Power Lists

The 2024 Albany Power 100

The political superstars in the state Capitol.

City & State presents the 2024 Albany Power 100.

City & State presents the 2024 Albany Power 100. DenisTangneyJr

Heading into 2024, there were few expectations of major breakthroughs during the state legislative session. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s housing agenda and other policy proposals had stalled the year before, New York City Mayor Eric Adams had watched some of his priorities fizzle in Albany and the upcoming elections meant little appetite for risk among state lawmakers seeking another term in office. And yet the final state budget included a number of key developments, from a revived affordable housing incentive and stronger tenant protections to the extension of mayoral control of schools in New York City to measures cracking down on retail theft and illegal cannabis shops.

City & State’s annual Albany Power 100 highlights the key players in state government who spearheaded these and countless other policy changes over the past year. It features an array of elected officials, high-level appointees and advocates driving the debate around the biggest issues in the state Capitol. The list highlights influential labor leaders who secured long-sought changes to the state’s pension system, health care executives who advocated for higher Medicaid reimbursement rates, casino and gambling interests capitalizing on an ongoing expansion in New York, and many more movers and shakers. Read on to see who made this year’s list – and where they rank.

1. Kathy Hochul

Kathy Hochul / John Lamparski, Getty Images

In her third legislative session as New York’s chief executive, Gov. Kathy Hochul has bent Albany to her style of leadership. Hochul’s approach has yielded late budgets, but she is learning the power available to her as governor in the budget process. The final budget featured a compromise housing package, unlike last year, and enacted Hochul’s ambitious artificial intelligence agenda. Hochul is also pushing forward on the clean energy transition, despite some bumps along the way, while asserting state control over safety in the New York City subway system. National eyes will be on Hochul this fall as Democrats look to New York as key to elevating Brooklynite Hakeem Jeffries to the House speakership.

2. Andrea Stewart-Cousins

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

The first woman and first woman of color to lead the state Senate, Andrea Stewart-Cousins is coming off a year that reinforced her status as one of the most consequential state leaders. Stewart-Cousins led the state Senate in rejecting the nomination of Hector LaSalle for chief judge last year. Stewart-Cousins also led the Senate in passing the historic Clean Slate Act and a reparations commission law in 2023. This year, she led the Senate in passing a budget that addressed the state’s housing crisis with a compromise package that managed to hold the Democratic conference together.

3. Carl Heastie

Assembly Speaker
Carl Heastie / Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is avoiding public confrontation in Albany, particularly in the relationship between the state Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul. Early this year, Heastie steered clear of discussing any possible overrides of Hochul’s late 2023 vetoes, including of the Grieving Families Act, saying that he was looking for future collaboration with Hochul on those issues. This session, Heastie helped secure a “grand bargain” on housing policy, a key part of his budget strategy, negotiating a comprehensive package that became part of the final budget.

4. Letitia James

State Attorney General
Letitia James / Kyle O'Leary

For years, the National Rifle Association was seen as an unstoppable national political powerhouse. Then state Attorney General Letitia James came along and knocked the NRA off its throne. In an even bigger fight, James won a nine-figure civil judgment against former President Donald Trump. Now James is seeking to collect from Trump – which could make her a temporary titan of New York City real estate, with control over Trump Tower and 40 Wall St., in addition to being the most prominent of the nation’s state attorneys general.

5. Michael Gianaris

State Senate Deputy Majority Leader
Michael Gianaris / Office of Senator Michael Gianaris

Perhaps the most powerful deputy majority leader in state Senate history, state Sen. Michael Gianaris is central to Albany decision-making. He scored a win with a new court-ordered round of congressional redistricting and oversaw drafting of a new map that could elevate Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a fellow New York Democrat, to the House speakership. Gianaris is pushing for transparency around lobbying for or against gubernatorial nominees, after he helped block the nomination of Hector LaSalle as chief judge. Yet Gianaris’ bid to extend and expand a pilot program offering free city bus rides was dropped from the final budget deal.

6. Jeremy Cooney, Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Brian Kavanagh, Liz Krueger, John Liu, Shelley Mayer, Zellnor Myrie, Jessica Ramos & Gustavo Rivera

State Senators
Jeremy Cooney, Brad Hoylman-Sigal, Brian Kavanagh, Liz Krueger, John Liu, Shelley Mayer, Zellnor Myrie, Jessica Ramos & Gustavo Rivera / NYS Senate Photography; Kelly Campbell; Office of New York State Senator Brian Kavanagh; Office of Senator Liz Krueger; Courtney Harvier

Since state Sen. Liz Krueger won a special election over two decades ago, the reform-minded Upper East Side lawmaker has become a mover and shaker in Albany. The Senate Finance Committee chair wields her power in crafting the state budget. The architect of the state’s cannabis law has closely monitored the slow market rollout, while also focusing on issues like climate sustainability and protecting gestational surrogates.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Brad Hoylman-Sigal is one of the more prolific lawmakers in Albany, and isn’t slowing down. This year he sponsored the Local Journalism Sustainability Act and Sammy's Law, which grants New York City power over its speed limits. He’s also pressing to increase state Supreme Court judgeships and raise judicial salaries. 

State Sen. Brian Kavanagh has navigated one of Albany’s most contentious issues as chair of the housing committee. Kavanagh is touting the wide-ranging housing plan in the latest budget, including a version of “good cause” eviction, Mitchell-Lama preservation funding, eviction assistance and a basement- and cellar-unit pilot program. 

Senate Education Committee Chair Shelley Mayer adamantly opposed proposed education aid cuts, scoring a budget victory by blocking the governor’s proposed overhaul to Foundation Aid, which she said would cut funding to every school district in Mayer’s Westchester County. She also passed bills that pre-register students to vote, protect abortion access for patients outside of New York and ban the sale of over-the-counter diet pills or muscle building supplements to minors.

It’s not often that a state lawmaker controls a billionaire’s dreams, but for state Sen. Jessica Ramos, this is reality. The Senate Labor Committee chair, who’s a potential candidate for mayor of New York City, stands in the way of Mets owner Steve Cohen and his hopes of opening a casino near Citi Field. A new primary rival to Mayor Eric Adams is state Sen. Zellnor Myrie. The Senate Election Committee chair has been pushing the universal after-school program proposal, which gained some traction this year. 

As a former New York City comptroller – and a former mayoral candidate – John Liu is no stranger to debating city policies. The chair of the Senate New York City Education Committee saw mayoral control extended for two years with some new limits on City Hall, but Liu expressed his displeasure that the matter wasn’t openly discussed and debated outside of the budget process.

Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera remains committed to overhauling New York’s entire health insurance industry, with legislation to guarantee health care to every person in the state. Rivera said the ambitious proposal would “destroy” the business model of health insurance but that he would work to include retraining programs for insurance company employees. He touted increased Medicaid rates for hospitals and nursing homes, but expressed dismay about many of the compromises in the state budget.

State Sen. Jeremy Cooney was just named chair of the Transportation Committee, succeeding Rep. Tim Kennedy. Cooney led the Procurement and Contracts Committee and has backed changes to the legal marijuana market.

7. Eric Adams

New York City Mayor
Eric Adams / Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Former state Sen. Eric Adams has finally figured out how to navigate Albany. The New York City mayor achieved many of his top objectives in the latest state budget, including a two-year extension of mayoral control of city schools, new affordable housing policies, aid for migrants, the passage of Sammy’s Law to give the city control over some speed limits, retail theft penalties and more power to shut down illegal cannabis shops. Yet the spending plan does contain loopholes in the housing policies, less migrant aid than Adams wanted and new state oversight on mayoral control.

8. Karen Persichilli Keogh & Kathryn Garcia

Secretary to the Governor; Director of State Operations, Office of the Governor
Kathryn Garcia / Kathryn Garcia campaign

A decision in 2003 by then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to designate one aide – Karen Persichilli Keogh – to be the point of contact for a little-known suburban Buffalo town board member, Kathy Hochul, on Hochul’s pet issue of removing toll barriers, is reverberating two decades later. Keogh was one of Hochul’s first appointments after Hochul assumed the governorship in 2021, and she serves as the governor’s top adviser and chief surrogate. The woman in charge of the day-to-day operations of state government, Kathryn Garcia, is no stranger to tough assignments. She was New York City’s sanitation commissioner, taking on a number of extra duties from then-Mayor Bill de Blasio. Both were among the key state officials at Hochul’s side when a state budget agreement was announced last month.

9. Betty Rosa & Lester Young Jr.

Commissioner; Chancellor, State Education Department; State Board of Regents
Betty Rosa & Lester Young Jr. / Roger Derrick, Roger Derrick Fine Art; NYSED

New York’s top statewide education leaders are Lester Young Jr. and Betty Rosa. Rosa, a former Regents chancellor who has more independence since she’s not appointed by the governor, expressed concern earlier this year with Gov. Kathy Hochul’s proposal to change the state’s school aid formula, saying that it needs to be phased in to give local school districts more time to implement changes. Her office issued a key report on mayoral control of schools in April, and the education commissioner recently reached an agreement with education union officials and stakeholders on legislation to overhaul the state’s controversial teacher evaluation system and move it to local control. Young, the current Regents chancellor, led the board in adopting a diversity, equity and inclusion policy and addressing equity issues in state education. He also is working with parents and teachers regarding the future of the East Ramapo Central School District in Rockland County. As part of the conditions for extending mayoral control of schools in New York City, Young will help select a set of nominees to lead the city Panel for Educational Policy.

10. Thomas DiNapoli

State Comptroller
Thomas DiNapoli / Andrew Hill

Thomas DiNapoli is active in protecting New York’s economy. DiNapoli continues to divest the pension funds from oil and gas stocks and issued an economic warning saying that a decrease in the state’s population is reducing personal income tax collection totals. DiNapoli has also called for more state investment in local emergency medical services and warned that the state’s public and private higher education institutions face a looming enrollment cliff and tough economic times.

11. Crystal Peoples-Stokes

Assembly Majority Leader
Crystal Peoples-Stokes / Assembly

Crystal Peoples-Stokes is at the peak of her power in Albany, with an impact being felt from her home base on Buffalo’s East Side to Manhattan’s East Side and even in Washington, D.C. The Assembly majority leader crafted the state’s legalized cannabis law and has been closely monitoring its rollout, calling for increased staffing in the state’s cannabis agency and enforcement of illegal shops. Peoples-Stokes has also been a key advocate behind the project to cap Buffalo’s Kensington Expressway, which received the nation’s largest federal Reconnecting Communities and Neighborhoods Grant Program funding award last year.

12. Harry Bronson, Catalina Cruz, Grace Lee, John T. McDonald III, Amy Paulin, Karines Reyes, Linda Rosenthal, Nily Rozic, Michaelle Solages, Latrice Walker & Helene Weinstein

Assembly Members
Harry Bronson, Catalina Cruz, Grace Lee, John T. McDonald III, Amy Paulin, Karines Reyes, Linda Rosenthal, Nily Rozic, Michaelle Solages, Latrice Walker & Helene Weinstein / Assembly Photography; Amy Lombard; Kristen Blush

Consistently the most prolific legislator in Albany, Assembly Member Amy Paulin is pursuing an ambitious agenda in her second year chairing the Health Committee. Among her health priorities is addressing health care staff shortages and increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates, which was included in the state budget. She has also made supporting the Medical Aid in Dying Act a top priority this year.

As Housing Committee chair, Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal pushed for more affordable housing this year, and new incentives and protections were included in a housing package that passed in the budget. The Upper West Sider scored a big win with passage of Sammy’s Law, which will allow New York City to have control over speed limits on certain roads.

Assembly Member Helene Weinstein is in the final year of a 44-year trailblazing legislative career that has seen her become the first woman to chair the Ways and Means Committee. In addition to negotiating her final state spending plan, Weinstein has been working to overhaul the state’s wrongful death laws with the Grieving Families Act, which has been vetoed twice by Gov. Kathy Hochul. The first woman to chair the Judiciary Committee, Weinstein has passed landmark domestic violence prevention and child support legislation during her tenure in Albany.

A reshuffle led to Assembly Member Harry Bronson moving into the influential Labor Committee chair from his previous perch helming the economic development panel. He plans to continue to focus on workforce development issues, while addressing poverty and wage theft in the role.

Assembly Member Catalina Cruz has been working to protect migrants in New York City. She has introduced legislation to repeal 30-day and 60-day shelter deadlines and she wants a state right to counsel law for immigrants. Cruz is also pushing new benefits for yellow cab drivers including unemployment and paid sick leave.

The lobbying around Hector LaSalle’s chief judge nomination has spurred Governmental Operations Committee Chair John T. McDonald III to draft legislation regarding disclosure of lobbyist spending to influence judicial and commissioner nominations. The veteran Albany-area lawmaker saw his brother, James McDonald, take over as state health commissioner last year.

Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee Chair Nily Rozic has been a proactive lawmaker on a range of issues. The state’s first Israeli-born lawmaker has displayed staunch support for Israel since the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Rozic advanced legislation to increase hospital transparency and identify health care deserts and has sought to increase abortion protections.

The author of the state’s bail reform law, Assembly Member Latrice Walker continues to defend the contested policy – including through hunger strikes – against those who say it needs to be rolled back to combat crime. Walker also has a bill to allow those who have served more than half their sentence or ten years to petition for a resentencing to reduce mass incarceration. 

Assembly Member Michaelle Solages was a lead sponsor of one of the most notable state laws last year, a measure to create a commission to study reparations. The Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislature Caucus chair is now addressing questions raised about the process around an enacted reparations law. 

Assembly Member Karines Reyes is in the middle of a number of issues in her role as chair of the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force. She was a driving force behind the decision to add the Dominican Republic as a location for the annual Somos conference, a decision that came out of an initial proposal to rotate the conference around Latin America to recognize the various cultures of New York’s Hispanic community. Reyes also applauded Gov. Kathy Hochul for signing legislation to address the disappearance and murders of women and girls of color in New York.

Assembly Grace Lee, co-chair of the Asian Pacific American Task Force along with Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani, has been pushing a number of key issues in Albany. She spearheaded the state’s new Lunar New Year holiday and expressed support for Gov. Kathy Hochul’s additional support to combat hate crimes. The lower Manhattan lawmaker teamed with the New York City sheriff to raid several illegal pot shops and also helped gain some measure of justice for sexual abuse victims of the disgraced former Columbia University gynecologist Robert Hadden.

13. Chuck Schumer & Kirsten Gillibrand

U.S. Senators
Chuck Schumer & Kirsten Gillibrand / Office of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer; Alex Wong/Getty Images

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer sits at the center of every issue in Washington, D.C., but the Brooklynite still keeps close tabs on New York, still annually visiting every county, latching hyperlocal issues and using his post to benefit his state. Schumer has been a key driver of growing industries, championing Micron’s siting of a new semiconductor plant and the creation of thousands of jobs outside Syracuse and delivering a major National Science Foundation grant for battery storage and other clean energy projects to the Binghamton area. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York’s junior senator, has a lower profile, but she’s also bringing money back to the state and boosting many of the state’s industries. The Senate Agriculture Committee member has been in the thick of negotiations over the next farm bill, a key priority for upstate farmers and others. Gillibrand, who’s up for reelection this year, recently secured $372 million in direct funding for the state, including for the Interstate 81 replacement in Syracuse, the MTA Penn Station Access project in Manhattan, the Second Avenue subway expansion project and CHIPS Act funding for Global Foundries in Malta, New York.

14. Rowan Wilson

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

A year into his tenure as the state’s top jurist, Rowan Wilson is making a mark. Wilson led the state Court of Appeals in ordering a new round of redistricting, which could flip at least one Republican held congressional seat in the state, possibly helping shift control of the House of Representatives. Wilson has put a focus on improving the state’s family courts, praising the Legislature for creating additional judgeships. He also oversaw the controversial reversal of the sex crimes conviction of Harvey Weinstein on procedural grounds.

15. George Gresham

President. 1199SEIU
George Gresham / Belinda Gallegos

1199SEIU’s George Gresham is continuing to capitalize on his union’s formidable alliance with the Greater New York Hospital Association, as the unusual labor-management partnership made significant headway in Albany this session on closing the Medicaid reimbursement gap. Gresham also championed the passage of “good cause” eviction legislation, a part of the final budget’s comprehensive housing package, albeit in a watered down form. Gresham has also been a vocal advocate for keeping SUNY Downstate Medical Center open, saying that the state has been losing hospitals and access to health care.

16. Kenneth Raske

President and CEO, Greater New York Hospital Association
Kenneth Raske / GNYHA

Arguably New York’s most influential policy leader who’s not actually in government, Kenneth Raske has laid out a clear message in Albany: Boost funding for hospitals. The head of the powerful lobby argued that many hospitals can’t keep up expenses and that funds in the state’s cash reserves should be directed toward Medicaid to balance hospital budgets. Raske praised the latest state budget for taking a first step toward eliminating the Medicaid coverage gap. Raske’s influence in Albany has grown with the addition of former state Budget Director Robert Mujica as a GNYHA adviser.

17. Rick Cotton

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

New York City’s airports are becoming the envy of the nation, and Rick Cotton continues to oversee a $30 billion renovation of these gateways. The Port Authority chief also has a new Manhattan bus terminal to build, and he just unveiled a new tap payment system for PATH. Cotton announced new infrastructure projects for the seaport, including a $19.2 million study with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to explore deepening port channels. Cotton’s seaport duties are on the rise as Gov. Kathy Hochul and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy offered increased port access to handle cargo that cannot access the Port of Baltimore after the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

18. Janno Lieber

Chair and CEO, Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Janno Lieber / MTA

Janno Lieber has carved himself a place in the history of New York transit, leading the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in approving congestion pricing – and making New York City the first in the nation to move forward with such a plan, assuming ongoing litigation doesn’t stall it. The funds from the plan are being earmarked for infrastructure upgrades and other projects in the subway system. Lieber has also vowed to reduce crime in the subway system, saying more cameras and assistance for mentally ill individuals will help.

19. Michael Dowling

President and CEO, Northwell Health
Michael Dowling / Northwell Health

The leader of the state’s largest private employer, Michael Dowling wields influence on health care and business policy in New York. Dowling sees the trend of many aspects of health care taking place outside of the hospital continuing going forward, noting that just over half of Northwell’s care is done at home or in ambulatory care centers. Dowling has created a center for excellence in artificial intelligence within Northwell to address ways to use AI in health care, saying it can address rising costs in the age of decreased Medicaid reimbursement rates.

20. Blake Washington

Budget Director, State Division of the Budget
Blake Washington / OGS Media Services

Blake Washington has been the governor’s chief numbers person since last summer. Washington helped the governor navigate a dropoff in federal funding, a migrant crisis and a state Legislature with its often divergent priorities, securing a balanced spending plan that included compromises on Medicaid spending and public safety while blocking efforts to raise taxes. Washington is a former secretary of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, having spent over two decades in a variety of legislative budget jobs.

21. Rory Christian, Marie Therese Dominguez, Adrienne Harris, Doreen Harris, Hope Knight, James McDonald, Jeanette Moy, Roberta Reardon, Robert Rodriguez & RuthAnne Visnauskas

Cabinet Members to Gov. Kathy Hochul
Rory Christian, Marie Therese Dominguez, Adrienne Harris, Doreen Harris, Hope Knight, James McDonald, Jeanette Moy, Roberta Reardon, Robert Rodriguez & RuthAnne Visnauskas / Department of Public Service; USDOT; Don Pollard; NYSERDA; Darren McGee, Office of Governor Kathy Hochul; Mike Wren, NYS Department of Health; NYS Office of General Services Digital Media Services; NYS DOL; Assembly; Toyce Francis, NYSHCR

As the state’s housing czar, RuthAnne Visnauskas is at the center of one of the state’s most politically charged issues. Visnauskas is now charged with implementing the compromise housing plan adopted in the budget and continuing to tackle the growing need for more affordable housing across the state.

State Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominiguez is passionate about reconnecting New York communities divided by highways, a top administration priority. She is spearheading projects around the state, including in Syracuse, Buffalo, Albany, Rochester and the Bronx, as part of the objective.

New York leads the nation in the financial services industry, and from her perch as the state’s top financial services regulator, Adrienne Harris is using her regulatory powers to shape the nation’s cryptocurrency future. This year, she reached a settlement with a cryptocurrency exchange founded by the Winklevoss twins to return $1.1 billion to consumers.

A key priority for state economic development chief Hope Knight is implementing universal broadband connectivity statewide, including identifying all underserved communities as part of a project being funded by the federal government. Knight also outlined a plan to transform the former Lincoln Correctional Facility in Harlem into housing, under a new state program.

With the darkest days of COVID-19 behind us, state Health Commissioner James McDonald is tackling other issues: making contraception available to walk-in patients at pharmacies statewide, battling seasonal flu, promoting the state’s health equality agenda – and, of course, weighing in on Medicaid spending levels and support for struggling hospitals. He has also been authorized to shape and implement a major new tax on managed care organizations.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has tasked General Services Commissioner Jeanette Moy with another key job: fixing the state’s legalized cannabis market. Moy has prioritized reducing the backlog of applications, streamlining the process and a top-to-bottom review of the Office of Cannabis Management. At OGS, which keeps the state government running, Moy has become a clean energy leader by reducing the state’s vehicle and building emissions.

Growing access to apprenticeship programs to boost the economy and the state workforce is a priority for state Labor Department Commissioner Roberta Reardon, including a new program for apprentices across state agencies. Reardon is also implementing new enforcement powers on wage theft.

Rory Christian and Doreen Harris are responsible for carrying out New York’s clean energy transition. Harris, who leads the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, has been a champion of the state’s ambitious climate goals, recently unveiling the South Fork Wind Farm off the coast of Long Island and championing the growth of a clean energy economy across the state. Harris has announced plans to continue to grow a state-based renewable energy supply chain for projects. Public Service Commission Chair Rory Christian has acknowledged that there will be bumps in the road as the clean energy transition progresses and said that the plan requires an “all-of-government solution” in order to be successful. In January, Christian led the PSC in approving an Advanced Technology Working Group to help move the transition forward.

Meanwhile, former lawmaker Robert Rodriguez left the secretary of state’s post to become acting president and CEO of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. He’ll be trading a job where he ran a catchall agency covering consumer protection, downtown economic development, building codes, coastal affairs, cemeteries and boxing regulation, for a wide-ranging job involving construction, cannabis, clean energy and higher education.

22. Michael Mulgrew

President, United Federation of Teachers
Michael Mulgrew / UFT

Michael Mulgrew applauded the changes included in the extension of mayoral control of schools in New York City, praising a mandate for lower class sizes and more independent leadership to the city Panel for Educational Policy. The powerful labor leader helped block a proposed overhaul of state education aid from being part of the final budget. He’s also emphasizing that schools are no longer just education facilities – they are mental health providers, social services providers and child nutrition providers too.

23. Gary LaBarbera

President, New York State Building and Construction Trades Council
Gary LaBarbera / Alex Kaplan Photography

Gary LaBarbera has been in a New York housing state of mind. The powerful building trades labor chief was a key player in state housing negotiations in the budget, which yielded a compromise on revamped affordable housing incentives, tenant protections and higher wages for construction workers. LaBarbera also unveiled a plan with New York City Mayor Eric Adams for a $400 million affordable workforce development housing initiative. He has advocated for keeping skilled trade jobs local, making clean energy investments and building a new soccer stadium in Queens, citing the creation of union jobs.

24. James Whelan

President, Real Estate Board of New York
James Whelan / Jill Lotenberg, REBNY

James Whelan wants to send state legislators back to school to study economics, where he says they can figure out a better housing plan. Whelan said the lack of understanding of economics was a key reason that lawmakers have not adopted a more ambitious plan to build more housing. The powerful real estate industry leader was in the thick of the negotiations over a compromise housing package. He saw the activist-backed “good cause” eviction measure watered down, but said the overall compromise “falls short” and recommended that lawmakers develop a longer-term solution.

25. Mario Cilento

President, New York State AFL-CIO
Mario Cilento / El-Wise Noisette

Mario Cilento scored a big win in the state budget, with a change to Tier 6 pensions that aim to improve retirement benefits for public sector workers. The leader of the 2.5 million-member state labor umbrella organization has also pushed for better unemployment benefits that meet the cost of living and housing in New York City. Cilento also is seeking to address the union strike penalty of two weeks before qualification for unemployment. He has welcomed rising interest in creating unions in the state, which he credited to younger workers.

26. Kathryn Wylde

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

From the canyons of Wall Street to State Street, Kathryn Wylde is an unabashed champion for New York City’s business community. Wylde has found support from Albany’s other powerful Kathy – Gov. Kathy Hochul. Wylde supported last year’s passage of the Clean Slate Act, saying it will help grow the New York economy, and she has been a key supporter for congestion pricing. Wylde praised the latest state budget, saying it will “reinforce the strength and stability of New York’s economy.”

27. Rich Maroko

President, Hotel and Gaming Trades Council
Rich Maroko / HTC

Rich Maroko is not wasting away at Margaritaville, he’s too busy making sure the workers are unionized. The powerful hotel labor leader announced that workers at Margaritaville Times Square are now members of the union, a fight not anticipated under the terms of the union’s labor agreement in New York City. Maroko is set to see his power grow when the state issues up to three new downstate casino licenses sometime in late 2025, a move backed by the labor leader.

28. John King

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

Entering his second year leading the State University of New York, John King is aiming to eliminate single-use plastic products across campuses and is gathering community input for a new vision for the struggling SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, which got a temporary lifeline from Albany. The latest state budget also funds the governor’s Empire AI initiative, to be headquartered at SUNY’s University at Buffalo, and included other spending increases for SUNY. Amid speculation that King was a candidate for the Harvard presidency, he said he’s committed to New York.

29. Félix V. Matos Rodríguez

Chancellor, City University of New York
Félix V. Matos Rodríguez / Marcus Beasley, CUNY

Félix V. Matos Rodríguez is celebrating two of the largest donations ever to come into the City University of New York system. LaGuardia Community College received $116.2 million from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation to build a new workforce development center, and the CUNY Graduate Center received $75 million from the Simons Foundation and Simons Foundation International to fund an expansion in computational science. Matos Rodríguez praised the state budget for providing funding for investments into the higher education system and supporting community colleges.

30. Melinda Person

President, New York State United Teachers
Melinda Person / El-Wise Noisette

Melinda Person has found budget season to be a success. Person fended off Gov. Kathy Hochul’s bid to eliminate the “hold harmless” section of the state’s Foundation Aid formula for schools, meaning state aid for districts will not be cut this year. Person was also a key player behind the overhaul to Tier 6 pensions in the budget, a priority for many unions. Person negotiated a plan with state Education Commissioner Betty Rosa and other education stakeholders to devise legislation to overhaul the state’s troubled teacher evaluation system and increase local control.

31. Elizabeth Fine, Stacy Lynch & Edgar Santana

Counsel; Chief of Staff; Executive Deputy Secretary to the Governor
Elizabeth Fine, Stacy Lynch & Edgar Santana / Provided; Don Pollard

Elizabeth Fine was one of the first people Gov. Kathy Hochul called after she found out she was moving up from the lieutenant governor’s job in August 2021. Fine quickly assumed her post as counsel to the governor, joining Secretary to the Governor Karen Persichilli Keogh as one of Hochul’s first appointments in the Executive Chamber.

The first woman of color to serve as chief of staff to a New York governor, Stacy Lynch brings deep political and policy experience to Hochul’s inner circle. A veteran of former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s City Hall, Lynch was previously chief of staff to then-Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin.

A veteran of the labor movement and the state Democratic Party, Edgar Santana is executive deputy secretary to the governor, a position that has him overseeing appointments and cabinet affairs, along with serving as Persichilli Keogh’s top deputy. He is a former Yonkers Board of Education member.

32. Pat Kane & Nancy Hagans

Executive Director; President, New York State Nurses Association
Pat Kane & Nancy Hagans / Jehan LLC

Pat Kane and Nancy Hagans represent the hardest working people in health care – nurses – and they want to make sure that New York’s nurses are treated right by hospital administrators and the state. The NYSNA leaders reached a deal earlier this year with Staten Island University Hospital and Northwell Health to avert a nurses’ strike at the health care center. In March, they led a rally at the state Capitol to call attention to staffing issues at hospitals and nursing homes. Hagans is also a president of the 225,000-member National Nurses United.

33. Heather Briccetti Mulligan

President and CEO, The Business Council of New York State
Heather Briccetti Mulligan / Joan Heffler Photography

Heather Briccetti Mulligan means business. The top state business lobbyist argues that the state needs to reduce taxes on individuals and businesses to keep them in New York – and was undoubtedly pleased to see lawmakers’ efforts to raise taxes stall this session. The Business Council cited a recent state comptroller’s report saying that lost pandemic-era jobs would not return until 2026 as evidence that lawmakers should follow the group’s recommendations. The Business Council also backed the governor’s passage of legislation targeting retail theft.

34. Jabari Brisport, Emily Gallagher, Zohran Mamdani & Julia Salazar

Socialists in Office
Jabari Brisport, Emily Gallagher, Zohran Mamdani & Julia Salazar / State Senate; Assembly; Kara McCurdy; Michael Drake

Perhaps the most hotly contested proposal in Albany this session was “good cause” eviction, a measure introduced by state Sen. Julia Salazar to protect tenants by preventing evictions without landlords meeting certain conditions. In a partial victory, a version of the legislation was included in the state budget, although housing advocates criticized it as too weak. The Senate Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee chair is also pushing criminal justice reforms that would make it easier to exonerate those with wrongful convictions, eliminate some criminal court fees and allow for the firing of abusive prison guards.

State Senate Children and Families Committee Chair Jabari Brisport has established himself as New York’s leading champion of universal child care, a key plank of the socialist lawmakers’ agenda. In light of a new Cornell University report on child care in the state, Brisport argued the state should provide child care instead of relying on the private sector. Brisport backed the Build Public Renewables Act that passed last year and the reparations commission law. Brisport and his fellow Socialists in Office also kicked off the successful effort to keep Hector LaSalle off of the state’s highest court.

Assembly Member Emily Gallagher has been working to remake the state’s building codes, including passing a version of the All-electric Buildings Act last year. She also passed the LLC Transparency Act last year, opening up details about shadowy shell companies. Now she is looking to make another mark on the state’s housing policy with a proposed Social Development Housing Authority, which would allow the state to build affordable housing directly instead of using private developers.

Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani embarked on an effort to overhaul mass transit in New York City, including a pilot program allowing free bus rides on a handful of lines. However, efforts to extend and expand the program were stalled this session. In the budget, he did secure $12.4 million to upgrade New York City bus service ahead of congestion pricing implementation. Meanwhile, Mamdani has proposed legislation to end Columbia University and New York University’s property tax exemption on their vast real estate portfolios and direct the new revenue to the City University of New York.

35. Mary Sullivan

President, CSEA
Mary Sullivan / Joan Heffler Photography

Once a staffer in the Herkimer County Department of Social Services, Mary Sullivan now advocates for civil service staffers statewide at CSEA. This year, she joined labor leaders in the successful push to adjust Tier 6 pensions to benefit workers. Last year, Sullivan supported a civil service package that included a new program to raise awareness of civil service exams and another measure that counts time spent as provisional employees toward probationary time. She has also worked on a new program to deliver overtime back pay from the pandemic.

36. Wayne Spence

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

Wayne Spence has been proactive in efforts to save SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, which includes several hundred of his New York State Public Employees Federation members on its payroll. As part of the state budget deal, SUNY Downstate got a temporary lifeline and the Tier 6 pension plan was adjusted to improve benefits, which were among Spence’s top priorities in this session. The labor leader, who represents 50,000 public sector state employees, also celebrated PEF’s work with state officials in overhauling the state employee dental plan.

37. Evan Stavisky

Founding Partner and President, The Parkside Group

Evan Stavisky knows Albany and New York City and other corners of the state like the back of his hand. The influential lobbyist and political strategist, whose mother is a state senator, leads government relations for The Parkside Group, a top-tier government relations firm that also helped secure a Democratic supermajority in the state Senate. The firm’s clients include United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fantasy Sports Alliance, 32BJ SEIU, Sports Betting Alliance, Brooklyn Nets, Microsoft and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

38. David Weinraub

Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Brown & Weinraub
David Weinraub / Provided

As leader of a powerhouse lobbying firm, David Weinraub is focused on providing the best strategic advice to his clients so they can navigate Albany and achieve the wins they need in the halls of the state Capitol. Weinraub is well positioned to deliver that advice as a longtime Albany veteran who served in Gov. Mario Cuomo’s administration. The firm’s clients include the Care Management Alliance of New York, Hewlett Packard, Mount Sinai Hospital, the Coalition for Advancement of Small Business Pharmacy, the town of Fallberg and Catskill Regional Off Track Betting.

39. Giorgio DeRosa & Emily Giske

Partners, Bolton-St. Johns
Giorgio DeRosa & Emily Giske / Natalie Cartz; Sippakorn Ponpayong

Giorgio DeRosa brought Bolton-St. Johns to Albany almost 30 years and has established the firm as one of the cornerstones of the Capitol’s lobbying community. A powerhouse Albany veteran, DeRosa knows how to get things done in state government. A former legislative and political director for the New York State Public Employees Federation, DeRosa has achieved a number of policy and procurement wins at Bolton-St. Johns. Emily Giske is also key to Bolton-St. Johns’ success in Albany. The well-connected lobbyist and Democratic Party powerhouse helped to bring same-sex marriage, gestational surrogacy and a Democratic-controlled state Senate to New York. Giske is also a vice chair of the state Democratic Party.

40. Frank Carone

Founder and Chair, Oaktree Solutions
Frank Carone / Alex Towle Photography

Frank Carone has departed City Hall, but he hasn’t left the inner circle of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who just achieved several key goals in Albany, including the extension of mayoral control of schools. During his tenure as the mayor’s chief of staff, Carone forged ties to many movers and shakers, including top gubernatorial adviser Karen Persichilli Keogh – and he continues to advise the mayor on policy and political matters and is a key part of Adams’ reelection campaign as well. Oaktree Solutions, Carone’s flourishing consulting firm, has hired Gov. Kathy Hochul’s former chief of staff Jeff Lewis, among other well-connected executives. Among his clients at the city and state – and even the international – level are casino bidders, real estate developers, hospitals and labor unions.

41. Suri Kasirer

Founder and President, Kasirer
Suri Kasirer / Sarah Beth Turner

Suri Kasirer continues to outpace the competition as New York City’s top lobbyist, but that doesn’t mean her influence ends at the Westchester County line. The influential real estate and nonprofit lobbyist and her eponymous firm represent their clients in Albany on key state level issues as well – and they clock in at No. 2 on the latest statewide lobbying rankings. Kasirer’s client roster includes Related Companies, Waymo, Empire Cruises, Garmin, the Archdiocese of New York, the Motion Picture Association, Target and Blade Urban Air Mobility.

42. Charlie King, Jan Feuerstadt & Jake Dilemani

Partners, Mercury
Charlie King, Jan Feuerstadt & Jake Dilemani / Mercury; City Headshots

Mercury is one of the top public affairs firms in the state, thanks in large part to Charlie King, Jan Feuerstadt and Jake Dilemani. King has connections to many Democratic power players, having served as both executive director of the state Democratic Party and acting national director of the National Action Network. King, who was the top federal housing official for New York and New Jersey in the Clinton administration, sought the lieutenant governorship in 2002 and the attorney general’s office in 2006. Feuerstadt leads Mercury’s state and city government relations team in New York. With a focus on energy, financial services and real estate, she capitalizes on her experience at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, where she oversaw intergovernmental relations in New York and New Jersey and ran a $110 million federal grant portfolio in New York. Dilemani, a leading political and government relations consultant, has been a strategist for state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and other Democratic state senators in efforts to win a majority. He also developed a voter mobilization effort to elect New York City Mayor Eric Adams and has run a number of issue advocacy campaigns in the state.

43. Harold Iselin & Samir NeJame

Shareholders, Greenberg Traurig
Harold Iselin & Samir NeJame / Greenberg Traurig, LLP

Harold Iselin is the managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Albany office and co-chairs the firm’s government relations and public policy work, while Samir NeJame leads the firm’s New York government relations and public policy endeavors. Iselin, a former gubernatorial staffer, is a veteran policy wonk well versed in complex regulatory issues, most notably in the health care sector. NeJame has developed an expertise in a number of areas, including local government, tourism and real estate, and has represented a number of top clients including the Real Estate Board of New York, Tishman Speyer, Lincoln Center and ski resorts statewide.

44. David O’Rourke

President and CEO, New York Racing Association
David O’Rourke / Adam Coglianese, NYRA

David O’Rourke is leading major changes in New York’s horse racing industry. O’Rourke oversees the renovation of Long Island’s Belmont Park, funded by a $455 million state loan. The renovated Belmont is expected to reopen in 2026 with the Belmont Stakes being hosted at the Saratoga Race Course until then, which officials said will bring a likely $50 million economic boost to Saratoga County. O’Rourke is also leading a new NYRA committee studying the impact of racetrack surfaces on horse injuries, following a Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority report.

45. Robert DeSalvio

President, Genting Americas East
Robert DeSalvio / Dominick Totino

Driving Resorts World’s interests in New York, Robert DeSalvio is aiming to upgrade the company’s Queens racino into a full service casino with table games as part of the state’s plan to award up to three downstate casino licenses. An upgrade could bring 10,000 construction and permanent jobs to South Ozone Park. The $5 billion plan would triple the resort’s size, adding 1,600 hotel rooms and 3,000 units of worker housing, along with 10 acres of public green space, a luxury spa, expanded convention space and a 7,000-seat entertainment venue.

46. Jon Silvan & Jefrey Pollock

Founding Partner and CEO; Founding Partner and President, Global Strategy Group
Jon Silvan & Jefrey Pollock / Global Strategy Group

Jon Silvan and Jefrey Pollock have grown Global Strategy Group from a local polling outfit into a top-rated public affairs, communications and research firm with clients in New York and nationwide. Silvan and Pollock lead a team that counsel a diverse range of corporate and politics clients. The firms clients include Comcast, General Motors, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Gov. Kathy Hochul, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Ritchie Torres, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro and Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker.

47. Donato Bianco

International Vice President and New England Regional Manager, LIUNA
Donato Bianco / LIUNA

The key voice for the Laborers’ International Union of North America when speaking to government and business leaders in New York is Donato Bianco, who assumed the role as international vice president and New England regional manager last year. New York Laborers’ 40,000 New York members are part of LIUNA’s New England region. Bianco is the powerful union’s representative to Gov. Kathy Hochul, state legislative leaders, developers, other unions, contractors and the business community. Bianco is a longtime union official who started his labor career as an officer in his local union in Rhode Island.

48. Neal Kwatra

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

Neal Kwatra has grown Metropolitan Public Strategies into one of New York’s top political and issue advocacy firms, recognized for its strategic chops and impactful execution on the campaigns it helps drive. Kwatra has played a key role in developing progressive policies in New York, including the landmark $15 minimum wage campaign and fueling the offshore wind industry as part of the state’s landmark clean energy transition. He has recently been a key strategist for the state’s push for more housing supply, working with real estate clients and affordable housing developers to overcome NIMBY opposition to more multifamily housing production.

49. Rick Ostroff & Diana Ostroff

President and CEO; Chief Operating Officer, Ostroff Associates
Rick Ostroff & Diana Ostroff / JP Elario

A veteran of Gov. Mario Cuomo’s Executive Chamber, Rick Ostroff has been developing his eponymous lobbying firm into one of the top government relations operations in Albany over the past three decades. Diana Ostroff joined the firm in 2010, bringing invaluable experience in representing business and economic interests in the corridors of power. The firm’s big-name clients include the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, the Association on Aging in New York,  and the New York Association of Convenience Stores.

50. Dennis Trainor

Vice President, CWA District 1
Dennis Trainor / CWA

Veteran labor leader Dennis Trainor was part of the successful push to fully fund the state’s small donor public campaign financing program in this year’s budget, which he argued will help workers in the state compete against corporate interests. The politically active union has also been a trailblazer in securing better benefits for nurses and calling for better conditions in hospitals. Trainor is on the board of trustees of the New York Power Authority, which also makes him a trustee of the state Canal Corp.

51. Sean Doolan

Shareholder and President, Hinman Straub
Sean Doolan / Paul Castle, Castle Photography

An attorney and president of the highly ranked government relations firm Hinman Straub, Sean Doolan focuses on providing his clients with his expertise in health care policy and administrative law. The firm’s impressive client list includes the University of Rochester, Cannabis Farmers Alliance, Equifax, Black Cannabis Industry Association, Mental Health Counselors Association, Association of Justices of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Council of School Superintendents, Association of Private Colleges, Estee Lauder and Con Edison.

52. Camille Joseph-Goldman

Group Vice President for Public Affairs, Charter Communications
Camille Joseph-Goldman / Provided

As the state moves toward universal broadband connectivity, telecommunications companies like Charter Communications are major players in achieving the state’s goal by breaking down the digital divide in rural and urban areas. Camille Joseph-Goldman leads the telecommunications giant’s Northeast region, overseeing legislative, regulatory and external affairs for a company that has 3.5 million customers in New York. She brings extensive experience in politics and government to her role, with past stops under U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and as a New York City deputy comptroller.

53. Patrick B. Jenkins

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

Patrick B. Jenkins has established himself and his eponymous lobbying shop as an effective, well-connected firm that knows how to help clients navigate the ways of Albany. An ally of Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Jenkins uses his background in politics and government to lay out winning strategic roadmaps for clients. Jenkins’ clients include Genting New York, Fantasy Sports Alliance, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, New York City Football Club, Sports Betting Alliance, HNTB Corp., Uber and Transportation Alternatives.

54. Shontell Smith

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

Shontell Smith brings a powerhouse résumé with her to the powerhouse consulting firm Tusk Strategies. She’s a former chief of staff and chief counsel to the state Senate Democrats and was a lead negotiator on the state budget and other legislation. A longtime ally of state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Smith worked on key issues while leading the Senate conference staff, including voting rights, cannabis legalization, LGBTQ+ rights and affordable housing. At Tusk Strategies, Smith leads work on key policy campaigns both in New York and across the country.

55. Mike Elmendorf

President and CEO, Associated General Contractors of New York State
Mike Elmendorf / JP Elario

Mike Elmendorf is a key advocate for the construction contractors who keep New York’s roadways and bridges safe and in good working order. The former aide to then-Gov. George Pataki has established himself in Albany as a top construction, transportation and economic leader. This year, Elmendorf called for a $400 million core capital spending increase in response to inflation, saying that any less will reduce the amount of road work that can be completed. He praised the rollout of the state’s work zone speed camera pilot program, saying safety should be a top priority.

56. Bea Grause

President, Healthcare Association of New York State
Bea Grause / Kate Penn

Bea Grause has a vision for New York’s health care system, but said she needs the government to fund that system. Grause pushed successfully for a higher Medicaid reimbursement rate, fended off proposed cuts and secured additional funding for hospitals and health care systems. Grause has also argued that increasing discharge delays from both emergency rooms and inpatient services is costing hospitals money and harming patients. Under Grause, HANYS has advanced policies to address the health care workforce crisis and has focused on such issues as behavioral health, managed care and emergency preparedness.

57. Eric Linzer

President and CEO, New York Health Plan Association
Eric Linzer / Lana Ortiz

Eric Linzer and the New York Health Plan Association, which represents managed health care plans across the state, had pushed for funding the Medicaid Quality Incentive Program this year and won a partial victory by scuttling the governor’s proposal to fully eliminate its funding in the latest state budget. NYHPA also has defended managed long-term care plans, and leads a coalition arguing that they provide valuable services to the state’s health care delivery needs and any elimination would harm 280,000 state residents. Linzer opposed proposals to cut Medicaid health plan rates.

58. Jay Martin

Executive Director, Community Housing Improvement Program

New York’s landlords are looking to unite – at least on the advocacy front. The Community Housing Improvement Program is set to join forces with the Rent Stabilization Association and rebrand as the New York Apartment Association. Martin, a former state Senate staffer, has been an outspoken advocate online and elsewhere on behalf of owners of rent-stabilized units, taking on everyone from the progressives who pushed for “good cause” eviction to the influential Real Estate Board of New York, an industry group with which CHIP is often – but not always – aligned.

59. Jay Jacobs

Chair, State Democratic Party
Jay Jacobs / Nassau County Democratic Committee

After a tough 2022 election cycle that saw Republicans capture enough New York congressional seats to gain control of the House of Representatives and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s closer than expected election victory, things are looking up lately for Jay Jacobs. Jacobs saw Democrat Tom Suozzi flip his old Long Island congressional seat back to blue, and another round of redistricting has positioned Democrats to pick up one or more congressional seats. Jacobs can’t rest though, thanks to the many suburban purple voters and conservative comebacks in New York City’s outer boroughs.

60. Antonio Delgado

Lieutenant Governor
Antonio Delgado / Mike Groll, Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

One of only two lieutenant governors to be a former member of Congress, Lt. Gov. Antonio Delgado is making his former Washington, D.C., colleagues a priority. Delgado is using his leadership PAC to raise money for Democratic congressional candidates to retake the majority. This year, he has added overseeing a new community service program to his portfolio, which also includes regional economic development as well as hate and bias prevention. Delgado has indicated a desire to be more involved in the state Legislature, where he serves in a ceremonial role as president of the state Senate.

61. Lisa Marrello, David Poleto & Gregory Serio

Partners, Park Strategies
Lisa Marrello, David Poleto & Gregory Serio / Tom Wickham Photography

Former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato followed up his three terms in Washington, D.C., by creating a powerhouse lobbying firm in New York, and Lisa Marrello, David Poleto and Gregory Serio are key members of his state team. Marrello, a former state legislative housing policy adviser and New York City legislative staffer, uses her experience to work with clients navigating Albany’s legislative and regulatory waters. Poleto, a veteran of D’Amato’s Senate team and former Gov. George Pataki’s office, leads the firm’s hospitality group and assists clients with work before the state Liquor Authority. Serio, a former state insurance superintendent, brings deep expertise in insurance policy allowing him to work with clients to understand the complex state regulatory landscape.

62. David Hardy

Group Executive Vice President and CEO, Americas, Ørsted
David Hardy / Ørsted

No industry is more discussed in New York right now than clean energy, and the international offshore wind giant Ørsted is one of the most talked about in the sector. Ørsted and partner Eversource opened the much anticipated South Fork Wind Farm off the coast of Long Island this year, transmitting the first offshore wind electrons to the state’s electric grid, which has been an economic and workforce development driver for the state. Hardy has announced new projects in Connecticut and Rhode Island, and recently won a bid for its updated Sunrise Wind offshore wind farm in New York.

63. Dana Carotenuto

Senior Vice President, MirRam Group
Dana Carotenuto / Anthony Rojas

Dana Carotenuto could navigate the state Capitol blindfolded, having held top spots on the Second Floor and in the state Senate. A onetime chief of staff and top legislative affairs hand for then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Carotenuto was also chief of staff for the state Senate Independent Democratic Conference, putting her in the thick of key legislative negotiations during that period. Carotenuto now brings her firsthand experience at the center of state government to delivering results for her clients in health care, labor, energy, real estate and other sectors.

64. Joseph Strasburg

President, Rent Stabilization Association

The merger between the Rent Stabilization Association and the Community Housing Improvement Program will bring together the 25,000 landlords in RSA and the 4,000 members of CHIP in a new organization dubbed the New York Apartment Association, and the larger group will aim to bring a stronger landlord voice to housing negotiations in Albany. Veteran RSA leader Joseph Strasburg is expected to retire, while New York City Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. is reportedly a potential candidate to lead the combined entity.

65. Steve Malito

Partner and Chair, New York State Government Relations Group, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron
Steve Malito / Charles Cherney

Growing up playing in a treehouse at Gracie Mansion, where his dad worked, Steve Malito knew he wanted to be involved in public policy. Now, Malito is one of the top lobbyists and lawyers in Albany, particularly in the cannabis industry. Malito works with clients as they seek to navigate the growing industry, obtain operating licenses and navigate the regulatory landscape. As a lobbyist, Malito has used his knowledge of the state’s budget and legislative processes to help clients bring their Albany agendas to fruition.

66. Michael Avella & Christina Dickinson

Partners, Dickinson & Avella PLLC
Michael Avella & Christina Dickinson / Provided; Christina Primero

Michael Avella and Christina Dickinson use their background as former top attorneys in the state Senate to help clients navigate the hallways of the state Capitol. The firm’s results have included enacting the state’s film tax credit program to support the movie and television industry in the state, advocating on behalf of the National Football League on the state’s concussion management program law, winning capital funding for the growth of the bioscience industry and working with StudentsFirstNY on funding for charter schools.

67. Morgan Hook

Managing Director, SKDK
Morgan Hook / JP Elario

One has to wonder some days if Morgan Hook misses college. The onetime communications chief for then-Gov. David Paterson and then-SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher has made higher education a key priority during his advocacy efforts on behalf of his clients this year. His work for Tech:NYC helped pass Gov. Kathy Hochul’s ambitious artificial intelligence research and development college consortium, Empire AI, in this year’s budget. Hook has also established himself as a clean energy leader, working with a number of clean energy clients on their public affairs programs.

Congratulations to Tom Meara for being recognized in the Albany Power 100.

68. Tom Meara

Partner, Avoq
Tom Meara / Kivvit

Kivvit has been rebranded as Avoq, but one thing that has not changed is Tom Meara’s role as a top communications strategist in New York. Meara led the communications strategy for the campaign to defeat the last statewide ballot referendum on whether or not to hold a state constitutional convention, and he was involved in efforts to pass criminal justice legislation in the state. Meara’s talents have also been utilized in New Jersey on communications strategies impacting a number of issues in Trenton.

69. Beth Finkel

State Director, AARP New York
Beth Finkel / Alerta

Beth Finkel has a clear message for New York’s leaders: that age does not count anyone out in the Empire State. The powerful AARP state director has notched a series of policy wins to improve the lives of older New Yorkers. Finkel was a key advocate for the Prescription Drug Price Transparency Act that Gov. Kathy Hochul signed last year. She has also called on New York City Mayor Eric Adams to expand the use of the MyCity online portal to allow for senior citizens to use the system to obtain city services.

70. Maury Litwack

Founder and CEO, Teach Coalition
Maury Litwack / Michael N. Meyer

It has been a banner year for Maury Litwack and the state’s Jewish day schools. Litwack secured an $88 million increase in nonpublic school funding in the state budget, with security funding rising to $70 million from $45 million. Litwack and the Teach Coalition secured $200 million for the schools, part of a bid for $1.3 billion in annual funding by 2030. Litwack’s top issue is yeshiva security, amid increased threats following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israel. The coalition launched a program to help yeshiva parents navigate special education services.

71. Robin Chappelle Golston

President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts
Robin Chappelle Golston / A. Chappelle

Robin Chappelle Golston returned to Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts’ top job in January after serving as executive deputy secretary to Gov. Kathy Hochul. She resumes her role leading Planned Parenthood’s advocacy arm in New York as fights over women’s health and abortion rights are raging across the country. Among the priorities that Golston has identified are removing barriers to women’s health access, boosting Planned Parenthood care and increasing access to women’s health care in rural communities. Golston also chairs the affiliated Planned Parenthood Empire State Votes PAC.

72. John Cordo

Principal, Cordo & Co.
John Cordo / JP Elario

John Cordo has established himself a central player in Albany, delivering results for clients spanning various industries that include casinos, health and alcohol, along with organized labor. Among the recent accomplishments for Cordo’s team have been significant rate increases for hospitals and nursing homes and reforms to the state’s long-term care program. The firm’s clients include Resorts World New York, CVS, the New York State Beer Wholesalers Association, 1199SEIU and the Healthcare Education Program, the New York City District of Carpenters, Hydro Quebec, Uber and the Open Space Institute.

73. Matthew Cohen

President and CEO, Long Island Association
Matthew Cohen / Lisa Polese

Once U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s top Long Island adviser, Matthew Cohen is now the biggest advocate for Long Island businesses. Cohen called the $455 million state loan to the New York Racing Association to renovate Belmont Park a “huge win” for the region, noting the economic impact the horse racing industry has on the island. Among the priorities Cohen is pushing this year at the Long Island Association include boosting offshore wind projects, a growing industry on Long Island, blocking a municipally run Long Island Power Authority and creating more affordable housing.

74. Michael McKeon

Partner, Actum
Michael McKeon / Actum LLC

Michael McKeon’s career as a journalist and communications professional has put him in a front row seat to New York political history. As a communications director in then-Gov. George Pataki’s office, McKeon led communications efforts for the state government following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and during the recovery of lower Manhattan. Now a key official at the communications powerhouse Actum, McKeon has worked closely with clients to best frame their goals to the public and to achieve optimal results.

75. Susan Arbetter

Host, “Capital Tonight”, Spectrum News
Susan Arbetter / Spectrum News

Sometimes the best way to find out what’s happening in the capital tomorrow is to check out “Capital Tonight.” Susan Arbetter, the show’s savvy host, brings together guests to discuss the most pressing issues in the state, the state of deals in the Capitol and expert analysis, which makes the show appointment viewing for anyone who wants to know what’s happening in Albany. Arbetter brings impressive credentials covering public affairs and the state to her role.

76. Christopher Duryea

Managing Partner, Statewide Public Affairs
Christopher Duryea / Statewide Public Affairs

As Christopher Duryea’s career shows, never underestimate the person handing out boxes of campaign literature at a county political office. A former office manager for the Onondaga County Democratic Committee, Duryea has been a state legislative staffer and is now a top lobbyist at Statewide Public Affairs. Statewide’s clients include the New York State Restaurant Association, Amgen, Crypto Council for Innovation, Volkswagen Group of America, Hallmark Cards and the New York State Town Clerks Association.

77. Jack O’Donnell

Managing Partner, O’Donnell Solutions
Jack O’Donnell / Saffi Rigberg

A veteran of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office, Jack O’Donnell enjoys influence not just in his hometown of Buffalo but all across the state. The lobbyist has established himself and his firm as a go-to spot for anyone looking to do business in New York. O’Donnell’s clients include Siemens Industry, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, Community Housing Improvement Program, Horizon Health Services, Niagara University, the University at Buffalo and the Elevator Industry Work Preservation Fund.

78. Anthony “Skip” Piscitelli

Counselor and Senior Adviser, CMW Strategies
Anthony “Skip” Piscitelli / Lisa Berg

In terms of resumes, Anthony “Skip” Piscitelli’s does not skip over any key stops on his way to being one of the top government relations professionals in Albany. Piscitelli, who is now at Michael Woloz’s highly ranked public affairs firm CMW Strategies, was the longtime director of state legislative affairs for New York City, helming the office under former Mayors Mike Bloomberg and Rudy Giuliani and working in the office under then-Mayor David Dinkins. He has also served as counsel to the state Senate majority leader.

79. Tonio Burgos & Kristen Walsh

Founder and CEO; President, New York, Tonio Burgos and Associates
Tonio Burgos & Kristen Walsh / Carlos Perez, Team Lucin; Provided

Tonio Burgos brings deep experience in New York and New Jersey to leading his eponymous government relations firm. A veteran of former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s team, Burgos has held a number of key posts in the governor’s office and served as a Port Authority commissioner, along with serving on powerful boards in New Jersey’s government. Kristen Walsh knows Long Island especially well, having served as a key Long Island adviser for U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, as well as then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

80. Loren Amor

Vice President, BerlinRosen
Loren Amor / BerlinRosen

Loren Amor is now a hero to local journalists statewide. The former top adviser to state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins led BerlinRosen’s work with the Empire State Local News Coalition, which passed a first-in-the-nation local media payroll tax credit as part of the latest state budget. The local journalism program, part of a growing movement of state-sponsored local journalism support plans passed around the country, is aimed to grow the recruitment and retention of local journalists around New York.

81. Betsy Gotbaum

Executive Director, Citizens Union
Betsy Gotbaum / Anat Gerstein, Inc.

Betsy Gotbaum has long been a leading advocate in New York City, and now she’s set her sights on all of New York state. The former New York City public advocate was an outspoken proponent of last year’s state law that moves some local elections in the state to even-numbered years, which Gotbaum’s good-government group Citizens Union said will lead to increased voter turnout. Gotbaum’s next goal is a state constitutional amendment to move all local elections, including those in New York City, to even-numbered years.

82. Ed Cox

Chair, State Republican Party
Ed Cox / Provided

Ed Cox knows a thing or two about being scrutinized on the national stage, as he married the president’s daughter, Tricia Nixon, in the White House and he helped escort his father-in-law, Richard Nixon, from the White House after his resignation. Now national Republicans are watching to see if Cox can keep five key New York congressional seats red to help the GOP maintain control of the House of Representatives – although Rep. Tom Suozzi’s comeback special election victory in the old George Santos seat wasn’t a good start.

83. Clare Cusack

President and CEO, New York Bankers Association
Clare Cusack / Johnny Wolf Studio

Clare Cusack is sending the message to state leaders that the banking industry is a strong – and safe – driver in the New York economy. Cusack has pointed to a recent report showing out-migration in the state is negatively impacting the financial services sector, which has an impact on other industries. She also opposed the January deal that saw Hudson Valley Credit Union purchase Catskill Hudson Bank, the state’s first credit union to purchase a bank, saying it would have a negative impact on the Hudson Valley.

84. Cea Weaver

Coalition Director, Housing Justice for All
Cea Weaver / Michael Drake

This year’s state budget was a mixed bag for Cea Weaver. Weaver’s top issue, “good cause” eviction legislation, advanced as part of the compromise housing package in the state budget. Weaver has criticized the loopholes written into the final version of the laws included in the budget, changes that prompted several of her legislative allies to oppose the ultimate spending bill. While she may have come up short on her ideal housing package, Weaver has shown a tenacity to be back next year pushing a progressive housing agenda.

85. Crystal McQueen-Taylor

Executive Director, StudentsFirstNY
Crystal McQueen-Taylor / StudentsFirstNY

Crystal McQueen-Taylor went to Albany this year looking to extend mayoral control of New York City public schools – StudentsFirstNY ran a seven-figure ad buy to support the extension – and she scored a big win when it was ultimately included in the state budget. McQueen-Taylor, a former Bronx public school teacher who assumed her current role in 2022, had released a report earlier detailing issues that beset the nation’s largest public school system prior to mayoral control. StudentsFirstNY is better known for promoting charter schools, and last year won a partial victory when lawmakers allowed 14 new “zombie” charter schools.

86. Kimberly Ireland

New York Director of Government Relations, National Grid

National Grid is involved in a number of key economic and energy initiatives across New York, including multiple programs to boost the upstate economy. Kimberly Ireland leads the company’s government relations efforts in Albany, bringing deep experience that includes having served as a state Senate energy policy staffer and a town council member in Ballston. National Grid recently unveiled a $4 billion Upstate Upgrade program, a package of clean energy projects across the region that promises to create thousands of jobs and generate $1.9 billion in economic impact.

87. Brendan Lyons

Managing Editor, Capital Bureau and Investigations, Albany Times Union

Described as the “consummate player-coach,” Brendan Lyons leads the Capital Bureau and investigations team at the Albany Times Union. Lyons brings a background as a police and crime reporter to his perch in covering state government and assisting in overseeing groundbreaking investigations. Among Lyons’ notable articles this year include pieces on allegations of sexual abuse and harassment allegations at a North Country jail, secretive advocacy tactics by Big Tech and an examination of a helicopter crash that killed two members of the New York National Guard at the southern border.

88. John Kaehny

Executive Director, Reinvent Albany

John Kaehny’s goal is to improve government transparency and the way Albany does business. Kaehny has closely scrutinized state investments in new sports stadiums, including a potential state subsidy for a new stadium for the Buffalo Bisons minor league baseball team after the state funding of a new Buffalo Bills stadium. Kaehny’s good-government group expressed concerns over the state’s tax break for yacht and private jet purchases, which Reinvent Albany said costs the state $10 million annually. He has also called for reforms to the state’s industrial development authorities.

89. Duncan MacKenzie

CEO, New York State Association of Realtors
Duncan MacKenzie / NYSAR

New York’s Realtors take Albany by storm every year, with over 400 descending on Albany this past March, the largest contingent to ever participate in the New York State Association of Realtors’ annual lobby day. Duncan MacKenzie is spearheading the association’s legislative agenda, which included its opposition to “good cause” eviction legislation, a prohibition on brokers fees and the NY HEAT Act. The organization also supports new transparency standards for co-op buyer review, increasing requirements for a broker’s license and establishing a first-time home buyer savings account program.

90. Richard Loconte

President and CEO, Life Insurance Council of New York
Richard Loconte / Timothy H. Raab

An insurance industry veteran and former executive deputy superintendent at the state Department of Financial Services, Richard Loconte is the state’s chief advocate for the life insurance industry in the state. The Life Insurance Council of New York responded to a DFS report last year on the challenges facing the long-term care insurance market, saying LICONY planned to work closely with state officials on current and future life insurance product offerings. LICONY also joined a coalition opposing legislation to overhaul the state’s sovereign debt laws.

91. Jessica Ottney Mahar

New York Director of Policy and Strategy, The Nature Conservancy
Jessica Ottney Mahar / Dawn Schlaks

Jessica Ottney Mahar brings over two decades of experience in environmental policy to her role at The Nature Conservancy. Ottney Mahar has been involved in the discussions over implementation of the state’s new law to preserve 30% of its land and water by 2030. She told state lawmakers a key was not just the preservation of the land and water, but making sure it protects various types of ecosystems, species and habitats, and she has pressed for more state environmental staffers. She expressed support for new funding in the state budget to plant trees to combat climate change.

92. Daniel Ortega

Executive Director, New Yorkers for Affordable Energy
Daniel Ortega / Engineers Labor Employer Cooperative

One of the biggest legislative proposals omitted from the state budget this year was the NY HEAT Act, which aims to reduce natural gas use by eliminating an automatic gas hookup requirement. The NY HEAT Act’s failure was a win for New Yorkers for Affordable Energy, a business and labor coalition led by Daniel Ortega. Ortega, who argued the legislation would be too costly, still has plenty of work to do, as lawmakers are looking to continue negotiations. Ortega is also the community affairs chief for Engineers Labor-Employer Cooperative Local 825.

93. Kelly Ryan

Deputy Vice President, State Advocacy, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America

A leading lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry in New York, Kelly Ryan is pushing a multifaceted agenda while reminding state leaders of the impact the pharmaceutical industry has on the state. The biopharmaceutical industry generates $86.6 billion in total economic output for New York. Among the issues in PhRMA’s legislative portfolio include overhauling health care to address prescription drug costs paid to insurance companies and health care plans, emphasizing that drug import programs are public health risks and further boosting critical pharmaceutical research.

94. Kenneth Riddett

President, Riddett Associates
Kenneth Riddett / TH Raab

A former state Senate majority counsel, Kenneth Riddett is a relatively low profile but highly effective lobbyist, with an impressive client list in the casino and sports betting industries in New York. Riddett has worked with such clients as the Sports Betting Alliance, DraftKings, FanDuel, Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association and the PGA Tour, along with the influential New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Riddett served for over two decades as town judge in Guilderland.

95. Chris Bombardier

President, Catalyst Government Relations
Chris Bombardier / Linda Connolly

Chris Bombardier’s efforts leading a boutique government relations firm underscore the fact that he brings deep experience in knowing how Albany works and in delivering for his clients. Catalyst clients include Charter Communications, Honeywell, the Rochester Institute of Technology, Blade Urban Air Mobility, Trucking Association of New York, Churchill Downs, Synthetic Turf Council, Consumer Data Industry Association, New York Self Storage Association and Plumbing Foundation of New York City.

96. Ramon Tallaj

Board Chair, Somos Community Care
Ramon Tallaj / Somos Community Care

Dr. Ramon Tallaj has been at the forefront of health equity in New York and addressing the impact the coronavirus pandemic had on the state. During the worst of the pandemic, Tallaj and Somos Community Care operated 125 trilingual test and health education sites and tested 1.5 million New Yorkers. The politically connected Somos Community Care organization operates 700 health clinics across New York City and serves 1 million Medicare and Medicaid patients annually.

97. David Lamendola

Director of Government Affairs, New York and Connecticut, Verizon

The telecommunications and utility industries can be complex in the legislative and regulatory spheres, but David Lamendola’s depth of experience in the sector makes it look easy. Leading government affairs for Verizon in New York and Connecticut for almost three decades, Lamendola has racked up a number of legislative successes in Albany and Hartford. Prior to joining Verizon, Lamendola worked at the New York State Telecommunications Association and Independent Power Producers of New York and as an Assembly legislative staffer.

98. Jeffrey B. Schwartz

Partner, Phillips Lytle
Jeffrey B. Schwartz / KC Kratt Photography

As the partner in charge of Phillips Lytle’s Albany office, Jeffrey B. Schwartz has established himself as a person to know in the business law, private equity, venture capital as well as the mergers and acquisitions worlds. He has worked to organize a number of angel investor groups to work with companies in a variety of industries, including electric microtransit, online education, specialized food and aerospace. Schwartz has worked with clients in the health technology and beverage industries on startup finance issues, along with counseling clients in a variety of industries on mergers and acquisitions.

99. Katie Peters

Senior Vice President, Public Policy, FanDuel

Katie Peters is a driving force behind legislation in New York that would legalize iGaming. The industry, which takes casino games and moves them online, is a growing segment of the gambling industry. State Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee Chair Joseph Addabbo Jr. has introduced legislation, which Peters had predicted last year that it would pass in 2024. The practice has been referred to as the next path for the industry following online fantasy sports.

100. Raymond Shields

New York Adjutant General, State Division of Military and Naval Affairs
Raymond Shields / New York National Guard

The 54th adjutant general of New York and the state’s top military commander, Maj. Gen. Raymond Shields has in recent years mobilized National Guard members in response to COVID-19, the migrant crisis and even to carry out Gov. Kathy Hochul’s subway safety plan. As adjutant general, he has overseen the National Guard in deploying 5,000 troops overseas, including to lead training for the Ukrainian Army, providing base security in the Horn of Africa and commanding U.S. Army forces in the Middle East.