City & State N.Y. magazine has released its 2020 Staten Island Power 100 list — and six Wagner College leaders were prominently included on the list, including President Joel W. Martin!
#3 Nicole Malliotakis MBA’10
Congresswoman-elect, Staten Island/South Brooklyn
Nicole Malliotakis began her political career as the community liaison for state senator John Marchi and Gov. George Pataki. In 2010, she defeated a two-term incumbent by 10 percentage points to represent Staten Island’s East Shore in the state Assembly. In 2017, she was the Republican candidate for New York City mayor, running against Bill de Blasio. And this year, she won a decisive victory over one-term Democratic Congressman Max Rose; she will be sworn in to the House in January.
#8 Brian Laline MS’72
Executive editor, Staten Island Advance/silive.com
Staten Island may be the smallest borough in New York City, but with a population just shy of half a million, it’s nearly twice as large as Buffalo, the second-largest city in the state. Yet it has only one newspaper dedicated to covering the entire borough: the Staten Island Advance, where Laline has been editor for 18 years. (He succeeded another alumnus in that position, Les Trautmann ’40, who also served as a Wagner College trustee.) Laline has deep roots on Staten Island, having worked at the Advance for nearly 50 years. In a newspaper market that sees fewer daily papers being published every year, the Advance and its online platform, silive.com, is keeping Staten Islanders up to date on the borough’s biggest stories, including the coronavirus pandemic, with more than 18,000 residents testing positive and more than 700 deaths from the virus. The paper has been a leader on coverage of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo’s firing, the opioid epidemic and the Bay Street Corridor rezoning.
#28 Edward Burke ’80
Deputy Borough President, Staten Island
Ed Burke, who edited the Wagnerian during his student years, has been a fixture in Staten Island political circles for years — as a staff member, not a politician. “If anything, I would run from public office,” he told the Staten Island Advance when asked about his political aspirations.
For 16 years, from 1985 to 2001, Burke worked for legendary Staten Island pol Guy Molinari ’49 H’90, first as his congressional press secretary, then as his communications director and executive assistant in Borough Hall. Burke continued working for the borough president’s office when James Molinaro took office in 2002, rising to become Molinaro’s deputy B.P. in 2006, an office in which he continues to serve under Borough President James Oddo.
Burke and Jason Razefsky, the B.P.’s chief of staff, are the point people in Borough Hall, mediating between the city and numerous businesses and community organizations in normal times. They’ve been in overdrive during the coronavirus outbreak, coordinating with schools, restaurants and businesses about closing and the city’s phased reopening plans. They are readying the borough for the second wave of Covid-19.
#32 Rev. Terry Troia H’05
President and CEO, Project Hospitality
When Covid-19 arrived in the borough, the Rev. Terry Troia and her organization, Project Hospitality, launched a takeout soup kitchen and delivered meals to isolated people. Troia also welcomed homeless people into Bethel United Methodist Church when the virus was spreading rapidly through the city. As a newly appointed member of the city’s Commission on Human Rights, Troia drew attention to the plight of homeless New Yorkers.
#33 Joel Martin
President, Wagner College
In the middle of Joel Martin’s first year as president of Wagner College, Staten Island was faced with the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, forcing the school to send its students home and continue the rest of the spring semester online. But the university adapted to the Covid-19 era and restarted in the fall with screenings and visitor limitations. Its coronavirus dashboard received an A+ rating compared with other colleges. U.S. News & World Report also recognized Martin’s institution as a top-tier northern school.
#50 Kenneth Mitchell ’87
Executive director, Staten Island Zoo
Ken Mitchell’s previous job as New York City councilman — navigating the disparate personalities of council members and commissioners — likely prepared him for his current role as executive director at the Staten Island Zoo. Now he spends his days with rambunctious Geoffroy’s marmosets and premonitory rodents who have kept their thoughts about the mayor’s presidential chances mum. Mitchell, who kept a low profile on the City Council, previously served as chief of staff for Councilman Michael McMahon before McMahon’s term in Congress and election as Richmond County district attorney.
The Staten Island Zoo closed in March along with the borough’s other tourist attractions amid rising COVID-19 cases. But Ken Mitchell ensured patrons could still enjoy the zoo’s exotic offerings via a virtual meet and greet in May. He oversaw the zoo’s reopening on July 25 to the delight of its greater rheas, a baby sloth named Pancakes and Grandpa the spider monkey, who had to celebrate his 48th birthday without his adoring fans.