Nearly a decade ago, the Sunset Park assemblyman made headlines for calling attention to the dangers of Four Loko, a malt liquor beverage. More recently, Félix Ortiz has been on the front lines of the immigration debate, informing constituents and undocumented residents on how they can defend themselves against raids. He got involved in a housing dispute over an eviction at NYCHA and joined calls for Ricardo Rosselló to resign as governor of Puerto Rico, which he did.
The 2019 Brooklyn Power 100; 51 - 100
The 2019 Brooklyn Power 100; 51 - 100
With a successful legislative session behind her, Jo Anne Simon is focusing on constituent issues. She’s fielded vociferous complaints from seniors about the cost of their homes and concerns from residents about the city’s plan to close the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and protests to preserve an abolitionist townhouse from demolition. She’s opposed to the city’s effort to expand the Brooklyn Detention Complex but supports stripping Woodland restaurant of its liquor license following complaints from the community.
David Kramer is helping the Brooklyn Public Library turn a dilapidated, underused branch in Brooklyn Heights into a high-rise that’s been compared to the Flatiron Building. The developer topped out One Clinton, a 38-story building on the branch’s site in March, and condos have hit the market starting over $1 million. The site’s 26,600-square-foot library space with a new reading room and a community meeting space for 150 people is expected to open next year.
Brother-and-sister team Gina and Tony Argento have been making television and movie magic in Brooklyn (and Queens and Staten Island). In addition to their growing presence citywide, they’ve installed 25,000 square feet of green roof and interior space on their Kingsland Avenue property, and even helped a local deli owner stay in Greenpoint. With the industry continuing to grow in New York and beyond, the studio team is focusing on expansion while continuing its commitment to community and environmental sustainability.
Since taking the reins of Maimonides Medical Center, Kenneth Gibbs has helped the hospital maintain its reputation. Maimonides was recently ranked as the No. 22 hospital in New York, among the top 10 health systems in the country for survival rates and it has the best cardiac care in the state. In addition, its Jaffe Stroke Center had the highest survival rate nationwide, according to one federal mortality report.
Brooklyn College became the capital of the political world in March, when it hosted Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign kickoff rally – and it billed the campaign $70,000 for the event. Under Michelle Anderson’s leadership, the college recently hauled in $2.25 million for an endowed scholarship fund and ensured its Murray Koppelman School of Business earned accreditation. This spring, the college recognized activist and #MeToo founder Tarana Burke with an honorary degree.
For nearly two years, Frances Bronet has led New York City’s noted art and design school to new heights. The Pratt Institute, which clocked in at No. 6 in design, No. 10 in art and No. 17 in architecture according to education research company Niche, continues to draw an ambitious student body to Clinton Hill – like the student who colorfully wrapped utility boxes and others who are calling attention to the struggles of undocumented immigrants.
The three hospitals under One Brooklyn Health System – Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, Interfaith Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center – have struggled financially to serve the borough’s most vulnerable populations. In a welcome move, last year Gov. Andrew Cuomo committed $664 million to create the hospital network from his Vital Brooklyn plan, with $210 million of that allocated toward an ambulatory care network. LaRay Brown has led the system for the past two years.
The former Forest City New York CEO who played a key role in the game-changing Atlantic Yards and Pacific Park projects struck out on her own last year with her new real estate development firm. In December, she signed a lease to develop a 22-story residential tower in Chelsea, Manhattan, followed by a mixed-use property on the Queens waterfront in Long Island City. Her mantra? “You are what you build,” she told Madame Architect.
The state senator was the loneliest man in Albany after Democrats took over the chamber. He remained in limbo this past session as the Democrats didn’t want him and the Republicans had no need for him either. Felder couldn’t hold up the state budget like he did in 2018. So he voted for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants and rent reform laws, and then Andrea Stewart-Cousins let him rejoin the Democratic conference.
The affable assemblyman has had a productive year in Albany, helping pass the state’s groundbreaking climate change law, measures to decriminalize marijuana and expunge 900,000 arrests, and a stronger law against sexual harassment in the workplace. Walter Mosley is also a plaintiff in a fusion voting lawsuit. He voted against the state budget because of the creation of a commission to establish a statewide public campaign finance system.
The former New York City councilman and current Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce board member is one of several sagacious attorneys who will be in high demand now that the state Legislature has approved rent regulation reforms. Kenneth Fisher noted that the law will help affluent tenants and hurt owners of smaller buildings in working-class neighborhoods. After property owners sued the state, Fisher said the conservative U.S. Supreme Court could side with the landlords.
Risa Heller launched her firm nearly a decade ago, following high-level positions with then-Gov. David Paterson, Global Strategy Group and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer. In that time, she and her team have emerged as leading communications consultants in New York and beyond, helping clients like the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Friends of the BQX, the Kushner Cos. and the developers of the contested Two Bridges project through the increasingly fast-paced, tabloid-driven media market.
Since founding his firm in 1998, the affordable housing developer has built several thousand units of below-market-rate housing across the borough. Martin Dunn has also been a strong advocate for people living with HIV/AIDS, and serves on the board of the Supportive Housing Network of New York. He has contributed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other politicians, giving $85,000 to various political campaigns since 2002.
Politicians, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, regularly court the pastor for his support during election years – and with good reason. Known for taking principled stands on developments that overpromise jobs and housing, the Yale Divinity School alumnus has presided over his flock at Brown Memorial Baptist Church for the past 18 years. Miller recently called for more diversity in construction industry contracting and gave a heartfelt eulogy for coach Douglas Terry Muhammad in his church.
Poverty relief advocate Jennifer Jones Austin is following in the footsteps of her father, William Jones – a reverend who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s. As head of the FPWA, Jones Austin collaborates with 170 groups to reduce poverty and has raised awareness about the criminalization of low-income New Yorkers. Lately, she has been traveling the country speaking about her memoir, “Consider it Pure Joy,” documenting her fight against cancer.
Since departing the Assembly in the 1990s, Joni Yoswein has built her consulting firm into a powerhouse. While she wasn’t able to get her longtime client Amazon over the finish line in Queens, she represents a lot more companies on everything from land use to policy issues to budgetary matters. In Brooklyn alone, she works for St. Francis College, Friends of the BQX, Maimonides Medical Center, the Brooklyn Tech Alumni Foundation and the Brooklyn Public Library.
While Emily Giske often serves as the public face of top lobbying firm Bolton-St. Johns, operating behind the scenes is Mike Keogh, who has a wealth of experience in New York City government, including as former finance director for the City Council. Also among the firm’s impressive roster of partners is Juanita Scarlett, who previously worked in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration and at several other firms before joining Bolton-St. Johns earlier this year.
The Somos secretary is plugged in to what’s happening in outer-borough Democratic circles. The former political strategist has kept his hand in politics by advising New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr., Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez and former Bronx Democratic Party Chairman Jose Rivera. His efforts building HITN into an informative news channel are now getting recognized on bigger stages, such as the National Hispanic Media Coalition. The network has also been nominated for several Emmys.
It’s been about three years since Tucker Reed left the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership to start his own real estate consulting firm, but he’s still involved in real estate discussions about the future of the borough’s largest commercial district, of course. But Reed is mostly helping out developers like the Rabsky Group, who want to build what would be Brooklyn’s tallest building (at 941 feet) – with a few public and extensive private benefits.
Once an ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Bertha Lewis was one of the first black leaders to express disenchantment with his record. She recently denounced his presidential ambitions with two words: Eric Garner. Lewis has also backed NYCHA as it navigates receivership and chided the city for cracking down on a Flatbush Avenue restaurant that predominantly serves patrons of color, while tolerating noise from nightclubs mostly frequented by white hipsters.
Toby Moskovits and her partner Michael Lichtenstein spotted potential on the Williamsburg waterfront, investing in a 500,000-square-foot office space at 25 Kent Ave. with Rubenstein Partners and developing the eight-story Williamsburg Hotel. Has the market turned? Two years after the hotel opened, Moskovits fielded offers to sell it – but instead decided to refinance it with $76 million. Having a positive mindset certainly helps when facing uncertainty in the market, Moskovits tells BisNow.
The tenacious reporter for New York’s hometown news channel spent her career tracking the borough’s biggest stories, such as state Sen. Martin Golden’s upset loss last fall and undocumented women being exploited as domestic workers in Williamsburg. But an age and gender discrimination lawsuit that she and her colleagues filed in federal court against Charter Communications made her fight one of the biggest labor stories of the year.
In February, New York City College of Technology President Russell Hotzler celebrated the opening of a new $410 million academic complex in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn. The eight-story campus hub on Jay Street will house the school’s health care and science programs, including its state-of-the-art STEM labs and classrooms, as well as a new theater, gymnasium and wellness center. The complex will “keep New York competitive” and support core sectors of its economy, Hotzler says.
Three years ago, Gregory Calliste promised he would improve services in the North Brooklyn public hospital when he came aboard. This year, he announced a $5 million renovation for the 388-bed facility and an expansion of its emergency room. The hospital is starting construction on an affordable housing complex on a hospital parking lot. Meanwhile, Woodhull continues to run a much-lauded LGBTQ health center, and even restored a mural that Keith Haring painted in the lobby.
Looks like Rudolph “Rudy” Crew is sticking around. Contrary to reports that Crew would be stepping down after a discrimination lawsuit became public, Crew announced he is staying put and will continue to expand the college’s academic offerings. The school should have more visibility in the coming year after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law renaming two Central Brooklyn subway stations after the civil rights leader and the college that bears his name.
Brookdale University Hospital Medical Center, which Dominick Stanzione has led since 2017, is becoming an exciting place to practice medicine after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state would award nearly $700 million to the health system that oversees the medical center. Under the plan, Brookdale would start renovations to solidify its role as a regional trauma center and provide better inpatient acute care. Last year, the hospital purchased a state-of-the-art CT scanner with a $535,000 state grant.
Deborah Schwartz has preserved Brooklyn’s heritage at the Brooklyn Historical Society for the past 13 years, but the museum’s collection is always changing. The institution has recently shifted its emphasis to focus more on oral histories of recent immigrant communities. This year’s exhibits also examine the civil rights era in the 1960s and 1970s, and LGBTQ history in the borough. Fundraising remains robust, with the society collecting $590,000 at its annual gala.
Last month, Brooklyn Law School welcomed back Michael Cahill, who previously served as the school’s vice dean and associate dean for academic affairs, and had most recently taught at Rutgers Law School. Cahill hopes to expand the school’s offerings to offer additional certificate and executive education programs to professionals who need to know the law in their fields. His other goals for the independent institution? Improve recruitment and plenty of fundraising.
Wayne Riley has had one of the state’s toughest jobs in health care for the past two and a half years, but he’s got a solid team of leaders around him, including Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Patricia Winston and Vice Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Michael Joseph. Riley has been hoping to expand the school’s real estate portfolio – starting with an 80,000-100,000-square-foot outpatient center.
The Brooklyn Hospital Center celebrated its 175th anniversary earlier this year. Gary Terrinoni has been with the Fort Greene hospital for the past four years, and he isn’t resting on his laurels. The hospital is equipped to treat just half of the 70,000 patients who visit its emergency room each year, so it is renovating the facility and recently broke ground on a $25 million emergency department – which should be completed around the end of 2020.
The Borough Park assemblyman made history last year when he became the first Hasidic Jew elected to the state Legislature. Replacing Dov Hikind, who had represented the Orthodox Jewish community since 1983, is no easy feat but Simcha Eichenstein has gotten plenty of attention for his prominent committee assignments. He’s also helped sleep-away camps apply for security training and exempted income teens earn through summer employment programs from counting against their family’s public assistance benefits.
Eric Adams’ longtime adviser got a welcome promotion this summer to deputy borough president, giving the political operator a more public-facing job. That’s good for Adams and even better for Brooklyn. Ingrid Lewis-Martin is extremely well-respected in political circles and is quickly becoming a force in borough politics. Expect to see a lot more of her all over the city as Adams continues raising money for a mayoral run in 2021.
In her six years as head of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, Cecilia Clarke has steered the nonprofit toward social justice and cultural issues. The foundation distributed a record $7 million to Brooklyn groups last year, with an emphasis on addressing hunger and advancing racial equity. Clarke has raised money to help immigrant rights nonprofits fight U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and wants Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ensure an accurate 2020 census count.
After taking the reins at St. Joseph’s College in 2017, Donald Boomgaarden helped the Clinton Hill Catholic school reobtain its accreditation. St. Joseph’s has increased its enrollment to 5,300 students, and it attributes the success to its strong religious education and relatively affordable tuition. Boomgaarden, an 18th century opera historian, plans to roll out a new strategic plan this fall – and maybe even a few Chopin performances.
The Flatbush-based nonprofit is getting recognition for helping Brooklyn families find affordable housing, obtain jobs and gain access to legal services. Its Respite Bed Program was honored by the Brooklyn Heights Association, and the organization won a contract for more than $320,000 to provide case management services for homeless families in shelters. A strike led by CAMBA Legal Services workers who wanted paid parental leave attracted attention in the nonprofit world. Oplustil resolved it in four weeks.
Homelessness in New York City has been a crisis during much of the de Blasio administration, with about 60,000 people in city shelters every night. Monique George and other advocates at Picture the Homeless have made life in the city more bearable for its most vulnerable residents by lobbying for the city to install self-cleaning public toilets and convert 468 cluster apartments in the Bronx and Brooklyn into affordable housing for homeless families.
New Yorkers are gradually becoming more inclusive of the city’s LGBTQ community but problems persist, Floyd Rumohr writes in City Limits. He points out that denials of service in transportation continue to exist for the gay and transgendered community, as well as violent attacks on public transit. Rumohr has been recognized for making Brooklyn safer for LGBTQ individuals by collaborating with nonprofits like CAMBA Young Men’s Health Project and SAGE.
Since his inauguration as president a year ago, Miguel Martinez-Saenz has sought to expand St. Francis College’s international reach by developing new partnerships with Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Norway, Myanmar, Nepal and Japan that go beyond study-abroad programs. He’s also been teaching classes to inmates at Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center. Martinez-Saenz is becoming a national advocate for the hiring of more Latino administrators nationally as the number of Latino students rises.
The chamber’s interim president has played a key role in affirming Brooklyn as the place to start your own business or relocate from elsewhere. Samara Karasyk has touted the benefits of patronizing small businesses (like the eateries at DeKalb Market Hall), convinced Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba to consider partnering with Brooklyn manufacturers as it moves to the U.S. and worked with the de Blasio administration as it considers new paid personal time laws.
The name of the industrial business coalition may have changed (it was EWVIDCO) but its mission to preserve manufacturing has stayed the same as real estate prices skyrocket and industrial space dwindles. Leah Archibald has lobbied for New York City to protect manufacturing in neighborhood rezonings, highlighting the loss of high-wage jobs that could result from the loss of industrial business zones – particularly in North Brooklyn, where warehouses have been converted to loft apartments.
Jessica Schumer oversees Mayor Bill de Blasio’s favorite transit project – which may not run along the Brooklyn waterfront until at least 2029 (if he’s lucky). The de Blasio administration funded a $7.25 million study for the project, although Amazon’s departure and a skeptical task force of City Council members could put a crimp in the $2.7 billion plan. Without $1.4 billion in federal funding, the city could be looking at a rapid bus line instead.
The Democratic consultant launched Paragon Strategies in 2011 and started taking clients like Rep. Hakeem Jeffries and Assemblyman Walter Mosley soon after. Perhaps his most challenging role was managing Eric Gonzalez’s Brooklyn district attorney campaign two years ago, which was no sure thing even though Gonzalez had served as acting district attorney. Next year, Jeffries, the House Democratic Caucus leader, could face a serious primary from a candidate backed by the Justice Democrats.
Elizabeth Yeampierre and her troop of climate advocates are fighting to include climate justice in congressional hearings and the Democratic presidential primary, criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s environmental record. Uprose is fighting climate change block by block as well, launching a community-owned solar cooperative and other grassroots resiliency efforts in Sunset Park. And they fought against the Industry City rezoning plan, crashing a wine festival, because the proposal could displace neighborhood residents.
Brighton Beach radios are usually tuned in to 620 AM, the home of Davidzon Radio, to hear what’s happening in New York through a Russian American lens. Thanks to the vision of Gregory Davidzon, who The New York Times called the “kingmaker of Little Russia,” news travels fast around the tip of southern Brooklyn. Davidzon has served as a gateway to Russian immigrants in one of the few areas in the city that embraced Donald Trump in 2016.
For years, John Raskin and his transit troubadours trekked to City Hall and Albany to rail against budgets that didn’t prioritize fixing the MTA or include half-price fares for the poor. But after the “Summer of Hell,” followed by a “blue wave” last fall that swept Democrats into power, things started to change. Albany passed congestion pricing and the city instituted Fair Fares. Now, Raskin is stepping down and he leaves behind a system significantly improved.
Tara Martin has deep ties to Brooklyn politics – she worked in Yvette Clarke’s congressional and New York City Council offices – and was among the top organizers for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign in New York. She’s overseeing policy priorities at the New York State Nurses Association at a time when health care spending faces increased scrutiny – including a bill that would stop insurers from rejecting nurses for life insurance policies because they carry naloxone for opioid overdoses.
The former editor of Brooklyn Paper is back home in the borough he loves, pugnaciously fighting for a cause he believes in: better transit and safer streets. As editor-in-chief of Streetsblog NYC, Kuntzman has hounded the de Blasio administration to protect cyclists amid a horrific year in which 18 riders died in traffic crashes, kept the pressure on legislators to pass congestion pricing and played watchdog over the MTA’s inability to fix the subways.
Margarita Lopez Torres tried to get a state Supreme Court judgeship about 15 years ago, fighting powerful Brooklyn Democratic Party leaders Clarence Norman and Vito Lopez (she refused to hire Lopez’s daughter) before winning a Surrogate’s Court race in 2005 without their help. Now she’s firmly entrenched, earning endorsements from Democratic Party officials for her reelection bid while getting challenged by (unsuccessful) insurgents. She easily won the Democratic primary in June.
The ex-governor has found some measure of happiness as a developer of luxury rental properties along the Williamsburg waterfront. Spitzer’s three-tower complex at 420 Kent began leasing over a year ago with 857 apartments available. Studios start at $2,350 a month but check out that pool. In a recent interview with News 12, Spitzer said it’s “inconceivable” that he would run for office again, and added that he likes a potential Biden/Harris Democratic presidential ticket.