Movers and Shakers Honored in the ‘Queens Power 50’

Hope Knight, the president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation // Photo Courtesy of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.

Hope Knight, the president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation // Photo Courtesy of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation.

By Victoria Merlino

When the borough’s best and the brightest were sorted and ranked, a lobbyist with ties to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie was crowned the King of Queens and a Jamaica community leader was close behind.

On Monday, City & State unveiled its “Queens Power 50,” an annual rundown of the 50 most influential people — excluding lawmakers — in Queens.

This year’s list includes a range of business leaders, union advocates and neighborhood activists as well as the president of Queens College and the director of MoMA PS1. Seven members of the Top 10 are people of color and five are women, reflecting the diversity of Queens.

Patrick B. Jenkins, a major Albany lobbyist and Heastie’s former college roommate, landed at number one. In addition to representing clients like Uber and the New York State Trial Lawyers’ Association, Jenkins participates in the mentoring and leadership groups Coro-NY and United Black Men of Queens.

“Having Heastie’s ear has turned Jenkins into one of the most sought-after lobbyists for those seeking action in Albany,” City & State wrote.

Greater Jamaica Development Corporation President Hope Knight achieved the number two spot on the list. Her organization works to attract business and investment to Jamaica.

Knight told the Queens Daily Eagle that she wants to transform Jamaica into a hub of commerce while still keeping the area affordable for long-time residents.

She said her mission includes supporting the creation and expansion of quality entertainment, retail and dining options through programs like the newly created restaurant loan fund, which provides loan and grant funding to experienced restaurateurs who consider setting up in Jamaica.

“In the end, we hope this all translates to higher quality of life and increased economic opportunity for those who call Jamaica home,” Knight said.

She also shared her advice to aspiring leaders with the Eagle.

“Stay focused on your purpose, seize every opportunity to hone your core skills and identify a mentor that will spend time and invest in you,” Knight said.

Queens Library President Dennis Walcott landed at number three on the list. Yesterday, the Queens Library announced that a library card will now serve as a pass to the 33 cultural institutions located on city-owned property, including the Queens Museum, Queens Botanical Garden and MoMA PS1.

Other members of the Top 10 include 32BJ Service Employees International Union President Héctor Figueroa, LaGuardia Airport General Manger Lysa Scully, JetBlue Airways Director of Corporate Responsibility Icema Gibbs and New York Mets Vice President of External Affairs and Community Engagement Haeda Mihaltses.

Floyd and Elaine Flake, the senior pastor and co-pastor at The Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal Cathedral of New York shared a spot in the Top 10. So did Queens County Democratic Party-affiliated attorneys Gerard Sweeney, Michael Reich and Frank A. Bolz III, who landed at number 10 despite reports of the demise of the traditional Queens County Democratic Party structure following party leader Joe Crowley’s primary election loss.

Thomas Grech, the president and CEO of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, was named the fifth-most powerful person in Queens. Grech told the Eagle that plans to increase Chamber of Commerce membership while boosting the social media presence and networking opportunities for the chamber’s 1,200 existing members.

“We’re really looking forward to doing more outreach in areas not traditionally served by the chamber—places like Southeast Queens,” Grech said. “We’re the city’s largest geographic borough and while we’ve made some great in roads, there’s a lot more work to do.”

Like Knight, Grech also had words of encouragement for the borough’s future leaders.

“Get out from behind your desk, be out in the community, be out in the neighborhood,” Grech said. “Life —and the things we do in the Queens Chamber—is a contact sport.”