The 50 Women Who Run New York
By Diane Clehane
Gotham celebrates 50 female movers and shakers who mastermind the businesses and groups that dominate the city that rules the world.
Politics & Government
1. CHIRLANE MCCRAY
First Lady of New York City, Chirlane McCray, in the Governor’s Room at City Hall.
New York’s new activist first lady, Chirlane McCray, heads up the influential Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, an organization promoting public-private partnerships throughout the five boroughs. As importantly, she is the mayor’s chief confidante and closest advisor. Read Our Q&A with McCray >>
2. HILLARY CLINTON
Citizen Hillary, the former senator from New York and secretary of state, is everywhere these days: hitting the international speaking circuit (pulling down a reported $200,000 per event) and bringing her 1.3 million Twitter followers along for the ride. Her numerous appearances at the United Nations, where she tirelessly advocates for the rights of women, are a constant reminder of her self-described “glass-ceiling cracker” status here at home and abroad. Today, the likely future presidential candidate’s clout in New York City is stronger than ever, as evidenced by her front-row appearance at the inauguration of Bill de Blasio, with whom she maintains close ties—no doubt something that will come in handy for 2016.
3. CAROLYN B. MALONEY
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney on the Upper East Side, not far from her Manhattan headquarters.
Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney represents New York’s 12th congressional district, an area spanning most of Manhattan’s East Side, Randalls Island, and parts of Queens and Brooklyn. She has spent her 21 years in Congress focusing on issues close to her heart as a New Yorker and a woman, including the prevention of sex trafficking, post-9/11 restructuring, and personal finance. Read Our Q&A with Maloney>>
4. LORETTA LYNCH, United States Attorney, Eastern District of New York
Appointed by President Obama in 2010, Lynch is responsible for all federal and civil investigations in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island. Last year, she told the Moreland Commission she was “honored to lead an office with a long tradition of fighting public corruption” and has lived up to her promise prosecuting—and convicting—politicians and gangsters alike. Most recently, the Harvard-educated lawyer nabbed the reputed mob bosses responsible for the notorious JFK “Goodfellas” heist who had eluded authorities for three and a half decades.
5. AMBASSADOR SAMANTHA POWER, United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations
Having begun her career as a journalist covering the Yugoslav wars, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author and Obama cabinet member has gone from covering the news to making it. During her relatively short tenure as ambassador, Power has established herself as one of the United Nations most important voices by speaking out against the Assad regime and Russia’s military action in Ukraine.
6. SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in her office in Washington, DC.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has served as New York State’s junior senator since 2009. Advocacy for city and state job growth has been a big part of her Senate agenda. Read Our Q&A with Gillibrand>>
7. KATHRYN WYLDE, President & CEO, Partnership for New York City
During her three decades at the Partnership, Wylde has built strategic alliances within the nonprofit’s network of city leaders in business, government, and labor while navigating her own exemplary career path. “I worked my way up from a technical staff role to CEO, which took many years and the ability to survive a series of male bosses!” The city’s nonprofit sector, says Wylde, “has offered women leadership opportunities that, until recently, were not as readily available in business or government. New York is a terrific place for high-achieving women so long as you like a fast pace, a cacophony of voices, and are prepared to compete with the best.”
Business & Finance
8. MARIA BARTIROMO
Maria Bartiromo on set at the Fox Business Network headquarters.
One of the most influential financial reporters in the country, Maria Bartiromo has interviewed every major figure on Wall Street. She recently launched two new programs—Opening Bell with Maria Bartiromo on the Fox Business Network, and Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo on Fox News Channel. Read Our Q&A with Bartiromo >>
9. EDITH COOPER, Executive Vice President, Global Head of Human Capital Management, Goldman Sachs
Cooper manages the 30,000 bankers and traders at the legendary Wall Street firm, but most importantly serves as vice chair of the committee that bestows the coveted and hyper-lucrative title of partner to outstanding Goldman employees. A graduate of Harvard and Northwestern, Cooper keeps her success in perspective by supporting organizations like Harlem Children’s Zone. “I often remind young women that regardless of how committed and passionate they are about their jobs, it’s not their life.”
10. MARY CALLAHAN ERDOES, Chief Executive Officer, JPMorgan Asset Management
Erdoes, one of Wall Street’s most influential and highest-ranking women, often viewed as a successor to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, has spent the last five years growing one of the largest money management operations in the country, with more than $2 trillion in assets for the bank’s wealthiest customers. In 2012 she raked in a $15 million payday (including a $4.9 million cash bonus), among the bank’s biggest compensation packages and, perhaps most significantly, larger than Dimon’s $11.5 million paycheck.
11. MARIANNE LAKE, Chief Financial Officer, JPMorgan Chase
At the end of 2012, when the dust settled in the executive suite after London Whale’s $6.2 billion trading loss, Lake emerged as a big winner, vaulting from CFO of the consumer and community banking division, a position she’d held since 2009, to finance chief of the entire organization. She is one of only two women who hold the CFO position at a major American bank.
12. ALEXANDRA LEBENTHAL, CEO & President, Lebenthal & Co.
The third generation to head the family business, Lebenthal helms the largest underwriter of equity and corporate debt of any US woman-owned firms. Being one of the few high-powered females on the Street has worked in her favor. “I think there’s an advantage to being a woman—it’s one of the opportunities I have to stand out more.” A skilled networker and president of the Couture Council of the Museum at FIT, Lebenthal is a much-sought-out guest and fixture on the city’s social circuit.
13. RUTH PORAT, Chief Financial Officer, Executive VP, Morgan Stanley
Wall Street’s only other female CFO, Porat is considered the highest-ranking woman in finance. During the financial crisis, she worked with the US Treasury to help fix troubled mortgage behemoths Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and with the New York Fed to bail out AIG. She took home $10 million in compensation last year, according to Bloomberg.
14. VIRGINIA ROMETTY, Chairman/President/CEO, IBM
The first woman to head the multinational giant, Rometty is also one of only two women to lead a Fortune 20 company. With IBM, she is working with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center to develop new high-tech treatment options. Rometty maintains close ties to the city’s venture capitalist community and its leading academic institutions like Columbia Business School, as well as NYC’s Department of Education, with whom IBM developed a new model school, P-Tech.
15. SALLY SUSMAN, Executive VP, policy, external affairs, and communications, Pfizer
One of Pfizer’s most influential executives, Susman heads up the Manhattan-based pharmaceutical giant’s corporate responsibility group and has a key role in shaping its initiatives with government relations worldwide by chairing the company’s PAC and serving as vice chair of the Pfizer Foundation. A prolific Democratic fundraiser, Susman says, “New York City allows women to have multiple interests and a multifaceted life, and that’s very important to me.”
Media & Fashion
16. JANE ROSENTHAL
Producer Jane Rosenthal, cofounder of Tribeca Productions.
Producer Jane Rosenthal cofounded the Tribeca Productions film studio with Robert De Niro in 1989 and spearheaded the development of the Tribeca Film Festival to help revitalize downtown Manhattan post 9/11. It quickly became a key stop on the international film circuit and has since generated $850 million in revenues, while bringing film production jobs to New York. Read Our Q&A with Rosenthal >>
17. CINDI BERGER, Chairman/CEO, PMK*BNC
Few public relations whizzes can match her A-list Hollywood clientele and ability to have them turn up for splashy city happenings like the New York Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and Fashion Week. “New York is the city that I love—it’s a tough place, but it’s the best place to learn,” Berger says. “I see a thriving future for women here.” Read Our Q&A with Berger >>
18. THIA BREEN, Group President of North America, The Estée Lauder Companies
The highly respected cosmetic executive leads 29 brands in the United States and Canada, but says New York City is the Estée Lauder Companies’ true base. “The city is our hometown in our home market. It also happens to be one of the most diverse. This diversity fuels great opportunities for our brands.” Breen cites the late Evelyn Lauder, who founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, as one of her “greatest inspirations.” Read Our Q&A with Lauder >>
19. DARYL ROTH
Daryl Roth at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre, where her hit Kinky Boots is on stage.
Daryl Roth has produced more Pulitzer Prize–winning plays—a total of seven, including August: Osage County and Wit—than any other producer on the Great White Way. She’s won seven Tony Awards, her most recent for Kinky Boots. Read Our Q&A with Roth >>
20. TORY BURCH, CEO & Designer, Tory Burch
With nearly $1 billion in annual revenue (the company was recently valued at $3.5 billion), the Upper East Sider has joined the rarefied ranks of fashion’s billionaire “old boys” club, which boasts Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren as members. Her strong commitment to mentoring women extends Burch’s impact beyond fashion. Her eponymous foundation has launched a joint initiative with Bank of America, Elizabeth Street Capital, named after her first boutique’s locale, to provide $10 million in loans and business coaching to female entrepreneurs in markets across the country, including New York.
21. GINA CENTRELLO, President & Publisher, Random House Publishing Group US
Centrello turned Random House, an iconic Manhattan publishing company and one of the country’s largest, into a best-seller powerhouse (Wild, Lean In). She is a strong advocate for female employees. “When I started in the business, you didn’t just walk out because you had to take the baby for a doctor’s visit,” she says. “You made up an excuse because you wanted to be taken seriously. I knew someday I wanted to set up a company where that wasn’t necessary.”
22. AMY EINHORN, Vice President & Publisher, Amy Einhorn Books
Ever since Einhorn launched her eponymous imprint in 2009 with the mega best seller, The Help, publishers and booksellers around the country keep a close watch on the books she buys. “While I don’t think I’ve leveraged being a woman, a huge part of my success has been my taste—my gut instinct—which is clearly informed on every level by my gender.” The flip side: “I’ve wrestled a long time with walking that fine line between being a strong advocate for my authors and for myself and being deemed a bitch—because God forbid a woman be demanding, which I suspect a lot of women deal with as well.”
23. ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, Chair/President/Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post Media Group
Her trailblazing New York–based, Pulitzer Prize–winning site continues to grow in readers, and her personal brand as a digital icon is stronger than ever. New media’s queen of reinvention’s latest incarnation: spiritual guru. Irony alert: Her new book, Thrive, espouses the virtues of unplugging from the digital world and the transformative power of mindful meditation. And, of course, she’s created an app for that, GPS for the Soul.
24. DONNA KARAN, Chief Designer, Donna Karan International
New York City is an integral part of the designer’s DNA, inspiring her signature brand from the moment she founded her company in 1984. “I chose New York because, to me, it is the world in one place. Everyone comes here to make their mark.” From her role as a founder of the original CFDA “Seventh on Sale” AIDS benefits to the many charitable health and wellness initiatives she promotes through her Urban Zen Foundation (which partners with NYU Langone and the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, among other institutions), Karan remains at the forefront of fashion community’s mission to combine commerce and philanthropy. Read Our Q&A with Karan >>
25. JILL ABRAMSON
Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times. “Our masthead is now half women for the first time,” she says.
Jill Abramson runs the most influential newspaper in the world, the New York Times. Read Our Q&A with Abramson >>
26. AERIN LAUDER, Founder and Creative Director, AERIN
Following in the footsteps of her legendary grandmother, Lauder—one of the world’s youngest female billionaires—launched AERIN, a luxury lifestyle brand, in 2012 with cosmetics and beauty products, and has since introduced fragrances, home accessories, jewelry, footwear, fabrics, lighting, and furniture that mirror her own impeccable taste. “I inherited a great love of and respect for the arts from my family along with my family’s dedication to supporting them.” Lauder and her namesake brand are currently sponsoring the Charles James exhibition at the Met. “I’m proud to live in an era and a city where women play a pivotal and crucial role in almost every industry—not just fashion and beauty. Many of our mothers and grandmothers were not as fortunate.”
27. MERYL POSTER, President of Television, The Weinstein Company
Poster began her career in the mail room at William Morris, but it wasn’t long before she was plucked from the legendary agency to be Harvey Weinstein’s assistant. Today she oversees Weinstein’s burgeoning slate of television projects, which include the city-centric Project Runway and Project Runway All Stars, of which she says: “It’s great to be able to put your own stamp on things. When I’m dealing with these women, they know I respect them and I feel like they respect me.”
28-31. ROBININ ROBERTS, SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, GAYLE KING, AND NORAH O’DONNELL
Good Morning America, Today, and CBS This Morning want cross-country appeal, but they’re all broadcast from New York, with the city as frequent backdrop. Robin Roberts helms the most-watched of the morning shows; Savannah Guthrie, a former lawyer, is helping to stabilize the rocky Today show ship; and Gayle King and Norah O’Donnell are leading the charge to bring news back to breakfast television.
32. DIANE SAWYER, Anchor, ABC World News
While another high-profile female anchor across town came and went, Sawyer, biding her time and building her fan base at GMA, assumed the top spot on ABC’s nightly news broadcast when her colleague Charles Gibson (who beat her out for the job the first time) called it quits in 2009. Since then, Sawyer has more than held her own against her competitors on NBC and CBS, and has, without any attendant drama, claimed her rightful title as queen of the network’s news division.
33. PEGGY SIEGAL, CEO, The Peggy Siegal Company
The public relations maven is renowned for her must-attend parties (she personally goes over every invitee), which bring together entertainment bigwigs, tastemakers, and the city’s media elite. Her decades in the business have earned her the respect of A-listers from Manhattan to Hollywood, who wouldn’t miss a Siegal screening or lunch no matter what.
34. SUSAN STROMAN, Director/Choreographer
“Broadway is the main reason tourists come to New York City,” says Stroman, the five-time Tony Award–winning director and choreographer and one of the theater’s top rainmakers. “Last season the industry contributed more than $11 billion to the city’s economy and supported over 80,000 jobs.” Throughout her career, Stroman has made the cash register ring, with hits ranging from the 2000 revival of The Music Man to her current show, Bullets Over Broadway. She says the theater does something a lot of other industries can’t: “It makes people happy.”
35. DEBORAH TURNESS, President, NBC News
Since joining the Peacock Network last May, the former ITV News editor has made it her mission to create “a super fan experience” on the plaza outside the Today show in hopes of restoring its number-one spot in the ratings. “We’re very invested in interactive services, and we’re in the heart of Manhattan, so it’s perfect,” she says. Inside 30 Rock, Turness feels “empowered as a female” and “very supported,” noting, “there are no barriers at NBC. It’s a meritocracy.”
36. MARIE-JOSEE KRAVIS, President, The Museum of Modern Art
Serving as MoMA’s president, the accomplished economist’s passion for the arts has kept the institution in the cultural vanguard. Dedicated to giving back to the city, Kravis has made significant donations to the New York City Ballet, New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kravis also serves on the International Advisory Committee of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
37. JUDITH RODIN, President, The Rockefeller Foundation
The first woman to head the Foundation in its nearly 100-year history, Rodin says she’s “rarely the only woman in the boardroom anymore,” but she still feels the “under-representation of women at the table.” In 2012 she was responsible for $171 million in charitable contributions for foundation programs that tackle everything from climate change to urban planning. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Governor Andrew Cuomo tapped her last year to cochair the commission charged with improving the state’s preparedness for future natural disasters.
38. LAURIE TISCH, President, The Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
Tisch plays an integral role in maintaining her famous family’s legacy of philanthropy. In 2007, she established her own charitable fund, Illumination, which creates grants to improve the quality of life for a wide range of New Yorkers. Tisch also serves on the board of trustees at the Whitney Museum; is a member of the executive committee at Lincoln Center; and yes, she is a co-owner of the New York Giants.
39. CARMEN FARINA, Chancellor, New York City Schools
“I’m acutely aware that every decision I make affects the futures of 1.1 million students, their families, and ultimately the economic vitality of this city,” Fariña says. She came out of retirement after four decades in the school system to run the city’s public schools at a time when issues like common core standards and the future of charter schools make everything she says or does newsworthy. Gender, she points out, has no place in the conversation. “I see myself first and foremost as an educator, not a female educator. Commitment to kids transcends gender.”
40-41. ADRIENNE ARSHT AND EMILY K. RAFFERTY
Philanthropist Adrienne Arsht with Emily K. Rafferty, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, on the steps of the Charles Engelhard Court in the Met’s American Wing.
Arsht Philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, whose generosity altered the cultural landscapes of Miami and DC, is an increasingly powerful player in the New York City arts community. In addition to her munificence with Lincoln Center, Arsht recently donated $1 million to the Met to support its concerts and lectures programming. Emily K. Rafferty, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she has worked for 38 years, helms the second most-visited museum in the world (after the Louvre), one of the few women to run an institution of its size. Read Our Q&A with Arsht and Rafferty >>
42. MERRYL TISCH, Chancellor, New York State Board of Regents
A former first grade teacher, Tisch was elected to the top spot five years ago. As an overseer of education for the state, Tisch is at the forefront of city issues like improving student performance and national common core standards. She also serves on several city boards, most notably the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, where, as chairperson, she oversees an annual budget of $100 million devoted to youth and family services and neighborhood preservation in and around Manhattan.
Law & Medicine
43. CANDACE BEINECKE, Chairman and partner, Hughes Hubbard & Reed
Beinecke, the first female chair of a major New York law firm, says not a day goes by “that I don’t thank my lucky stars I live here.... Being in New York helps us attract lawyers who love to try the hard cases and work with the best and most influential companies.” Her firm counsels several Fortune 500 businesses, with Beinecke handling key client relationships. She also is the chairwoman of First Eagle Funds and is on several boards, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
44. DR. LAURIE GLIMCHER, Dean, Weill Cornell Medical College
When she left Harvard to become the first woman dean of Weill Cornell Medical College over two years ago, Glimcher says, she was “embraced with great enthusiasm” by her New York City colleagues. There are fewer women leadership positions in medicine or biomedical research due in part, she says, to the demands of being a working mother. “You have biology intersecting with a time you need to be devoted to your career,” she says. “It’s not easy, and I know that.” The respected immunologist, who raised three children, championed a childcare center for faculty, staff, and students near the Upper East Side campus last fall. “You have to put your money where your mouth is when you talk about supporting women and level the playing field,” she adds.
45. RIKKI KLIEMAN, Attorney, CBS News Legal Analyst
As half of one of the city’s power couples, Klieman says, “My husband [Police Commissioner Bill Bratton] and I are impacting the lives of all New Yorkers on a daily basis because of our commitment to public safety.” Klieman, a trial attorney who became a TV anchor two decades ago, says the city is the perfect place for women to succeed. She advises women coming out of law school to be strategic: “Find an area of law that brings out your passion or you won’t be willing to put in the time to rise to a level of value.”
46. MARYANNE GILMARTIN, President & CEO, Forest City Ratner Companies
“When I started out [in 1986], there were no women running any real estate companies of 50 employees or greater in New York City, and women in the brokerage business were prohibited from wearing pants,” Gilmartin says. Chances are no one questioned what the Fordham graduate was wearing while she led the efforts to build the Barclays Center. “The most unfortunate but perhaps most powerful advantage is that, as women in this industry, we are underestimated,” she says. Her strategy: “I worked hard on every project and performed the best I could. I want to make an impact on the same playing field as men.”
47. DOTTIE HERMAN, CEO, Douglas Elliman
Dottie Herman bought Douglas Elliman with partner Howard Lorber in 2003 after she successfully mastered the Long Island housing market. She heads a company that is the city's largest real estate firm, and the fourth largest in the US, with over $12 billion in annual sales nationally. It also includes Manhattan's largest residential property manager.
48. PAMELA LIEBMAN, President & CEO, Corcoran Group
Liebman fast-tracked to the corner office after starting her career as a real estate agent at the Corcoran Group in the ’80s shortly after graduating from U Mass. She took over after founder Barbara Corcoran sold her eponymous firm, and has since brought the company to new levels of success—$18 billion in annual sales nationally.
49. DOLLY LENZ, Principal, I. Dolly Lenz Real Estate
An indefatigable networker who favors 80-hour work weeks, Lenz is reported to have sold more than $8.5 billion worth of luxury properties since becoming a residential broker in the ’80s. When she parted ways with Douglas Elliman last year after more than a decade with the firm, it was a major story around town. Her latest deal shows she’s just as powerful on her own. She recently represented Rupert Murdoch when he bought his post-divorce bachelor pad: a 10,000-square-foot, four-story penthouse that went for a cool $57 million.
50. MARY ANN TIGHE, CEO, CBRE New York City
No other commercial real estate broker has done more to transform the city’s skyline. The former art history teacher, who grew up in the South Bronx, has led her team of 2,000-plus employees through multimillion-dollar deals involving the revitalization of Times Square, the rebirth of downtown, and the expansion of Midtown’s business district. She sums up her success this way: “The purity of the brokerage business is if you can make money for people, there is no glass ceiling.”
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photography by eric ryan anderson; by aaron clamage (gillibrand); rosenthal: Hair by Mauricio bermudez, makeup by tamara figueroa; makeup by mahfud ibrahim for exclusive artists using armani cosmetics
Cover shoot: May/June 2014 issue of Gotham magazine.