Joel Steinhaus, Chair
Chief Of Staff, WeWork
Joel Steinhaus is the Chief of Staff to the CEO of WeWork. Previously he served as Chief of Staff to Citigroup’s Chairman, and as Senior Vice President for Global Public Affairs at Citi. Prior to joining Citi, Mr. Steinhaus helped launch NBC News’s Education Nation, a multi-media enterprise focused on engaging the public in a conversation about improving education in the United States. Until 2008, he was an Associate at Kekst and Company, a strategic corporate and financial communications consultancy.
Mr. Steinhaus a Trustee of uAspire, a national non-profit focused on college affordability, for which he serves as Chair of the Development Committee. He is also a Trustee of Corlears School, an independent school in Manhattan. Mr. Steinhaus is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a member of the Economic Club of New York, and previously a David Rockefeller Fellow through the Partnership for New York City.
Mr. Steinhaus has an MBA from the Yale School of Management, where he was a Sutphin Fellow and a member of the Yale World Fellows Program. He earned an AB, magna cum laude, in History from Harvard University.
He lives in New York City with his wife and three children.
Betsy Smith, Vice Chair
Betsy has been focused on New York City’s parks since 2002, first as a commissioner in the NYC Parks Department and subsequently as a board member for a number of parks organizations. She started her professional career in finance at JP Morgan and subsequently moved into the venture capital and private equity business where she remained for just over 15 years, first at the Prospect Group, Inc. in New York and then as managing director of the New York family office of Harry F. Oppenheimer. After a brief stint at Sotheby's where she ran the Client Services and Finance Divisions, she joined the Bloomberg Administration in 2002 where she stayed for all three terms, working closely with Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe and with City Hall on the growing portfolio of public-private partnerships as well as on a highly-diversified concession and major special events portfolio. While at the Parks Department she also oversaw several special projects including two strategic planning studies and many other private sector initiatives.
She is currently on the board of the Central Park Conservancy, the Friends of the High Line and the Open Space institute. She is also a director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center; Scripps College in Claremont California where she serves as Vice Chair; and the Library of America where she is the Chair.
Mark Hoenig, Secretary
Tax Partner, Weil Gotshal & Manges, LLP
Mark Hoenig is a Tax partner in the New York office of Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. He has extensive experience in all areas of corporate taxation, including corporate mergers, acquisitions and dispositions, as well as corporate organizations, reorganizations and workouts. Mr. Hoenig also has counseled many healthcare organizations, trade associations and exempt organizations.
Fern Thomas, Treasurer
Chief Financial Officer, Cornerstone Capital Group
Fern Thomas is Chief Financial Officer at Cornerstone Capital Group. Previously, she served as Senior Financial Advisor to the firm and Chief Financial Officer at New York Restoration Project, where she oversaw all fiscal and fiduciary responsibilities and was the primary financial advisor to the Executive Director and Board of Directors. From 2007 to 2012, Fern served as Senior Vice President and CFO at Christie’s. Prior to Christie’s, Fern held various finance roles at Interpublic Group and CMS Energy and worked for the professional services firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers for more than 10 years. Ms. Thomas also serves as Board Member and Treasurer of The Christie’s Charity; Board Member and Former Membership Chair for the New York City Chapter of Financial Executives International, and Member of the Advisory Board of Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB). Fern is a CPA and holds an MBA from Rutgers University.
Luis Garden Acosta
Chief Executive, El Puente
Luis Garden Acosta is an American pioneer for community-driven, human rights activism. He is the Founder and President of El Puente, a nationally celebrated, Brooklyn-based, community/youth development organization. Since 1982, El Puente has inspired and nurtured leadership to end community violence while organizing for democratic action, healing and all human rights. His passion for social action, ranging from education reform to environmental justice, from parks and open spaces to community wellness and culture, is rooted in his commitment to the primacy of community–a legacy of his earlier life in a religious community (the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer) as a student (seminarian) for the Catholic Priesthood. His range of engagement is evidenced in published work from the Fordham Law Journal to the American Journal of Public Health and in lectures and major presentations at such leading institutions as the Institute of Medicine and Harvard University.
Mr. Acosta is the recipient of many awards including the “Spirit of the City” from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, The Citizens Action and Public Works Awards, “The Dream of Equality” award from Asian Americans for Equality, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Forsythia Award and “Celebrating Success” from the Children’s Defense Fund. Along with his partner, Frances Lucerna, Luis Garden Acosta is the 1998 Heinz Award Winner for the Human Condition.
Vice President, Con Edison Company
Milovan Blair is Senior Vice President of Central Operations at Con Edison Company of New York, Inc. He is responsible for planning, designing, operating and maintaining the company’s electric transmission system, substations, primary control center, steam generating plants, steam distribution system; and engineering and construction activities. Milo joined Con Edison in 1991 as a management intern and held positions of increasing authority before assuming his current role.
Certified as a system operator by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, Milo completed the Siemens Power Technologies International course and Columbia University Senior Executive Program. He has a Master of Business Administration from St. John’s University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the City University of New York. He received the Harlem YMCA Black Achievers in Industry Award in 2004.
Milo dedicates his personal time to mentoring young people, leading education, and investing in the community. He serves on the boards of the Bedford-Stuyvesant YMCA and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and is a member of the leadership council of the Grove School of Engineering at the City College of New York.
Vice Chairman, HR&A Advisors
Candace Damon has devoted her 30-year career to crafting sustainable urban redevelopment strategies for cities across North America. Her specific areas of expertise include ensuring the long term viability of urban open spaces, leading organizational planning for non-profits and institutions, supporting master planning efforts for large-scale revitalizations, and addressing the financial challenges of making commercial and multifamily residential buildings energy efficient. Candace’s experience leading signature open space projects includes development strategy for Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York; operations and maintenance planning for Shelby Farms in Memphis, Tennessee, and Hance Park in Phoenix, Arizona; and a revenue generation strategy for a major new waterfront park in Seattle, Washington.
Candace is a member of the Board of the City Parks Alliance and the Urban Green Council, a founding partner of G. Works, a member of the New York City YMCA Real Estate Advisory Committee, and a member of the Advisory Board (and former President) of the Atlantic Avenue Local Development Corporation. She received the “Women of Influence Award” from the Real Estate Forum in 2008.
Prior to joining HR&A in 1988, Candace worked as a Real Estate Associate at Webster & Sheffield, a Research Associate at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and as an analyst at the New York City Office of Management and Budget. Candace holds a B.A. from Amherst College and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Margaret A. Doyle
After 7 years as a financial journalist at The Bond Buyer on Wall Street, Margaret Doyle changed careers to Historic Preservation and attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Historic Preservation. As a Preservationist she worked for the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission, the NYC Bureau of Design and Construction and went on to work for the Technical Preservation Services Division of the Department of Interior in Washington, DC. In 1980, Ms. Doyle moved to Miami Beach where she worked on the Miami Beach Historic District (Art Deco District) along with her husband and mother-in-law–Andrew and Barbara Capitman–who founded the District. Margaret was responsible for the restoration of the Cardozo and Carlyle Hotels and the design of the the first two restaurants to open on now world-famous Ocean Drive. While in Miami she taught full-time at the University of Miami in the Architecture School. During 2003-2007, Ms. Doyle was Co-President of Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center. In 2004, she restored Wright's Studio which, along with the house, is now a National Historic Landmark. After serving for 15 years on the Board of the Broadway Malls, she is now on the Advisory Board and a member of The Millbrook Garden Club (GCA). She is also the Garden Coordinator for her local Greenthumb Community Garden.
Retired Director, Hunter College Teacher Center
Mrs. Audrey Feuerstein is the former Director of the Hunter College Teacher Center, and Supervisor of Elementary Student Teachers in Department of Curriculum and Teaching at Hunter College. For the past thirty years, Mrs. Feuerstein has also worked in various capacities as an educational consultant, following her tenure in the New York City Public School system. She has earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Hunter College and served on the board of the Dalton School and the Board of Advisors to Park East – ESHI Day School.
Catherine Morrison Golden
Catherine Morrison Golden has had a long career in parks, open space and non-profit management in both New York and Washington. Working for the Nassau-Suffolk Regional Planning Board on Long Island she designed or planned gardens, parks and wildlife areas in fragile coastal regions. In Washington, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) she worked on specific issues of Coastal Zone Management, and aspects of deep seabed mining relative to the Law of the Sea negotiations. She served as Deputy Director of the Marine Systems Laboratory at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and as Special Assistant to the Director of the Museum. She also headed The Conference Board’s Washington Office of Public Policy. After returning to New York she became Senior Advisor to the New York Tree Trust at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
For five years, Catherine wrote a regular column on gardens for the Staten Island Advance, and now writes a blog, The Sunday Gardener. She serves on the boards of the National Museum of the American Indian, The American Trust for the British Library, The Historic House Trust of New York City, Riverside Park Conservancy, the Leadership Council of Black Rock Forest, and the Advisory Committee of Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs. Mrs. Golden holds a bachelor's degree from Bennington College, and an M.S. in Urban and Regional Planning from the Pratt Institute.
Executive Asset and Acquisitions Manager, Time Equities
Paul Gottsegen is Executive Asset and Acquisitions Manager at Time Equities. Mr. Gottsegen previously held positions as President and Director of Management of the Halstead Management Company, Managing Director at the Insignia Residential Group, Owner and Chief Executive of Soren Management, Inc., and Vice President at Douglas Elliman-Gibbons & Ives. He was awarded Certified Property Manager of the Year in 2007 by the Institute of Real Estate Management in Chicago and is currently president of its New York Chapter. In 2009, he was voted Management Executive of the Year by the Real Estate Board of New York. He is also an Honorary Member of the New York Building Managers' Association, an Honorary Associate Member of the Scandinavian American Building Managers Guild, and a member of the Real Estate Board of New York's Residential Management Council.
Principal, Camber Property Group
Rick Gropper has over a decade of experience in real estate development throughout the 5 boroughs of NYC. At CPG, Rick focuses on sourcing and structuring transactions using his deep relationships with various partners including investors, lenders, the community and government. Prior to co-founding CPG, Rick was Development Director at L+M Development Partners, one of the largest and most prolific developers of multifamily housing in NYC. At L+M, Rick was responsible for the development and preservation of more than 5,000 units of housing totaling over $1 billion in total capitalization. Prior to joining L+M, Rick worked for a boutique adaptive reuse development firm based in New Haven, CT. He has an undergraduate degree from Connecticut College and an MS in Real Estate Development from Columbia University. Rick serves on the boards of New Yorkers for Parks, NYSAFAH 2G and the CHPC Strategic Impact Fund.
George J. Grumbach, Jr.
Retired Partner, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
George J. Grumbach, Jr. is a retired partner and senior counsel to the firm of Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP. He was a law clerk to the Honorable Wilfred Feinberg in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Mr. Grumbach serves on the board of trustees of the Icahn School of Medicine and the Mount Sinai Medical Center, is a trustee of the Storefront Academy Harlem, and a director of MasterVoices (formerly the Collegiate Chorale). A graduate of Harvard Law School, he earned his Bachelor’s Degree from Yale University. He is married to Antonia M. Grumbach and resides in Manhattan. They have two sons, one a doctor in Rhode Island, the other a public high school principal who lives in Brooklyn, and five grandchildren.
In-House Counsel, Two Trees Management Co LLC
Mark Jackson is in-house counsel for Two Trees Management. Prior, he was Assistant General Counsel for the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation, managing ground lease and real estate development initiatives within the 300-acre city-owned Brooklyn Navy Yard. Before law school, Mark worked as a construction manager for Bovis Lend Lease on several public-private developments throughout New York City. Between his NYC assignments, Mark worked as Peace Corps volunteer in the La Paz region of Honduras, overseeing local construction, recycling and educational initiatives. Mark earned his JD from Brooklyn Law School in 2011 and his BA in Architecture from Columbia College in 2001.
Partner, Egon Zehnder
Albert Laverge is a Partner with Egon Zehnder. In addition to advising on senior level executive search, talent management and succession issues, he is a core member of their Board Advisory practice. He also leads the firm's banking practice globally. He started his career in M&A Advisory with S.G. Warburg & Co. Ltd. in New York, and went on to work for the firm in London and Amsterdam, as well as its successive incarnations as SBC Warburg, Warburg Dillon Read, and UBS Warburg. He went on to join the Strategy and Business Development practice at Viacom and MTV Networks, before joining Egon Zehnder 11 years ago.
Mr. Laverge graduated with an AB in Politics from Princeton, an MBA from Columbia Business School and a MIA from Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, during which he interned for the office of the UN Secretary General.
He is on the Board and Nominating Committee of the Netherlands-America Foundation, formerly on the fundraising committee for the Dutch Maritime Museum (Heren XVII) and is active in both fundraising and as an alumni interviewer for St. Paul's School and Princeton University.
Lynden B. Miller
Public Garden Designer
Lynden B. Miller is an internationally renowned public garden designer who has changed the face of New York City's public places by providing beautiful plantings and a connection with nature for neighborhoods rich and poor. Beginning in 1982 she rescued and restored the Conservatory Garden in Central Park. Mrs. Miller has designed gardens for many of New York's most prominent public spaces such as Bryant Park, The New York Botanical Garden, Madison Square Park, Hudson River Park, and Wagner Park. Her work includes landscape improvements for several important campuses such as Columbia, Princeton, and Stony Brook University.
In response to 9/11, Mrs. Miller inaugurated the planting of 1 million daffodils given to the City of New York. The Daffodil Project, now under the leadership of New Yorkers for Parks, has planted daffodils in parks, schools, and public housing to beautify the city she loves.
Trained as a painter and horticulturist, she has received many awards, and she lectures widely to promote her belief in the social and economic benefits of beautiful public space as well as teaching at New York University and Columbia. Her motto is "Make it gorgeous and they will come. Keep it that way and they will help."
Mrs. Miller has written an inspirational and practical book based on 30 years of experience about the benefits of enhancing cities with well-planted gardens, parks, and streets. Parks, Plants, and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape describes the elements of successful public space and explains how to design, improve and maintain year-round plants, work with volunteers, advocate for increased public funding and attract private dollars.
Managing Director, New York State and Local Government Affairs, Delta Air Lines
Patricia Ornst serves as managing director for Delta’s state and local government affairs efforts in New York, where her work helps Delta develop and achieve its key strategic objectives throughout the state.
Ornst brings more than 15 years of experience in the aviation industry. Prior to joining Delta, she was a director of state and local government affairs for the Northeast region at American Airlines. She also served as vice president, aviation, for the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where she led aviation strategy for New York City under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration. Earlier in her career, she spent nearly seven years at Airports Council International – North America as director of legislative affairs.
Ornst, who grew up in New York and the Czech Republic, has a degree in political science from Susquehanna University. She was named to City and State’s “40 under 40” list of rising political stars in New York in 2012. She currently serves as a Mayoral appointee on the Workforce Development Board and the Flushing Meadows Corona Park Alliance, Queens. She also serves on the board of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island.
Carmen Walker-Gay was called to action at a fundraiser for then president-elect Barack Obama, hosted by her and her husband, prominent NY attorney Darrell Gay. In his speech, the Senator prompted all to “start locally, in your own community” and having just moved from midtown Manhattan to Harlem, Ms. Walker-Gay recognized the inequality in the city’s parks. With a social circle that includes ties to many of New York’s leading African-American politicians and professionals, Ms. Walker-Gay helps to further her mission of equitable parks in all five boroughs by serving on the board of New Yorkers for Parks, helping to facilitate the maintenance and beautification of New York City’s parks and open spaces. She also serves as a member of Jack and Jill of America, an African-American mother’s organization which focuses on the social development of children, helping to plan events which educate and nurture. A journalism graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Ms. Walker-Gay has been published in several magazines and has written television scripts for The Hallmark Channel. She currently is working on a historical fiction novel.
Edward C. Wallace
Co-Chairman, Greenberg Traurig, LLP
Edward C. Wallace is a lawyer and former city official, and currently serves as Co-Chairman of Greenberg Traurig’s New York office. Ed has wide-ranging experience in business and government. Prior to entering the private sector as a Vice President at Boston Properties, he was the last City Council Member-at-Large (Manhattan) and then served as Chief of Staff to the New York City Council President. Mr. Wallace has served on the Board of NYC 2012, the Riverside Park Fund, the New York League of Conservation Voters, and the Grand Central Partnership. He is listed in The Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers and was on the City and State New York City Power 100 List.
Micaela Birmingham, City Planner
Christian DiPalermo, Principal and Founder, CDD Strategies, LLC
Elizabeth Greenstein, Chief of Staff, NYC Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery
Laura Hansen, Executive Director Neighborhood Plaza Partnership
Kate Kerrigan, Chief Operating Officer, Beachwold Residential LLC
Carol Loewenson, Mitchell/Giurgola Architects, LLP
Thomas Paulo, Former Staten Island Borough Commissioner, NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
Phyllis Reich, TD Bank
Chris Rizzo, Partner, Carter Ledyard & Milburn LLP
Paul Willen, Architect
John S. Winkleman, Winkleman Company LLC
Ann L. Buttenwieser
Barbara S. Dixon
Ira M. Millstein
Philip R. Pitruzzello