personalities like Ernie Anastos, Andrew Giuliani and Curtis Sliwa. Catsimatidis and ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner secured one of the first broadcast interviews with Rep. George Santos at the start of his scandal. Catsimatidis is also preparing a bid to build a casino in Coney Island.

Corrections: This post has been updated to reflect that an aide to state Attorney General Letitia James resigned and was not fired. This has also been corrected to reflect that RWDSU was not involved in unionization efforts at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island. This has also been updated to more accurately characterize Carlo Scissura's proposal for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. 

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