Power of Diversity

The 2024 Power of Diversity: Black 100

Trailblazing leaders from Harlem, Brooklyn and across New York.

City & State presents the 2024 Power of Diversity: Black 100.

City & State presents the 2024 Power of Diversity: Black 100. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Black political power has reached a new height in New York.

Black politicians hold such important roles as mayor of New York City, the top posts in the state Legislature and the leadership of several of the most influential prosecutorial offices in the nation. The state attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney, both of whom are Black, are bringing major cases against a former president, while the New York City Council speaker and the public advocate are flexing their political muscle by forcing through major legislation opposed by City Hall. What’s more, many Black elected officials are still on the rise: One is a few flipped congressional seats away from being speaker of the House, while another is a heartbeat – or a scandal – away from the governorship.

The Power of Diversity: Black 100, written and researched by City & State in partnership with journalist Jenna Flanagan, highlights the latest activities and accomplishments of these influential leaders and dozens of other Black leaders who are standing out in the spheres of government, business, nonprofits, organized labor, health care, law, advocacy and academia. Read on to see who made this year’s list – and where everyone landed.

1. Eric Adams

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

New York City wouldn’t quite be New York City without a larger than life leader – and Mayor Eric Adams never fails to deliver. The city’s nightlife-loving cheerleader in chief waited years to ascend to the city’s top post, a development he often attributes to divine intervention and one that he says has made him a “symbol of Black manhood in this city, in this country.” While some crime figures have improved on his watch, the mayor is now contending with a migrant crisis, an emboldened City Council and questions about a federal investigation – as well as dismal poll numbers that have his rivals waiting to pounce.

2. Andrea Stewart-Cousins

State Senate Majority Leader
Andrea Stewart-Cousins / NYS Senate Media Services

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has been exerting her power in Albany, leading her chamber in defeating Gov. Kathy Hochul’s nomination of Hector LaSalle for chief judge, leading the Clean Slate Act to passage and shaping a budget to include the top priorities of her caucus. Stewart-Cousins said the Clean Slate Act will stop New Yorkers from having a criminal record hanging over them after they have repaid their debt to society. Stewart-Cousins touted the inclusion of child care funding, expanded school lunches and new mental health funds as wins.

3. Carl Heastie

Assembly Speaker
Carl Heastie / Assembly

The 100th speaker of the Assembly, Carl Heastie may represent the Bronx but he’s also focused on a statewide agenda that benefits communities. In 2023, his biggest priority was addressing New York’s housing needs, and he was not afraid to point out where Gov. Kathy Hochul’s ambitious – and ultimately failed – housing agenda was lacking. Heastie said Hochul’s failed plan to add 800,000 new units statewide needed more emphasis on ownership than rentals. With housing remaining a top 2024 Albany agenda item, look for Heastie and Hochul to joust again on the issue.

4. Adrienne Adams

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

Sometimes New York City Hall is Adams vs. Adams – Mayor Eric Adams and the City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. While they’re both outer-borough Democrats with moderate political leanings, they aren’t always on the same page. Adrienne Adams has pushed back on big issues like the proposed budget cuts of 5% across the board and led the council in overriding the mayor’s veto of landmark housing legislation and on criminal justice issues. Adams has the distinction of being the first African American speaker of the City Council and the first woman to represent her Queens district.

5. Hakeem Jeffries

House Minority Leader
Hakeem Jeffries / Office of Representative Hakeem Jeffries

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries may be a gerrymandered New York electoral map away from one of Washington’s most influential perches. With New York redrawing its congressional districts again, the flipping of a few seats could help elevate the Brooklynite to House speaker next year. Unlike Speaker Mike Johnson and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the disciplined Jeffries won all of the votes in his conference in 2023’s marathon speakership votes. Jeffries would be the nation’s first Black House speaker, and the first speaker from New York since Theodore Pomeroy of Auburn held the job for one day in 1869.

6. Letitia James

State Attorney General
Letitia James / Kyle O'Leary

Letitia James may go down in history as one of a handful of prosecutors to successfully bring charges against Donald Trump. Yet the former president is not the only powerful figure James has taken on as she has positioned herself as the nation’s most consequential state attorney general. She was part of a coalition of state attorneys general who got tech giant Google to pay out $700 million for having a monopoly on Android apps. James is also taking on the National Rifle Association and brought down its powerful longtime leader. The Brooklynite is the first woman of color to hold statewide office in New York history.

7. Ingrid Lewis-Martin

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

Very few first names cause New York City Hall staffers to snap to attention than Ingrid. Ingrid Lewis-Martin, the chief adviser to Mayor Eric Adams, has positioned herself as a key locus of power within city government. Lewis-Martin officially advises Adams on all personnel moves and issues such as civic engagement, but her influence goes beyond those areas, including as perhaps the mayor’s most trusted aide. Her power derives from the long-standing alliance between her and Adams, which includes her stint as his deputy borough president in Brooklyn.

8. Jumaane Williams

New York City Public Advocate
Jumaane Williams / Caroll Andrewsk, NYC Public Advocate's Office

Whether it’s taking on the city’s worst landlords, supporting equitable congestion pricing or ending solitary confinement in New York City jails, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams is on it. Williams has gone from community organizer to the City Council to a job that puts him first in line of succession to the mayoralty. Williams has shown himself adept at taking a job with limited official powers and turning it into a platform where he’s been able to push his agenda through over the objections of Mayor Eric Adams.

9. Crystal Peoples-Stokes

Assembly Majority Leader
Crystal Peoples-Stokes / Yves Richard Blan, Blanc Photography

Crystal Peoples-Stokes stands out as a trailblazer in New York politics. The first African American woman to serve as majority leader of the Assembly, Peoples-Stokes came to Albany after working as a schoolteacher, in the Buffalo Urban League and Citizen Action of New York and in the Erie County Legislature. A longtime leader on Buffalo’s East Side, Peoples-Stokes has been an advocate for minority- and women-owned businesses and the driving force behind the state’s cannabis legalization law. She is also on the advisory council for the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.

10. Jamaal Bailey, Jabari Brisport, Samra Brouk, Cordell Cleare, Leroy Comrie, Robert Jackson, Zellnor Myrie, Kevin Parker, Roxanne Persaud, James Sanders Jr. & Lea Webb

State Senators
Jamaal Bailey, Jabari Brisport, Samra Brouk, Cordell Cleare, Leroy Comrie, Robert Jackson, Zellnor Myrie, Kevin Parker, Roxanne Persaud, James Sanders Jr. & Lea Webb / Provided; Lalo Remes; NYS Senate; Office of Senator Jackson; Office of Senator Myrie; Office of Senator Parker; NYS Senate Photography Services

State Sen. Jamaal Bailey holds a pair of influential posts: Codes Committee chair and Bronx Democratic leader. In Albany, Bailey is championing legislation to require that all youth questioned by police be given legal consultation.

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie made headlines with the passage of the Clean Slate Act, which will seal many criminal records. The Elections Committee chair – and a potential New York City mayoral candidate – kicked off the 2024 session by passing a voting rights package, including legislation to criminalize voter suppression. State Senate Banks Committee Chair James Sanders Jr. is also celebrating a high-profile legislative victory with the enactment of a measure creating a commission to study reparations for slavery.

A rising star in democratic socialist circles is state Senate Children and Families Committee Chair Jabari Brisport. He has called for the state to raise taxes on top earners and has had some success advocating for increased child care funding.

State Senate Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Chair Leroy Comrie oversees the state’s public authorities, most notably the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. He stalled the governor’s initial Penn Station overhaul, saying a new plan was needed. State Sen. Robert Jackson in 2022 took over the Civil Service and Pensions Committee, a key post due to the heavily unionized public sector workforce in New York. Jackson, who fended off a primary challenger backed by Rep. Adriano Espaillat in 2022, is a staunch advocate for increased public education funding in New York City.

State Senate Mental Health Committee Chair Samra Brouk has been focused on doula care, issuing a report on doulas while trying to increase access to doulas in childbirth. The Rochester senator attended a White House meeting with first lady Jill Biden on national child care policy last year. State Senate Social Services Committee Chair Roxanne Persaud is targeting domestic violence, including unveiling a report on the state of domestic violence prevention and care. She has opposed a migrant shelter at Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field, saying it’s unsafe for migrants. State Senate Aging Committee Chair Cordell Cleare is focused on issues facing senior citizens. Cleare criticized Gov. Kathy Hochul for vetoing the Grieving Families Act and said the governor needed to work with lawmakers on a compromise.

Women’s Issues Committee Chair Lea Webb is the first Black woman to represent Broome County in the state Senate. The former Binghamton City Council member began the 2024 session by passing a reproductive rights and maternal health package.

State Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee Chair Kevin Parker is aiming to address climate change and bolster the electric grid. Parker is facing a lawsuit, filed under the state’s Adult Survivors Act, that accuses him of raping a woman in 2004. The governor called the allegations “disturbing” but did not call on him to resign, and the state Senate has weighed action against him, but as of now he remains chair of the energy committee.

11. George Gresham

President, 1199SEIU
George Gresham / Belinda Gallegos

It’s not easy when the buck stops with you and you’re in charge of the largest health care workers union in the nation, but George Gresham has been serving as president of 1199SEIU since 2007 and continues to push his influence in city government. Gresham was a leading voice in favor of tenant protections during last year’s state legislative session. In addition to playing a critical role in negotiating contracts and working conditions, he is also on several boards including that of the NAACP.

12. Damian Williams, Breon Peace & Trini Ross

U.S. Attorneys, Southern, Eastern and Western Districts of New York
Damian Williams, Breon Peace & Trini Ross / U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York; U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York; Eli Alford, Department of Justice

As the top federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams is following his predecessors’ path of launching high-profile cases. Williams is prosecuting U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the first time in history a sitting senator has been alleged to be working for a foreign government. Williams is pushing for a federal takeover of Rikers Island and he made national headlines for convicting cryptocurrency king Sam Bankman-Fried on fraud charges. His next big target could be New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

The top federal prosecutor on Long Island, Breon Peace, is at the center of one of the most high-profile cases in the country: the prosecution of former Rep. George Santos. Last year Peace was named to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland’s advisory committee, giving him a role in shaping national criminal justice policy.

U.S. Attorney Trini Ross is not just leading federal law enforcement in the Buffalo area but also helping to shape national policy. Also a member of Garland’s advisory committee, Ross chairs a subcommittee focused on assisting victims, community relations policy and better coordination between law enforcement.

13. Rowan Wilson

Chief Judge, State Court of Appeals
Rowan Wilson / State Court of Appeals

“If I think of myself as an important person, I will not do my job well,” Rowan Wilson said when he took office as New York’s chief judge. That’s the level of humility New York’s first Black chief judge brings to his role leading the state Court of Appeals and the state’s judiciary. Wilson is a liberal-leaning jurist who from 2017 to his appointment as chief judge was an associate judge of the Court of Appeals. Wilson – who was elevated after lawmakers blocked the governor’s first pick – has helped expand workers’ and defendants’ rights and played a pivotal role in the court’s decision to order another round of redistricting for the state’s congressional seats.

14. Sheena Wright, Anne Williams-Isom & Phil Banks

New York City First Deputy Mayor; New York City Deputy Mayors
Sheena Wright, Anne Williams-Isom & Phil Banks / Provided; Michael Appleton, Mayoral Photography Office; NYPD

New York City First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, who has long been part of Mayor Eric Adams’ inner circle, focuses on strategic initiatives, overseeing such agencies as the Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Policy and Planning. Wright, who was promoted to first deputy mayor in January 2023, has worked on a variety of issues including the MyCity portal and a new child care strategy.

Another confidant and longtime ally of Adams is Phil Banks, who presides over the city’s public safety apparatus as deputy mayor for public safety. The former NYPD chief of department has taken a key role in developing police policy, a key priority for the mayor. Banks also oversees the city’s beleaguered Department of Correction and the Fire Department. Banks has declined to comment on speculation that he is planning to exit City Hall.

The city’s deputy mayor for health and human services, Anne Williams-Isom is at the center of one of the biggest issues facing the city – the migrant crisis – and is overseeing the housing and care of the buses of migrants arriving from Texas. She has also focused on women’s health and domestic violence prevention.

15. David Banks

Chancellor, New York City Department of Education
David Banks / Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

As New York City’s chief educator, David Banks brings a wealth of experience in education and community engagement to the job. Before becoming chancellor, Banks was a principal and founded Black EdFluencers United, an organization dedicated to raising awareness of systemic racism within schools. Banks has made improving the city’s “dismal literacy rates” the centerpiece of his agenda. Banks said he’s staking his entire reputation on it, because if you don’t get literacy rates up, “all these other things don’t really matter.”

16. Jeffrion Aubry, Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Pamela Hunter, Kimberly Jean-Pierre, J. Gary Pretlow, Karines Reyes, Michaelle Solages, Clyde Vanel & Latrice Walker

Assembly Members
Jeffrion Aubry, Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn, Pamela Hunter, Kimberly Jean-Pierre, J. Gary Pretlow, Karines Reyes, Michaelle Solages, Clyde Vanel & Latrice Walker / NYS Assembly Majority Photography; Candace Howe Studios; Assembly; Office of Assemblywoman Solages; Kirsten Blush

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn derives more power as Brooklyn Democratic boss than as majority whip in Albany, but the chair of a subcommittee on minority- and women-owned businesses is no slouch as a legislator. During the Brooklyn Democrats’ annual holiday party, she outlined a political agenda anchored in winning the House speakership for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and keeping fellow Brooklynite Chuck Schumer in the Senate majority leader’s office.

Assembly Member Michaelle Solages, who chairs the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Caucus, raised her profile recently when Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the Long Islander’s legislation on a commission that will study reparations and develop recommendations. Assembly Member Karines Reyes, who chairs the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, was miffed that state Court of Appeals Associate Judge Jenny Rivera was not considered for the chief judge post. Reyes passed legislation to allow for expanded early mail ballot access last year. Assembly Member Latrice Walker, the Election Law Committee chair, has been a staunch defender of state bail reforms, staging hunger strikes in a failed bid to prevent lawmakers from rolling back the reforms.

Speaker Pro Tempore Jeffrion Aubry is in his last year in Albany, though the veteran criminal justice reform advocate is not slowing down. Aubry is pushing legislation to allow Mets owner Steve Cohen to build a casino on Citi Field’s parking lot. And with a downstate casino expansion looming, Racing and Wagering Committee Chair J. Gary Pretlow is also at the center of the action – while sponsoring legislation to allow online gambling in the state. 

Assembly Member Kimberly Jean-Pierre declared her first year as Veterans Affairs Committee chair a “success” after passing a number of bills supporting military veterans. Assembly Pamela Hunter also took the reins of a new committee last year. The Banks Committee chair has offered reassurances that the banking system is safe following a string of bank shutdowns and is exploring banking access in the cannabis industry. Assembly Member Clyde Vanel, who chairs both the Committee on Oversight, Analysis and Investigation and the Subcommittee on Internet and New Technology, is a futurist focusing on artificial intelligence and technological innovations.

17. Alvin Bragg & Darcel Clark

Manhattan District Attorney; Bronx District Attorney
Alvin Bragg & Darcel Clark / Manhattan District Attorney's Office; Bronx District Attorney's Office

Alvin Bragg may not have the longevity of some of his predecessors as Manhattan district attorney, but he’s the only one to have taken a lead role in a case involving a former president. Bragg was the first prosecutor in the country to file criminal charges against former President Donald Trump, kicking off a series of Trump indictments from other prosecutors spanning three states and the District of Columbia.

Darcel Clark easily captured a third term as Bronx district attorney last year, after dispatching a challenger in the Democratic primary. Last year, Clark announced her support for a package of parole reform bills in the state Legislature. In December, Clark announced that her office would be joining several other city agencies to investigate a Bronx building collapse in order to see if any criminal charges are warranted.

18. Al Sharpton

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

One of the best known civil rights activists in New York City and the country, the Rev. Al Sharpton has been active in the civil rights space since the late 1960s. In 1991, Sharpton founded the National Action Network, and then sought a U.S. Senate seat in 1992, finishing in third place in the Democratic primary. A political powerhouse, Sharpton hosts a well known MSNBC show and is a commissioner of the U.S. Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.

19. Twyla Carter

Attorney-in-Chief and CEO, Legal Aid Society
Twyla Carter / Spencer Lee Gallop, LAS

Twyla Carter has the double distinction of being the first Black woman and first Asian American to lead Legal Aid Society in its 145-year history. As attorney-in-chief and CEO, Carter contributes to the society’s mission of ensuring justice for marginalized individuals. She also served as senior staff attorney for the ACLU. Carter has been focused on defending New York City’s right to shelter, in light of Mayor Eric Adams trying to unravel the policy.

20. Gregory Meeks

Member of Congress
Gregory Meeks / Kristie Boyd, Official U.S. House Photographer

Rep. Gregory Meeks wields power internationally, in Washington and at home in Queens. The top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Meeks chaired the committee under the Democratic majority and could reclaim the gavel if Democrats take the majority in November. Following the indictment of former Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez over alleged bribes from Egyptian officials, Meeks called for a halt on aid to Egypt. He also praised President Joe Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Back in New York, Meeks runs the Queens Democratic Party, putting him in the thick of party politics, including the special election to replace former Rep. George Santos.

21. Ritchie Torres

Member of Congress
Ritchie Torres / Office of Rep. Ritchie Torres

Since his election to the New York City Council, Democrat Ritchie Torres has staked out a role as a vocal advocate for the Bronx and a political leader on the rise. Torres, now a member of Congress, has become one of the most vocal supporters of Israel in its war against Hamas. Torres grew up in poverty in public housing in the Bronx, which informs his vocal advocacy for affordable housing. He is also the first out gay Afro Latino person elected to Congress.

22. Selvena Brooks-Powers, Amanda Farías, Kamillah Hanks, Crystal Hudson, Rita Joseph, Farah Louis, Darlene Mealy, Mercedes Narcisse, Sandy Nurse, Chi Osse, Kevin Riley, Pierina Sanchez, Althea Stevens & Nantasha Williams

New York City Council Members
Selvena Brooks-Powers, Amanda Farías, Kamillah Hanks, Crystal Hudson, Rita Joseph, Farah Louis, Darlene Mealy, Mercedes Narcisse, Sandy Nurse, Chi Osse, Kevin Riley, Pierina Sanchez, Althea Stevens & Nantasha Williams / William Alatriste; Emil Cohen; New York City Council; Katrina Hajagos; Marc Baptiste; Roman Vail Photography; Brandon Harrison; John McCarten

The biggest winner in the New York City Council’s recent game of musical chairs is Amanda Farías, who supplanted a colleague as majority leader despite – or rather because of – her relatively short time in office. The Afro Latina lawmaker remains chair of the Economic Development Committee, a post she has used to promote the city’s industrial zones, support manufacturing and make ferries more affordable. Farías joins what’s now an all-female leadership team that includes Council Speaker Adrienne Adams as well as Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers, an Adams ally who’s staying put in her dual roles as majority whip and chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. 

One of the biggest shifts is Council Member Sandy Nurse’s move from Sanitation Committee chair to leading the Criminal Justice Committee, which immediately makes her a point person on hot-button issues like the recently vetoed measure to ban solitary confinement in city jails. Nurse is stepping up to co-chair the legislative body’s Progressive Caucus as well.

Council Member Farah Louis is also on the move, from the helm of the Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions Subcommittee to leading the Women and Gender Equity Committee. Louis has prioritized domestic violence prevention and maternal health. 

Many other committee chairs were unchanged. Council Member Rita Joseph, a former New York City public school teacher, oversees the city’s public schools in a key role as Education Committee chair. Council Member Pierina Sanchez still chairs the Committee on Housing and Buildings and Council Member Althea Stevens chairs the Children and Youth Committee. Council Member Mercedes Narcisse continues to monitor major health care institutions as Hospitals Committee chair, while Council Member Crystal Hudson is the Aging Committee chair and co-chair of the LGBTQIA+ Caucus. As Civil and Human Rights Committee chair, Council Member Nantasha Williams has presided over debates on reparations legislation and providing for a marker at the site of New York state’s first slave market.

Council Member Kevin Riley, who’s chairing the Zoning and Franchises Subcommittee for another term, has been in the thick of the land use process and the push for more affordable housing. Council Member Kamillah Hanks traded being chair of the Public Safety Committee for the role of leading the Landmarks, Public Sitings and Dispositions Subcommittee. At the helm of another subcommittee is Council Member Darlene Mealy, who heads the Subcommittee on Senior Centers and Food Insecurity.

Council Member Chi Ossé, meanwhile, discovered that bucking Council Speaker Adrienne Adams seemingly has consequences. The young lawmaker lost his chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee after voting against the budget – and no longer has a ticket to the annual Met Gala that came with the post.

23. Stacy Lynch

Chief of Staff, Office of the Governor
Stacy Lynch / Provided

Stacy Lynch serves as the chief of staff to Gov. Kathy Hochul, bringing deep experience in government to the role having been chief of staff for former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin and then a senior adviser to Hochul. Lynch is also well-versed in New York City politics, previously holding top spots for former Mayor Bill de Blasio. While in City Hall, Lynch helped launch projects like Brothers Thrive, an initiative spearheaded by former first lady Chirlane McCray to remove the disparities for Black men in mental health care.

24. Camille Joseph Varlack

Chief of Staff, New York City Mayor’s Office
Camille Joseph Varlack / Mayor's Office

Camille Joseph Varlack currently serves as the chief of staff to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, moving to one of the top jobs in city government from her former position as Adams’ senior adviser. Varlack has been weighing in on the city’s migrant crisis, and is an immigrant herself. She came to New York from Trinidad and Tobago as a child and was inspired to go into public service by her mother.

25. Adrienne Harris

Superintendent, State Department of Financial Services
Adrienne Harris / Don Pollard

New York sits at the center of the world’s financial markets, and Adrienne Harris is the state’s top regulator of the banking and insurance industries. Harris’ Department of Financial Services seized control of Signature Bank last spring, a key step in the government’s response to a string of bank failures. She now has her hands full crafting regulations for the growing cryptocurrency industry. Harris has greatly expanded the department from three people to over 60, and her regulatory approach has been cited as a model for federal regulators and other states. Harris has said she wants New York to be the “gold standard” of crypto regulation.

26. John B. King Jr.

Chancellor, State University of New York
John B. King Jr. / Cindy Schultz

Hailing from a long line of Brooklyn educators, it’s no surprise that John King entered education. King brings a background as state education commissioner and U.S. education secretary in the Obama administration to SUNY’s top job. King, who started at SUNY last year, said that while budget circumstances will require cuts to academic programs at campuses, he does not see any SUNY schools needing to close. King has outlined an ambitious agenda including proposals to increase student success, new diversity initiatives and a goal to expand SUNY’s research and economic development impact.

27. Bill Thompson

Chair, City University of New York
Bill Thompson / Lev Radin, Shutterstock

A venerable leader in New York City government, education and finance, Bill Thompson has served since 2016 as chair of the board of trustees of the City University of New York. Thompson has guided the public higher education system, a key social mobility engine in the city, while recently navigating the debate over antisemitism in the city. Thompson, a former city comptroller, ran for mayor in 2009 and 2013. He’s also a partner at the investment firm Siebert Cisneros Shank & Co., a prominent minority- and women-owned firm.

28. Yusef Salaam & Chris Banks

New York City Council Members
Yusef Salaam & Chris Banks / Staci Marie; Friends Banking on Banks

Yusef Salaam has earned a place in New York City history as one of the most remarkable paths to political office. A member of the Central Park Five, once wrongly jailed for a rape he did not commit and eventually exonerated, Salaam defeated two sitting state legislators last year to win a Harlem seat in the City Council. Salaam will now have police oversight powers as chair of the Public Safety Committee.

A fellow newcomer to the City Council this year is Chris Banks. For the first time in over two decades, East New York is not represented on the City Council by a member of the Barron family. After initially falling short against both Charles and Inez Barron, Banks unseated Charles Barron in June’s Democratic primary to seize the seat. Banks was given a key post as chair of the Public Housing Committee.

29. Vanessa Gibson & Donovan Richards

Bronx Borough President; Queens Borough President
Vanessa Gibson & Donovan Richards / Finalis Valadez; Queens Borough President’s Office

The 14th Bronx borough president, Vanessa Gibson has been focused on an agenda including public safety, food equity, housing insecurity, gender equity and support for the LGBTQ+ community. Stressing the Bronx has lagged behind for too long, Gibson has said the “lifting up” of the borough is the centerpiece of her agenda. Donovan Richards’ agenda as Queens borough president includes affordable housing, environmental justice and public safety. He has been at the center of such major issues as the city’s proposed new soccer stadium in Willets Point, part of a large mixed-use development project, where Richards recently advanced the second phase.

30. Rory Christian

Chair and CEO, State Public Service Commission
Rory Christian / State Public Service Commission

Rory Christian sits at the center of one of the state’s top priorities, the development of the clean energy industry, in his role as chair and CEO of the state Public Service Commission. In the fall, Christian led the PSC in denying a request from offshore wind developers to receive more state subsidies. As the state’s top energy and utility regulator, Christian presided over a decision to cut a proposed rate increase by NYSEG by half and called on the development of more transmission capacity on Long Island to facilitate the development of offshore wind.

31. Hope Knight

President, CEO and Commissioner, Empire State Development
Hope Knight / Broadband for All Event

Hope Knight is New York’s economic developer in chief, steering the state’s job creation efforts from Buffalo to Brookhaven in her leadership role at Empire State Development. The former head of the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. helped launch the state’s Office of Strategic Workforce Development and boost programs for small business and minority- and women-owned businesses. Recent accomplishments include partnering on a microloan program for economic growth in the Adirondacks, celebrating a new mechatronics lab in Fishkill with first lady Jill Biden and bringing a new artificial intelligence lab to Manhattan.

32. Tiffany Raspberry

Senior Adviser and Director of Intergovernmental and External Affairs, New York City Mayor’s Office
Tiffany Raspberry / Regina Fleming Photography

New York City Hall doesn’t run on its own – people like Tiffany Raspberry crank the gears. As senior adviser and director of intergovernmental and external affairs for Mayor Eric Adams, Raspberry oversees the city’s relationship with the state and federal governments, along with the mayor’s relationship with other officials in city government. A onetime lobbyist, Raspberry has been a longtime key member of Adams’ inner circle.

33. Errol Louis

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

No one in New York City Hall can go long without talking to Errol Louis. The well known journalist is the host of “Inside City Hall,” NY1’s must-watch show about New York City politics and government. When Louis isn’t grilling the city’s political class or hosting roundtables with city political reporters, he writes for New York magazine and is an adjunct professor of urban reporting at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

34. Wayne Spence

President, New York State Public Employees Federation
Wayne Spence / Provided

Wayne Spence, a former parole officer, is in his third term leading one of the state’s most powerful public employee unions. Spence has been outspoken against SUNY Chancellor John King’s proposals to remake SUNY Downstate Medical Center, saying that stakeholders have not been consulted and that SUNY leaders need to weigh feedback from his union about the health needs of Brooklyn. He approved of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s State of the State priorities for 2024, saying the governor has been a supporter of addressing state government workforce issues.

35. Laurie Cumbo, Keith Howard & Dawn Pinnock

Commissioners, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; Department of Youth and Community Development; Department of Citywide Administrative Services
Laurie Cumbo, Keith Howard & Dawn Pinnock / Provided; NYC Department of Youth and Community Development; William Campos, NYC DCAS

Laurie Cumbo’s tenure as New York City’s cultural affairs commissioner has involved more than getting engaged at the annual Met Gala. Away from the red carpet, Cumbo has presided over the implementation of the city’s Open Culture program as a permanent part of city life – and last fall she announced $11 million in city investments for the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island. 

Keith Howard heads up the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development, whose fluctuating budget allocation for youth and after-school programs is perennially a source of debate. Howard has launched several nonprofit groups, including the Harlem Group, which has focused on health issues.

And while Eric Adams is New York City’s mayor, Dawn Pinnock is the woman who keeps the city’s workforce running. The head of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, hires city workers, maintains city vehicles and finds city office space. Pinnock has become a leader in the city’s workforce development community, launching hiring halls around the city to recruit and hire new city employees.

36. Yvette Clarke

Member of Congress
Yvette Clarke / U.S. House

A longtime leader in the Brooklyn Caribbean community, Rep. Yvette Clarke has established herself as a leader in Washington, D.C., as well. Clarke prioritized the Dream and Promise Act giving 2.5 million Dreamers Temporary Protected Status and a pathway to citizenship. She is also a leader on technology issues, introducing various legislation around artificial intelligence since 2019. Clarke serves on the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees telecommunications, consumer protection, energy policy and public health, among other areas.

37. Lester W. Young Jr.

Chancellor, State Board of Regents
Lester W. Young Jr. / NYSED

Ensuring opportunities where every student can be successful is the guiding principle for Lester W. Young Jr., the chancellor of the state Board of Regents. A onetime teacher and principal, Young is leading the board in exploring new pathways for high school graduation requirements and in an ambitious 2024 legislative agenda. The board’s priorities include increasing revenue for the department’s cultural and media programs, boosting state aid for local BOCES career and technical education programs, and a statewide teacher recruitment and retention campaign.

38. Nancy Hagans

President, New York State Nurses Association
Nancy Hagans / Johan

When nurses at Montefiore and Mount Sinai went on strike in a bid for higher staffing ratios a little over a year ago, Nancy Hagans was on the front lines. The fourth president of the New York State Nurses Association helped her members win what she called a “historic victory” of wage increases, benefit improvements and 170 new nursing positions. Hagans has also raised her profile nationally, taking on a key role as co-president of National Nurses United and testifying before Congress on the staffing crisis in America’s hospitals.

39. Rudolph Wynter

President, National Grid New York
Rudolph Wynter / The L@B

Rudolph Wynter is president of National Grid New York, the energy company serving upstate New York. Wynter has been with the National Grid and its legacy companies for nearly 30 years, the Brooklyn native is committed to providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy to all National Grid customers, while also advancing New York state’s and the company’s clean energy goals. He led the creation of a new solar farm in Washington County, which he said is part of a growing trend around the state.

40. Keith Wright

Chair, Manhattan Democratic Party
Keith Wright / Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP

Manhattan Democrats have never been the most influential political organization in New York City, but Keith Wright has achieved impressive results while leading the county committee. A former Assembly Housing Committee chair, Wright flexed his political muscle in 2023, propelling Yusef Salaam to victory for a City Council seat over two sitting state legislators. Salaam’s campaign was led by Wright’s son, Jordan, who is preparing for an Assembly run. Wright is also the strategic planning director at lobbying powerhouse Davidoff Hutcher & Citron.

41. Philip Ozuah

President and CEO, Montefiore Medicine
Philip Ozuah / Serge Neville

It takes a special kind of person to lead a world-renowned hospital like Montefiore Medicine – and pediatrician Philip Ozuah is the man for the job. The leader of the health care giant has called for increased support for teaching hospitals, saying they are key players in the country’s health care system, especially as they provide care for the uninsured. Last year, Ozuah opened a new comprehensive cancer center at Hutchinson Metro Center in the Bronx and was named to the board of the Cigna Group.

42. Sylvia Hinds-Radix

New York City Corporation Counsel

A former Brooklyn appellate court judge, Sylvia Hinds-Radix is now a top City Hall lawyer. Hinds-Radix has been a key general in the city’s war on vaping, including launching a lawsuit by the city against four companies illegally selling flavored e-cigarettes last year. She has also defended the city’s strategy on handling police misconduct lawsuits and is at the center of City Hall’s claim that the right to shelter doesn’t apply to a massive influx of migrants. She has made changes to the top leadership at the city Law Department and welcomed a new class of assistant corporation counsels to its legal team.

43. Jamaal Bowman

Member of Congress
Jamaal Bowman / Corey Torpie

A key member of “the Squad,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman has been a key progressive voice in Washington, D.C., including serving as vice chair for labor in the Congressional Progressive Caucus. But Bowman has had some recent issues, including being censured by his colleagues for pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon House Office Building during a critical House vote on government funding, and he is now facing the fight of his political life with Westchester County Executive George Latimer announcing a Democratic primary challenge, based in part over Bowman’s views on Israel.

44. Ken Jenkins

Deputy Westchester County Executive
Ken Jenkins / Westchester County Government

Ken Jenkins isn’t just the No. 2 in Westchester County – he may be the key to Democrats retaking the House of Representatives. The chair of New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission and his fellow commissioners are getting another chance to redraw New York’s congressional district under court order. The commission’s new plan – or whatever plan state lawmakers ultimately approve – could upend the balance of power in Washington. One person who’ll be monitoring the commission’s work is Jenkins’ boss, George Latimer, who is challenging Rep. Jamaal Bowman in the Democratic primary for the 16th District.

45. David Jones

President and CEO, Community Service Society of New York
David Jones / MTA

A former executive director of the New York City Youth Bureau and top adviser to then-Mayor Ed Koch, David Jones has been leading the Community Service Society of New York for over 30 years. CSS has praised New York City Mayor Eric Adams for his program to buy up medical debt, saying it will help New Yorkers. The organization also said Gov. Kathy Hochul’s 2024 agenda was supportive of consumer protection policies, including addressing medical debt and student loan debt relief.

Editor’s note: David Jones is a member of City & State’s advisory board.

46. Yvette Buckner

President, Buckner Group
Yvette Buckner / Frank Guiterrez

It is a period of change for Yvette Buckner as she transitions her consultancy to the Buckner Group following her partner, Amelia Adams, leaving their firm to become Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado’s chief of staff. Formerly an adviser and senior press officer in the New York City comptroller’s office, Buckner played a key role in efforts to elect the city’s first female-majority City Council, an effort she continues to be engaged in. She serves on the board of Vote Mama, helping mothers to run for and succeed in office across the country.

47. Jennifer Jones Austin

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

FPWA might not be a name most people recognize, but their policy and advocacy work should be. Jennifer Jones Austin, the federation’s leader, is a veteran leader of anti-poverty and equity efforts. Austin has advocated for raising the minimum wage and overhauling federal poverty guidelines. Austin, a former city Board of Correction chair, was recently appointed to a commission overseeing the closure of Rikers Island and the future of the city’s jail system. She previously served on a state commission that developed a series of recommendations to reduce food deserts.

48. Chris Alexander & Tremaine Wright

Executive Director; Chair, State Office of Cannabis Management; Cannabis Control Board
Chris Alexander & Tremaine Wright / NYS Office of Cannabis Management

New York’s legalization of cannabis has been a rocky road but state cannabis regulators have been working to address a number of issues, including new retail licenses and addressing illegal cannabis businesses that keep popping up across the state. Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander told the state Senate Cannabis Subcommittee that the $20,000-a-day fines for illegal stores have not served as a deterrent and would need to be addressed by lawmakers. He also told senators that he is working to address supply chain issues that have hurt small farmers in the state. Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright remains upbeat about the industry, saying that social equity issues have been addressed and that her board is working to open new legal stores.

49. Byron Brown

Mayor, Buffalo
Byron Brown / Yves-Richard Blanc

The longest-serving mayor in Buffalo history, Byron Brown has made economic development a hallmark of his time leading the City of Good Neighbors. The former state senator has recently been dealing with speculation that he was looking to find an exit ramp from downtown’s towering City Hall. Brown, who won a remarkable write-in campaign in 2021, has recently been connected with the presidency of Buffalo State University (since filled by an experienced academic) and a bid for Congress (which he ultimately opted against).

50. Antonio Delgado

Lieutenant Governor
Antonio Delgado / NYS Executive Chamber

New York’s Gen X, hip-hop performer, Rhodes Scholar lieutenant governor is seeing his portfolio expand this year. Gov. Kathy Hochul has tasked Antonio Delgado with leading the state’s new Office of Service and Civic Engagement, where he will direct state strategy for public service and promote volunteerism. Delgado, a former member of Congress, takes on the service assignment alongside his work leading the state’s network of regional economic development councils and chairing the state Hate and Bias Prevention Unit.

51. Malik Evans

Mayor, Rochester
Malik Evans / City of Rochester

Malik Evans is two years into his position as the 71st mayor of Rochester, and he’s got big plans for the Lake Ontario city. Under his leadership Rochester became one of 31 cities to introduce a guaranteed basic income program last summer, providing monthly payments of $500 to 351 residents. Evans is also working to lower the city’s homicide rate and declared a gun violence state of emergency, extending it as needed. Prior to becoming mayor, he worked in the banking industry for more than two decades.

52. Patrick B. Jenkins

President, Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates
Patrick B. Jenkins / caliyorkphotography

Patrick B. Jenkins is a well-connected lobbyist and political consultant with years of experience in government affairs, public policy and community relations. Even though his eponymous Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates has a smaller staff count than many of its competitors in Albany, Jenkins’ mid-sized firm is one of the top-tier lobbying operations in the state capital. Earlier in his career, Jenkins worked in the New York City comptroller’s office and as a congressional aide.

53. Charlie King & Michael Hardaway

Partner; Managing Director, Mercury
Charlie King & Michael Hardaway / Mercury

Mercury has positioned itself as one of the top public affairs firms not just in New York but in states across the country – and the key behind this strength has been the team assembled by the firm. 

In New York, this team includes Charlie King, a former executive director of the state Democratic Party and candidate for lieutenant governor and attorney general, who has been a strategic adviser to governors, the Rev. Al Sharpton and other Empire State leaders. A Capitol Hill veteran, Michael Hardaway was a key adviser to House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, working as the longest-serving communications director in his congressional office and directing House Democratic Caucus communications. Hardaway has worked for a number of other Washington veterans including former President Barack Obama, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin and Bill Nelson, now the head of NASA.

54. Juanita Scarlett, Violet Moss & Robin Brown

Partner; Partner; Managing Director, Bolton-St. Johns
Juanita Scarlett, Violet Moss & Robin Brown / Bolton St Johns; Sippakorn Ponpayong

Juanita Scarlett and Violet Moss are partners at Bolton-St. Johns, a top-tier lobbying firm that specializes in government relations and public affairs in New York. Scarlett advises clients in energy, health care, economic development and education while Moss has been a leader in government relations, public policy and community engagement. Scarlett previously worked in the Cuomo administration at Empire State Development and Moss started out her career working for the Assembly. Robin Brown, an experienced campaign and advocacy veteran with Western New York roots, is a managing director at the firm.

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

55. Rachel Noerdlinger

Partner, Actum
Rachel Noerdlinger / Actum

A top communications strategist and activist, Rachel Noerdlinger is best known for her public relations and social justice work for the Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network. Noerdlinger led media coordination for George Floyd’s funeral. She also served as chief of staff for former New York City first lady Chirlane McCray, leading McCray’s work on reshaping the city’s mental health strategy. Noerdlinger is currently a partner at Actum, joining in 2022 after seven years at Mercury.

56. Dennis Walcott

President, Queens Public Library
Dennis Walcott / Queens Public Library

In what is becoming an annual ritual for New York City, Mayor Eric Adams proposes cuts to public library budgets, the city’s three library system presidents join together to oppose the cuts, the mayor relents and the libraries win. Queens Public Library President Dennis Walcott, a former schools chancellor and deputy mayor, is a key part of this Groundhog Day cycle. The former chair of the city’s redistricting commission was also just named to the state Independent Redistricting Commission. Meanwhile, in his day job, Walcott recently reopened the renovated Steinway Branch Library in Astoria, celebrated the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with limited edition themed library cards and announced plans for resiliency renovations to the Cambria Heights branch.

57. Tyquana Henderson-Rivers

Founder, President and CEO, Connective Strategies
Tyquana Henderson-Rivers / Cedric Wooten

Tyquana Henderson-Rivers entered politics and public service early, as a 12-year-old serving on the 79th Precinct Youth Council for the New York City Police Department. Now as the founder, president and CEO of Connective Strategies, she has become one of the top Black political consultants in New York. She’s worked on successful campaigns for Rep. Gregory Meeks, former Reps. Charlie Rangel and Ed Towns, Gov. Kathy Hochul, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

58. William Floyd

Head of U.S. State and Local Government Affairs and Public Policy, Google
William Floyd / Joshua Zuckerman

A veteran of New York City government, William Floyd now leads Google’s engagement with state and local governments across the country. His work has been centered in growing the tech economy in New York City and nationally, including his role as a leader of Tech:NYC, a consortium of tech industry government relations staffers. Floyd has helped facilitate Google’s partnership with CUNY and New York City Department of Education leaders in developing a technology career pipeline for city students.

59. Amelia Adams

Chief of Staff, Office of the Lieutenant Governor
Amelia Adams / Max Schwartz

Amelia Adams moved on from her consulting firm with Yvette Buckner in December to become the top adviser to Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado. A onetime adviser to then-New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and political director for then-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s reelection campaign, Adams joins Delgado’s team as the state’s second in command beefs up his governmental and political operations. Delgado, previously a member of Congress in the Hudson Valley, is looking to play a role in Democratic efforts to retake control of the House of Representatives.

60. Arva Rice

President and CEO, New York Urban League
Arva Rice / Tau Battice

Arva Rice is in the thick of racial equity and policing issues as president and CEO of the New York Urban League and as chair of the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board. Rice told the City Council last year that the CCRB needed new funding in order to continue with implementation of a new racial bias unit at the police watchdog agency, saying proposed cuts would leave the board unable to create the new unit. She has also told city lawmakers that the NYPD has not followed CCRB recommendations regarding the tactics used by the department’s Strategic Response Group.

61. Mylan Denerstein

Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
Mylan Denerstein / Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher

A onetime federal prosecutor in the famed Southern District of New York, Mylan Denerstein has taken a no-nonsense approach to her role as independent monitor of the New York City Police Department. Denerstein has called out the NYPD over the stop-and-frisk component of its gun control strategy, saying too many people were being stopped. She also gave police officials an ultimatum over turning in documents to the Civilian Complaint Review Board: Comply or receive a court order. Denerstein previously served as counsel in the governor’s office and as a top official in the state attorney general’s office.

62. Shawyn Patterson-Howard, Yadira Ramos-Herbert & Vivian McKenzie

Mayors, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle & Peekskill
Shawyn Patterson-Howard, Yadira Ramos-Herbert & Vivian McKenzie / City of Mount Vernon Communcations Department; Alex Acaro; Ocean Morissett

This trio of trailblazers are transforming the power structure in the Hudson Valley. Westchester County’s first African American female mayor, Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard has been in her post since 2020. She was reelected unopposed last year, becoming the city’s first mayor to win a second term in two decades. On the national stage, she assumed the presidency of the African American Mayors Association last year. Yadira Ramos-Herbert took office on Jan. 1 as New Rochelle’s mayor, the first woman and first person of color in that office. Ramos-Herbert has also served as a City Council member in New Rochelle and an associate dean at Columbia Law School. The first Black female mayor in Peekskill’s history is Vivian McKenzie, who holds an office that once launched George Pataki’s path to the governor’s mansion. Last year, McKenzie touted the strength of Peekskill’s finances, noting that the city’s debt has decreased while home values are on the rise.

63. Camille Joseph-Goldman & Rodney Capel

Group Vice President for Government Affairs; Vice President for State Government Affairs, Charter Communications
Camille Joseph-Goldman / Provided

Camille Joseph-Goldman and Rodney Capel are leading government affairs function in New York for Charter Communications. Joseph-Goldman was the youngest person to serve as New York City deputy comptroller for public affairs and worked on policy for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign to increase African American voter registration, motivation and turnout. Capel, a former Executive Chamber staffer has been the executive director of the state Democratic Party and a top campaign aide on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign. They are now helping Charter Communications expand broadband access statewide. 

64. Janella Hinds

Secretary-Treasurer, New York City Central Labor Council
Janella Hinds / The United Federation of Teachers, Communication Department

Janella Hinds has made advocating for New York City educators her career focus for nearly a quarter century. A public school teacher herself, Hinds got a taste for activism early from her union leader father. Before joining the United Federation of Teachers, where she’s a vice president, Hinds was the public policy director of the New York State AFL-CIO. Hinds often focuses on issues like teacher empowerment, fair labor practices and educational equity. She’s also a top official at the New York City Central Labor Council, which represents 1.3 million unionized workers in a wide range of sectors.

65. A.R. Bernard

Founder and Senior Pastor, Christian Cultural Center
A.R. Bernard / Keith Majors

It may not be a well worn path from banking to the pulpit, but for A.R. Bernard, founder and senior pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, it was a natural path. Bernard's church has over 45,000 active members, making it New York’s largest house of worship. Bernard co-pastors with his wife Karen, who runs outreach programs that include a Brooklyn food pantry, a prison ministry and training sessions with the NYPD, among other organizations.

66. Kassandra Frederique

Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance
Kassandra Frederique / Drug Policy Alliance

Kassandra Frederique has been a front-line general in the war against the war on drugs. The executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, she has led campaigns to reduce New York City’s marijuana arrests, address the legalization of cannabis in the state and to build innovative alternatives to the war on drugs. While New York public policy manager for the group, she was an architect of the organization’s statewide strategy, which included a series of recommendations for local government leaders to remake local drug policy.

67. Richard Buery Jr.

CEO, Robin Hood
Richard Buery Jr. / Robin Hood

A former New York City deputy mayor for strategic initiatives, Richard Buery Jr. now leads one of the city’s most well known nonprofit groups, where he focuses on lifting New Yorkers out of poverty. Robin Hood’s most recent work includes programs to reduce food insecurity in the city, a $5.5 million investment into new community schools, new computer education programs and investments into addressing post-pandemic education instruction for students. Buery’s job has served as a political steppingstone for his predecessor, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore, who is speculated as a potential 2028 candidate for president.

68. Terrence Melvin

Secretary-Treasurer, New York State AFL-CIO
Terrence Melvin / Crystal Melvin

Terrence Martin is not just an ordained Baptist minister and the associate pastor of a church in the Buffalo suburb of Lackawanna, he is also one of the most powerful people in New York’s labor movement. A long time leader within labor, Melvin serves as the secretary-treasurer of the New York State AFL-CIO and is also the president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, a national AFL-CIO organization.

69. Jocelynne Rainey

President and CEO, Brooklyn Org
Jocelynne Rainey / Inspired Storytellers

Jocelynne Rainey led the rebranding of the Brooklyn Community Foundation into Brooklyn Org late last year, saying that a new name would appeal to a new generation of donors. Rainey said that the word “foundation” could sound “controlling” and indicate a top-down approach to grantmaking, which would not appeal to donors now. She also said the new name would make the 14-year-old funder as recognizable as part of the borough as other iconic Brooklyn institutions.

70. Shontell Smith

Partner and Head of New York Practice, Tusk Strategies
Shontell Smith / NYS Senate Photography

In January, Shontell Smith was promoted to partner at Tusk Strategies, Bradley Tusk’s consulting firm. Smith had previously spent years as a trusted adviser to state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins – serving as chief of staff and chief counsel to the state Senate Democrats during a period in which the majority conference passed a slate of progressive measures. Now at Tusk Strategies, Smith heads up the firm’s New York practice.

71. Kiara St. James

Co-Founder and Executive Director, New York Transgender Advocacy Group
Kiara St. James / Cory Malcolm

Everyone deserves a voice in public discourse and especially policy – but transgender New Yorkers hadn’t always had that representation until Kiara St. James created the New York Transgender Advocacy Group. A community organizer for over 20 years, St. James has been instrumental in shaping New York’s laws regarding the transgender community. She is also making a mark nationally, speaking on policies regarding transgender health care, including combating discriminatory proposals in other states. St. James is also a commissioner on the New York City Commission on Gender Equity.

72. Lupe Todd-Medina

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

Lupe Todd-Medina, the founder of Effective Media Strategies, is a veteran political consultant who provides communications, public relations and campaign services. Prior to founding her firm, the Brooklynite was director of communications for then-Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and also worked early on with such political luminaries as Hakeem Jeffries and Cory Booker. More recently, she helped Gov. Kathy Hochul secure a full term in office.

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

73. Brian Matthews

Senior Adviser, Brown & Weinraub
Brian Matthews / Timothy H. Raab

Brian Matthews means business – the business and finance functions of state government, that is. A senior adviser at Albany lobbying powerhouse Brown & Weinraub, Matthews has three decades handling budget, finance and procurement matters in state government. He previously served as chief financial officer for the state Office of General Services, where he focused on financial and procurement issues for minority- and women-owned businesses. He is also a veteran of the state comptroller’s office and the state Budget Division.

74. Tara L. Martin

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

Savvy political consultant Tara L. Martin is the president of TLM Strategic Advisors, where she advises clients on social impact strategy. Martin is a former political director and chief lobbyist for the New York State Nurses Association, where she raised the profile of these health care workers in the state’s corridors of power. Martin, who recently left her position as a managing director at Mercury, boosted the Hip Hop Alliance during the 50th anniversary year of hip-hop.

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

75. Rene F. Jones

Chair and CEO, M&T Bank

One of the few Black CEOs in the Fortune 500, Rene F. Jones is a business leader with a platform stretching from Buffalo to lower Manhattan. The leader of M&T Bank, Jones also serves on the board of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, giving him sway in the direction of the cornerstone of the Federal Reserve’s banks. Jones has been working with Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont to smooth over issues relating to M&T’s merger with a Nutmeg State bank. He has launched a technology hub initiative in the bank’s downtown Buffalo office tower. He has made diversity a priority as CEO, noting his own experiences.

76. Matthew Fraser

Chief Technology Officer, New York City Office of Technology and Innovation
Matthew Fraser / City of New York

When it comes to matters of public safety, simplifying government services and expanding internet access to all New Yorkers, Matthew Fraser is your man. As New York City’s chief technology officer, Fraser is leading the city’s efforts to bolster broadband access and increase cybersecurity. The first Black man to serve as chief technology officer, Fraser recently unveiled the city’s first artificial intelligence plan. He is also taking a lead role in developing the city’s cryptocurrency strategy.

77. Hazel Dukes

President, NAACP New York State Conference
Hazel Dukes / Amber Singletary

A mainstay of New York’s civil rights movement for decades, Hazel Dukes is a force to be reckoned with in state politics. The president of the  NAACP New York State Conference, Dukes was formerly a national president of the NAACP, president of the Metro-Manhattan chapter of the nonprofit Links Inc., leader of the Great Neck NAACP and a SUNY trustee. Affectionately known as “Mama Dukes,” she made history in 2023 when she became the first layperson in American history to swear in a governor, presiding over Gov. Kathy Hochul’s oath of office.

78. L. Joy Williams

Founder and Principal Consultant, LJW Strategies
L. Joy Williams / Celeste Sloman

In need of a political strategist, a public speaker or a social justice activist? Then L. Joy Williams is the person you’re looking for. Known for being a dynamic political strategist as well as president of the Brooklyn NAACP, Williams has over a decade of experience behind her. The founder and principal of LJW Strategies, she worked to elect state Attorney General Letitia James to James’ former position of New York City public advocate. In addition she also created and hosts the “Sunday Civics” podcast, a weekly show on civic education and engagement.

79. Brian Quiara

Senior Vice President, Statewide Public Affairs
Brian Quiara / Statewide Public Affairs

Brian Quiara is not just a top lobbyist with expertise in policymaking and budget analysis. He is also a violinist in two community orchestras, Mets fan, history whiz, tennis player and breakfast food lover. When this Renaissance man was working as a policy director in the lieutenant governor’s office, he helped both Bob Duffy and Kathy Hochul in their role chairing the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils. He also previously worked with then-Govs. David Paterson and Andrew Cuomo.

80. Larry Scott Blackmon

CEO, The Blackmon Organization
Larry Scott Blackmon / Andrew Morales

When the pandemic hit and many New Yorkers were struggling, Larry Scott Blackmon stepped up to help answer the need. Formerly vice president of public affairs at FreshDirect, Blackmon used his connections to create the Five Borough Feeding program that provided over 6 million pounds of food to those in need. Blackmon is also using his personal experience with cancer to advocate for increased cancer screening, particularly prostate cancer testing, for Black men.

Editor’s Note: Larry Scott Blackmon is a member of the City & State Advisory Board.

81. Paul Thomas

Partner, The Parkside Group
Paul Thomas / The Parkside Group

A onetime chief of staff to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Paul Thomas is a partner in The Parkside Group’s government relations team, overseeing budget advocacy work and representing corporate and nonprofit clients. In this role, he has worked with clients on obtaining funding in the state budget and shaping state policy. Thomas has also been a top staffer in the state attorney general’s office and for the New York City Council.

82. Candis Tall

Executive Vice President, 32BJ SEIU
Candis Tall / 32BJ SEIU

Overseeing the political programs for a key union across 11 states, Candis Tall is not just a key player in the labor movement but in politics. Like many activists and organizers, 32BJ SEIU is hardly Tall’s only post; she also sits on the board of directors for the North Star Fund. Prior to her union work, Tall was an assistant advocacy director for organizing for the New York Civil Liberties Union and served as public affairs coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Nassau County.

83. Tristan Massalay-Ellis

Vice President, Corporate and Legislation, Kasirer
Tristan Massalay-Ellis / Susan Watts/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

It’s a bold man that openly proclaims, “I’ll do what’s right first and what’s smart second,” but Tristan Massalay-Ellis pulls it off – and that’s what a good lobbyist does. Massalay-Ellis is a vice president on Kasirer’s corporate and legislation team. Before joining Kaiser, Massalay-Ellis served as director of intergovernmental affairs for the New York City comptroller’s office, where he led a variety of legislative initiatives. Prior to that, Massalay-Ellis was deputy chief of staff for then-New York City Council Member I. Daneek Miller.

84. Yvonne Riley-Tepie

Senior Vice President of Social Impact, Real Estate Board of New York
Yvonne Riley-Tepie / Jill Lotenberg

Yvonne Riley-Tepie is working to diversify New York’s real estate industry. At the helm of the Real Estate Board of New York’s social impact programming, Riley-Tepie has been working on a number of initiatives, including ways to bring more people into the pipeline to launch real estate careers. Riley-Tepie has boosted REBNY’s collaboration with the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development on the Summer Youth Employment Program, which places young people in real estate firms. A former TD Bank vice president, Riley-Tepie is the vice chair of the Queens Museum board.

85. Vaughn Ratchford

Chief Real Estate Officer, New York Blood Center Enterprises
Vaughn Ratchford / Scott Rosenthal Photography

Vaughn Ratchford is the senior vice president and chief real estate officer of New York Blood Center Enterprises, where he oversees and manages strategy for the organization’s real estate portfolio and future growth. The Blood Center's real estate portfolio includes a planned Upper East Side tower that made headlines for securing approval in 2021 despite opposition from the area’s City Council member. Among Ratchford’s priorities is the development of the blood center’s new 187,000-square-foot vertical campus in Rye, a major priority for the organization. Last year, Westchester County economic development officials awarded $52 million in bond financing for the project.

86. Glendon Henry

Associate Medical Director, MetroPlusHealth

New Yorkers in need of quality affordable health care need look no further than MetroPlusHealth. Dr. Glendon Henry has been the associate medical director in utilization management for MetroPlusHealth for over a decade. He’s also an attending physician and an expert in emergency medicine. Henry has emphasized the importance of Black medical professionals being visible.

87. Mara Gay & Jeff Mays

Editorial Board Member; Metro Reporter, The New York Times
Mara Gay & Jeff Mays / The New York Times; Earl Wilson, New York Times

In the movie “The Paper,” a key editor at a newspaper similar to The New York Times told Michael Keaton’s tabloid metro editor character that the Times lookalike “covered the world” when Keaton defended covering New York City. But at the real Times, Mara Gay and Jeff Mays make sure the newspaper is just as much focused on Lincoln Square as they are on the rest of the world. Mays is focused on covering New York City Hall and the politics shaping the city. Gay is the editorial board’s state and local lead, where she plays an influential role in who gets the Times endorsement, a key part of the calculus of New York politics.

88. LaFontaine Oliver

CEO, New York Public Radio
LaFontaine Oliver / Matthew Septimus

It’s not just anyone who can helm the parent company of America’s most listened to public radio station, but after an exhaustive nationwide search, NYPR’s board named LaFontaine Oliver as its new CEO. Oliver wasn’t plucked from obscurity; most recently he was the CEO of WYPR in Baltimore, and helped that organization grow revenue and listenership. Before that, Oliver was in charge of WFME in central Florida, where he oversaw acquisitions and established reporting partnerships.

89. Leonard Achan

President and CEO, LiveOnNY
Leonard Achan / LiveOnNY

If there is a Renaissance man in health care, it’s Leonard Achan, president and CEO of LiveOnNY. Achan brings a background across the health care industry to his role leading the organ donation services provider. A former top executive at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Achan has led LiveOnNY in two record-breaking years for organ and tissue donation in New York. This is part of a 50% increase in donations over the past two years, which has come as the organization continues to implement a three-year strategic plan.

90. Sideya Sherman

Chief Equity Officer and Commissioner, New York City Mayor’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice
Sideya Sherman / Caroline Rubinstein-Willis_Mayoral Photography Office

A onetime top executive with the New York City Housing Authority, Sideya Sherman is now the leader of the Mayor’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice, an agency created by Mayor Eric Adams to address equity issues in the city. Sherman’s agency includes a mission to bring about economic equity across the city and to address bias issues within city government. Sherman told the City Council that the Adams administration supports city legislation to create a reparations study commission, but suggested the bill be made compatible with state legislation recently signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

91. Michelle Ebanks

President and CEO, Apollo Theater

Last year, Michelle Ebanks became president and CEO of the world renowned Apollo Theater in Harlem. The Apollo board chair said Ebanks was chosen for her previous experience as CEO of Essence Communications, where she steered the nation’s leading media and communications company for African American women. Ebanks has outlined a vision for the Apollo that includes continuing its growth plan, completing an $80 million capital campaign and increased digital programming.

92. Chris Moss

Chemung County Executive

When he first came into office in 2019, Chris Moss was the first new Chemung County executive in nearly 20 years. A former county sheriff, Moss was the 2014 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor. Last year, Moss signed an executive order saying Chemung County could not handle asylum-seekers from New York City. He has implemented term limits on his office and the county legislature and dropped the property tax rate by 28% in the 2023 budget but raised it by 2.8% in the 2024 budget.

93. Meredith Marshall

Co-Founder and Managing Partner, BRP Companies
Meredith Marshall / Allan Shoemake

Meredith Marshall is a co-founder and managing partner of real estate development firm BRP Companies, making him one of the most powerful Black men in the development community. Marshall is responsible for executing the firm’s investment strategy. Marshall spent several years running his own investment firm focused on economic development in Africa, where he worked in 30 countries across the continent. In New York, he says working on affordable housing growth is an important part of the city’s future.

94. Martin Bell

Partner, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett

A former top federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, Martin Bell is now a partner at powerhouse firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett. Bell co-leads the firm’s equity and civil rights review team and is part of the firm’s government and internal investigations practice. At the SDNY, Martin was a senior member of the Securities and Commodities Task Force and the Public Corruption Unit. He now serves on the attorney grievance committee for Manhattan and the Bronx.

95. Elinor Tatum

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, The New York Amsterdam News
Elinor Tatum / Bill Moore

Elinor Tatum keeps the family business, The New York Amsterdam News, going as a key voice in New York City journalism. One of the youngest publishers in the paper’s history, Tatum has shown a dedication to solutions-oriented journalism, including receiving grant funding to launch an initiative focused on combating COVID-19 misinformation and coverage of gun violence issues. A panel discussion led by Tatum and sponsored by the Amsterdam News urged residents to take up the cause to reduce gun violence.

96. Alicia T. Johnson

Alicia T. Johnson / Provided

Last year, Alicia T. Johnson became the first CEO of KIPP NYC, a charter school network founded in the Bronx that serves 7,500 students through 18 different schools citywide offering kindergarten through 12th grade. Johnson has been with KIPP NYC for over 16 years, starting out as director of operations and holding five other positions before becoming CEO. Prior to joining KIPP, Johnson was a program associate for the National League of Cities. Johnson describes her tenure with KIPP as “building a better tomorrow.”

97. Jomo Akono

Council Representative, Carpenters Local 276
Jomo Akono / Kesi Akono

Artist, educator and community activist might not be the typical ways to describe a union leader, but Jomo Akono, council representative for Carpenters Local 276, embodies all those things. Akono joined the union through an apprenticeship program in 2005 and became a representative in 2016. Akono has pushed for diversification within the union ranks, and he organizes Buffalo’s Juneteenth and Kwanzaa celebrations. As an artist, Akono specializes in djembe and African percussion instruments.

98. Jonnel Doris

CEO, START Treatment & Recovery Services
Jonnel Doris / Jermaine Clark

New Yorkers in need of addiction treatment and behavioral health services can get the help they need at the START Treatment & Recovery Centers, led by Jonnel Doris. The organization serves New York’s disenfranchised, economically challenged and minority communities. Doris took over as CEO in 2022 after serving as an adjunct professor as well as commissioner of the New York City Department of Small Business Services.

99. Kim Lew

President and CEO, Columbia Investment Management Co.

Kim Lew is the first African American and Chinese American to be president and CEO of Columbia Investment Management Co., which controls the university’s $11 billion endowment. She has worked to implement ambitious plans for Columbia’s portfolios in order to weave big ideas into them so they stay future-proof. Before joining Columbia University, she was the chief investment officer at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, where she worked to grow the nonprofit’s endowment.

100. Henri Pierre-Jacques & Jarrid Tingle

Founders and Managing Partners, Harlem Capital
Henri Pierre-Jacques & Jarrid Tingle / Harlem Capital; Philip Vukelich

If you want to change the face of entrepreneurship, you need to put your money where your ideas are. Harlem Capital has a plan to invest in 1,000 diverse startups over the next 20 years. Co-founders Henri Pierre-Jacques and Jarrid Tingle said the goal is to make sure more people have access to their share of the venture capital pie, especially minorities and women who own companies. Pierre-Jacques was a private equity investor at ICV Partners and worked at Bank of America. Tingle grew up with a single mom and received public assistance before moving to the world of venture capital handling, including working at ICV Partners and Barclays.