New York is a place known for building things, from its iconic skyline to its sprawling public transit system to its impressive overhauls of the city’s airports and improvements to commuter rail connections in recent years. All across the state, highways and bridges must also be maintained – if not entirely replaced – and the same goes for other critical infrastructure, such as barriers to protect residents against storms. It all adds up to a thriving construction industry in New York.
City & State’s Construction Power 100 highlights the most influential individuals in the industry, including executives at construction companies of all sizes and types. This list also features government officials who pick and choose projects to prioritize, dole out contracts and ensure regulatory compliance – and who, of course, show up for high-profile groundbreakings and ribbon-cuttings. Given the influence of organized labor in New York, the list also features a number of labor leaders – as well as others who want to diversify the industry, influence relevant city and state policies or simply advocate for more construction.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has been on a building blitz in recent years, from its transformational overhaul of LaGuardia Airport to a new Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport to multiple major terminal projects at John F. Kennedy International Airport, including the recent groundbreaking of JFK’s more than $4 billion Terminal 6. It’s all part of a 10-year, $32.2 billion capital plan adopted in 2017, the same year Rick Cotton became executive director of the Port Authority. Other projects include replacing the Newark airport’s monorail, pivoting to improved bus service to LaGuardia after dropping a controversial AirTrain plan and working with the federal government and other partners to get the Gateway rail tunnel underway. Derek Utter, who also came on in 2017 as the Port Authority’s chief development officer, plays a key role in carrying out these and other capital projects.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is still getting back on track in the wake of the devastating coronavirus pandemic, but it remains a juggernaut in New York’s construction industry. Janno Lieber, who took over in 2021, oversees a quasi-governmental body that’s in the middle of a five-year, $54.8 billion capital plan to maintain and expand the nation’s largest public transportation system – including the recently completed East Side Access and Long Island Rail Road Third Track projects and plans to extend the Second Avenue subway, connect a Metro-North Railroad line to Penn Station and possibly even reconstruct Penn Station. Overseeing the construction side of all these projects – and more – Jamie Torres-Springer, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction who started running MTA Construction & Development in 2021.
Gary LaBarbera has been a commanding presence in construction labor representation since he became president of the New York City-based Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York in 2009. Now, as president of the New York State Building & Construction Trades Council as well, LaBarbera represents more than 200,000 construction workers statewide. Recently, LaBarbera’s work was recognized by Gov. Kathy Hochul, a reliable ally who cited the council’s contribution to renovations at John F. Kennedy International Airport, among many other major infrastructure projects.
Turner Construction continues to be one of the United States’ biggest construction companies – the New York-based firm tops Engineering News-Record’s national list for the second year in a row. Peter J. Davoren has been leading Turner’s executive team since 2003 and also previously served on the board of directors of the ACE Mentor Program, while Pat Di Filippo has led New York-based projects since 2005 and also oversees management of E.E. Cruz, a heavy equipment company. Among the projects they are currently working on: the recently announced $631 million flood wall in lower Manhattan and The Spiral building in Hudson Yards, which is now Turner’s New York headquarters.
With more than $13 billion of federal money earmarked for the state’s infrastructure over the next five years, state Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez’s role in the short term will stand out. Add to that Gov. Kathy Hochul’s billion-dollar road improvement plan, better known as Operation Pave Our Potholes – not to mention an overall $32.8 billion five-year capital plan for highways, bridges and other department infrastructure – and it’s no wonder why Dominguez continues to be among the highest-profile people in the construction sector.
When it comes to construction projects in New York, few are as big or as high-profile as John F. Kennedy International Airport’s $9.5 billion New Terminal One, due to be completed in 2030. Thanks to his experience with major projects like Hudson Yards, One Vanderbilt and One World Trade, Jay Badame, AECOM’s president of construction management, is up to the task. Badame is already well acquainted with JFK: He led AECOM’s work redeveloping the airport’s Terminal 6 on its north side. The company has also been ranked as New York’s top construction firm by revenue in recent years, according to Crain’s New York Business.
Recently, Skanska USA was chosen for a major New York construction project: the wind farms off Long Island, along with upgrades for the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, which will serve as the farms’ hub. It’s the latest example of how Richard Kennedy’s leadership has made Skanska the firm of choice for many huge projects in the Empire State, including the $167 million rehab of the Williamsburg Bridge, the $1.6 billion Moynihan Train Hall and the $4 billion redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B.
While getting a cap on fines on those who violate the recently enacted Carlos’ Law wasn’t a complete victory – Louis Coletti wanted the penalties reduced – it was a win for the Building Trades Employers Association. Making headway on the legislation, which increased the penalty that can be assessed against construction firms in cases involving construction worker deaths or injuries, is the kind of success Coletti has become known for during his more than 30 years of representing construction workers.
After having the “interim” removed from his title in January 2022 by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Thomas Foley now finds himself at the center of what could be a very different department if Adams and New York City Comptroller Brad Lander get what they want. The goal is to simplify the process for Foley to procure materials and hire personnel. Recently, the department announced the completion of a street, sewer and water main project in Queens that cost more than $79 million.
Often partnering with the New York City Department of Design and Construction is the city Department of Transportation, which is led by Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez. Rodriguez, a former chair of the New York City Council Transportation Committee and a loyal ally of Mayor Eric Adams, manages a 10-year capital budget that totals $33 billion. In October, Adams and Rodriguez announced that safety upgrades had been completed at more than 1,200 intersections in 2022.
Last year at this time, Carlo Scissura was in the running to become New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ head of the New York City Economic Development Corp. Instead, Scissura has maintained his focus on heading up the New York Building Congress, with the goal of promoting construction growth within the boroughs. Though construction spending doubled in New York City from 2021 to 2022, Scissura continues to push to alleviate the city’s housing crisis and is seeking a replacement for the 421-a tax incentive.
Even amid the increasingly cacophonous discourse surrounding the state of the state’s infrastructure – including roads, bridges, tunnels and more – Michael Elmendorf’s voice continues to be heard. Recently, Elmendorf was critical of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s relatively small budget increase for infrastructure, calling the $2 billion bump a “missed opportunity” while voicing his concerns over pavement conditions. He did get through to state officials over high-speed cameras in work zones: more units have been installed after a rise in crashes.
In late January, President Joe Biden announced a $300 million federal grant to the Gateway Program – a big and needed boost for the future of this key project for the General Contractors Association of New York. Led by Robert Wessels, the association advocates for the state’s heavy construction industry. The group continues to push for improvement of the state’s infrastructure, especially its bridges.
Ralph Esposito, who has headed up Suffolk Construction’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Region since 2020, took over as chair of the New York Building Congress this past year, giving Carlo Scissura another powerful voice within his organization. Esposito has also been spearheading a number of projects for the Boston-based company as it expands its footprint in New York, including two buildings for New York University and the massive Kartrite Resort and Indoor Waterpark upstate.
In John LaRow’s first year heading Gilbane’s New York operations, his goal was to advance the company’s “One New York” strategy. Since coming on board, LaRow has led Gilbane, in conjunction with Turner, to take on construction management of the Buffalo Bills’ new $1.4 billion stadium. Other projects LaRow’s team is working on include the renovation of the state Capitol roof in Albany and the renovation of the $87 million Orchard Beach Pavilion in the Bronx. Gilbane, Turner and HOK were also selected by the state to build a $750 million public health laboratory in Albany.
In Manhattan, there’s no business like real estate business – just one of the reasons why the Real Estate Board of New York can so often be found center stage when the city’s economic health is in play. This year, James Whelan has consistently pressed for housing to be developed near train stations and for offices to be converted into residential buildings. As part of his focus on the issue, Whelan supported Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to create more than 800,000 new homes.
A little more than a year after taking the helm at the New York City School Construction Authority, Nina Kubota helped open 10 new school buildings in New York City – including four in Queens – in time for the current school year. Kubota, who has spent more than two decades with the authority, has a deep understanding of the inner workings of the system. Her department will be responsible for a $4 billion plan to complete or convert 100 school buildings to all-electric heating by 2030.
These two leaders of major firms under the STO Building Group roof are key to its status among the state’s leaders in construction revenue. Together, the companies, run by Michael Neary and Eric McGovern, were ranked second in the state in that category. Neary, who has spent his entire construction career with Structure Tone, was elevated to president in 2020; McGovern’s leadership has made Pavarini McGovern STO’s “new building” group, with such projects as the recently completed Pendry Manhattan West hotel.
With the East Side Access project completely finished, Long Island Rail Road riders can finally take the train straight into Grand Central without a transfer – and they have Tutor Perini to partially thank. Ronald Tutor, who took over as company president in 2022 during longtime leader Jack A. Frost’s preparations for his retirement in June, also led the company’s successful effort to land a contract for a major electrical substation as part of the JFK Airport renovation. Tutor Perini is in the process of building the Brooklyn-based detention site that will help replace Rikers Island.
In his first full year as CEO of The LiRo Group, Rich Cavallaro has shown why he has been one of the top leaders in New York construction for more than 25 years. Among the projects LiRo has recently been working on: a major renovation of Wagner Park in Battery Park City, management of what will be a demolished Canajoharie plant, the lauded work on Pier 76 in Manhattan – and, of course, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s recently completed $12 billion East Side Access project connecting the Long Island Rail Road directly to Grand Central Terminal.
With construction close to wrapping up on One Wall Street – the largest office-to-residential development in New York history – a major achievement for Maurice Regan and J.T. Magen & Co. is that much closer. Magen cites its personal touch with clients, which the company prides itself on, as one of the reasons why the firm is among the Top 10 construction companies in the state. That focus on service is a direct reflection of the work Regan has put into the company since founding it in 1992.
Named to both the board of the New York City Economic Development Council and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Elizabeth Velez’s influence stretches well beyond her role as the head of the company her father founded in 1972. During her tenure at the Velez Organization, she has overseen more than $200 billion in projects, ranging from educational initiatives to health care and contracts for work on Yankee Stadium.
Steven Sommer continues to help grow Australia-based Lendlease’s footprint in New York City in his third year at the helm. Among the projects Sommer’s team has been involved with: the Central Park Tower, the supertall residential tower finished last year; the Javits Center expansion; and the Brooklyn Point building. Sommer took over New York construction for Lendlease in 2020 and has been with the company for more than three decades.
Under Bernard P. McNeilly’s leadership in the Northeast region, WSP USA continues to be one of the leading engineering firms in the state of New York: The Manhattan-based engineering and design firm grew by 5% in 2022. WSP has played an integral part in two high-profile projects in New York City: 111 W. 57th St., an 82-floor “super-slender” skyscraper, and the still-under-construction 3 Hudson Blvd., which is being integrated into a subway station at its base. McNeilly previously led the firm’s program management and construction management division.
Hot on the heels of Little Island, the lauded park project that was built on the bones of a former pier, Hunter Roberts Construction Group is working on finishing another high-profile city building: the Queens Parking Garage and Community Space in the new Kew Gardens neighborhood that will be the first completed project in New York City's Design-Build Borough Based Jails program. James McKenna, who helped found Hunter Roberts in 2005, also serves on the board of directors for the Contractors’ Association of Greater New York.
The New York City Department of Buildings has had a permanent buildings commissioner for only about half a year under Mayor Eric Adams, since former New York City Council Member Eric Ulrich stepped down. Kazimir Vilenchik, a department veteran and the first deputy commissioner, has stepped up for the time being to run the department, which oversees construction activity all across the five boroughs and enforces construction codes, reviews affordable housing projects, and conducts inspections and investigations to ensure compliance and worker safety.
JRM Construction Management, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2022, had a banner year. With CEO David G. McWilliams leading the firm’s focus on education and medical projects in New York City, JRM worked on the Hospital for Special Surgery, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and on a new campus for St. Francis College. JRM also recently finished the New York headquarters for exercise firm Peloton. McWilliams has more than three decades of experience in commercial, residential and high-end retail construction.
In February, Gov. Kathy Hochul moved forward with a $150 million housing initiative for the Mid-Hudson region to help tackle the growing needs of residents – exactly the kind of project Hope Knight was brought in to handle as head of Empire State Development. ESD has also been a major backer of offshore wind development, which requires significant construction work. Knight, who officially took the reins at ESD in 2022, previously led the Greater Jamaica Development Corp.
In his first year in charge of the New York City Economic Development Corp., Andrew Kimball is already making his mark. He has worked with New York City Mayor Eric Adams on a plan for Willets Point that would dramatically transform the area into a spot for affordable housing and a new, privately funded soccer stadium. In addition, NYCEDC announced a new $20 million biotech center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
When it comes to major infrastructure projects in New York, Halmar is at or near the top of the list of candidates to handle them. In 2022, Halmar International was involved in the $115 million Lower Westchester Bridge Bundle – which follows the 2021 $1.85 billion Penn Station Access project. It’s nothing new for Chris Larsen and Paul Atkins, who also have led Halmar to the 48-month overhaul of the Kew Gardens Interchange, which involves the Grand Central Parkway, Van Wyck Expressway, Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike.
Joseph Azzopardi has been on an impressive winning streak. The leader of District Council 9, an 11,000-member union under the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades, was among the state’s labor leaders who drove a successful effort to block Hector LaSalle’s appointment as state chief judge. Azzopardi, who’s also the vice president of the influential Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, has also been an outspoken supporter of the state’s transition to clean energy.
A seven-year journey that began with the 2015 death of a laborer at a building site came to an end when Gov. Kathy Hochul signed Carlos’ Law in late 2022. The law, which raised fines up to $500,000 for convictions related to a worker’s death or injury, was sponsored in Albany by state Sen. James Sanders Jr. and Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. Both lawmakers have long been proponents of directing more government contracts to firms owned by women and minorities. Sanders is the chair of the state Senate Banks Committee and serves on its Labor Committee; Bichotte Hermelyn chairs the Assembly Subcommittee on Oversight of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises.
Home of five companies whose specialties range from track and transit construction to electric and mechanical work, Iovino Enterprises has grown into a top small workplace, according to Fortune magazine. Thomas Iovino incorporated his firm in 2006 – and it has since become known for its work in transportation and civic projects, including the Times Square subway station and the World Trade Center Police Command Center.
LRC Construction President Peter Palazzo has more than 30 years of experience in the construction field and has led LRC as its president since 2006. Among the projects LRC has been a part of are two buildings that celebrated being topped off recently: Two Clinton Park in downtown New Rochelle and a 200-unit South Bronx residential tower. Coming soon: a 463-unit tower on Coney Island with a geothermal energy system, of which LRC is overseeing the construction.
Lance Franklin and Frank Reich became Triton Construction’s co-CEO over two decades ago. The company offers several different levels of construction management as a top general contractor, with a number of projects on the way, including Long Island City’s 42-02 Orchard St., which will be the tallest building in Queens, and 101 Lincoln Ave. in the Bronx, along with the completed 12-story 28&7 building in Chelsea. Prior to his more than two decades with Triton, Franklin worked for Turner Construction in purchasing; he also has served as co-chair of the New York Construction Alliance. Reich worked his way through several top construction firms, including Turner, before launching Triton with Franklin and Nick Andreadis.
EW Howell Construction Group, which has been part of the New York construction scene for 132 years, is involved in a major resiliency project: a $221 million barrier to be built along South Battery Park City. Howard Rowland and Daniel Williams have helped EW Howell do well with several projects, including the Tommie L. Agee Educational Campus in Flushing, Queens, as well as the upcoming Far Rockaway Branch Library for the New York City Department of Design and Construction and the new Harlem Meer Center for the Central Park Conservancy. Rowland served as company president from 1997 until Williams became president in 2022.
In 2022, Christine Boccia, the executive manager and owner of JD Traditional Industries, became the president of the influential Women Builders Council. She took over for Turner Construction Vice President Stephanie Burns, who had doubled the size of the organization’s membership during her tenure. Boccia, whose company is a drywall subcontractor, is now in charge of an organization that focuses on representing and empowering women in the traditionally male-dominated construction industry.
Haugland Group, a Long Island-based construction and energy firm, has won big contracts from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the state Department of Transportation. The company, led by Chair William J. Haugland, is also a key player in the energy sector, serving as a contractor on South Fork Wind, the first offshore wind project in the state, located off the coast of Long Island. Executives at the company have also been major supporters of Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Among Ana Barrio’s priorities in her leadership role with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection: making sure firms adhere to the department’s strategic plan for water and wastewater utility and ensuring a sustainable future for city residents. Barrio was lauded for her leadership on a major water project that will bring water to Queens and Brooklyn, and came to the department in 2018 after serving as acting commissioner of the city’s Department of Design and Construction.
Omnibuild became one of New York’s top construction firms after acquiring Cava Construction in 2015 – a move that brought together Peter Serpico and John Mingione. Omnibuild had several projects underway in New York City, including a Times Square hotel and a 150,000-square-foot project in the Flatiron District for Microsoft offices. Prior to the merger with Omnibuild, Serpico had pushed Cava onto the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies with more than 500% growth; Mingione had founded Foreman Interiors in 2003, which eventually became Omnibuild, then took over field operations for the company after its merger with Cava.
Over the summer of 2022, there was a major change of leadership at OHLA USA, the American arm of a Madrid-based construction giant, and its New York-based subsidiary, Judlau Contracting. Ashok Patel, Judlau’s president since 2010 and OHLA’s chief since a merger soon after, retired, and Daniel Ruiz took over leadership as CEO after serving as OHLA’s chief operating officer. OHLA continued to move ahead in a strong way in the past year, scoring a $94.7 million contract for structural repairs and painting of a Bronx subway line.
Marc Herbst, who has led the Long Island Contractors’ Association since 2006, has continued to expand his organization’s role in helping Long Island’s economy grow. He also serves on Islip’s advisory board for the Long Island MacArthur Airport. Recently, Herbst came out in favor of a plan to help alleviate the dangers along the Southern State Parkway, which would cost $1 billion but could be funded by a toll lane.
In June 2022, Consigli named British-born Laura Bush to head up its New York office – the latest chapter in a career that has stretched over 25 years and includes a stint as Lendlease’s director of operations and assurance. Bush currently oversees more than $1.6 billion in projects for Consigli, including a major construction contract at NYC Health + Hospitals' Bellevue Hospital; renovation work at the Bronx High School of Science; and a new residential building at 25-01 Queens Plaza North.
Heading up a family-owned civil construction firm based in Long Island, Joseph K. Posillico’s company will be involved in the East Side Resiliency Project, aimed at preventing coastal flooding in New York City. The company has positioned itself as one of the nation’s top construction firms in several areas, including power, wastewater and transportation. Joseph Posillico is also a board member of the Long Island Contractors’ Association.
Since it launched in 1944 with the goal of constructing dorms at nearly a dozen state teachers’ colleges, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York has expanded well beyond student housing. In the 2021-22 fiscal year alone, DASNY financed $9 billion in bonds and had more than 1,000 construction projects in its portfolio, including health care, higher education and state and local government facilities. DASNY has been led since 2019 by former investment banker Reuben McDaniel III, who’s assisted on the construction front by Stephen D. Curro, the managing director of construction.
In addition to getting reelected to his business manager post with Laborers’ Local 79, Michael Prohaska became business manager of the Mason Tenders’ District Council in 2022. Prohaska supported the passing of Carlos’ Law, which significantly increased fines for construction companies found criminally liable for workers’ deaths or injuries. He and his union also slammed Robert De Niro last summer for building his new film studio in Astoria without union labor.
Joseph Geiger, who has led New York City’s carpenters since he was elected executive secretary-treasurer in 2013, is a vocal advocate for his 20,000 constituents. In 2022, Geiger opposed Gov. Kathy Hochul’s plan to ramp up housing production, saying the plan would limit the ability of builders to hire union workers. Geiger also urged continuing the statewide effort to eliminate wage theft in an open letter alongside state Attorney General Letitia James and William Banfield of the North Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.
William Banfield, who manages several groups that serve carpenters’ unions throughout New York, represents 30,000 workers across the state. Recently, he supported a new state set of regulations that would better enforce labor laws and help reduce fraud. He has recently focused on helping to make connections between carpenters and those who need their services, even if travel is involved.
In 2022, Cheryl McKissack Daniel’s firm opened a regional office in Mount Vernon, with the goal of bringing affordable and workforce housing to the Lower Hudson Valley region. McKissack & McKissack also announced plans to open a community workforce office to offer job training and help minority-run contractors in the region. For McKissack Daniel, the owner of the nation’s oldest minority- and women-owned construction firm, it’s further evidence of how she runs her company, which has set up similar offices in Harlem, Queens and Brooklyn.
In 2020, Gregory A. Kelly took over STV, one of the biggest construction design firms in New York this past year, having previously worked at Heritage Construction + Materials and WSP USA. Under Kelly’s leadership, STV has provided inspection services for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project and construction management and planning for renovation at the NYC Health + Hospitals/South Brooklyn Health’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hospital. Kelly also serves on the advisory board of Columbia University’s Center for Buildings, Infrastructure and Public Space.
Two colleges in Albany are seeing firsthand what LeChase can do: The University at Albany’s Colonial Quad dorm is undergoing a $36 million renovation, while Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Nugent Hall is getting its own face-lift nearby in Troy. The latter is a direct result of LeChase’s acquisition of family-owned Sano-Rubin – the kind of move CEO and Managing Partner William Goodrich has become known for at LeChase.
Nivardo Lopez, who was appointed by Gov. Kathy Hochul in late 2021 after serving as the Bronx borough commissioner for the New York City Department of Transportation, has a well-earned knowledge of the city’s infrastructure needs. At a recent infrastructure forum, Lopez highlighted the department’s effort to convert a highway interchange in the South Bronx into a pedestrian-friendly street as a case study in “transforming neighborhoods.”
Known for its work with large, environmentally sensitive projects like dams, reservoirs, utilities and highways, Tully Group has been a privately held and family-owned firm for more than 80 years. CEO Peter Tully has more than 30 years of construction experience and has led his company’s work on such contracts as the $2.25 billion Interstate 81 project around Syracuse. Tully Group also oversees Thalle Construction Co. and Tully Environmental.
Fred Hiffa’s background in government – he had served as a deputy commissioner within the state Department of Transportation – makes him a respected voice in his current role as a lobbyist. Hiffa also works with Rebuild NY Now, a group that advocates for infrastructure spending. In that role, he is pushing for additional funds to fix New York’s pothole-riddled roads. One of the top 10 lobbying firms in New York by revenue, Park Strategies has worked with the Capital District Transportation Authority and other transportation clients.
The sons of longtime Bolton-St. Johns partner Bill McCarthy Sr., who died in 2022, have made their own mark at one of New York’s top lobbying firms. Bill McCarthy Jr. is an expert in the navigation of the approval process for the state Public Service Commission, while John McCarthy’s legal work helps engineering firms, trade associations and unions work through both New York City and state legislatures and their budgets. Bill McCarthy Jr. has also worked in the state Senate as a policy adviser and with the state attorney general’s office as assistant attorney general. John McCarthy previously worked in the private equity and leveraged buyouts group as an associate for Nixon Peabody.
As the largest city in the nation – with a budget larger than many states have – New York City doles out over $20 billion in procurement for goods and services annually, a large portion of which goes to building and maintaining the city’s infrastructure. It falls to the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, which is led by Lisa Flores, to improve the procurement process, including speeding up payments to contractors and increasing transparency – a goal of Passport Public, a data portal that the office launched last summer.
When you’re able to turn around one of the most reviled airport terminals anywhere, you deserve recognition. Frank Scremin supervised the $4 billion redevelopment of Terminal B at LaGuardia International Airport, helping to transform it into an award-winning travel hub – complete with water features and soaring ceilings – in a process that took more than six years. He began the LaGuardia terminal redevelopment as project director.
Last September, Gerrard Bushell was joined by Gov. Kathy Hochul, the Port Authority’s Rick Cotton, Rep. Gregory Meeks and others to mark the groundbreaking of the new Terminal One at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The $9.5 billion project, officially dubbed “The New Terminal One,” is led by Gerrard Bushell and is an anchor of a broader overhaul of JFK. Bushell, who previously led the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, represents a consortium of investors behind the privately financed terminal project, which is now led by Ferrovial, Carlyle, JLC and Ullico.
Serving as general counsel for the New York Building Congress and as legal counsel for the American Institute of Architects New York, Michael Zetlin has long been recognized as one of New York’s top construction attorneys. His background in both law and engineering has put him and his firm in the middle of some major projects, including renovations of both LaGuardia Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Nelson Ferreira has led his company’s growth from a startup to a massive builder whose 2021 revenues came in just under $500 million. Among the contracts his firm has been working on are utility projects for Con Edison, the New York City Department of Transportation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Ferreira has built other companies to oversee specialty construction, such as Vanguard Energy Partners, American Pile and Foundation, and Ferreira Power Group.
Starting out as an excavator on the site that ultimately became John F. Kennedy International Airport, Joseph D’Amato has built his career as a labor leader by pulling together labor-friendly deals for his union’s membership. Laborers’ Local 731 recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, and in 2022, union members worked on the Hunts Point interchange in the Bronx alongside Skanska, aiming to improve access to that neighborhood. These days, D’Amato’s union numbers around 7,000 members, and he continues to serve on the board of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.
One of the top employment and labor attorneys in the state, Kauff McGuire & Margolis’ Raymond G. McGuire also provides leadership and representation as managing director for the Contractors’ Association of Greater New York. In his role with CAGNY, he assists several major players in construction with labor negotiations and agreements. McGuire works with directors like Steven Sommer and Eric McGovern and officers like Pat DiFilippo to help get those agreements done.
In January, Felice Farber was named the Subcontractors Trade Association’s first female leader in its 66-year history, replacing Hank Kita. Farber has a long history of construction expertise in New York, including previously serving as senior director of policy and external affairs for the General Contractors Association for more than a decade. With the STA, Farber leads a group whose goal is to advocate for union subcontractors, aiming for dispute resolution rather than litigation.
Nigel Nicholls was appointed to head up the American operations of Arup in 2022, just as some major New York projects were getting underway for this engineering, consulting and design firm. Under Nicholls’ leadership, the firm is working on the EWR Vision Plan for Newark Liberty International Airport and also recently delivered the multibillion-dollar Long Island Rail Road Expansion Project.
As the New York lead for HNTB, one of the nation’s top infrastructure design firms, Kevin Collins oversees one of the most important and complex projects in New York City history: HNTB, in a joint venture with LiRo, is providing construction management for the East Side Resiliency Project, which is designed to reduce the risk of coastal flooding with a 2.4-mile-long barrier on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Collins, a rail and transit expert, was named New York office leader this past October, returning home after running the company’s Seattle office.
The owner of the major public-works contractor CAC Industries since 1993, Michael Capasso was named to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Capital Reform Task Force in 2022. Earlier this year, the task force recommended several reforms to help alleviate obstacles to getting major city projects done. Capasso has also positioned CAC as a company whose employees are motivated to volunteer in their community through CAC Cares, while also pioneering green technology, from recycled asphalt to hybrid machinery.
Not long after becoming the supervising attorney for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office – where she leads a team looking into unsafe work practices, fraud and more – Rachana Pathak’s role has been expanded. A new team, created in February by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, will be looking into worker safety and wage theft, and will oversee the task force Pathak was already leading. Pathak has been with the district attorney’s office since 2004 and has been a senior investigative counsel since 2015.
Bravo is a partnership between four distinct companies – Velocity Architecture & Engineering Group, Chu Engineering, Shahrish Shuvo Engineering and Bradford Construction Corp. – that delivers engineering, architecture and construction in New York. Ehab Shehata has led this organization since its founding in 2016. Among the projects Bravo is either currently involved with or has completed: work on City College of New York’s Shepard Hall, the Brooklyn Navy Yard and several New York City schools, including a new 3-K school in the Bronx.
Known as one of the most influential women in construction, Sandra Wilkin was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at last year’s New York State Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Forum. Wilkin, a past president of the Women Builders Council and now the vice chair of the City University of New York’s board of trustees, recently came out in support of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ appointment of Michael Garner as chief business diversity officer in the Mayor’s Office of Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises.
Given that he has been closely involved with minority- and women-owned business advocacy for three decades, it wasn’t surprising to see the Rev. Jacques Andre DeGraff added to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Capital Reform Task Force last year. The pastor of Harlem’s Canaan Baptist Church, DeGraff has also founded two high schools: the Eagle Academy for Young Men and the Bronx School for Law, Government and Justice.
A company that has been in business since 1980, Harrison & Burrowes Bridge Constructors continues to be a major player in building New York’s bridges. Jeff DiStefano, who still serves on the board of directors for the Associated General Contractors of New York State, shares leadership with Mark Klingbeil, who handles the day-to-day duties as president. In 2022, H&B worked on several high-profile projects, including infrastructure upgrades along the New York State Thruway worth $84.2 million, mostly involving bridges along Interstate 90 around Albany.
Named to lead the state’s team to revivify older bridges and build new ones in late 2021, Minosca Alcantara got her tenure off to a flying start with the completion of the work on the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge. A $95 million redecking project on the north span of the bridge finished nine months ahead of schedule, providing much-needed alleviation of major traffic headaches on Interstate 84. The work is the largest project in the history of the authority.
Brian Sampson, who has been the president of the Empire State Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors since 2014, is in charge of pulling together the chapter’s political and policy agenda. He’s appeared before the state Legislature over the years and has lent his support to emissions reduction legislation – provided it didn’t make construction more costly and difficult. Led by Sampson, the Empire State ABC is opposed to a majority-union labor agreement on the Buffalo Bills’ new stadium, arguing that local workers are largely nonunion.
Thomas “Murph” Murphy, the vice president of the aggregates division of Scottsville-based Power & Construction Group, was selected as the vice chair for Associated Builders and Contractors’s Northeast region in January. Previously, Murphy had chaired the board of directors for the group’s Empire State Chapter and has served on executive and government affairs committees. Murphy’s priority is to help Associated Builders and Contractors achieve its goal of fair pay and safe workplaces for its workers.
Barbara Armand Kushner, who founded Armand Corp. in 1991, has grown her firm into a player in New York, New Jersey and beyond. Armand Corp. works with agencies such as the New York Housing Authority, New York City’s Department of Design and Construction, and Gov. Kathy Hochul’s Office of Storm Recovery. Kushner mentors five women-owned businesses, and is working with New York City’s M/WBE Mentors program, started in 2021.
An influential speaker and thought leader on the importance of women in construction, Doreen Bartoldus was a featured speaker at both Women in Construction Week and at New York Build 2023. Her goal with the association is to “make female representation in construction the norm rather than the exception,” she said. Bartoldus, a construction manager at Jacobs, grew up in a construction family and was named the organization’s national president in 2021.
Led by its People & Places Solutions senior vice president, Gary Morris, Jacobs is involved in the recently completed expansion of the Long Island Rail Road Main Line and the expansion of Penn Station. Recently, Jacobs was picked for the detail design phase of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, where wind turbines will be manufactured. Morris also serves on the board of the ACE Mentor Program, which introduces young people to the world of construction engineering.
Patricia Zugibe became Holt Construction’s first female CEO in its more than 100-year history in 2021. Zugibe had previously served as Holt’s in-house counsel since 2014 and in 2022 moderated New York Build Expo’s panel on women in construction. Holt completed several projects within the renovation of John F. Kennedy International Airport and finalized the $36 million transformation of the Newburgh Mall into Resorts World Hudson Valley, a casino, in December 2022.
Edwin Christian has been the business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 14-14B, which represents heavy machinery operators on New York City job sites, for the past 10 years. But his work with this union goes back further than that – he has been a member for three decades and served as its president from 2004 to 2013. He also serves on several boards, including those of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Talent and Workforce Development as well as the Building and Construction Trades Council.
As well as being one of the nation’s top federal government contractors, Whiting-Turner is also known for its work with data centers, fulfillment centers and even football stadiums. Division Vice President David Brickley oversees the firm’s New York construction projects, including the recently completed SYR1 fulfillment center in Clay and the upcoming Broadview-Senior Living facility at Purchase College. Brickley has worked with Whiting-Turner for almost 40 years, previously serving in a vice president role.
Patrick Purcell is in charge of this state partnership, which works to help union workers find new opportunities and solidify jobs for locals. Recently, Purcell supported a successful effort for voters to issue a $4.2 billion bond so the state could fund clean energy, resilience, wastewater treatment and more green projects. Purcell also works with the New York Roadway and Infrastructure Coalition alongside industry leaders including Marc Herbst of the Long Island Contractors Association and Michael Elmendorf of the Associated General Contractors of New York State.
Weeks Marine, a New Jersey-based company that had become a top marine construction firm in the U.S., recently became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kiewit Corp., based in Omaha, Nebraska. But Kiewit is a familiar name to Eric Ellefsen and Weeks, having worked with the corporation on projects such as the Goethals Bridge connecting Staten Island and New Jersey, and the Willis Avenue Bridge over the Harlem River. Ellefsen is a past president of the board of directors of the Dredging Contractors of America.
Named to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Capital Reform Task Force in 2022, Samuel Padilla has lent his expertise and know-how to several organizations over the years. He is the treasurer of the National Hispanic Business Group and has served on the advisory board of the New York City Department of Design and Construction. His own firm has been involved in government projects like city schools and transportation services, and it is a leading contractor among minority- and women-owned businesses gaining an increasing share of government contracts.
John T. Evers has held several construction leadership roles during his career, including serving as senior director of government affairs at the Business Council of New York. In his role with ACEC New York, which he began in 2021, Evers oversees a group that represents more than 300 companies. ACEC came out strongly in favor of Gov. Kathy Hochul’s five-year plan to ramp up infrastructure work. Evers is also on the Capital Reform Task Force for New York City.
Another member of New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Capital Reform Task Force, Nayan Parikh has never been shy about lending his voice to causes he believes in. As president of the National Association of Minority Contractors’ New York tri-state chapter, Parikh is pushing city officials to contract with more minority- and women-owned businesses. Parikh has led Ashnu, a construction management firm, since its 1994 founding.
Melinda Johnson, executive vice president for building technologies for consulting firm NV5, heads up the New York chapter of Professional Women in Construction, where she helps the organization advance the careers of women in the industry, along with women-owned businesses. In her role at NV5, Johnson has worked with such high-profile clients as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.
Since 2014, Kathleen Culhane has led Nontraditional Employment for Women, which handles the training, placement and support of women in the skilled building trades in New York City. Culhane came out in support of the New York City Council’s plans to increase entrepreneurship opportunities and invest in workers with better, more accessible child care. Culhane is also the chair of the board of directors of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, which works to advance inclusive and skills-based workforce development initiatives in the city.
With the nationwide hiring gap for construction workers hitting 500,000 in 2022, the demand for vocational programs like Building Skills New York has never been higher. David Meade’s group has worked with prospective HVAC workers in the Bronx this past year, along with several others aiming for a chance in the field. Meade, who came on board with Building Skills in 2017, has worked in the nonprofit sector since 2010 after a career in project management. During his tenure, Building Skills New York has placed more than 1,600 workers in jobs.
Since Kenneth Thomas co-founded the Minority & Women Contractors & Developers Association in 2019, it has kept policymakers focused on expanding government contracting for minority- and women-owned business enterprises on behalf of MWBE firms in construction. Thomas, a real estate investment veteran, advocated against state legislation that would have expanded the scope of wrongful death cases that could be subject to damages – and Gov. Kathy Hochul ultimately vetoed the bill.
Erin Borek, who has been with the Buffalo office of law firm Phillips Lytle since 2015, specializes in construction and commercial litigation, for which she has been honored with a Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch award for 2023. She represents clients dealing with government investigations and advises them on electronic discovery. She has also written articles regarding the “pay-when-paid” provision in construction contracts and limiting legal exposure in the business.
With the need for science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics education rising, places like the Salvadori Center provide students with the opportunity. The Salvadori Center, which was founded in 1987, aims to teach those subjects to all students, but especially those in underresourced communities. Kenn Jones uses his background as a licensed architect to build innovative programs for students to get interested in science and math disciplines. He has also worked as a U.S. diplomat and was the former executive director of the New York Foundation for Architecture.
Representing those who paint bridges, subway lines, electrical towers and more, Kieran Ahern leads the New York Structural Steel Painting Contractors Association, an organization that serves as a liaison between companies and union members. In addition, the association contributes to union training funds, sets up apprenticeship programs for new workers and helps pay for testing for lead levels in workers’ blood. Ahern is also the co-chair of the National Steel Painting Contractors Association and president of Ahern Painting Contractors, which has worked on restoring the Brooklyn and Verrazzano-Narrows bridges.
The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health’s unflinching survey of workplace fatalities, which came out in February, showed a rise in fatalities among construction workers year over year. The report is part of Charlene Obernauer’s portfolio as the executive director of NYCOSH, where her mandate is to improve conditions in the construction industry. Obernauer also serves on several advisory boards and is a coach with the Groundswell Fund, one of the largest funders currently organizing women of color.
Celebrating its 50th year in 2023, BBL Construction Services has become one of the state’s top contractors behind a solid, diverse portfolio of projects. Kevin Gleason, who began working for BBL in 1981, has guided the company through a time of change during his stint as CEO and has led the company to pull in more than $400 million in revenue. Among the projects BBL is working on: the headquarters of Community Care Physicians.
Ponce Bank, which has been in business since 1960, is a Hispanic American-owned bank that has long focused on economic development in New York and New Jersey, including construction loans. Led by Ioannis Kouzilos, who has been with Ponce Bank since 2013, and Douglas Romero, Ponce Bank has worked to provide capital to small businesses like FBL Development, which recently secured a $25 million loan to build in Astoria, along with a more than $8 million loan for a 44-unit building in Bedford Park and a nearly $7 million loan for an upcoming project in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
Howell Industries is among the leading firms among New York City’s minority- and women-owned contractors, a sector that has become a focus for growth at the New York City and state government level. Bill Howell’s company, which began in the petroleum business and now focuses on construction, has used its expertise to assist smaller minority- and women-owned business enterprise firms seeking government contracts. When New York City Mayor Eric Adams brought on MWBE expert Michael Garner as the citywide chief business diversity officer, Howell praised the hire as “an outstanding addition” to the administration.
Mohamed Attalla came to CUNY in 2021 following a successful stint at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as its executive director for facilities and services. Attalla, who has a budget of $3 billion to work with as the executive director of the City University Construction Fund, will help with CUNY’s partnership in the building of the Science Park and Research Campus Kips Bay, which will create jobs in life sciences and health care.
Gus Sanoulis has held several different roles in his more than 40-year career with Con Edison – including his current position as vice president of construction. Sanoulis and Con Ed’s construction team have helped build the company’s “Reliable Clean City” projects like substations that will increase the amount of electricity distributed to parts of New York City. Sanoulis was named to New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ Capital Reform Task Force, whose aim is to streamline approvals and cut red tape on construction projects in the city.
In 2022, Electra USA, one of New York’s top electrical and mechanical contractors, named Christopher Mills as its new president and CEO. Mills comes to Electra from a similar role with Plaza Construction. Under Mills’ leadership, one of Electra’s subsidiaries, Gilston Electric, is helping transform the NYU Langone Medical Center’s campus. A second subsidiary, F.W. Sims, recently completed work on the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems at One Vanderbilt. Mills is also on the board of directors of the ACE Mentor Program of Greater New York.
Feniosky A. Peña-Mora is now an academic at Columbia University, but he hasn’t left government and policy work behind. The former commissioner of the New York City Department of Design and Construction serves on the board of NYC Health + Hospitals, chairing its capital committee, and recently joined the board of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure. At Columbia, he is a professor focusing on civil engineering, engineering mechanics, earth and environmental engineering and computer science – and also runs the school’s Center for Buildings, Infrastructure and Public Space.
Kris Kohler is a trailblazer in New York’s labor movement as a key union official who has paved the way for other female labor leaders. Kohler, who joined the Mason Tenders’ District Council Political Action Committee when it launched back in 1998, has spent decades advocating on behalf of the politically active union’s 17,000 members, including construction workers, hazardous materials handlers and recycling and waste disposal workers.
Eric McLendon is the CEO of Clear National Title, one of relatively few minority-owned title companies in the region and an under-the-radar powerhouse in the construction industry. McLendon, who founded the New York City-based firm in 2014 after stints as a sports journalist, actor and real estate professional, provides its services on a wide range of construction projects, including affordable housing, hotels, retail, office and industrial properties.
Corrections: This post has been updated to correct details about the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation's Rockaway Operations headquarters, a city Department of Design and Construction project built by EW Howell Construction Group. This post has also been updated with correct details about projects overseen by Consigli's Laura Bush. The Triton Construction entry has also been updated with corrected details about when a co-CEO started and the status of two projects. This has also been updated to clarify that Hunter Roberts is working on a parking garage and community space next to a jail in Queens, not the jail itself.
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