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REBNY names 2021 Banquet honorees

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) announced this year’s class of distinguished real estate professionals who will be presented with the industry’s top honors at REBNY’s 125th Annual Banquet.

REBNY will recognize the honorees for their outstanding professional success, exceptional contributions to the industry and unparalleled commitment to the civic welfare of New York City at a virtual event that will take place Thursday, June 10, 2021.

DOUGLAS DURST

“This year has been difficult for many New Yorkers, but our honorees remind us that over REBNY’s 125-year history we have always found a way to come back stronger and more dynamic than we were before,” said REBNY Chairman Douglas Durst. “New York was able to endure a global pandemic thanks to the essential workers who kept our City running even as it paused. It gives me particular pleasure to honor the contributions of essential workers in the real estate industry who are paving the way to New York’s coming resurgence.”

“The REBNY banquet is always a highlight of the year, and 2021 will be no different even as we gather virtually,” said REBNY President James Whelan. “This year’s honorees remind us how important this industry is to our City, and we should look to them as examples of the leadership, dedication and generosity of service that we will need in the coming years as real estate leads the way to New York City’s greatest comeback.”

This year’s banquet will showcase all the ways the real estate industry came together during the past year to help New Yorkers, as well as its commitment to helping the City in its recovery and long-term future. The following award winners will be recognized at the banquet:

  • Essential Workers in New York City Real Estate will be awarded the John E. Zuccotti Public Service Award for the extraordinary work they have done to help the industry and our City manage the COVID-19 pandemic and for their ongoing efforts to support the City’s recovery.
  • Bess Freedman, Chief Executive Officer at Brown Harris Stevens, will be awarded The Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award for her meritorious service and lifelong commitment to improving outcomes in her community and the New York City real estate industry.
  • Kevin McCann, Senior Managing Director of Global Occupier Services at Cushman & Wakefield, will receive The George M. Brooker Management Executive of the Year Award for his superior accomplishments in property management and his outstanding professionalism, civic achievement, and contributions to the real estate industry.
  • Gregg L. Schenker, President and Co-Managing Partner of ABS Partners Real Estate, will receive the Louis Smadbeck Memorial Broker Recognition Award for his exceptional personal and professional integrity, leadership and prominence in the brokerage community, as well as his service on various REBNY committees.
  • Robert M. Shapiro, Executive Managing Director at Cushman & Wakefield, will receive the Young Real Estate Professional of the Year Award for his strong integrity, professionalism, and personal ethics. This award is selected by the Young Men’s/Women’s Real Estate Association of New York.
  • Alan Wiener, Group Head at Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital, will receive The Bernard H. Mendik Lifetime Leadership in Real Estate Award for his exceptional accomplishments in real estate, leadership, and service to the real estate industry over his career.
  • Laurie Zucker, Vice Chairwoman at Donald Zucker Company & Manhattan Skyline Mgt. Corp., will receive The Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award for her invaluable contributions to New York’s civic welfare and the broader real estate community.

Those wishing to attend the banquet should purchase their tickets early here. Those wishing to place their company’s brand in front of New York City’s political and business elite are welcome to pursue sponsorship opportunities at the Annual Banquet and advertise in REBNY’s 2021 Journal. Contact McKenna Warren for more details on how to sponsor this event.

ABOUT THE HONOREES

John E. Zuccotti Public Service Award

Presented to: Essential Workers in New York City Real Estate

This year’s award recognizes the contributions of essential workers in the real estate industry who continue to play a pivotal role in helping the industry and our City manage through and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The recipients of this year’s award lead labor organizations that represent many of our industry’s essential workers. These organizations are:

  • 32BJ SEIU, Kyle Bragg – President
  • International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94, Kuba J. Brown – Business Manager and Financial Secretary
  • The Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, Gary LaBarbera – President

Even during the darkest days of the pandemic, the men and women of these organizations – and all essential workers – continued to go above and beyond to keep New Yorkers safe and our economy moving. Whether it was the construction worker who helped complete a much-needed affordable housing development, a building service worker who made sure residential and commercial buildings were clean and safe, or a building engineer who kept our buildings operating, the City would not have been able to get through the pandemic without the contributions of these and other essential workers in the real estate industry.

BESS FREEDMAN

The Kenneth R. Gerrety Humanitarian Award

Presented to: Bess Freedman, Chief Executive Officer at Brown Harris Stevens

The firm’s first Chief Executive Officer, Bess Freedman has grown Brown Harris Stevens into one of the largest and most successful privately held real estate companies in the United States. Bess oversees Brown Harris Stevens’ 55 offices and more than 2,300 agents across New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Florida. Under her leadership, Brown Harris Stevens has grown into one of the largest and most successful privately held real estate companies in the United States. She is deeply committed to creating a culture-first firm for the future while staying true to Brown Harris Stevens’ unique history and brand. Before entering real estate, Freedman practiced law as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Montgomery County, Maryland, and also worked at Legal Aid as an attorney. Bess is a member of the Florida, Washington, D.C. and Maryland Bar, and worked in New York pro hac vice. She is an active member of REBNY and supports several charities. She also serves as an advocate for the Kalief Browder Foundation, named for the Bronx man who took his own life at age 22 after awaiting trial for three years on Rikers Island on charges of stealing a backpack.

KEVIN McCANN

The George M. Brooker Management Executive of the Year Award

Presented to: Kevin McCann, Senior Managing Director of Global Occupier Services at Cushman & Wakefield

Kevin McCann began his career at Cushman & Wakefield in 1976, serving as Chief Engineer at 1301 Avenue of the Americas, a 1.8 million GSF office tower in Midtown Manhattan. In his career at Cushman & Wakefield, McCann has been responsible for opening and commissioning several major office towers, including American Express Tower, 60 Wall Street, and 75 Wall Street, and the NYMEX headquarters at the World Financial Center. McCann is currently responsible for Cushman & Wakefield’s Downtown Manhattan office, where he oversees in excess of 24 million GSF of commercial office space. In addition, he is directly responsible for the UBS North American portfolio, which encompasses approximately 6.5 million square feet of commercial office property in the tri-state area and Chicago. Prior to his employment at Cushman & Wakefield, McCann worked at Forest City Ratner and Tishman Speyer Properties. At Tishman Speyer, Kevin commissioned 520 Madison Ave. At Forest City Ratner, he had responsibility for property management at the Metro-Tech development in downtown Brooklyn, a multi-property campus style development totaling eight million gross square feet of office and data center space. McCann is a Trustee of the New York City Master Plumbing Licensing Board.

GREG SCHENKER

The Louis Smadbeck Memorial Broker Recognition Award

Presented to: Gregg L. Schenker, President and Co-Managing Partner of ABS Partners Real Estate

Gregg L. Schenker is President and Co-Managing Partner of ABS Partners Real Estate. His responsibilities include overseeing the company’s business activities, providing real estate and advisory services to the clients of the firm, long-term strategic planning for generational minded families, and organizing partnerships for the purpose of owning real estate. He is a partner in many real estate ventures owning office, hotel, retail, and multifamily properties. Under the leadership of Gregg and the other ABS Partners, the ABS firm quickly became well known for its expertise in handling real estate matters for property owners and successfully organizing ventures to own real estate. Schenker consistently focused upon the benefits of long-term investing, the conservative use of leverage, and the importance of maintaining well capitalized entities. Having fared well through many business cycles, the firm continues to participate in many of its early partnerships. Additionally, each year the firm organizes new partnerships with a growing base of investors, real estate holdings, and prominent clients who own real estate and utilize the services of the firm.

ROBERT SHAPIRO

The Young Real Estate Professional of the Year Award

Presented to: Robert M. Shapiro, Executive Managing Director at Cushman & Wakefield,

Robert Shapiro is an executive managing director and member of the leadership team of the Capital Markets Group of Cushman & Wakefield, where he has focused on investment sales for the past 20 years. To date, he has facilitated the sale of over 400 investment properties in all five boroughs of New York City for an aggregate value of over $2.4 billion. Shapiro began his career in 2001 at Massey Knakal Realty Services, which was acquired by Cushman & Wakefield on December 31, 2014. His clients range from institutional investors, universities, long-time owners, non-profits, and religious organizations, all of whom choose to work with Shapiro for his in-depth market knowledge and tremendous work ethic. Robert is a former chairman of the Young Men’s/Women’s Real Estate Association (YM/WREA), member of REBNY, Advisory Board Member of Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP) and board member of Art Bridge.

ALAN WIENER

The Bernard H. Mendik Lifetime Leadership in Real Estate Award

Presented to: Alan Wiener, Group Head at Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital

Alan Wiener is the group head of Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital, the country’s largest multifamily lender for both conventional and affordable developments. Throughout his career, Wiener has focused on housing and community development in both the public and private sectors. Before joining Wells Fargo, he was the chairman and director of American Property Financing Inc., which he founded in 1991 and was acquired in May 2006 by Wachovia, a Wells Fargo predecessor. He has helped build Wells Fargo into the top multifamily lender in New York with a loan portfolio that surpassed $9 billion. Alan has also had a distinguished career in public service, serving as the New York director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1978 to 1981. During his tenure, the New York office insured and funded more than 50,000 new and rehab multifamily units, financed hospitals and nursing homes, insured more than 40,000 single-family units, and dispensed and supervised more than $500 million annually in Community Development Block Grant funds. In 1978 he received an award from the president of the United States for outstanding performance. From 1976 to 1978, he also served as an assistant to the mayor of the City of New York in the field of housing, neighborhood and land-use planning community and economic development, and real estate. In addition to his long-standing work in real estate finance and public policy, Wiener serves on Wells Fargo’s board as the lead director of the Community Preservation Corporation.

LAURIE ZUCKER

The Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award

Presented to: Laurie Zucker, Vice Chairwoman at Donald Zucker Company & Manhattan Skyline Mgt. Corp.

As Vice Chairwoman of The Zucker Organization, Laurie Zucker plays an active role in all aspects of Zucker-related properties, which encompasses more than 2,100 residential rental apartments in New York City and numerous retail locations throughout the New York region and across the East Coast. A longtime active member of REBNY, Zucker is currently a member of REBNY’s Board of Governors, the Board of Directors of its Residential Listing Service, and its Residential Management Council. Zucker also serves on the Boards of the Rent Stabilization Association and the Residential Division of the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations, Inc.  Zucker has long been an ardent supporter of New York’s leading civic and philanthropic institutions. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) and Lenox Hill Hospital.

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