Former Nassau County Legislator (D-Farmingdale)
Free from political shackles, Mejias has turned to advocacy for Latino rights. It takes five times appearing on the Power List to make the Hall of Fame, which he did last year, six months before he was unseated by a Republican challenger on Election Day. The Democrat became the county’s first Latino legislator when he was first elected in 2003 in a heavily Republican district and re-elected twice in between a failed run to unseat Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) in 2006. His biggest achievement came in 2008 when he proposed and the legislature passed Natalie’s Law, named for Natalie Ciappa, the North Massapequa teen who became the poster child for LI’s heroin epidemic after she fatally overdosed on the drug. The bill established a heroin arrest mapping website aimed at increasing public awareness and mandates that police alert school districts when there is a heroin arrest in their district. But despite this, he was swept out of office in last year’s anti-incumbent voter revolt at the polls and has since focused on his private law practice at Mejias Milgrim & Alvarado, P.C.
Zimmerman-Edelson, Inc. Co-founder and Partner
Ever the suave public relations guru, Robert Zimmerman has earned his spot in the Hall of Fame for his ability to frame an issue articulately and promote a cause expertly. As the more outspoken member of the Zimmerman-Edelson team in Great Neck, Zimmerman has been a frequent commentator on the cable news shows, but not for his PR prowess. No, he’s on screen everywhere because he’s propounding his progressive views as one of the top members of the Democratic National Committee. Pity the poor Conservative wonk who winds up on the opposite side of Zimmerman under the harsh glare of the spotlight. Zimmerman embodies a true New York liberal Democrat, someone willing to listen attentively and then speak his mind unequivocally. Politically he’s a fundraiser par excellence, earning a well-deserved spot at the 2008 Democratic Convention as a super delegate. If he was first pledged to Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, nobody held that against him, least of all Barack Obama, who knew he could count on Zimmerman when it mattered most.
Members of the Power List Hall of Fame have no shortage of laurels upon which to rest…but that doesn’t mean they do so. Here’s an update on our 2008 and 2009 inductees.
Suffolk County Legislature Majority Leader (D-Lloyd Harbor)
Who else on Long Island has been on the cutting edge of so many important issues—whether banning cell-phone use while driving or granting hospital visitation rights to gay and lesbian couples? The Democrat wrote the first bill in the nation to ban the dietary supplement ephedra. He’s championed open space preservation, clean energy, and environmental protection. And now he’s taking on cyber-bullying, writing a far-sighted bill that would hold school officials accountable for protecting their students from this high-tech scourge as well as making it a criminal offense. As LI’s first openly gay elected official, Cooper has been an outspoken advocate of human rights, fearlessly turning his personal life into a political cause.
Former National Grid USA Executive Chairman
You’ve got to have a boundless supply of power—and energy—to accomplish what this Long Islander has. Catell joined Brooklyn Union, a predecessor to KeySpan, in 1958, moving up the ranks to eventually become the CEO of both. He was appointed to the National Grid board in 2007 following its acquisition of KeySpan and was then made chairman, but has since stepped down. He also sits on the boards of more than a dozen business organizations. Catell currently co-chairs Stony Brook University’s Advanced Energy Research & Technology Center, integrating nanotechnology, science and engineering to design the next generation of advanced energy systems and find efficient and eco-friendly methods of energy distribution and storage.
Shirley Strum Kenny, Ph.D.
Former President of Stony Brook University
Kenny was the first woman to serve as president of Stony Brook University, a position she held between 1994 and 2009. During that time, she worked to strengthen the core academic and research operations of the university, fostered links with business and industry, and established new working relationships with the Long Island community. Over her tenure, both enrollment and faculty numbers increased substantially. In 2007, Kenny received the Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, honoring Fulbright alumni whose distinguished careers and civic and cultural contributions have sought to expand the boundaries of human wisdom, empathy and perception.
Nassau County Republican Committee Chairman/Former New York Republican State Committee Chairman
You can never really count Big Joe out. As head of the Nassau County Republican Committee for nearly 30 years, Mondello has seen it all. Historically Republican country, the political sea had shifted several times over the past handful of years, testing his leadership and tenacity. His rise to New York State Republican Committee chairman in 2006 solidified Mondello’s influence throughout the region. Although no longer holding that title, Mondello is arguably more powerful than ever, having regained control of the Nassau County Legislature last November along with a handful of other posts—including the Nassau County Comptroller’s Office and, in December, the County Executive suite. Oh yes, he’s ba-a-ack.