41. Edward Ambrosino
Town of Hempstead Councilman
Ambrosino is a councilman in the Town of Hempstead, special advisor to County Executive Ed Mangano, and serves as counsel to Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, PC. He may also very well be the future face of the Republican Party on LI. Nary a bad word is said about Ambrosino, who always makes you feel as though you are the only person in the room. Intelligent, level-headed and affable, Ambrosino smoothes out the edges of a rough and hierarchal party steeped in tradition and big on formality. He is the glue between the Mangano administration and the Nassau GOP as he is fluent in both political and government parlance.
42. John Staluppi
New York Auto Giant Dealer/Owner
We live in a car culture and last year wasn’t exactly a banner year for auto makers and dealers. Dealerships were folded and manufacturers sought government bailouts while the Staluppi Empire stayed in tact and weathered the storm. The strong survive times like these, and this recession, more than any prior recession, tested the strength and durability of LI’s auto dealers. Staluppi-1, Recession-0.
43. Rev. Calvin O. Butts, III, Ph.D.
SUNY at Old Westbury President
The outspoken pastor of Harlem’s nationally renowned Abyssinian Baptist Church has used his lectern as a means of spreading the message of social justice, civil rights and economic development throughout the state, combating homelessness and empowering senior citizens and youth alike. He’s used his position as head of one of the most culturally diverse student populations in the Northeast, SUNY Old Westbury, to instill those values in generations of pupils. Another of Butts’ vehicles for these goals is the nonprofit Abyssinian Development Corporation, which has leveraged more than $600 million in housing investments for housing and commercial development into Harlem. He’s its chairman.
44. Jeffrey Reynolds, Ph.D.
Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Executive Director
A few years ago, heroin was barely spoken of on the Island. It was seen as something out of the movies that didn’t reach suburbia. Things are very different today. The stunning growth of heroin usage is symptomatic of a greater substance abuse problem on the Island, but there is one person standing on the front lines of our new drug war. Reynolds may give the appearance of a mild-mannered intellectual but don’t underestimate how much influence he has in political circles or his willingness to fight in the trenches. Substance abuse may be winning the battle against our children today but the war will be won with Reynolds as Commander In Chief.
45. Louis Grassi
Grassi & Co. Managing Partner
When the rich and powerful are backed into an economic corner, they turn to their trusted advisor for guidance. There’s a good chance there are a few people on this very list for whom Lou Grassi is that person. Grassi has done more than amass a large firm with an impressive number of accountants; he has managed to become the personal consigliere to an elite cadre of businesspeople on LI. Part of Grassi’s secret to expansion is in his diversification over the past several years. The Grassi Empire goes beyond accounting and now includes management, health care and technology consulting firms.
46. Teresa Rizzuto
Long Island MacArthur Airport Commissioner
To the frequent traveler, MacArthur Airport is like Emerald City at the end of the Yellowbrick Road. Why go to La Guardia or Kennedy Airport when you can take a leisurely drive to Ronkonkoma and literally walk out of your car and into their beautiful terminal? Rizzuto has led Long Island MacArthur Airport to become a major transportation hub serving its nearly 3 million residents. Don’t be fooled by her petite stature, what she lacks in altitude she makes up for in attitude. No stranger to turbulence both on the ground and in the sky, Rizzuto was at the helm of Newark Airport during the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, where United Flight 93 originated. She got her team through the ordeal and has continued to be a female pioneer in the aviation industry, where less than 3 percent of non-pilot aviation jobs are held by women. Copy that!
47. Lisa Tyson
Long Island Progressive Coalition Director
Voted the Best Long Island Activist in 2007 by Long Island Press readers, Tyson has been a tireless advocate for economic, racial and social justice, transparent and efficient government, taxpayers’ rights and LI’s environment for more than 30 years. From battling power plants to facing off against politicians, no cause is too small and no fight is too large when it comes to sticking up for what’s just and fair. LIPC’s efforts contributed to the creation and recent passage of legislation giving state voters the power to consolidate and dissolve the costly, overlapping patchwork of special districts and municipal governments that has resulted in Nassau’s out-of-control taxes. Tyson had a powerful ally in this cause, former Nassau Comptroller Harvey Weitzman. Her resolve will be tested during the reign of Comptroller George Maragos, who has stated he would not be auditing those special districts.
48. Kevin McAllister
Peconic Baykeeper President
He sued Suffolk County to stop mosquito spraying in marshlands. He urged New York State to designate Forge River as an “impaired waterway” in order to qualify it for clean-up grants. And most recently, he successfully petitioned the federal Environmental Protection Agency to designate South Shore bays from Southampton to the New York City border as a “no discharge” zone—meaning boaters can no longer flush wastewater into them. McAllister, a career coastal biologist with more than 20 years experience, is the Peconic Baykeeper, although the title can be misleading. He and his nonprofit environmental watchdog group calls out the government when pollution monitors are not doing their due diligence in protecting the waterways on the East End and the South Shore. And while he has had some successes, his is a job that is never done.
49. James Carver
Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President
Carver was elected in 2008 to take over for his predecessor, Gary Dela Raba, and was tested immediately. Last year, then-Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi asked for and won concessions from the five unions that represent county employees in order to help close the county’s budget gap—despite the fact that the PBA had just negotiated their new contract. Carver and his members came out of the renegotiation relatively unscathed, having avoided 200 layoffs with buyouts instead. But word has it that newly elected County Executive Ed Mangano might ask the PBA and other unions for more givebacks, which would test Carver’s political clout once again.
50. Randy King
Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Trustee Chairman
Whether or not a casino is ever built on LI will depend in large part on King. In true deferential Indian form, King bristled at being singled out for the list when contacted for a headshot. That’s a first. Nevertheless, King will turn kingmaker once given the ability to operate a full-fledged casino somewhere in the region. This prospect suddenly has local government officials clamoring to befriend the tribal leaders. But the race truly begins once the U.S. government officially recognizes the tribe, thereby clearing the way for a Shinnecock gaming license—at which time, we may see King’s position rocket up the list.