Over the past year, New York has seen an influx of impressive individuals coming to the forefront. These dedicated public servants, emerging leaders and growing entrepreneurs have hit the ground running leading change and innovation throughout the city. In this inaugural list, we shine a light on these individuals and their accomplishments. Our 2022 Power Players Rising are just getting started, whether it be taking on new roles, starting new businesses, or finishing their first year in public office and we are excited to what they achieve in the years to come.

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Shaun Abreu

Council Member, New York City Council

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Council Member Shaun Abreu is the first Latino to represent District 7. Shaun was born and raised in Northern Manhattan, where his family experienced good times and bad. When he was a child, his parents lost their jobs, and his family was evicted from their home. But the community was there for him and his parents were fortunate enough to find good jobs—his mother as a bookkeeper and his father as a janitor. With their support, he became the first in his family to graduate from college and established a career as a tenant rights attorney representing families like his own. Now, Shaun is fighting to build a stronger community in the district that he has always called home.

Christopher Alexander

Christopher Alexander

Executive Director, Office of Cannabis Management

Christopher Alexander

Chris Alexander is a criminal justice reformer, advocate, and policy expert. He is a native of Hollis, Queens, and the son of immigrant parents who came to the United States from the Caribbean island of Grenada. He has worked tirelessly to advance cannabis reform from a variety of perspectives. Most notably, he was the architect of the Start SMART NY campaign to end marijuana prohibition and the lead drafter of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act.

Amal Alibair

Head of U.S. Institutional Client Solutions, Goldman Sachs

Amal Alibair serves as the head of Goldman Sachs’ U.S. Institutional Client Solutions business, a role in which she oversees large assets for endowments and foundations nationwide alongside leading a team that dispenses customized investment advice. While at Goldman Sachs, Amal launched Goldman’s Advancing Black Advisors Leadership program and an initiative to increase diversity on nonprofit boards. Recently, Amal was elected to the United Hospital Fund’s board of directors and also serves on the board of the New York Urban League. 

Jonah Allon

Deputy Press Secretary, Office of New York City Mayor Eric Adams

Jonah Allon currently serves as deputy press secretary for Mayor Eric Adams’ office. Prior to joining City Hall, Allon was press secretary for the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office. Jonah also previously served as press secretary to New York City Council Member Rafael Espinal. Jonah earned his B.A. in English from Tufts University.

Keyla Antigua

Vice President of Government Affairs, Bolton St. Johns

Keyla Espinal Antigua currently serves as the vice president of Government Affairs at Bolton St. Johns and has more than a decade of experience in grassroots advocacy, government relations and public policy. Previously, Keyla served as the assistant director of public policy at Children’s Aid. Keyla has a B.A. in politics and sociology from New York University and a Master of Science in urban policy analysis and management from The New School.

Alexa Avilés

Alexa Avilés

Council Member, New York City Council

Alexa Avilés

Council Member Alexa Avilés represents Red Hook, Sunset Park and parts of Boro Park, Dyker Heights and Windsor Terrace in the New York City Council. She is a proud New Yorker who lives in Sunset Park with her husband Frankie and two daughters, who attend New York City public schools. Before her election to city council, Alexa’s career spanned almost three decades in the not-for-profit and philanthropic sectors. For nearly a decade, Alexa also served as PTA president at PS 172, championing language access and an inclusive community for all. 

Jeannette Bander

Partner, Sullivan & Cromwell LLP

Jeannette Bander is a partner in Sullivan & Cromwell’s New York office and is a member of the firm’s general practice group. Jeannette’s practice focuses on a variety of executive compensation and corporate governance matters. Through her work Jeannette advises a number of clients, including public and private companies and senior executives, with respect to the previously mentioned matters. Jeannette graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Tyrrell Lev Ben Avi – EAC

Tyrrell Lev Ben-Avi

Principal, Environmental Architectural Corp

Tyrrell Lev Ben Avi – EAC

Tyrrell is a designer, author, and philanthropist. He began his career as an architectural intern for Allstate Insurance Company, and as an intern for the White House while attending Howard University. Tyrrell served as graduate extern for the Pittsburgh Urban League and then managed the 49 county jurisdiction minority outreach for the Children’s Health Insurance Plan of Pennsylvania.  He was a mayoral appointee to the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development and later ran for mayor in New York City.  Tyrrell also is CEO of Tyrrell Publications. 

What is your biggest accomplishment in 2022?
The launching of the Tyrrell Political Action Committee, my leadership Pac in support of my upcoming U.S. Senate run in 2024.  EAC introducing its new division “Tyrrell Arki ‘Texture” which will focus on sustainable home goods, furniture, and artwork.  The pending release of two book titles that were delayed due to COVID.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out their careers?
Always understand there will be tons of opposition to your vision, but strive to complete what the universe has placed in your heart to accomplish. Work harder for your own vision, never give to employers what you will not give to yourself. Sacrifice will pay off in the end.  Failure is not an option, course correct and keep it moving! Mentors are a valuable and essential tool for your success. Love what you do professionally.

Was there something or someone who inspired you to start your journey on your current career path?
While interning at the White House, I designed a memorial for the embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar Salaam. The Secretary of State , the late Madeleine Albright, invited me to her office, presented me with a thank you letter, lunch, and a meeting. She encouraged me to continue my design career and my involvement in government. Years later, my design was actually used and the memorial was built in Kenya.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Well into my first term as the junior senator for New York, my political action committee doing major things in housing, healthcare, and immigration. EAC is flourishing and thriving. I see myself married and starting a family.

Sayu Bhojwani- Collective Future Consulting

Sayu Bhojwani

Principal, Collective Future Consulting LLC

Sayu Bhojwani- Collective Future Consulting

Born in India and raised in Belize, Sayu is a proud New Yorker who was the city’s first commissioner of immigrant affairs.  She founded and has led South Asian Youth Action, New American Leaders and Women’s Democracy Lab.  For over three decades, she has activated change in nonprofit and government settings, speaking across the country and internationally, and writing on how immigrants and women of color can shape the world we want to see. She is the author of the book People Like Us and the newsletter No.1 Immigrant Daughter.

What is your biggest accomplishment in 2022?
As women of color build the world we want to see, I feel it’s so important that we’re able to live as our full, authentic selves. To that end, I have been figuring out how to balance a strong commitment to supporting women of color candidates and elected officials with a focus on my own creative process as a writer. This year, I’ve found a way to honor both commitments and passions and feel great about that.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out their careers?
Two things I would say are 1) If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. So, trust your instinct in other words. And 2) Life is a marathon, and not a sprint. Trying to do everything quickly and in your first few roles is probably a lot to put on yourself. So it’s key to hold yourself with grace as you move towards your goals.

Was there something or someone who inspired you to start your journey on your current career path?
My parents were child refugees in South Asia and immigrated to the Caribbean as adults. Watching them build community and belonging influenced my desire to do the same for myself and others when I immigrated to the US.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ha! I wish I knew. I’ve often had a 5-year plan, but right now, I’m trying to live in a way that is focused on being rather than doing. I do feel certain that I will still be supporting women of color leaders, in politics and social justice. And I hope I’ll still be writing and have a novel or stories published.

Troy Blackwell – Peace Corps

Troy Blackwell

Press Director and Chief Spokesperson, Peace Corps

Troy Blackwell – Peace Corps

Troy Blackwell is the director of press relations and chief spokesperson for the Peace Corps, a role he was appointed to by President Biden and the White House. In his role, Troy serves as the principal point of contact for news media and the public, both domestically and in 64 overseas posts. He is one in a small group of openly gay individuals to serve as a spokesperson for U.S. federal agency. Blackwell is a graduate of CUNY City College of New York and pursued his master’s degree at Columbia University.

What is your biggest accomplishment in 2022? 
I managed the Peace Corps special announcement at the Global Citizen Festival, which stated that over the next year the agency will implement a climate initiative to support over two million hours of volunteer and staff service in approximately 50 countries around the world. Additionally, I’ve been leading our media relations on ‘return to service’ which allowed me to meet education officers from the Ministry of Education in Belize; and in December will travel to Vietnam.

Do you have any advice for those just starting out their careers? 
My advice is to learn as much as possible and be a sponge. Come in early, stay late, say hi to everyone, offer to help people even if they are not on your direct team, and take every coffee meeting. The best way to effectively analyze your field of work and grow is to absorb as much information as possible and do meaningful work based on what you’ve learned.

Was there something or someone who inspired you to start your journey on your current career path? 
I am deeply inspired by the fearless LGBTQ advocates in government at all levels that have come before me and paved a way for me to be “out” and be able to do the job I love the most.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 
I have learned to be open and flexible with the future. With that being said, I see myself continuing my work to help the most vulnerable among us and advocating for diplomacy and friendship.