Where Long Island goes, so goes New York.
In recent years, Nassau and Suffolk counties have been a bellwether for which way the state’s political winds are blowing. When Donald Trump was president, a backlash fueled Democratic pickups in seats across the populous region as New York veered further to the left. When policymakers swung too far for the liking of many of these suburban voters, on matters like bail reform and crime, Republicans came roaring back. This month, the election for Suffolk County executive will shed light on which way Long Island is swinging now.
The Long Island Power 100 identifies the local power players who are driving debates over major policy issues locally and statewide, from affordable housing to public safety to offshore wind development. The list – researched and written in partnership with Long Island journalist Lon Cohen – features the candidates in the Suffolk County executive clash, a former member of Congress who’s a de facto leader of the state GOP and a Democrat who’s mounting a congressional comeback – but not a particular headline-grabbing lawmaker whose days in Washington, D.C., appear to be numbered.
We’re pleased to present the 2023 Long Island Power 100.
Bruce Blakeman’s latest budget proposal for Nassau County did not raise taxes and added cops to the streets, helping fulfill campaign promises that got him elected county executive. Blakeman has voiced his support for a deal to bring a casino to Nassau Coliseum, a spot that he adamantly said is off-limits to asylum-seekers, to spur the economy. Blakeman stepped into the middle of controversy this summer when he pledged to support Massapequa High School’s fight to keep its Native American mascot despite a state Board of Regents order. He also stirred up debate when, in contrast to former County Executive Laura Curran, his name was emblazoned all over county signage.
Last year, Andrew Garbarino handily fought off a Democratic challenger in New York’s 2nd District. Since then, he’s been enmeshed in federal electronic security issues as chair of the Homeland Security Committee’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee, calling to bolster the country’s cybersecurity workforce. He’s been credited with aligning with other Republican moderates, breaking ranks with ultra-conservative party members when voting in Congress. Garbarino has also pushed for overturning the SALT cap, of concern to many Long Island homeowners.
Long Islander Thomas DiNapoli beat Republican Paul Rodriguez to win his fifth term as state comptroller last year, a position he has held since 2007. The comptroller’s office found the city of Glen Cove susceptible to higher borrowing costs during its annual fiscal stress test this year due to low reserves. And while fewer local governments were under stress across the board statewide this year, DiNapoli is still calling for municipalities to increase reserves, especially as federal assistance dries up and tax revenue levels off.
Ray Tierney has had his hands full in Suffolk County taking part in some of the most heartbreaking and sensational cases to hit the region. Last December, his office successfully prosecuted ex-NYPD officer Michael Valva for the murder of his 8-year-old son, Thomas. In March, Valva’s fiancee was also convicted of murder in connection with the autistic boy’s death. And in a case that has garnered headlines nationwide, Tierney himself will take the unusual step of prosecuting suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann.
The top federal prosecutor for Long Island said his office will seek out criminals even if they think the passage of time or their positions in government have made them safe. Peace is leading the prosecution of Rep. George Santos on multiple charges. In January, Peace indicted a contractor who defrauded people of millions in Superstorm Sandy funds. And this summer, Peace formed a committee to evaluate and review claims of wrongful convictions.
Michael Dowling likes to think about the bigger picture. The Northwell Health president and CEO addresses issues like the rise in artificial intelligence and social aspects related to health problems. He was honored by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for the medical aid Northwell has provided to the country during its ongoing war with Russia. Dowling also topped Modern Healthcare magazine’s list of the most influential persons in health care.
In his role as leader of Long Island’s foremost business association, Matthew Cohen has helped to update its brand and digital outreach to better communicate the organization's objectives. The Long Island Association recently launched programs to support businesses on the East End as well as identifying the challenges faced by minority-owned businesses throughout the region. He is also in support of a New York state loan to modernize Belmont Park, the historic horse racing facility.
This past year, top Nassau County prosecutor Anne Donnelly has been busy with some high-profile cases, kicking off with a probe into Rep. George Santos after his background and political fundraising quickly came into question. Donnelly wants a law passed to make the creation of deepfake images of real people without their consent illegal after a Nassau County man was prosecuted for creating pornography from an image of an underage girl. Donnelly plans to seek a second term next year.
Steve Bellone’s time as Suffolk County executive ends this year with term limits preventing him from seeking another term. With the clock ticking, he attempted to fill a number of county board and commission spots but found himself stymied by Republican legislators. Bellone has been tight-lipped about his next move, but he still hosted his annual golf fundraiser this September, sparking speculation that he could be seeking higher office. In the meantime, Bellone issued an emergency order this spring to deal with asylum-seekers possibly coming to Long Island.
Some unsuccessful gubernatorial candidates, like Marc Molinaro, end up in Congress, while others, like Pierre Rinfret, leave as quietly as they came. Then there’s Lee Zeldin. He has already served in Congress, is not a wallflower and shows no signs of stopping now. Since his near upset of Gov. Kathy Hochul last year, the Suffolk County Republican has weighed a bid to run the Republican National Committee, flirted with challenging U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand next year and launched a PAC to continue his role as a state party leader. In October, he even picked up votes for U.S. House speaker from fellow Republicans.
Last Election Day, Democrats across the country fended off a Republican onslaught during the midterms. Except for in New York – where the GOP gained enough congressional seats to take control of the U.S. House and Long Island Republican Lee Zeldin almost upset Gov. Kathy Hochul. Immediately, calls rose up to replace state party leader Jay Jacobs, also Nassau County’s top Democrat. So far, Jacobs has been successful in keeping his position, pushing back on criticism and garnering support from local party chairs and Hochul. But as the GOP rises across Long Island, challenges continue to pile up for Jacobs as he seeks to elect Democrats to Congress next year.
While they’re outnumbered in the Long Island Assembly delegation, these Democrats enjoy a supermajority in Albany – and are capitalizing on it back home. Assembly Member Taylor Darling wants to make the leap to the state Senate. The Foster Care Subcommittee chair is seeking the seat of state Sen. Kevin Thomas, who is running for Congress. Assembly Member Kimberly Jean-Pierre traded the Libraries and Education Technology Committee gavel for the top spot on the Veterans Affairs Committee this year, and she’s advancing legislation to provide free access to state parks for veterans, institute military leave for Port Authority of New York and New Jersey employees and require a veterans liaison for every state agency. Assembly Member Charles Lavine’s tenure as Judiciary Committee chair has thrust him into some uncharted waters, including overseeing the 2021 impeachment inquiry into Andrew Cuomo and reviewing whether Assembly Member Lester Chang met residency requirements. Assembly Member Phil Ramos, a deputy speaker who mounted a state Senate bid last year, shot down a GOP proposal for Long Island to become the 51st state as “insane.” Assembly Member Gina Sillitti of Port Washington has been surveying constituents over changes to the Long Island Rail Road schedule and delivering feedback. The Black, Hispanic, Puerto Rican and Asian Caucus chair, Assembly Member Michaelle Solages has called for ratepayer relief on utility prices and saw her bill to provide lactation rooms at state airports become law. Assembly Member Steve Stern passed legislation to combat mortgage fraud against veterans, to provide small-business loan assistance for service-disabled veteran owned businesses and to establish a veteran employment task force. Assembly Member Fred Thiele has taken on shaping the future of the Long Island Power Authority in his role co-chairing a legislative commission. Thiele has been engaged in hearings across the island focused on LIPA’s future, including recommendations to transition the authority to a full public-owned utility company.
Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito narrowly beat his challenger, former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, last year, a seat that was up for grabs after Rep. Kathleen Rice’s surprise decision not to seek reelection. Formerly a Hempstead Town Council member and NYPD detective, D’Esposito flipped the seat for the GOP. The drama got red hot recently as D’Esposito had choice words for Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz before the House motion that resulted in California Rep. Kevin McCarthy losing the speakership. D’Esposito chairs the Emergency Management and Technology Subcommittee on the Homeland Security Committee.
Rep. Nick LaLota ensured the GOP kept control of the 1st Congressional District when Lee Zeldin walked away from his seat to unsuccessfully run for governor. LaLota, the Infrastructure Subcommittee chair in the Small Business Committee as well as a former Amityville village trustee, has been trying to focus on national and local interests – but that comes in between controversies. He thinks Rep. George Santos “is a complete fraud” and was one of the many Republicans who backed California Rep. Kevin McCarthy against Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz’s successful bid to oust McCarthy from the speaker’s chair.
It’s been a while since Suffolk County elected a Republican to the executive seat – 2003 to be exact – but Ed Romaine is a known quantity in the region, having just spent the past decade as Brookhaven supervisor. There’s also that “red wave” that put a Republican in the top seat in Nassau County two years ago. Romaine nabbed a key endorsement recently when the Suffolk County PBA threw him their support, the first Republican candidate the union has endorsed for the position in 20 years. It’s the issues that matter most for Long Islanders in recent years.
Dave Calone has never held elective office before. That may or may not work in his favor, considering the distrust the public has against career politicians. A businessperson, Calone started his career as a federal prosecutor, helping to put an al-Qaeda terrorist away for his role in the Sept. 11 attacks. He’s leaned into his law and order bona fides, although the Suffolk PBA passed Calone over for an endorsement, something outgoing Democratic County Executive Steve Bellone seemed to garner. Calone, a former county planning commission chair, has an uphill battle against a Republican trend but said local issues will win.
As head of the Long Island Federation of Labor, John Durso leads the 250,000-member organization representing a wide swath of professions in over 160 union locals. This year, Durso was selected as the only Long Island representative on the panel to shape congestion pricing policy in New York City. He is also concerned with the impact that converting the Long Island Power Authority into a fully public company will have on workers and supports the building of offshore wind farms to help combat climate change and employ workers.
Rich Schaffer does double duty as Babylon supervisor and chair of the Suffolk County Democratic Committee, where his main focus this election season is to put Dave Calone into the county executive seat in November over Republican Ed Romaine, the current Brookhaven supervisor. When local Democrats snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last November in the reverse of a trend nationwide that saw Republicans struggle, Schaffer threw his support behind state party leader Jay Jacobs despite calls for his ouster.
Yvette Aguiar may not be seeking a third term as Riverhead’s supervisor this year, but she isn’t slowing down just yet. In October, she officially opened Riverhead’s new town hall and led the Town Board in delaying decisions on moratoriums on a new battery storage facility and a new industrial development in Calverton until after the Suffolk County Planning Commission weighs in. In September, she threatened to wage a write-in campaign for a third term due to concerns over Republican supervisor nominee Tim Hubbard’s management skills.
Angie Carpenter is seeking to continue her three decades in elective office with a run for a third term as Islip supervisor this year. Carpenter, a former Suffolk County treasurer, has expressed concerns over a new homeless shelter in Bay Shore, broken ground for a new playground in Brentwood, touted the town’s bond rating and reiterated her commitment to Islip boaters. Carpenter said the town’s new master plan would focus on housing, jobs and the environment.
If Hempstead was an incorporated city, it would be larger than every city in the state except New York City. So Supervisor Don Clavin has to settle for being chief of America’s largest township. Clavin garnered Newsday’s endorsement in his bid for a third term this year, conveyed his support for Israel, opposed a proposed 35% water rate hike and was a leading opposition voice to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s failed suburban housing plan.
Joseph Saladino has also been clear this year that he is an opponent to any effort by Hochul to overhaul housing and zoning on Long Island. Saladino joined other town leaders and Long Island school officials to say that any overhaul to increase suburban housing density would cause classroom overcrowding and overwhelm local infrastructure. Saladino, a former state legislator, is seeking reelection this year.
Maurie McInnis has had quite the ride this year. She led Stony Brook University in receiving a $500 million gift from The Simons Foundation, led by alums Jim and Marilyn Simons. The donation triggered a new state matching funds law that added another $200 million to the donation – and the $700 million is more than double the university’s existing $370 million endowment. The university was chosen to create a climate solutions center on Governors Island in New York City, a major win for one the SUNY system’s two flagship universities.
Stanley Bergman continues to lead Long Island’s largest public company into the future. The 90-year-old global dental and medical supplier continued to expand in 2023, partnering with a company that advises independent dental practices in selling to large corporate offices. Conversely, the company is set to vacate one of two large office spaces in Suffolk County this year. Spurred by failures during the pandemic, Bergman recently authored a report for the World Economic Forum on how to sustain a global supply chain in health care in the face of a worldwide pandemic.
As regional director of the NAACP on Long Island, Tracey Edwards manages 10 branches of the civil rights organization. Last year, Edwards complained to officials about a stalled plan to put in protective bulkheads for a flood-prone Long Beach neighborhood that has mostly Black and elderly residents. In May, Edwards and her mother, Dolores Thompson, were feted at a dinner to honor mother-daughter leaders. Edwards is also a commissioner on the state Public Service Commission and a former Huntington Town Council member.
What a year to be a commercial real estate executive and a board member of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – and Scott Rechler is both. The Fed is in a pitched battle with inflation and RXR is rethinking its approach to commercial space, with workers asking for ultra-high-end spaces. In addition, RXR is pivoting to multifamily housing and working with Las Vegas Sands to bring a casino to Nassau County. Rechler and his wife, Debby, gifted Northwell Health $10 million this summer for AI-driven health care research.
Newsday cleaned up at this year’s Long Island Press Club gala, walking away with 40 first-place awards, including best use of social media, breaking news, digital and visual. The paper took home a number of other second- and third-place awards. Owner Patrick Dolan and publisher Debby Krenek are leading the way in guiding the region’s largest news outlet into the digital age. Last year, the Newsday reportedly hit over 50,000 paid digital subscriptions, a leader in online paywall strategy for local media outlets.
State Sen. Monica Martinez returned to Albany this year after a two-year absence and hit the ground running. The Local Government Committee chair still has priorities related to her former role chairing the Senate Domestic Animal Welfare Committee. Martinez has proposed legislation to ban elephants, kangaroos and other exotic animals from being pets in people’s homes. State Sen. Kevin Thomas, who’s seeking a seat in Congress next year, is the co-chair of a legislative commission charting the future of the Long Island Power Authority, which has included transitioning LIPA to a full public utility in its draft recommendations. Thomas said the commission delayed a final report until later this year in order to more fully study issues related to a transition.
Joseph Cairo accomplished what he and fellow Republican leaders set out to do last Election Day. They engineered upsets and kept other races close, especially in the governor’s race, where Lee Zeldin came close to showing Gov. Kathy Hochul the door of the governor’s mansion. Someone took notice – Cairo was elected as a new New York Republican National Committee member this year. It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, though, as Cairo was forced to address Rep. George Santos’ problems, calling on the fellow Republican to resign.
When the New York Republican State Committee chair seat became available, Jesse Garcia’s name was bandied about after orchestrating Republican victories and a high vote count for Lee Zeldin’s near upset gubernatorial victory in the 2022 election. Garcia said he was flattered, but the role went elsewhere and he’s now fixated on Nov. 7. He’s busy trying to keep the suburban GOP train rolling by electing Republican Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine as the new Suffolk County executive.
Susan Poser’s focus at Hofstra University has been to invest in a more inclusive school and expand its programs. Last year, Hofstra was the co-recipient of a $5 million National Science Foundation grant to provide students more opportunities in STEM studies. Poser opened Hofstra's new 75,000 square foot Science and Innovation Center, which will provide new education and research space for students in STEM related programs. Hofstra is also on track to break a record undergraduate retention rate in 2023 that it set last year.
Last November, Howard Fensterman attended the dedication of a new Hofstra University lobby named for the law firm he co-founded. Members of Abrams Fensterman – including dozens of Hofstra alum – are regular speakers, mentors and adjunct professors at the law school. Fensterman’s firm, which he helped launch in 2000, has over 100 attorneys, covering an array of specialties, including health care, insurance and family law. This year, Frank Carone, former chief of staff for New York City Mayor Eric Adams, rejoined Abrams Fensterman as of counsel.
Tritec has been busy constructing ambitiously transformative projects in downtowns across on Long Island, or creating them where none existed before. The $1 billion Station Yards project around Ronkonkoma train station is creating a cohesive community of housing, office and retail where none existed before. A leader in Tritec’s development team is Kevin Law, who joined in 2021 after spending 10 years leading the Long Island Association. Law is also chair of Empire State Development, giving him an influential voice in state economic development policy.
Civil rights lawyer Frederick K. Brewington challenges discriminatory practices across Long Island. This year, Brewington went to court in a number of different cases, including a $30 million lawsuit alleging Nassau County police racially profiled and falsely detained a woman after a traffic stop, representing Roosevelt School District in a racism claim against another district during a school basketball game and winning a $35 million award at trial for the family of a man who died after being beaten by Suffolk County police.
In addition to advising municipalities and developers on projects here as managing partner at the law firm Harris Beach, Thomas Garry, who is also a leader in election law, has been a key adviser to a number of Democratic campaigns, including President Joe Biden’s. Garry is the vice chair of the Nassau County Democratic Committee. Garry’s practice focuses on energy and health care. His group has assisted companies in getting approval for windmill energy farms off the coast of Long Island and building new ambulatory care centers.
Beginning his career as a copier salesman in Tokyo in 1981, Kazuto Ogawa rose to become the chief executive of Melville-based Canon USA in 2020. Ogawa is putting the focus of his company on immersive software, and he teamed up with M. Night Shyamalan at the Consumer Electronics Show to demonstrate the company’s new technology. Canon USA has nabbed multiple industry accolades this year, and as executive vice president, Seymour Liebman is also pushing the company to innovate. Important partnerships came to fruition this year with Canon USA becoming the preferred digital imaging equipment supplier for Getty Images and the Los Angeles Times. Liebman sits on the board of the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts and is vice chair of the board of the Long Island Association.
At Rivkin Radler, Evan Krinick is responsible for running the day-to-day operations of one of Long Island’s largest law firms and for growing the practice. The firm had a growth spurt this year elevating eight attorneys to partner and opening a Jacksonville, Florida, office, its first in the Southeast. Krinick jumped into the ongoing debate over hybrid work, saying staff needs to be on site three days a week, including on Wednesdays. Krinick also has a regular column in the New York Law Journal where he comments on decisions involving insurance fraud.
Just over a year after being defeated in his second bid for governor, former Rep. Tom Suozzi wants to go back to Washington, D.C. Suozzi has announced a bid to reclaim his old North Shore seat from scandal-scarred Republican Rep. George Santos – and he has not kept his opinions of Santos to himself, calling Santos a “con man.” While it’s not his old Ways and Means Committee perch, Suozzi has kept himself busy with a job at Actum, a global public relations and lobbying firm.
In his second year leading Catholic Health, Patrick O’Shaughnessy has overseen some big moves for the health care provider. This year, they announced a partnership with CVS to boost care given to Medicare beneficiaries, broke ground on a $10 million project to expand the emergency department at St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson and opened a new $17 million urgent care center in Centereach. Catholic Health also took on lead sponsorship of the Amphitheater at Bald Hill outdoor concert and event venue in Farmingville.
When Doon Gibbs retired as director of Brookhaven National Laboratory last year after 10 years in the role, JoAnne Hewett was recruited from the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California to take on a job overseeing over 2,800 employees and some of the most complex scientific experiments being conducted anywhere in the world, answering questions about the universe’s basic structure and origins. Hewett also became a professor at Stony Brook University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy and the school’s C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics.
Since 1979, Bruce Stillman has been at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, first as a postdoctoral fellow then rising to become its leader, along the way succeeding James Watson. In September, Stillman earned a Distinguished Scientist Award for his work in DNA replication from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. The lab is replicating its own success, breaking ground on a new $57 million neuroscience research complex this year and raising a record $5.8 million during its annual awards dinner.
Before the idea of fintech exploded onto the scene in popular parlance almost 10 years ago, there was Broadridge providing vital back office services to Wall Street companies and brokerage firms. Daly, who founded the company in 1987 in his Long Island home, still serves as the chair of the executive board. Daly is on the advisory board of Columbia Law School’s Millstein Center on corporate governance. He is a founding member of the Suffolk County chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Since 2016, Marc Herbst has been fighting for the interests of the heavy construction industry on behalf of the 170 members of the Long Island Contractors’ Association. LICA recently highlighted a report that blamed traffic deaths on unsafe roads, with 45% of New York’s major roads in need of repair like the Southern State Parkway, which has a section dubbed “Blood Alley” due to its high number of fatal crashes. Herbst also serves as president of the New York Roadway and Infrastructure Coalition.
Linda Armyn served as chief marketing officer for Bethpage Federal Credit Union until August, when former CEO Wayne Grossé retired. Armyn, who joined the organization in 2001, takes the reins of New York’s largest credit union as the first woman to fill the top role. Armyn helped build the credit union’s brand through significant branding opportunities like the Bethpage Air Show. She also co-chairs the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council and is a member of the Stony Brook University President’s Council.
Mike Florio took over as CEO of the largest association for the home construction industry on Long Island in January when Mitchell Pally retired from the role. Just prior to taking the job, Florio served as chief of staff to former Rep. Tom Suozzi. LIBI represents over 600 builders across the island. That number increased when the trade group joined forces with Professional Remodeling Organization New York, which primarily has remodelers in its membership.
A plan to make the Long Island Power Authority a full public utility, meaning it will not contract service to a third party and could make all workers state employees, has put Thomas Falcone in a pitched battle with PSEG Long Island and the electricians union. Falcone said the plan eliminates duplicity and reigns in costs. He also gave a D grade to PSEG’s management of the electrical grid. LIPA is slowly rolling out a plan for off-peak electric rates to save customers money, and it’s leading Long Island’s clean energy future with offshore wind farms coming online soon.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer may seem omnipresent across New York, but sometimes he can’t be everywhere on Long Island. That’s where Garrett Armwood steps in. The Stony Brook University alum knows Long Island, having worked for former Rep. Steve Israel and Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski and cutting his political teeth on former Rep. Tim Bishop’s 2010 campaign. In his work for Schumer, Armwood helped secure funding for a $2 billion supercollider at Brookhaven National Lab.
Starting his career in 1969 as splicer’s helper at New York Telephone, Long Islander Dennis Trainor rose through the union ranks to become vice president of CWA District 1, representing over 150,000 regional members. The union supports workers in a variety of industries, including New Jersey nurses seeking safer working standards and postal workers in New York City demanding an explanation for pension fund losses. Trainor is also a New York Power Authority trustee, helping to lead the state’s transition to renewable energy.
It’s not quite the old “Long Island Nine,” but holding seven out of nine seats on the island is still a nice rebound for state Senate Republicans. A former deputy mayor, police commissioner, fire commissioner and budget director in Malverne, state Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick took office this year. She is opposed to a proposed wind farm off the coast of Long Beach, which was approved in the closing hours of the legislative session. Back following a six-year break and unsuccessful runs for Congress and Nassau County executive, state Sen. Jack Martins is leading Republican efforts to combat antisemitism in New York. The top Republican on the state Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, state Sen. Mario Mattera is pushing for the Public Service Commission to expand the definition of clean energy sources to mitigate rate hikes as the state implements climate goals. State Sen. Dean Murray, a former journalist and advertising entrepreneur who also served in the Assembly, leads GOP efforts on the Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee, the Social Services Committee and the Libraries Committee. The GOP deputy floor leader, state Sen. Anthony Palumbo also leads conference efforts on criminal justice and law as the top Republican on the Judiciary and Codes committees and has said county and local governments need to be treated as partners in dealing with asylum-seekers. An attorney for first responders and former Nassau County legislator, state Sen. Steven Rhoads has said that public safety is his top priority. Rhoads worked with Island Harvest to create a Farm Day of Action to plant crops for the nonprofit and promote the island’s agricultural history. State Sen. Alexis Weik, Islip’s former receiver of taxes, is the top Republican on the Civil Service and Pensions Committee and the Women’s Issues Committee.
With over 10,000 active and retired workers, the Suffolk Association of Municipal Employees is the county’s largest public sector union and a political force to be reckoned with. Daniel Levler, the union’s president, announced that Republican Ed Romaine is the union’s pick for county executive this year. He also went to bat for child welfare workers in Suffolk, defending against the broad brush painted against them in the aftermath of the tragic death of Thomas Valva, the 8-year-old autistic boy killed by his father and stepmother.
Robert and James Coughlan founded Tritec in 1986 and since have been developing in some of the most impressive projects on Long Island, including Station Yards adjacent to the Ronkonkoma train station, New Village in Patchogue and the soon-to-be-completed Shoregate in Bay Shore. Both brothers are involved with key Long Island economic boards. Robert is on the boards of the Long Island Housing Partnership, Hope House Ministries and the Long Island Association. James previously served as chair of the Long Island Builders Institute and is a board member of the Community Development Corporation of Long Island.
Last year, Sheldon Shrenkel took over the top job at Nassau County IDA from Harry Coghlan. The Nassau IDA is tasked with bestowing tax incentives to projects it thinks will stimulate the local economy. Shrenkel came to the agency with a lot of experience – he has his own financial consultancy and was director of operations at Chrysler Capital Corp. Shrenkel was previously on the board of the Hempstead Housing Authority.
Suffolk County Legislator Kevin McCaffrey’s influence extends beyond wielding a gavel at legislative meetings. The Republican lawmaker, who was elected to a second term as presiding officer of the county’s 18-member legislative body early this year, is also the president of Teamsters Local 707, representing freight drivers, ambulance drivers and off-track betting staff across the New York City metropolitan area, along with overseeing the labor union’s pension fund. Prior to entering county government, McCaffrey was deputy mayor of Lindenhurst.
It’s the end of an era in the Nassau County Legislature, with Richard Nicolello not seeking reelection this year for his New Hyde Park seat after 28 years, six of them as the Legislature’s presiding officer. Nicolello, a Republican, is one of the original members of the county legislature, serving since its inception in 1996. He leaves with his party in power, which unanimously approved redistricting (zero Democrats voted for it) but the map now faces legal challenges. Nicolello is also an insurance attorney at a Uniondale-based law firm.
They may be in the minority, but Long Island’s Republican Assembly members constitute a majority of the region’s Assembly delegation, holding 14 out of 22 seats. Veteran Assembly Member Ed Ra is a top deputy to Minority Leader Will Barclay, leading budget efforts as ranking minority member on the Ways and Means Committee. Ra has called for lowering state taxes and regulations on small businesses, but he also co-chairs the bipartisan Millennial Action Project’s New York Future Caucus. Assembly Member Michael Fitzpatrick has been in the thick of recent policy fights as ranking minority member of the Housing Committee. The lawmaker opposed Gov. Kathy Hochul’s housing proposals, saying higher density would be the “death of the suburbs.” Assembly Member David McDonough, the ranking minority member of the Transportation Committee, has focused on public safety, a top issue on Long Island. Assembly Member Brian Curran, the ranking minority member of the Banks Committee, called for increased risk management in New York banks after the collapse of Signature Bank. Assembly Member Michael Durso, the top Republican on the Government Operations Committee, opposed Hochul’s housing plan and the state’s bail reforms. Assembly Member Jarett Gandolfo also called Hochul’s housing proposals “disastrous for Long Island.” Gandolfo, top Republican on the Mental Health Committee, called for withholding Hochul’s salary if a budget wasn’t passed on time. Assembly Member Joe DeStefano, the ranking Republican on the Governmental Employees Committee, sent a letter to Hochul this spring voicing opposition to proposed limits on gas stoves. A longtime Riverhead Town Council member, Assembly Member Jodi Giglio has been active on a number of fronts in her second term in Albany. The ranking minority member of the People with Disabilities Committee, Giglio has called for the Long Island Power Authority to increase transparency on renewable energy site placements and said the utility should reimburse residents for lost grocery items following power failures.
As the first female president of Adelphi University, Christine Riordan knows a thing or two about breaking through glass ceilings and instituting change. This year, Adelphi received recognition for an interdisciplinary program that bridges social work and nursing students to help bring health care to underserved youth, an award bestowed to just one university per year. In an effort to attract more local students to campus, the school recently guaranteed tuition will not exceed $10,000 annually for high-performing transfer students in a bachelor’s degree track.
Serving his second term as Suffolk County’s sheriff, Errol Toulon Jr., the first African American person in the role, has continued to focus his efforts on reducing crime, kicking off a new correctional intelligence center in Suffolk jails this year to track threats. Toulon’s department is also overseeing the incarceration of suspected Gilgo Beach serial killer Rex Heuermann, and jail investigators are sharing information they collect from female prisoners they interviewed with the Police Task Force assigned to the case.
Resi Cooper is a public affairs strategist with political clout who was notably a U.S. Senate aide for Hillary Clinton. Cooper was contracted by Las Vegas Sands to help the company make political connections in a bid to build a casino at the Nassau Coliseum site. Cooper is on the board of the LGBT Network and the YMCA of Long Island and is a member of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council for New York state.
PSEG Long Island’s $80 million per year contract with the Long Island Power Authority will be up for renewal in 2025, but the light at the end of that tunnel is dimming with growing calls to make LIPA fully public. That’s the major issue at hand for David C. Lyons, who manages the day-to-day operations of the power company. PSEG Long Island missed out on millions in performance bonuses due to extended service call wait times and coming in dead last in a customer satisfaction survey. Lyons also serves on the board of The United Way of Long Island.
Mark Lesko, Long Island’s former top federal prosecutor who served as acting assistant attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Security Division, joined Greenberg Traurig in 2022 when the firm first expanded onto Long Island. He focuses his practice on white-collar defense and blockchain and digital assets. Lesko commented recently on former Justice Department colleague Jack Smith, the special counsel in the Trump probe, calling him “fearless.” Lesko is a former three-term Brookhaven supervisor.
Kathy Wisnewski has been at National Grid for more than 30 years in a variety of management positions. Now, Wisnewski is touting the company’s energy efficiency programs and developing community relationships. She is also on the board of Vision Long Island and is a former co-chair of the board at Girls Inc. At the cross section of her volunteer work empowering girls and outreach at the utility, this year National Grid gave scholarships to 14 players on the Girls Elite Hockey team on Long Island.
Despite only making it to the first round of the playoffs last season, the Islanders can now boast another new record: Fastest four goals in playoff history. After co-owner Jon Ledecky bought the team, it went through some rough patches (let’s all erase that ill-fated stint in Brooklyn from memory) but they’ve been turning it around. The Islanders broke attendance records in UBS Arena and the team is now valued at over $1 billion, after an estimated purchase price of $548 million back in 2014.
After serving as Long Island University's president for 10 years, Kimberly Cline has designs on the next decade. She developed a strategic plan to make LIU a top 50 school by 2030. The university recently became the permanent home to more than a million pieces of American presidential history, establishing the White House Experience and Museum of Democracy on campus. This year, Gov. Kathy Hochul named Cline to a council that helps direct millions in state economic development funds on Long Island.
Timothy Sams had some big news to announce at his official inauguration as SUNY Old Westbury’s president this spring: The Long Island college was becoming the state’s newest university. The official university designation became official on July 1, with Sams saying it better reflected the depth of the education offered by the school. Sams came to Long Island from Texas to become Old Westbury’s president in 2021, with the official inauguration delayed until this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Association for a Better Long Island advocates for changes to improve the economic conditions for people who live and work on the island. Kyle Strober, ABLI’s executive director, was chosen earlier this year to be on a panel that will direct millions of dollars in state funds to Long Island businesses. He also advocated for a glide path for property taxes on new developments through local development agencies to help spur construction of affordable multifamily housing on Long Island. Prior to joining the Association, Strober served as Long Island regional director for U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer.
Laureen Harris is not only the first woman but also the first person who was not a real estate developer to serve as ABLI’s president. Her expertise in tax grievance law helps in pushing an agenda of reducing the financial burden on Long Islanders. In 2020, Harris was also appointed to the board of the Long Island Power Authority.
In September, Catherine Rinaldi heeded calls to step down as interim Long Island Rail Road president and focus solely on her job as president of the Metro-North Railroad. Robert Free, a 32-year veteran of the LIRR, is now acting president of the nation’s largest commuter rail system, where he was senior vice president of operations. But Free needs to come up to speed quickly – schedule changes earlier this year to accommodate service to Grand Central came with major headaches for commuters, and there is continued outcry over derelict train stations.
Under Dr. Nick Fitterman’s leadership, Huntington Hospital has garnered recognition for delivering excellent care year after year. The hospital received five stars from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this year for the third year in a row. It was then ranked 11th in New York and was nationally ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s list of top hospitals. Fitterman is a professor at Hofstra’s Northwell School of Medicine and last year he was appointed to the board of the Family Service League.
It’s been a good year for NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island, which was ranked first this year in quality and safety by Vizient, a health care system solutions company and the hospital’s chief, Dr. Joseph Greco, is working to keep the hospital on an upward trajectory. The health care system promoted Dr. Marc Adler to run Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue as the systems merge, and a $10 million renovation is forthcoming. NYU Langone began rolling out its new Home Hospital Program, where qualified patients receive inpatient care at home. Greco is also on the board of the Long Island Association.
After overseeing the merger of the last independent hospital on Long Island with NYU Langone Health last year, Richard Margulis retired as CEO after a long career that began there in 1982 as an X-ray tech. Dr. Marc Adler was brought over from NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola, where he was chief medical officer, to replace Margulis. Adler’s official title is chief of hospital operations at the 306-bed medical center, and he will preside over $100 million in upgrades planned by NYU Langone.
South Fork Wind is expected to go online with its 12 wind turbines off Montauk Point by the end of this year. A new offshore project called Sunrise Wind is set to bring power through Smith Point by 2025. With these Ørsted-developed projects, Jennifer Garvey is helping to get New York to its goal of 70% renewable energy by 2023. Her background in local politics and environment policy has helped her to contend with skeptics and blowback for these projects.
After Harrison Feuer joined energy company Equinor last year – with three offshore wind projects in the works around Long Island – he was in the thick of local and state politics. Controversy recently swirled around Long Beach, where the company wants to run cable against the wishes of some elected officials and city residents, which resulted in the cancellation of their sponsorship of a film festival there. Feuer has a lot of experience in local government though, having been a staffer for former Rep. Steve Israel and Assembly Member Charles Lavine.
Steve Israel shows there is life after Congress. As director of Cornell University’s Institute of Politics and Global Affairs, a nonpartisan platform to discuss political issues, Israel is teaching strategies to Congress to avoid war and promote democracy in a bipartisan way. He has also become a man of letters in more ways than one. He frequently pens editorials on topics like the danger AI poses to political discourse and how Rep. George Santos came to be. He also owns an indie bookshop in Oyster Bay called Theodore’s Books.
This year, former state Sen. Phil Boyle traded Albany to become chief of Suffolk Regional Off-Track Betting, replacing Tony Pancella, who became the agency’s executive director after one year in the CEO role. Boyle who forwent running for office again to take the job will no doubt use his political influence in the position, one that typically goes to someone aligned with the Suffolk County Legislature’s majority party. Boyle said that OTB was not pursuing a $1 billion license to make Jake’s 58 a full-fledged casino with table games, citing the cost. In the meantime, Jake’s 58 will be taking on a $200 million expansion that will include a doubling of its video machines.
As pastor of the century-old Union Baptist Church, the Rev. Sedgwick Easley has helped grow his congregation and addresses issues facing his community members like barriers to mental health care, the death of Tyre Nichols and police brutality. From the pulpit, Easley has said that it is important for minority communities to go out and vote. He is also the director of publicity and executive assistant to Waylyn Hobbs Jr., the mayor of the village of Hempstead.
With an increased focus on renewable energy on Long Island, including offshore wind farms, the reliability of the region’s electrical grid is of utmost concern for Patrick Guidice, who serves the interests of union members in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049. Guidice praised labor provisions included in the state Build Public Renewables Act that passed earlier this year. He also came out against a plan to transform LIPA into a full public utility. Jerome Bost, IBEW’s director of external affairs, is a veteran of former Rep. Tom Suozzi’s office and leads the union’s government relations, community outreach and strategic communications functions. Bost organized IBEW’s successful Labor Breakfast with keynote speaker New Jersey Rep. David Norcross, a union veteran, and serves as a top adviser to Guidice.
Former Suffolk County Executive Patrick Halpin is a managing partner at Mercury, a public strategy firm with a number of high-profile clients. Halpin brings his breadth of government experience to the firm, but he has not totally left the world of public service. Halpin serves as the chair of the Suffolk County Water Authority and the Babylon Industrial Development Authority. He also commented on outgoing Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s woes on having his appointments blocked by the opposition, saying it wasn’t the time to play politics.
Robert Creighton focuses his practice on mergers and acquisitions and representing banks in commercial lending transactions. He has represented a number of Long Island companies in their business dealings, including last year when Holtsville-based Tower Fasteners was acquired by a larger distributor. Creighton’s firm, Farrell Fritz, is expanding, adding two high-caliber attorneys to its New York City office this year. Creighton serves on the boards of the Long Island Housing Partnership, EPIC Long Island and Family Service League.
William Haugland’s company constructs large-scale infrastructure projects. In April, Haugland Group snagged a $200 million contract with Ørsted to build conduit for onshore transmission lines from Sunrise Wind, the wind farm 35 miles off Montauk Point. It is reportedly the largest wind farm contract on Long Island to date, expected to employ 400 union workers. Haugland built and managed some of the largest construction companies on Long Island, including Asplundh Construction and Hawkeye. His company also owns a power plant in Greenport contracted to the Long Island Power Authority.
The LGBT Network is one of the state’s largest nonprofits of its kind, with David Kilmnick at the helm speaking out for the community. He criticized the New York Rangers hockey team for changing their minds about wearing Pride-themed jerseys during warmups earlier this year. The Long Island Pride parade returned to Huntington this year, which hosted the region’s first Pride parade back in the early 1990s. And Kilmnick sounded the alarm to health care on the effects of a preventive HIV drug, PrEP, being eliminated from medical insurance coverage.
Powerhouse public relations firms like Rubenstein attract powerhouse clients like Northrop Grumman, Disney and the construction consortium for the recently completed Long Island Rail Road Expansion Project, with executives who know the lay of the land. Rubenstein’s Gary Lewi is someone who knows Long Island. Lewi, a crisis management expert with broadcast news experience, was previously the top spokesperson for the town of Hempstead and former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato. This year, Lewi has been running defense in the local press for a company in partnership to develop land at the former Grumman Aerospace property in Calverton.
Adam Silvers is responsible for the day-to-day running of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek PC, a Uniondale-based law firm that has a number of practice areas relevant to issues facing Long Island businesses today, including cannabis law and commercial lending. The firm is growing with new attorneys and launching a blockchain technology and digital asset practice group this year. Last year, Silvers was elected to the board of the Long Island Association.
Is there a government agency impacting Long Island that Richard Kessel hasn’t helmed? The former Long Island Power Authority chair was appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in October as the new chair of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, replacing Adam Barsky. Kessel, a former New York Power Authority chair and state consumer protection chief, stepped down in March as chair of the Nassau County Industrial Development Authority. NIFA recently hired a consultant to review the finances of Nassau University Medical Center and approved a new county police union contract.
In Anthony Simon’s role in the local division of SMART, he represents workers who keep the trains on track in the country’s largest commuter railroad system. Simon oversees the board, handles employee arbitration and negotiates contracts. The union was criticized this year in a report that blamed its overtime rules and resisting calls for reform for some of the highest fares in the nation. Simon shot back, saying staffing shortages and contractor mismanagement are a big part of the problem.
At the Long Island African American Chamber of Commerce, Phil Andrews helps support Black-owned businesses across Long Island with programs, coaching and by hosting an annual Minority Enterprise Development Week that brings together minority business owners. The Chamber joined the Long Island Association for the Long Island Minority Small Business Survey to identify challenges to this community. Andrews helped found 100 Black Men of Eastern New York, which he says is focused on youth mentoring and offers a number of other vital resources.
Theresa Regnante is on a mission to connect the most at-risk individuals in the Long Island community with services they need, like back-to-school supply drives and skilled job training, the main work of the United Way of Long Island. Regnante is also instrumental in raising the funds to keep United Way’s programs and partnerships running, a job that gets tougher as nonprofits face donor fatigue despite their services being more vital than ever. She is championing low-wage workers who – deemed essential during the pandemic – now face greater economic hardships.
With over $13.8 billion in assets, Dime is one of the region’s largest community banks. Dime weathered the storm well back in March when a crisis rocked the industry. In August, Stuart Lubow, who was promoted from within, took the reins from outgoing CEO Kevin O’Connor. The bank has since been building out its commercial lending business and helping East End businesses through a Long Island Association initiative. Dime also became an official partner of the New York Jets.
Noel DiGerolamo presides over the union representing Suffolk County’s nearly 7,000 patrolment. Over the summer, the PBA won a reversal of an earlier ethics board ruling barring Suffolk County PBA political actions committees from contributing to politicians involved in contract negotiations with the police force. The PBA also endorsed Ed Romaine for Suffolk County executive, the first endorsement for a Republican candidate in 20 years. DiGerolamo said that state bail reforms introduced by Democrats that hamper police and Romaine’s pro-law enforcement stance spurred the change.
Tom Shevlin came from the NYPD to become a Nassau County police officer in 2005. He spent five years as a union delegate, and when the PBA again failed to negotiate a contract after five years without one, the old guard was pushed out and Shevlin was elected president in 2022. Under his leadership, the PBA negotiated a new retroactive contract. Shevlin, who is still a police officer, believes in the importance of mental health for police and works as a counselor in the department’s Employee Assistance Office.
As the person tasked with touting Long Island as a top-notch destination, Kristen Reynolds is overseeing Discover Long Island at a time when tourism spending on the island has reached a record $6.6 billion annually. To capitalize on this, the agency released a new video campaign featuring a number of local business owners. Long Island recently hosted a record-breaking 3,800 athletes for the Ironman 70.3 triathlon at Jones Beach in September.
Laura Harding wants to address the impact of structural racism, especially as it pertains to housing and schools. Harding is only the second president in Erase Racism NY’s history since it was founded in 2001. After affirmative action in college admissions was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, Harding wrote that we must be more vigilant than ever to remove segregation in grade school, something she says is still with us. She also said increased housing stock on Long Island will make homes more affordable.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents were up 36% in 2022, the worst year on record. Working to stem the tide of hate, Mindy Perlmutter leads the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island, an organization that brings together local officials, agencies and other groups to communicate about Jewish life. Perlmutter serves on Nassau County's Task Force to Combat Antisemitism and applauded a new hotline in Suffolk County to report hate crimes. The Israel-Hamas war has also galvanized the local Jewish community in defending against antisemitism.
Adrienne Esposito wants Long Islanders to drink clean water and New York’s bees do their work undisturbed. Long Island’s leading environmental advocate called for Suffolk County to put a water quality referendum on the ballot to create a clean water fund. She said it is “a tragedy” that reports show Long Island’s drinking water is getting worse, placing the blame on nitrogen pollution. Esposito is also pushing Gov. Kathy Hochul to sign the Birds and Bees Protection Act to ban toxic neonicotinoid pesticides, saying Hochul has “an un-BEE-lievable opportunity to be a national leader” on pollinator protection issues.
In 2021, Waylyn Hobbs Jr. was elected mayor of the Village of Hempstead, knocking out the incumbent and flipping the seat from red to blue. He has moved the village past a corruption scandal under his predecessor, advancing stalled affordable housing projects, knocking down abandoned homes to combat blight and pushing to transform the village into a city, which could increase state aid and tax revenue. Hobbs is also the longtime senior pastor at Coney Island Cathedral in Brooklyn.
At Island Harvest, veteran nonprofit leader Randi Shubin Dresner leads one of the nation’s largest food banks to help feed an estimated 230,000 people on Long Island who suffer from food insecurity. During the pandemic, Dresner said the entire organization had to quickly adapt, changing the way it solicited and distributed food. To meet increased demand, they opened a 43,000-square-foot warehouse last year. With the soaring cost of groceries, more people are relying on Island Harvest, pushing the food bank to its limits.
When he’s not penning profiles of Long Island’s interesting people for the legendary East End Dan’s Papers, Todd Shapiro is opening taverns in Albany where political junkies can feel at home. The War Room is part memorabilia-filled bar, part cigar lounge and aspires to be the destination for political power players in the capital city. He also owns a little PR shop with clients like state Democratic Chair Jay Jacobs, Long Island villages and both the Suffolk and Nassau County police unions.
“This all used to be potato fields” is a cliched refrain for suburban sprawl on Long Island, but agriculture has been a staple since colonial times. Long Island agriculture today includes 592 farms, 69 wineries, shellfish and even one duck farm. As director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, Robert Carpenter has had a number of recent successes, including a $100 million 10-year farmland preservation program in Suffolk County, changes to aquaculture regulations to benefit oyster growers, securing state funding for Suffolk County farmland preservation and the development of a young farmers program.
Demand for affordable housing units has never been greater, with applications significantly outpacing the inventory coming online. Great Neck-based Metropolitan Realty Group, the real estate company Scott Jaffee founded over 20 years ago, currently has $1 billion in affordable housing stock under management across the country. His firm also invests in the lives of their tenants. Last year they partnered to help underserved students navigate a path to college and supported a program to provide meals to families in need.
A manufacturing trade group that advocates for more than 100 members, Ignite LI provides a number of important resources and sets a legislative agenda to support the industrial business on Long Island in partnership with other similar associations. Anne Shybunko-Moore, owner and CEO of defense manufacturing company GSE Dynamics, is chair of Ignite LI, as well as founder of the Manufacturing Consortium of Long Island and a member of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.
Attorney Craig Johnson relies on his political background as a former Nassau County Legislator and state senator to advise clients at Port Washington-based Long Point Advisors, the consulting firm he founded. Clients include corporations like Airbnb, trade groups like the American Chemistry Council and nonprofits like the Animal Legal Defense Fund. In addition to his public service, Johnson was previously vice president of government affairs at Altice USA and managing director of new business development at Bloomberg Law.
Neela Lockel has a long history in the nonprofit sector serving Long Island. She was executive director of Girls Inc. of Long Island and CEO of the local American Red Cross chapter, and now Lockel leads Garden City-based EAC Network, an organization that assists families and empowers individuals with more than a hundred programs and services. When she joined EAC Network, Lockel pledged to ensure the diversity of the organization matched the communities they served. She is also on the board of the Long Island Association.
Roger Tilles is serving his fourth term on the state Board of Regents. Advocates are pushing for a controversial move away from the focus on exams as a requirement for a high school regents diploma, something that Tilles would consider, saying teaching to the test is not ideal. Tilles said state education officials need to “double down” on diversity initiatives, specifically around transgender students, rather than backing off due to threats. Tilles, a member of a prominent family of arts supporters, co-founded the Arts Reach Fund of Long Island.
Dale Lewis had a long tenure as executive director of Usdan, a prominent summer camp for creative and performing arts, stepping down to become the head of the Arts Reach Fund of Long Island, which supports artists and arts education. Lewis is also vice chair of the board of the Long Island Arts Alliance, which brings together the region’s arts and cultural organizations. For his leadership in the arts, Lewis was bestowed with the annual Gilbert Tilles Award in 2023.
A former union telephone line worker with New York Telephone Company, Greg Caggiano went to school at night to get his law degree and became shop steward for CWA Local 1104. Inspired by his duties representing his fellow union members, Caggiano co-founded his law firm focused on Social Security disability, pension, workers’ compensation and negligence claims, and specializing in working with law enforcement and civil service. Miller & Caggiano also sponsors a number of law enforcement initiatives, like donating bikes for local public safety and sponsoring the Suffolk County Lawmen softball team.
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