PRESS of Southeast Queens director of Corporate Accounts/Events Shanie Persaud on behalf of publisher Michael Nussbaum stands alongside “Queens Borough 50” award recipients Justin Rodgers and John Crowley; and New York Hall of Science manager of Corporate and Foundation Relations Ginger Wange receives the award on Margaret Honey’s behalf.
In honor of Queens’ 50 most influential people in government, business, culture and social services, City & State, the only media company in New York devoted to government and politics, hosted the “Queens Borough 50” event at the Penthouse 808 in Long Island City on Tuesday morning. Among the 50 award recipients was publisher of the PRESS of Southeast Queens Michael Nussbaum.
In its special commemorative magazine issue that was distributed throughout several areas of Queens on Monday, City & State not only listed the recipients but included a brief description of how these people impact the borough of Queens.
According to City & State, “Michael Nussbaum’s influence stretches beyond his work as publisher of the weekly newspaper. He has deep ties to politicians, including Democrats and Republicans, and close alliances in the borough’s many Jewish communities. In 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Nussbaum has ‘had a huge impact on civic life, and the discourse of this borough … he’s done so many other extraordinary things to benefit this community.’”
During his introductory speech, Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) didn’t hesitate to mention the most hair-raising presidential race in history, which is the cover of the City & State magazine and which goes hand in hand with the importance of shining a light on the diversity among the award recipients.
“Today is about celebrating the diversity and leadership of our borough,” said Crowley … “I just want to thank all of you for being the special people you are in making Queens County the incredibly special, important borough that we are.”
The list, which is restricted to organizers, activists and business leaders who live in the borough of Queens and does not include elected officials, includes Southeast Queens’ president and CEO of Queens Library Dennis Walcott, senior pastor of the Greater Allen African Methodist Cathedral Floyd Flake, president of CUNY York College Marcia V. Keizs, former city councilman Archie Spigner, managing director for Greater Jamaica Development Justin Rodgers, president for the Jamaica Branch NAACP Leroy Gadsden and community activist Donnie Whitehead
Other award recipients were president of the 32BJ union Hector Figueroa, general manager of LaGuardia Airport Lysa Scully, chief of staff for Congressman Joe Crowley’s office Anne Marie Anzalone, president of Mattone Group Carl Mattone, president of St. John’s Univeristy Conrado Gempesaw, founder of Patrick Jenkins & Associates Patrick Jenkins, founders of Silvercup Properties Stuart and Alan Suna, president of the Long Island City Partnership Elizabeth Lusskin, executive director of external affairs for the New York Mets Haeda Mihaltses, president of Queensborough Community College Diane Call, executive director of the Flushing Chinese Business Association Peter Tu, co-founder and CEO of Urban Upbound Mitchell G. Taylor, president of Resorts World Casino in New York City Ryan Eller, Queens political coordinator of the United Federation of Teachers Dermot Smyth, former chairman of the Jackson Heights Merchants Association Shiv Dass, deputy secretary of Legislative Affairs in the Governor’s Office Mark Weprin, clerk of Queens County Audrey Pheffer, president and executive director of Queens Museum Laura Raicovich, partner at Vallone & Constantinople Peter Vallone Sr., rabbi at Kehilat Sephardim of Ahavat Achim Shlomo Nisanov, founder of Coalition 4 Queens Jukay HSU, chairman for the Queens Republican Party Bob Turner, partner at Connelly, McLaughlin & Woloz Michael Woloz, CEO for Union Plaza Nursing Home Simon Pelman, executive director for Queens Chamber of Commerce Tom Grech, COO for Capalino + Company Travis Terry, co-executive director for The Center for Popular Democracy Ana Maria Archila, principal at Muss Development Joshua Muss, amongst others.
The event not only featured Crowley as the keynote speaker, but also had a power panel with the president of Local 32BJ Héctor J. Figueroa, president and CEO of Queens Library Dennis Walcott, president of St. John’s University Conrado Gempesaw, founder of Patrick Jenkins & Associates Patrick Jenkins, and director of regional and community affairs for Con Edison Carol Conslato. The panel was moderated by Long Island City Partnership President Elizabeth Lusskin.
Some of the issues the panel addressed include the following:
Queens Library – What’s powering the library and how do you see that playing out?
“I really want to talk about the power of information and the Queens public library represents the power of information,” said Walcott. “What we do at Queens Library is providing those individuals with resources available to know what’s going on, a respite from sometimes the chaos of the world, a power source of information whether through our cyber centers or through the books or through electronic media, and to me we represent the galvanizing of all the people and its diversity of the borough of Queens.”
Walcott also announced that the 32,000-square-foot Queens Library in Elmhurst will be opening next month.
“The main thing to me and whether it’s through the industries represented here or there, we serve as a resource for the people of Queens in getting information, in becoming better, becoming more self-sufficient as far as their ability to navigate in life, and that to me represents the power of the Queens Public Library,” he said.
Local 32BJ – What’s going on with your union today and what could be better?[160,000 members in 11 states]
“The mission of our union is to provide a path for working people, many of whom are illegal [66 percent],” said Figueroa. “Just like Queens, we are the most diverse union in the country as Queens is the most diverse county in the world. Our mission is to figure out ways for these workers to be able to provide for their families by having good jobs that pay good benefits and provide good income for their families. At the moment we see enormous growth, tremendously in Queens, specifically Long Island City, which is becoming an eyesore. We make sure that we partner with the industry in having those jobs.”
Con Edison – Energy Policy
“Con Edison is doing a lot of looking at renewables and working with the state,” said Conslato. “The state is moving forward to integrate 50 percent of the generation throughout New York State by 2030 to be from renewable sources and we’re working with the state to lead the way. There are many programs that Con Ed is working with and implementing and doing some demonstration projects. Just here in Queens we are focused on our neighborhood program, which targets an area over by Howard Beach, Ozone Park and into Brooklyn, where we need to bring more capacity into the area so we need to have in the next five years, 52 megawatts.”
As the panel made its way through all the panelists, it ended with the question: “What is the next thing that Queens will power for the city and the state and the region?”
“When I was appointed president two years ago, I shared with my colleagues in St. John’s four of our strategic priorities. One of those strategic priorities was to advance our local community and local partnerships,” said Gempesaw. “I really believe that it is through partnerships in higher education that we can make a difference here in Queens, in New York City, in the United States and in the world.”