By City & State | City & State New York
Central Park will never be the same after Extell Development’s eagerly anticipated Central Park Tower is completed. Expected to open in 2020, it will be the tallest residential building in the world, with an estimated $4 billion in inventory. The project caps off Gary Barnett’s impressive career, which spans more than three decades and has reshaped the Manhattan skyline. Barnett also helped develop the supertall One57 and newly opened 55 Hudson Yards skyscraper.
New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the legislative body’s Transportation Committee, has been a fierce advocate for taxi drivers and supports legislation designed to crack down on predatory lenders, while also pushing to legalize e-scooters and e-bikes. The Upper Manhattan councilman, who is among a number of Dominican American politicians to gain power in recent years, has also been a champion of a controversial city effort to rezone the majority-Latino Inwood neighborhood.
Leading CUNY’s largest institution for nearly two decades is enough to land Jennifer Raab on this list, but she’s much more than a typical college president. Her political chops and strategic expertise has allowed her to grow Hunter College by boosting its academic excellence, securing funding for state-of-the-art buildings and increasing access to college for low-income students. This year, Raab secured Hillary Rodham Clinton as the school’s commencement speaker.
Leading the nation’s largest library system – which includes 88 libraries and four scholarly research centers – is no easy task. Since joining the New York Public Library in 2011, Anthony Marx has modernized the borough’s already impressive libraries with cutting-edge digital technology. Under his leadership, the library system has expanded its reach with vital services like language and coding classes for its millions of patrons, including many low-income families.
One of the real estate heavyweights who unsuccessfully tried at the last minute to persuade Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto a bill increasing tenant protections across the state last month, Douglas Durst leads the company that was founded by his grandfather in 1915. A longtime environmental activist, Durst is behind 4 Times Square, the nation’s first sustainable skyscraper, and the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park, a LEED Platinum certified high-rise office building.
Few real estate executives are more involved in politics and policy than Rob Speyer. The heir to the massive Tishman Speyer portfolio – which includes Rockefeller Center, the mixed-use skyscraper CitySpire and The Spiral office tower (now under construction) – has established himself as an important voice in Manhattan land use discussions. Relatively young for a real estate titan (he is in his late 40s), Speyer will likely have a say in development issues for decades to come.
The Rudin family is legendary in New York City, after helping bail the city out of bankruptcy in the 1970s and maintaining their role as benefactors to keep it booming – particularly in Manhattan. The fourth generation to lead the family company, William Rudin has brought grace and a positive attitude to the management of a vast portfolio that includes millions of square feet of office space and nearly two dozen luxury apartment buildings.
While Larry Silverstein will always be remembered for leasing the World Trade Center towers weeks before 9/11 and for his role in rebuilding after the terrorist attacks, his footprint in the world of Manhattan real estate and philanthropy extends beyond this chapter. Silverstein Properties manages dozens of high-rises through the borough, and Silverstein himself has donated millions to some of Manhattan’s top institutions – including New York University and Hunter College.
New York City Councilwoman Margaret Chin got her start in politics as an affordable housing advocate working on behalf of immigrant families like hers. Chin was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Chinatown, one of the areas she now represents in the council. She recently notched a key victory with the near-unanimous approval of a low-income housing project for seniors on the site of the Elizabeth Street Garden.
Elected in 2017, Carlina Rivera represents the Lower East Side district where she grew up. She has been making headlines for high-profile bills that she has sponsored, including banning the sale of foie gras and capping security deposits for rental apartments to one month’s rent, and could be in the mix for the council speakership in 2021. The avid bicyclist has also worked to make the streets safer for riders.
After lobbying for years to make New York City’s transit system more affordable, last month David R. Jones celebrated the city’s new Fair Fares program, which provides half-price MetroCards for low-income residents. A recognized expert on urban poverty and economic advancement, Jones served as special adviser to then-Mayor Ed Koch in the early 1980s. He also served on the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption and pushed for congestion pricing as a member of the MTA board.
John Catsimatidis is a true New York story. A Greek immigrant who grew up in Harlem and went to Brooklyn Tech and New York University, Catsimatidis has built a multibillion-dollar grocery store empire over the past four decades. While he lost his 2013 mayoral bid, he maintains his role as a political power broker with close ties to Republicans and Democrats. And he isn’t shy about telling them when he thinks something in the borough needs to be fixed.
Since taking the reins at New York-Presbyterian in 2011, Steven Corwin has steered the massive health care system to unprecedented success. New York-Presbyterian is routinely ranked the best hospital in New York City, a reflection of Corwin’s focus on patient-centered care. Recently, Corwin has been an outspoken advocate for universal health care in the United States and suggested that hospitals need to find ways to reduce costs.
Brookfield’s 7-million-square-foot Manhattan West development – just blocks from the recently opened Hudson Yards – is among a crop of impressive real estate projects popping up in the borough. Ric Clark oversees the six-building complex, which is slated to house Fortune 500 companies, the National Hockey League’s headquarters as well as the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. He’s also the board chairman of the Alliance for Downtown New York.
Philanthropy is seeing a shift “from generosity to justice” as organizations step up their efforts to address the needs of marginalized groups, Darren Walker wrote on the Ford Foundation’s blog earlier this year. As the head of an organization with a $13 billion endowment, Walker oversees grantmaking efforts worldwide. Several years ago, he was part of Detroit’s historic bailout, in which Ford and other foundations contributed $816 million to rescue the city from bankruptcy.
Veteran venture capitalist Fred Wilson has long held his finger on the pulse of New York City’s burgeoning tech sector. As a co-founder of two Manhattan-based venture capital firms – Flatiron Partners and Union Square Ventures – Wilson has proven himself as a savvy investor, backing companies including Twitter, Tumblr and Etsy. Wilson’s voice matters in the sector – as evidenced by his popular blog, featuring daily insights on the latest in tech and venture capital.
Following the passage of stronger rent regulations that were opposed by the real estate industry, the Real Estate Board of New York, the industry’s leading trade association in the state, is turning to a veteran: Jim Whelan. Whelan, who served as chief of staff to then-Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff in the Bloomberg administration and as a Muss Development executive, joined REBNY in 2010 and will be tasked with devising a more effective strategy in Albany.
The charismatic cardinal has been talked about as a potential next pope and previously served as the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Based in New York City, Timothy Dolan often travels to Albany to advocate for or against various pieces of legislation. But his primary role is that of a spiritual leader to the large number of Catholics who call Manhattan home – including some of the country’s most influential figures.
Former New York City Councilwoman Eva Moskowitz is a fierce political fighter and unapologetic education reform advocate. Founded in Harlem and expanded to other neighborhoods, Success Academy Charter Schools has become a constant punching bag for teachers unions and other critics – but the results speak for themselves. Success Academy schools routinely outperform other schools that also have predominantly low-income students, which is why their number of applicants continues to rise year after year.
When you think of high-profile Manhattan destinations, Madison Square Garden is likely among the first that come to mind. James Dolan may be a punching bag for suffering Knicks fans, but you can’t argue with the success he’s had in maintaining one of New York City’s premier entertainment venues. In addition to overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Knicks, Rangers and Liberty as well as the company’s television networks, Dolan drives the overall strategy for the multibillion-dollar corporation.
The Upper West Side assemblyman is a power broker in Albany and an effective leader in his borough. Although Daniel O’Donnell’s bid for New York City public advocate in the special election didn’t take off, his campaign highlighted his progressive credentials and his track record of achievement, which goes beyond his work helping legalize same-sex marriage in 2011. O’Donnell chairs the Assembly Committee on Tourism, Arts, Parks and Sports Development, providing vital support to smaller cultural organizations.
The success story of post-9/11 lower Manhattan continues to unfold, with this former New York City councilwoman writing the latest chapter. In the third quarter of last year, the area hit a milestone of 251,334 private sector jobs – surpassing the number of jobs right before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Jessica Lappin, who took over as president in 2014, said the symbolic milestone shows that the spirit and determination of the neighborhood “can never be broken.”
Tim Tompkins took control of this high-profile business improvement district in 2002, during one of New York City’s low points in tourism. Since then, he’s helped revitalize the iconic and historic neighborhood, redesigning the square and adding pedestrian-friendly amenities and a wide range of activities, music and seasonal events. He teaches “Transforming Cities” and “The Arts and Artist in Urban Revitalization” at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Sheena Wright has been busy since her first day on the job at the United Way of New York City, when she became the first woman to run the powerful nonprofit on the same day Superstorm Sandy crushed the city. She led a massive $11 million fundraising effort and has since reshaped the nonprofit’s mission, taking a more activism-driven approach. Wright’s work led to the creation of programs like ReadNYC, a literacy outreach program.
The former U.S. Agency for International Development administrator joined The Rockefeller Foundation as its president in 2017, and lately he’s been talking about how philanthropy could use tech to effect change on a global scale. “The conversation around big-money philanthropy has changed drastically in the last two years,” Shah told Vox last month. In his previous role at USAID, he was in charge of overseeing agency operations and promoting public-private partnerships – helping develop critical humanitarian programs.
Designed in the 1960s and built starting in the early 1980s, Battery Park City has quickly grown to become one of Manhattan’s most exclusive neighborhoods, surviving and thriving in the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Since he was named acting president in October 2017, B.J. Jones has built on the neighborhood’s legacy, focused on enhancing its popular parks and promoted sustainability. Jones previously held several roles in the Bloomberg administration.
With President Donald Trump recently putting AT&T in his crosshairs for being the corporate owner of CNN, the company must be glad to have a political powerhouse like Marissa Shorenstein as its regional leader. Since leaving state government after running communications for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2010 campaign, Shorenstein has built an impressive resume, promoting AT&T’s interests in the region, including pushing to create a 5G wireless network in New York.
Leecia Eve has made a name for herself in New York City, not only as general counsel of Empire State Development but also as a political candidate – most recently for state attorney general. But it is Eve’s current role as vice president of government affairs at Verizon that could lead to her biggest impact, as she attempts to bring next-generation 5G connectivity to New York City.
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has been the gold standard in New York City when it comes to treating cancer or researching cures. Craig Thompson has been in charge since 2010, employing creative strategies to help treat the more than half a million patients who annually seek care from the hospital. Among the innovations is an experimental partnership with IBM Watson Health and Quest Diagnostics designed to deliver more precise diagnoses.
Mount Sinai was struggling financially when Kenneth Davis took over in 2003, but the renowned psychiatrist and researcher turned the hospital around and oversaw a 2013 merger with Continuum Health Partners. Davis has recently been behind a push to use artificial intelligence to improve patient care, with a new research center slated to open in 2021. Davis has also been pushing for lower drug prices and more funding for the National Institutes of Health.