2013 Speakers

Aaron AppelAaron Appel, Managing Director, Meridian Capital

Mr. Appel joined Meridian as a Managing Director in January 2011 and is responsible for origination and execution of structured finance assignments on behalf of the firm. To-date Mr. Appel has been directly involved in over $4 Billion of commercial real estate transactions. Prior to joining Meridian, Mr. Appel worked at CBRE in 2010 where he was a First Vice President and responsible for originating commercial real estate transactions. Mr. Appel started his career in 2006 Cooper-Horowitz. Aaron graduated with Baruch College in 2004.

Michael AmirkhanianMichael Amirkhanian, Director of Sales, Massey Knakal

Michael Amirkhanian joined the firm’s Brooklyn office in 2007 as an Associate, exclusively covering the Bedford Stuyvesant area of the borough. After consistently demonstrating his abilities in the field, he was promoted to Director in June 2008. Mr. Amirkhanian further expanded his focus in 2010 and 2011 to include the dynamic and well-positioned neighborhoods of Bushwick and Crown Heights, respectively.

Andrea BakerAndrea Baker, Managing Director, Made in NY Media Center by IFP

Andrea Baker has facilitated projects for a diverse group of creative and technical firms including Bridgewater Associates, World Wrestling Entertainment and NEW (Non-Traditional Employment for Women), building responsive organizations that consistently delivered technically sophisticated media spaces. As Vice President of Hunter Roberts Construction, she led the liaison of a diverse team of project managers and construction professionals in the successful execution of projects for such industry luminaries as Viacom / MTV Networks and The Nielsen Company. Andrea was Senior Project Manager for Bloomberg L.P., an international provider of financial analytics and news where she oversaw a team of multi-media professionals in the design / build of broadcast facilities within the company’s award-winning headquarters in Manhattan. Previously, Andrea served as Vice President of Lorne Michaels’ post production company, Broadway Video.

Andrew BarrocasAndrew Barrocas, Chief Executive Officer, MNS

Andrew currently oversees more than a billion dollars in real estate. He has managed, trained, recruited and worked with New York’s top agents and brokers. A graduate of the WP Carey School of Business at ASU, he was one of the Top 30 Brokers Under 30 featured in the Real Deal. Andrew brings a stellar track record to MNS, which he has grown to over 125 people in 5 years. He also serves as a licensed teacher of real estate brokers and sales.

David BeltDavid Belt, Executive Director & Founder, Macro Sea

David Belt is a real estate developer and the Founder and Managing Principal of Macro Sea and DBI. Over the past 20 years, David has developed a diverse range of projects that vary widely in size, scope, and location, and has become a leader in creative development and interim use projects.Currently, David and Macro Sea are working on developing New Lab, which will convert one wing of a stunning former shipbuilding factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard into a facility that promotes collaboration between the disciplines of design and fabrication. In addition to providing professional-quality rapid prototyping equipment, coworking and private office space, Macro Sea is building a vibrant community of the world’s most creative innovators.

David BehinDavid Behin, President, MNS

David Behin is a Partner and President of the Investment Sales and Advisory Division at MNS, New York’s pre-eminent real estate marketing and sales company. He has been been involved in over $1B of real estate transactions within the tri-state area and Philadelphia. The Investment Sales and Advisory division was launched mid-2011 and within its first twelve months of inception, has sold over $150M of real estate including development sites, multifamily apartment building, and note sales for development sites, while successfully raising over $20M of equity for developers.

Melissa BurchMelissa Burch, EVP – Commercial & Residential Development, Forest City Ratner

As Executive Vice President of Commercial and Residential Development, Melissa Román Burch oversees all new development activity for Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC) in the New York Region. In this role, she has responsibility for leading the roll out of existing development projects as well as spearheading new development opportunities. Ms. Burch joined FCRC in 2003, and has since played a lead role in the entitlement and development of the Atlantic Yards project; including the formation of the Frank Gehry master plan, the acquisition and assemblage of the 22-acre site and negotiations with the City and State of New York.

Jonathan ButlerJonathan Butler, Founder, Brownstoner.com & The Brooklyn Flea

Jonathan is a Brooklyn-based entrepreneur. He is the founder and publisher of Brownstoner.com as well as the co-founder of the Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg markets. In 2012, Jonathan bought the former Studebaker Service Station in Crown Heights with BFC Partners and Goldman Sachs and is in the process of turning into a hub of creative commercial activity, including a beer hall and food court featuring Smorgasburg vendors. Jonathan received his BA from Princeton University in 1992 and an MBA from NYU in 1998. He resides with his wife and two children in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn.

David CarrellDavid Carrell, Founder, People’s Pops 

David Carrell is a 30-year-old Miami native with a background in news television. He worked for David Letterman, Good Morning America and MSNBC before dropping his eminently respectable day job to run an ice pop business with his high school prom date and roommate. At people’s pops, he is responsible for accounting, staffing, business communications, heavy lifting, and inappropriate jokes.

Andrew ClemensAndrew Clemens, Director of Retail Leasing, Massey Knakal

Andrew Clemens joined Massey Knakal Retail Leasing Services in late 2011 as Director of Retail Leasing focusing on Brooklyn’s Greenpoint and Williamsburg neighborhoods. Since joining the firm, Andrew has spear-headed the marketing efforts for over 30 exclusive listings. During his short tenure, Andrew has closed a total of 14 leases totaling more than 23,000 square feet with a gross consideration of over $8,400,000. Recently, Andrew was hired to represent a 160,000 square foot hotel, entertainment and retail adaptive re-use project in the rapidly changing neighborhood of Bushwick. Andrew is an active member of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, the Real Estate Board of New York, and the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Alireza EsmaelizadehAlireza Esmaelizadeh, VP – Commercial Development & Leasing, Forest City Ratner

Alireza Esmaeilzadeh is a Vice President in the Commercial and Residential Development team of Forest City Ratner Companies (FCRC), a New York-based real estate development company. Mr. Esmaeilzadeh is the commercial leasing director for Forest City. He oversees the leasing and interior fit-out construction of the commercial portfolio at MetroTech Center in Downtown Brooklyn, which consists of 6.7 million square feet of Class A office space, the New York Times building, a 1.5 million square feet Renzo Piano designed Class A building, and several other projects within the FCRC office portfolio.

Avi FlombaumAvi Flombaum, Dean, The Flatiron School

Avi Flombaum is the Dean of the Flatiron School. For the past year, he has been training people with no prior programming experience as web developers. Prior to founding the Flatiron School, Avi was the co-founder and CTO of DesignerPages.com, a family of websites for architects and interior designers. Born and raised in the city, Avi has been working in technology and startups since he was 16. When not programming or teaching, you can find Avi running around the city training for his first NYC marathon.

Lexy FunkLexy Funk, General Manager, Brooklyn Industries

Artist turned entrepreneur Lexy Funk is the co-founder and CEO of Brooklyn Industries, a Brooklyn-based business that has grown since 1998 from making messenger bags out of used billboard vinyl to a full men’s and women’s lifestyle clothing and accessories retailer. The visionary entrepreneur has grown the retail company organically to include 17 stores in three states (New York, Illinois and Oregon) and a successful e-commerce website. Funk is determined to fill a void in the clothing market with artistic apparel and bags for creative young professionals. She has created an anti-bureaucratic culture of creativity and independence in the workplace based on the company’s motto “Live, Work, Create”, which encourages creativity in both life and work, and she has used her instinct, intelligence and sheer determination to navigate each stage of the business.

Boaz GiladBoaz Gilad, Principal, BrookLand Capital

With over 15 years of experience in real estate investment and development, Brookland co-founder Boaz Gilad is frequently cited as an industry expert by such publications as The Wall Street Journal and Crain’s New York Business. Mr. Gilad has built his portfolio almost exclusively in Brooklyn, and has been integral in spearheading Brooklyn’s real estate resurgence. Mr. Gilad is the author of the book The Real Estate Millionaire (McGraw-Hill). His background in mediation and communications fosters open dialogue between relevant parties in deal structuring and closing. Under the Brookland umbrella, Mr. Gilad focuses on capital development and investor relations.

Phillip GilmourPhillip Gilmour, Owner, Momo Sushi Shack

Phillip Gilmour was born in Wichita, Kansas in 1972 to hippy parents. He moved a few years later to Palm Beach Gardens Florida where he started working in restaurants at age 14, an industry which he never left. Before moving to Brooklyn, New York in 1999,  he worked in Malibu, Palm Beach, Atlanta & San Francisco- just to name a few. He has worked at many of Brooklyn’s best restaurants including  Diner, Roberta’s, Allioli (now closed) and Bozu. This led him to open up Momo Sushi Shack in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn.  In addition to working on several new projects he is a committed member of the non profit organization 108 Lives, which aims to helps orphans and street beggars primarily in Katmandu, where he spent 2 months last year and plans on going again in November.

Miriam HarrisMiriam Harris, Senior Vice President, New York City Economic Development Corporation

Ms. Harris co-heads the Real Estate Transaction Group at NYCEDC. In that capacity, she manages a team of real estate professionals who execute transformative public-private redevelopment projects on behalf of the City of New York. Notable projects under her helm include Seward Park Mixed-Use Development RFP for over 1.5 million square feet of new development on the Lower East Side, The Applied Sciences Project which led to the successful designation of Cornell University & the Technion of Israel to develop an approximately 2 million square foot graduate engineering campus Roosevelt Island as well as the 62 acre Willets Point Project in Queens. Prior to joining NYCEDC, Ms. Harris spent over a decade at Forest City Ratner Companies where she served as the development manager for the 1.6 million square foot New York Times Building in Times Square and the company’s hotel developments.

Yushu HuYusha Hu, Director of Market Development, Honest Buildings

Yusha leads global market development with property owners and managers at Honest Buildings, a commercial real estate network that enables decision-makers to identify the most relevant building solution providers. Prior to joining Honest Buildings, Yusha held positions in finance, sustainability, and operations at Fortune 300 energy company NRG Energy, where she managed performance analysis and budgets for a portfolio of new business lines and spear-headed development of the company’s first corporate responsibility report. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship by the U.S. Department of State and received her BA from Swarthmore College.

Purnima KapurPurnima Kapur, Director, Brooklyn Department of City Planning

Purnima Kapur is the Director of the Brooklyn Office of New York City Department of City Planning. In a period of unprecedented growth, the City’s planning agenda has focused on balancing the needs of fostering economic development and creating housing opportunities in transit rich areas, while at the same time relieving pressures of over development and preserving the fabric of Brooklyn’s unique neighborhoods. In her role as the director of the Brooklyn Office, she has spearheaded several large scale planning efforts including the Comprehensive Plan for Coney Island, development on
the Greenpoint Williamsburg waterfront and Downtown Brooklyn, and facilitated public and private initiatives throughout Brooklyn. Her office is currently working on a comprehensive study East New York under a Federal Sustainable Communities Initiative Grant. As former director of the Bronx Office of City Planning, Ms. Kapur facilitated numerous highly complex projects including Yankee Stadium and the Bronx Terminal Market. Ms. Kapur is trained as an architect and an urban planner and has over 20 years of experience as a planner.

Eli KarpEli Karp, President, Hello Living

Eli Karp is the President of HELLO LIVING LLC, a real estate development company that specializes in luxury condominium developments with a distinct style in emerging Brooklyn neighborhoods. Mr. Karp, 38, was born and raised in Boro Park, Brooklyn, and got his start in the real estate industry in 2002. He began developing his own buildings in 2005, and has 10 completed projects to his name, with another two on the way. Mr. Karp’s developments are known for their modern, airy look and emphasis on outdoor space and shared, communal environments. Since 2011, HELLO LIVING’s Owners Club has given smaller investors the opportunity to get in on the ground floor and purchase units at pre-construction prices.

Jason KastnerJason Kastner, Real Estate Manager, Blink Fitness

After graduating from Franklin & Marshall College with a Bachelors degree in Business, Jason began his commercial real estate career in tenant rep office brokerage in Washington, DC. With Faison electing to vacate the Washington, DC market, Jason relocated to New York and became a member of Equinox’s real estate team, focusing exclusively on the expansion of Blink Fitness.  As a member of the Equinox family, Blink Fitness provides a new look at the fitness industry.  Conceived to give consumers an alternative to traditional mass market health clubs, Blink Fitness offers a fast, easy and value-driven fitness experience based on a low-cost development and operating strategy.

Michael KayeMichael Kaye, Chief Executive Officer, Douglaston Development

Michael Kaye, Chief Executive Officer of Douglaston Development, has been with the Levine organization since 1997, first as Director of Development and General Counsel to Levine Builders and then, upon creation of Douglaston Development, as its first President.   As Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Kaye has overseen the development of numerous projects including the Renaissance on 116th Street in Manhattan, which was developed under the NYC ANCHOR Program and played a major role in activating central Harlem in 2001 by providing 241 affordable for-sale apartments as well as 60,000 square feet of retail; and the Edge condominium which took a long derelict portion of the Williamsburg waterfront and created a new community including 565 condominium apartment and 347 affordable apartments available under HPD’s New HOP program, along with over 60,000 square feet of retail, a waterfront park and a ferry landing.

Robert KeenanRobert Keenan, Sales Manager, Chase

As the Nation’s #1 multifamily lender, Chase Commercial Term Lending provides owners and investors with the best financing solutions for purchasing or refinancing stabilized apartment buildings. CTL offers an array of fixed and adjustable rate loan programs, competitive rates, low loan fees, local appraisals, and a streamlined process. In his capacity as a Regional Sales Manager, Robert’s efforts are focused on growing CTL’s market share in the New York Metropolitan Region.

Andrew KimballAndrew Kimball, Chief Executive Officer, Industry City

In July 2013, Andrew Kimball joined Jamestown Properties, a national developer focused on the revitalization of underutilized urban assets, as National Director of Innovation Economy Initiatives. Shortly thereafter, Jamestown tapped Mr. Kimball to also serve as CEO of Industry City directing the redevelopment of this six million square foot facility in Sunset Park.From 2005 to 2013, Mr. Kimball served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation (BNYDC) overseeing the transformation of this 300-acre former Naval ship-building facility.

Robert Knakal, Chairman, Massey Knakal

Mr. Knakal is Chairman and Founding Partner of Massey Knakal Realty Services, a full service property sales firm. He was graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics in 1984. He started his real estate career at CB Richard Ellis where he met Paul Massey. They both left CB in 1988 to form Massey Knakal. To date, Massey Knakal has closed over 4,500 transactions having a market value in excess of $14 billion. Mr. Knakal has been personally responsible for the sale of more than 1,250 buildings worth over $8.5 billion.

Andrew KoernerAndrew Koerner, Partner, Tarter Krinsky & Drogin

Andrew Koerner is a Partner in Tarter Krinsky & Drogin LLP’s Immigration Practice Group. He represents individuals, small business owners and large multinational corporations. Mr. Koerner has extensive experience helping companies expand into the United States by attaining and keeping a competitive workforce. He counsels clients on employment-based immigration visas, including PERM labor certification applications, transfer of managers and executives in multinational corporations, extraordinary ability petitions and national interest waiver petitions. He also counsels on non-immigrant visas for citizens of other countries who are coming to the United States temporarily, family-based immigration and citizenship matters.

Todd KorrenTodd Korren, Executive Managing Director, Massey Knakal

Todd E. Korren joined the firm in 2013 as Managing Director of Manhattan. Todd is also responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Manhattan sales force as well as Massey Knakal’s retail leasing division. Todd has been involved in the real estate and construction industries for over 28 years and his experience includes office and retail agency and tenant representation leasing, construction, asset and property management, acquisitions, property redevelopment and repositioning, site assemblage, and ground up development. He has negotiated over 1,000 leases representing 6.7 million square feet, participated in over 25 acquisitions and dispositions valued at over $1.5 billion, and supervised over 400 construction projects. He comes to Massey Knakal from Savanna Real Estate Fund, an institutional real estate private equity firm and asset management company, where he served as Principal, Director of Leasing.

Aaron LefkoveAaron Lefkove, Founder, Littleneck 

Aaron Lefkove is the co-owner of Littleneck, a seafood restaurant in the burgeoning Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn. Prior to opening Littleneck, Lefkove enjoyed success in former careers as varied as dishwasher, pizza delivery driver, musician, writer, and record store clerk. His forthcoming e-book memoir, available fall 2013, is tentatively entitled Hold On Loosely But Don’t Let Go.


Shani LeibowitzShani Leibowitz, SVP – Development & Planning, Brooklyn Navy Yards

Shani Leibowitz is Senior Vice President of Development and Planning for the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation where she is part of a development team overseeing a wide range of rehabilitation and new construction projects completed, underway or planned as part of an aggressive growth initiative: one that aims to complete 2 million square feet of industrial space in the Navy Yard within 4 years. As liaison to the New York City Public Design Commission, she collaborates with architects in proposing new and rehabilitated structure designs that achieve the City’s highest design standards. She joined BNYDC in 2007 as Deputy Director of Development and Planning, subsequent to her tenure as Senior Planner at the Manhattan-based urban planning consulting firm, BFJ Planning.

Marty MarkowitzMarty Markowitz, President, Borough of Brooklyn

No one works harder for all 2.6 million Brooklynites than Marty Markowitz. Since entering Borough Hall in January 2002, Marty has reinvigorated the office of borough president, serving as the tireless chief advocate for Brooklyn’s economic, social and cultural interests, while initiating and promoting efforts to improve Brooklynites’ quality of life. Born and raised in Crown Heights, Marty graduated from Wingate High School in 1962. He received his B.A. in Political Science after attending evening sessions at Brooklyn College from 1962 to 1970. Elected to the New York State Senate in 1978, Marty represented Central Brooklyn for 23 years. In 2001, he became the first borough president elected in the new millennium; he was honored to be re-elected to his third term in 2009.

David MaundrellDavid Maundrell, President, aptsandlofts.com

David Maundrell is President and founder of aptsandlofts.com. Prior to starting aptsandlofts.com, David worked for a Queens based family owned Real Estate brokerage firm but quickly realized that Real Estate in Brooklyn was his calling. Since 2002 aptsandlofts.com has marketed over 90 New Developments and in June of 2009 was ranked the 3rd Largest New Development Marketing Firm in NYC in terms of developments represented between 2007 and 2009 by the Real Deal trade publication.  A native of Williamsburg Brooklyn and a lifelong Brooklyn resident, David cares deeply about not only real estate in Brooklyn but also the neighborhoods as a whole and is involved with multiple neighborhood charities.

Paul MasseyPaul Massey, CEO & Founding Partner, Massey Knakal

Mr. Massey began his career at Coldwell Banker Commercial Real Estate Services in Midtown Manhattan as head of the market research department, then as an investment sales broker. Together with Partner Robert A. Knakal, whom he met at Coldwell, he founded what has become New York City’s largest investment property sales brokerage firm. In 2007, Mr. Massey was honored with the Real Estate Board of New York’s prestigious Louis Smadbeck Memorial Broker Recognition Award which honors a broker whose career distinctions include personal and professional integrity, long term leadership and prominence in the brokerage community, and participation on Real Estate Board committees.

Daniel MillerDaniel Miller, Co-Founder, FundRise

Daniel Miller is the Co-Founder of Fundrise, an equity crowdfunding platform for local real estate, and its affiliate Popularise, a real estate crowdsourcing website. Daniel helped create both companies to transform traditional commercial development by giving community members the power to participate and invest in local real estate. He also serves as Managing Partner of WestMill Capital Partners, a Washington D.C.-based real estate development company. He remains involved with Western Development Corporation, his family’s real estate organization which has developed more than 20 million square feet in its forty-six year history.

Peter MiscovichPeter Miscovich, Managing Director, Jones Lang LaSalle

Peter Miscovich is an executive management consultant focused upon Corporate Strategy and Workplace Transformation solutions for Fortune 100 companies across multiple industry sectors. As a Managing Director with Jones Lang LaSalle ($4Billion Global Real Estate Advisory firm) he leads the strategic consulting practice in developing Corporate Real Estate Strategy and Workplace Innovation solutions for the firm’s global corporate clients. Peter previously served as a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Advisory practice and he is recognized as an industry thought leader by the Brookings Institute, the Conference Board, CORENET Global, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Urban Age Institute and the Urban Land Institute.

Tom Montvel-CohenTom Montvel-Cohen, President, The Dumbo Improvement District

Tom Montvel-Cohen is Chair of the Dumbo Business Improvement District and is a Director of the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  He is one of the originators of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle concept. He has worked on many large scale development projects, such as MetroTech, City Point, Brooklyn Bridge Park, BAM Cultural District, and the Downtown Brooklyn Plan, as consultant, strategist and spokesman

Regina MyerRegina Myer, President, Brooklyn Bridge Park

Regina Myer is President of the Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation (known as Brooklyn Bridge Park), which oversees the creation and construction of Brooklyn Bridge Park. As president since 2007, Ms. Myer oversees all aspects of the $350 million Park, including design, construction and maintenance. Most recently, Ms. Myer has been senior vice president for planning and design at the Hudson Yards Development Corporation. Previously, she served as the Brooklyn Borough Director for the New York City Planning Department, directing the comprehensive redevelopment for two miles of the Greenpoint/Williamsburg waterfront and the rezoning of Downtown Brooklyn for high density commercial space and apartments.

Alison NovakAlison Novak, Vice President, Hudson Companies

Alison Novak, the Vice President of the Hudson Companies Inc, has over 10 years of private, public and non-profit sector experience in real estate. Prior to joining Hudson in 2006, Alison was with the San Jose Redevelopment Agency where she co-developed a comprehensive retail recruitment program and created a public space program. She has also worked for the City of Alameda, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, and Lesley University’s real estate division. Alison is responsible for Hudson’s first green building project, Third + Bond and the blog, “Inside Third + Bond”. She is a LEED Accredited Professional.

Stephen PalmeseStephen Palmese, Senior Executive VP, Massey Knakal

Mr. Palmese, a Brooklyn native, joined Massey Knakal in August 2004 after graduating from Georgetown University, where he pursued a double major in International Finance and New and Small Business Management. Since joining the firm, Stephen has sold over 100 properties with an aggregate consideration of nearly $700,000,000. In 2012, he was named a Top Investment Sales Broker in New York by Real Estate Forum and was profiled on the front cover of the NY Observer for having sold 8% of all Brooklyn sales in 1H12. Stephen was, also, awarded Second Place Salesperson company-wide at Massey Knakal Realty Services. In 2010 and 2012, Stephen was awarded the Annual Stephen B. Siegel Brooklyn Salesperson of the Year Award for his success at Massey Knakal and as a CoStar Powerbroker.

Alex PattersonAlexander Patterson, Chief Culture Officer, Tough Mudder

Alex Patterson serves as Chief Culture Officer of Tough Mudder LLC, a global sports event marketing company started in 2010 and based in Brooklyn. Tough Mudder events are hardcore 10-12 mile military-style obstacle courses that test strength, stamina, mental and physical grit, and teamwork. Founded in 2010 with three events and 17,000 participants, the company now has 53 events across the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., and Germany, with over 750,000 participants annually. At Tough Mudder, Alex’s work focuses on creating a culture of relentless innovation, in addition to brand oversight and acting as the company’s U.S. spokesperson. The company’s fourth employee, he has in the past held the role of In-house Counsel, Chief Marketing Officer, and was the event’s first start-line emcee.

David Pfeffer David Pfeffer, Chair – Construction Practice, Tarter Krinsky & Drogin

David Pfeffer works with clients in the commercial real estate and construction industry, and represents commercial, institutional and residential real estate owners, operators and developers. He has advised on construction and development for a number of high-profile mixed-use residential/commercial properties in Brooklyn. As a business partner to his clients, David not only provides sound legal advice, but also has a keen understanding of the business climate. He handles matters such as contract preparation, development, continuing operation, leasing and dispute resolution, and also maintains an active practice in business negotiation. Providing business solutions from a legal perspective, David’s practice focuses on project delivery strategies and the preparation and negotiation of design, construction and related contracts for private and public real estate development projects.  David has been recognized by Chambers and Partners as a leading construction lawyer in New York for eight consecutive years (2006-13).

Tucker ReedTucker Reed, President, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership

Tucker Reed is the President of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a not-for-profit local development corporation that serves as the primary champion for Downtown Brooklyn as a world-class business, cultural, educational, residential, and retail destination. He previously was the Director of Special Projects for Two Trees Management Company, a real estate development firm based in DUMBO, Brooklyn, where he assisted in the execution of development projects with an aggregate budget of nearly $200 million, while directing communications and community development efforts for the firm.

Charles SchoenauCharles Schoenau, Managing Director, Insurent Agency Corporation

Charles Schoenau is a Managing Director of Insurent Agency Corporation, where he oversees multiple aspects of the business. The Insurent Lease Guaranty program was created to assist landlords, renters and brokers in closing residential leases. Its role as the “institutional mommy and daddy” allows thousands of leases to quickly and easily close to the benefit of all parties that otherwise would not close without Insurent. He received his Masters of Business Administration from the Wharton Graduate School of Business in 1976, his Masters of Theological Studies at Harvard University in 1974 and his Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University in 1970.

Ilana SchwartzIlana Schwartz, COO, Online Marketing Group

As principal of Online Marketing Group (OMG), Ms. Schwartz has built a highly successful consulting firm that helps NYC owners & developers market new condo developments and residential rental portfolios. Ilana brings a passion and enthusiasm to real estate marketing with a relentless pursuit of data capture and analysis. Insights gained from data drive unique and effective marketing strategies that give OMG clients a real advantage in the marketplace.

Mark SchulzeMark Schulze, Vice President, Makerbot

Mark Schulze is Vice President of Sales at MakerBot.  Previously, he was the CEO of International Automation Inc, a manufacturing technology company.  He has also worked at Ogilvy & Mather, Organic Inc. and YadaYada, an early mobile web start-up.  He received his BS in Resource Economics from the University of Massachusetts and his MBA from Babson College.
Jeremy ShellJeremy Shell, Head of Acquisitions and Finance, TF Cornerstone

Jeremy Shell is  Head of Acquisitions and Finance for TF Cornerstone Inc. where he oversees new investments and development opportunities and spearheads negotiations. He has over fourteen years of experience in the real estate industry. Prior to joining the Company in 2010, Mr. Shell was Vice President at Dune Real Estate Partners, an opportunistic real estate private equity fund managing over $1.5B of equity. Prior to joining Dune, Mr. Shell worked in private equity and real estate investment banking at Deutsche Bank Mr. Shell received an M.B.A. from Columbia University (Beta Gamma Sigma) in 2004 and a B.S. degree from Cornell University in 1998. He is a member of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY).

Joseph SittJoseph Sitt, Chairman & CEO, Thor Equities

Joseph J. Sitt is the Chairman & CEO of Thor Equities, a multifaceted international real estate development company that specializes in value-added investments in shopping centers and mixed-use urban developments in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Mr. Sitt, 47, was born and raised in Brooklyn, and from childhood was taught the value of hard work, entrepreneurship and social responsibility. His first business venture, as a New York University undergrad, was implementing a lucrative system of weekend parking lots at the flea markets at Aqueduct and Roosevelt racetracks. Today, Thor Equities has an international retail, office, hotel, and residential portfolio valued at more than $5 billion and totaling more than 15 million square feet, and is a leader in urban real estate development, leasing and management. Mr. Sitt also serves as Chairman and Managing Principal of the Thor Urban Property Funds whose investors include pension funds, investment banks, top-tier college endowments, and foundations.

Douglas SteinerDouglas Steiner, Chairman, Steiner Studios

Douglas C. Steiner is Chairman of Steiner Studios, New York’s first Hollywood-style film and television production facility, comprised of 355,000 square feet on 20 acres inside the historic Brooklyn Navy Yard and currently being expanded by an additional 225,000 square feet of space. Douglas has led the fight to re-establish New York’s position as a world-class entertainment production center; he spearheaded the creation of the New York State Film Production Credit and each of its four renewals and expansions.

David Von SpreckelsenDavid Von Spreckelsen, Senior Vice President, Toll Brothers

David Von Spreckelsen, a Division President with Toll Brothers, Inc., started the Toll Brothers City Living office in New York City in 2004. David oversees Toll’s acquisition and development activities in the five boroughs of New York City and Nassau and Suffolk Counties in Long Island. His responsibilities include everything from identifying and acquiring sites through managing the design and construction of the buildings and ultimately to marketing and selling the residences. David is currently overseeing seven Toll Brothers City Living projects in various stages of development in Manhattan and Brooklyn. In addition to projects that have already been completed, this totals to approximately 1,400 condominium units and more than $1 billion in total development cost since 2004. His division has committed to developing all of its projects to meet LEED certification, with the nearly complete 205 Water Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn being certified as LEED Gold. In 2013 at Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, he will begin construction on the first hotel in the company’s history.

Don TallermanDon Tallerman, President, Online Marketing Group

Don is the founder of two digital marketing  firms; Online Marketing Group and DragonSearch.  Online Marketing Group is a consulting firm focused on New York City Real estate, helping owners & brokers generate leads from people looking for space, both commercial and residential.   DragonSearch helps clients with Search Engine Optimization, PPC advertising and Social Media Marketing.


Paul TravisPaul Travis, Managing Partner, Washington Square Partners

Paul Travis is Managing Partner of Washington Square Partners, a realestate development advisory firm in New York City which he founded in 1994. Over the years he has worked with corporations, non-profit institutions and government entities to reconfigure real estate assets and solve land use issues. He is also a partner in Kingsbridge Development Partners, a real estate development firm that developed the River Plaza center with Target Stores, at the time the first major private commercial development in the Bronx in twenty years.

David VendleyDavid Vendley, Founder, Calexico

Calexico is one of two major crossings between California and Mexico, the border fence runs right through the middle of town. Everything about Calexico is a hybrid: the people, the culture, and especially the food. When we moved to NYC, we were blown away by the variety and quality of the food. However, we couldn’t find anything that could satisfy our craving for our hometown cuisine. We began cooking. We had an idea: what about a taco cart? Back then there weren’t food trucks in New York – just pushcarts with staples like hot dogs and pretzels. People were wary of street food. Slowly, it started to catch on; lines began to form. In our second year, we won the Vendy Award for Best Street Food in New York City. Now we have a small fleet, and that crazy notion of a restaurant came true a few times over. We make the kind of food we love to eat: fresh, flavorful, satisfying

Elise WagnerElise Wagner, Partner, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel

Elise Wagner is a partner in the Land Use Department at Kramer Levin, where she concentrates her practice in land use, zoning, environmental and historic preservation law. She has substantial experience counseling for-profit and non-profit property owners on the planning and development of new buildings and the reuse of existing buildings. She has coordinated the public approval processes for major public-private development projects involving cooperation between private developers and agencies of New York City and State. She has negotiated numerous multi-party transactions for the transfer of development rights, and has performed due diligence on the purchase and financing of major properties.

Jed WalentasJed Walentas, Principal, Two Trees Management Co.

Jed Walentas is a principal of Two Trees Management Company. Jed began his career in real estate working for The Trump Organization after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1997, when the Giuliani administration agreed to rezone DUMBO, Jed came to work with his father, David Walentas, at Two Trees. In recent years, Jed has assumed daily operating responsibility at Two Trees. Jed manages the company and oversees all aspects of the acquisition, development, construction, marketing and leasing of Two Trees’ properties. Under Jed’s leadership, Two Trees has transformed DUMBO from a gritty, underutilized industrial district into a vibrant, creative community that has preserved and built upon the existing local arts scene to create a world-renowned neighborhood. Today, DUMBO is a home to emerging and established arts and cultural organizations, as well as an eclectic mix of commercial and residential tenants. Two Trees leases space to approximately 400 commercial tenants including Etsy, Huge, Wireless Generation, West Elm, and scores of others who create one of the City’s most vibrant technology sectors in DUMBO.

Chase WellesChase Welles, Executive Vice President, SCG Retail

Chase Welles has been a Commercial Real Estate Broker in New York City retail real estate for twenty five years. From 1984 to 1997, Chase was Vice President of Brokerage at the Manhattan firm of Walker Malloy & Co., Inc. where he represented various Landlords including Milstein Properties, The Durst Organization and The Brodsky Organization. Chase joined Northwest Atlantic (now The Shopping Center Group) in 1997. Chase has closed nine lease transactions in Manhattan for Whole Foods: Time Warner Center, Union Square, Tribeca, Lower East Side, two locations on the Upper West Side, East 57th Street and recently 87 Brooklyn and eight in New Jersey. From 2004-2007 he closed over 100 Washington Mutual leases in New York City.

Not Pictured:

  • Herb Wetanson, Chairman & COO, Dallas BBQ