Our Power Dozen
Meet Westchester’s 12 most influential business leaders.
Photography by Darryl Estrine
Makeup: Valerie Guglielmo. Hair: Vittoria Monterosso. Both from Salon V in Mamaroneck.
Look around. Our county is brimming with successful people engaging in successful professional endeavors—the super lawyer in White Plains, the hot-shot surgeon in Yonkers, the esteemed professor in Purchase, the revered CEO in Rye, the lauded banker in New Rochelle. As difficult and challenging as it may be to reach the proverbial pinnacle of success, imagine the rarified air breathed by the precious few who ascend to an even higher altitude—to become the ones who set the agenda, raise the bar, inspire their peers, intimidate their competitors, and, ultimately, inform, shape, and influence their respective fields (if not also the greater community). That’s the mark of power. While Westchester is indeed host to some of the biggest power players of the business world, not all of them are concerned with Westchester in particular. Thus, in our search for the “Power Dozen,” we excluded those of regional, national, and global influence—and instead focused on those individuals whose primary, if not exclusive, interest is our own collective backyard.
President and CEO, RPW Group
Odds are good you’ve worked in or attended an event at one of developer Robert Weisz’s buildings. Weisz, president and CEO of the 110-employee RPW Group in Rye Brook, is the largest independent commercial real estate developer in the county, with 3 million-plus square feet of office space. And office space in one of Weisz’s buildings is so sought after that all but one (1133 Westchester Avenue in White Plains) have a vacancy rate lower—way lower—than the U.S. central business district average of 12.5 percent: 760 Westchester Ave, White Plains (0 percent); 800 Westchester Ave, Rye Brook (1 percent); 440 Mamaroneck Ave, Harrison (2 percent); 399 Knollwood Rd, White Plains (8 percent); and 2975 Westchester Ave, Purchase (8 percent).
“I consider him a visionary,” says Glenn Walsh, senior director of brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield in White Plains. “Robert sees things others don’t. What he did with 800 Westchester Avenue is the perfect example.”
The immense, gleaming 570,000-square-foot former General Foods headquarters, which Weisz purchased in 2004 for $40 million (the largest county real estate transaction that year), is a post-modern office building on a man-made lake. “Most thought a space that large didn’t divide and you’d have to find three or four very, very large tenants—a difficult task,” Walsh recalls.
But not Weisz. “He put common corridors along some of the window lines,” Walsh says. “The typical thing would’ve been to reserve those spaces for individual offices.” The renovations cost Weisz an additional $70 million. The building, however, now has 40 tenants and is 99-percent leased.
“Weisz is a property-ownership expert who understands market conditions and knows when to make a deal and what type of deal,” says Michael Rao, president of New York Commercial Realty Group, LLC, in White Plains. “His rates are not out of line. Weisz works within today’s markets.”
Another factor that helps is RPW’s atypical set-up—the company handles construction, leasing, and management of commercial space. “We’re a one-stop shop,” Weisz says. “Our tenants can communicate any need and receive a prompt response. They are not dependent on a management company having to reach out to ownership before they can get an answer.” The set-up, Weisz says, translates into an alignment of the tenant’s interests with that of his company. “It becomes our collective goal to get the tenant into the space on time, to control construction costs, and to deliver and maintain a high-quality space to minimize as many future issues as possible.”
“I’ve brought tenants to RPW for the past eight years,” says Rao. “His buildings are always run well and are very clean.” Mauro Romita, president and COO of Castle Oil Corporation in Harrison, who moved his company into a Weisz building—two doors down from the company’s previous space—agrees. “We moved largely because of RPW’s stellar reputation for excellence and integrity.”
—JOHN BRUNO TURIANO
Partner and Senior Vice President
Thompson & Bender
Way before the first shovel hit the dirt and when The Westchester was still mired in the government approval process, its developers hired Thompson & Bender to help introduce the project to the community and win public approval. When Historic Hudson Valley wanted to spread the word about its new Kykuit mansion tour, they, too, turned to this Briarcliff Manor advertising and public relations agency. Ditto other county icons such as the Jacob Burns Film Center in Pleasantville and the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, in White Plains.
Why? Because no one knows and sells Westchester—throughout the county and beyond—like Thompson & Bender. Celebrating its 25th anniversary next year, the firm is arguably the advertising and public relations agency of the county, and Elizabeth Bracken-Thompson, senior vice president and partner, along with Dean Bender and her husband, Geoff Thompson, is the face of Thompson & Bender.
Her current and past client list includes higher education (Iona College, New York Medical College, Westchester Community College); retail (the aforementioned Westchester mall plus New Roc City); real estate (Cappelli Enterprises, Simone Development); media (the Journal News); health care (White Plains Hospital Center); and hospitality (the Westchester County Office of Tourism, in addition to The Ritz-Carlton).
“She has great connections,” says Jon Schandler, president and CEO of White Plains Hospital Center. “She knows everybody.” Adds Kathy O’Connor, acting commissioner of Westchester County Parks, Recreation, and Conservation, “Nobody says no to Liz. She is a wonderful person that people like and respect, so that certainly doesn’t hurt.”
Founded in 1986 with just three accounts, today Thompson & Bender has total annual billings of $4.2 million. Over the past quarter-century, it has worked for close to 200 local clients. “We are the Westchester go-to firm,” Bracken-Thompson says. “In the twenty years I have worked here, we have never had to go out and solicit business, ever. We have always had people come to us.”
Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Ten people sit on County Executive Rob Astorino’s Westchester Economic Development Council. Its youngest member is a 37-year-old dynamo, a fervent, feisty, and indefatigable woman who heads the business community of the largest and fastest-growing minority segment of the county. In her four years as president of the Westchester Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Fannie Lansch has transformed the Chamber into a tightly focused, powerful voice for the Hispanic business community.
“Instead of us being all things to all people, we now work on fewer things that have greater impact,” Lansch says. She has brought together government and business leaders for her Hispanic Business Roundtable, “a quarterly open-forum discussion to promote cross-collaborations, identify issues and potential solutions, and explore opportunities for partnership among different groups.” She helped originate the Chamber’s Access to Capital Program designed to help give businesses access to capital providers. “This lack of access is one major issue businesses are facing today,” she notes. As president of the Chamber, she is also an ex officio member of Congresswoman Nita Lowey’s Hispanic Advisory Board, which advises Lowey on a wide range of issues, from education and immigration to business. “I value her advice and input,” Lowey says. And in her latest and perhaps most ambitious initiative, Lansch is spearheading an unprecedented analysis of the county’s business community “to identify the most pressing issues and concerns facing it.”
According to the most recent statistics available from the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in Westchester increased 45 percent from 8,400 in 2002 to more than 12,000 three years ago—and total annual receipts more than doubled, to $1.6 billion.
Lansch, who emigrated from Santo Domingo and earned her MBA at Pace, is also the vice president of business relationship management in Westchester for HSBC Bank (the world’s largest banking and financial services group), and she is the founder and owner of her own business (QueTuBuscas.com, a global online directory, founded in 2009, which connects Hispanic-owned and -operated businesses with prospective clients).
“She’s dynamic, she’s smart, she’s committed—and, most important, she’s persuasive,” says the Chamber’s chairman and former president, Alé Frederico. Carlos Bernard, chairman of the board of the Westchester Hispanic Coalition and another past president of the Chamber, agrees. “What sets her apart is that she really tries to make the Chamber a vibrant entity in the county business community. She’s a great leader.”
The Medical Maverick
Dr. Simeon Schwartz
President and Co-founder
WESTMED Medical Group
The Future of Healthcare Today,” the tagline for WESTMED Medical Group, a Purchase-based multi-specialty group practice, is uncannily appropriate. It was nearly a decade ago that the group switched from paper to electronic medical records. Not a big deal, you may think, until you consider your physician’s undecipherable scribbled prescriptions.
Simeon Schwartz, MD, a board-certified hematologist and oncologist, is president and cofounder of the group and an acknowledged leader in the field of health information technology. “Dr. Schwartz is a change agent,” says Lindsay Farrell, president and CEO of Open Door Family Medical Centers. “Only twelve percent of practices nationwide are using electronic medical records, while the rest document on paper charts, which are hard to read, dangerous, and ultimately more expensive. He saw this need before anyone else did.”
All 180 physicians from WESTMED’s 14 office locations and White Plains and Greenwich Hospitals are connected electronically. “If one of our patients is admitted, the hospitals have instant access to their records,” Dr. Schwartz, 58, says. “We’re the only practice in the area that has this kind of connectivity.” Patients can even access their medical information through the facility’s patient portal on its website.
“The Feds are desperate for more medical practices to go paperless,” Farrell says, noting that the government’s stimulus bill is giving up to $44,000 per physician to put in electronic medical records. Since WESTMED went paperless in 2002, it is able to take those funds and use it to help pay for its new 83,450-square-foot facility to be built in Ridge Hill in Yonkers.
Mitchell Benerofe of Benerofe Properties in White Plains has known Dr. Schwartz since their days serving on the board of the now shuttered United Hospital in Port Chester. “If not brilliant, then Dr. Schwartz is something very close to it,” he says. “He was one of the few at the hospital who saw the handwriting on the wall, that the medical profession had to move into the 21st century and integrate information technology to handle paperwork and improve office efficiency. His use of information technology allows him to keep the business side of running a medical facility under control without sacrificing medical quality.”
“WESTMED is able to demonstrate value for both the patients and the community,” Farrell says. “Dr. Schwartz has developed it into a multi-specialty group practice with a robust infrastructure that individual medical practices couldn’t match.”
“The goal here is clear: in any business, you can be a follower or a leader,” Dr. Schwartz says. “If you’re in healthcare and are not a leader, you lose the opportunity to be innovative.”
—Nancy L. Claus and Carol Caffin
The Power Broker
Site Vice President
Indian Point Energy Center
Love it or loathe it, respect or deride it, admire it or fear it, the one thing everyone can agree on about Indian Point Energy Center is that it touches the lives of virtually everybody in Westchester. Whether you’re the neighboring homeowner who enjoys lower property taxes, the resident who has his medicine cabinet stocked with potassium iodide pills, the business owner benefiting from cheaper utility costs, the environmentalist trying to shut it down, the asthmatic helped by the cleaner air from not having to burn fossil fuels, or the charity aided by its owner’s philanthropy, Westchester’s nuclear power plant generates an abundance of electricity, controversy, and money for the county.
Indian Point, which is owned by Entergy Corporation, the second largest utility company in the United States, employs 1,100 people full-time, making it one of Westchester’s largest employers. It produces more than one-fourth of Westchester’s and New York City’s electricity. The person responsible for the power plant operating smoothly—and safely—day in and day out is Joe Pollock, a 30-plus-year nuclear industry veteran, who, three years ago, was tapped to be Indian Point’s top-ranking on-site executive.
Since his appointment, Pollock has worked to improve labor relations with the unions and oversee key safety and security upgrades, improve community relations and public awareness about nuclear energy, and plan for the plant’s future labor needs by developing a training program at Westchester Community College. Many would say he’s succeeded.
Harry Farrell, president of the UWUA Local 1-2, the primary union at Indian Point representing about 450 of its employees, says Pollock has earned the union’s confidence and support. “As union president, I work with many different companies, and there are those that, believe me, I would not even attempt to get involved with on a VPP application”—a special OSHA designation recognizing exceptional progress and standards in industrial safety for which Indian Point has recently applied with the union’s cooperation. “Joe Pollock is a guy who will work with us.”
Pollock’s success at bridge-building extends into the greater community, as Pat Braja, the acting executive director of the Paramount Center for the Arts in Peekskill, can easily attest. “Joe supports what we do here. Without his and Entergy’s support we would not have been able to achieve such remarkable growth over the last eight years.”
James J. Landy
President & CEO
Hudson Valley Bank
Talk about working your way up. James J. Landy started working at Hudson Valley Bank in 1977 “as a teller and assistant on the platform.” Today, the 56-year-old is its president and chief executive officer.
When he began his tenure at the bank, it had only three branches in Yonkers, with approximately $60 million in assets. Today, Hudson Valley Bank is the largest community bank headquartered in Westchester. Landy oversees 600 employees—with $2.9 billion in assets. He has expanded Hudson Valley Bank’s reach from Westchester into lower Connecticut, New York City, and Rockland County. He has nearly tripled the number of branches in the region from 13 to 37. The bank’s deposits have grown to $2.4 billion from $900 million in 2001, and the total loan portfolio has more than tripled, from $500 million in 2001 to $1.7 billion today. Last year, the bank originated approximately $400 million in new loans.
Landy credits his success to his hard-working employees. “I am just very fortunate to have the right people at the right jobs,” says Landy. “We are a team, and I am just a team player.”
“He has a very engaged group of leaders at the bank,” says Jerry Klein, president and CEO of Mahopac National Bank. “Hudson Valley Bank is successful because Landy is always able to attract the right people. He has also done a good job in getting the right influences in the community to refer their particular businesses to the bank.”
“We’re big on customer service,” Landy says. “There are very few customers that I do not know by name. I stay in contact with my customers, often going to lunch or visiting them at work. You won’t get that from one of those larger banks.”
Landy makes himself available. “He is not the type of person that sits behind his desk and does nothing,” says Gayle Cratty, direcor of Community Relations and Development at Ferncliff Manor, a residential school for children with developmental disabilities. “He is always out and about, attending events, lobbying, and being an advocate for others.”
Landy serves as chairman of the board of St. Joseph’s Medical Center. He is the director of the New York Bankers Association and the Sacred Heart Housing Corporation. He is also president of the Hudson Valley National Foundation, set up to financially help small businesses and non-profit organizations. To date, it has given $5 million to small businesses.
Dr. Leonard Schleifer
Founder, President, and CEO
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
In our county, a 60-plus-firms-strong biotech revolution is taking place, and its venerated four-star general is 58-year-old Dr. Leonard Schleifer. The neurologist, a Queens native who resides in Chappaqua, has not only recruited financiers, CEOs, medical researchers, and at least one Nobel Laureate, to join his super-successful Tarrytown-based company, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the largest biotech firm in all of New York, but his success has fueled the county’s rapidly-growing biotech sector. Today, more than 8,000 people work in Westchester's biotech industry—the largest concentration of biotech jobs in the state.
Dr. Schleifer, who holds both an MD and a PhD in pharmacology, founded Regeneron in 1988 with a staff of four. Today, Regeneron employs more than a thousand people, and it is currently in the process of hiring an additional 500. (Recession? What recession?) Dr. Schleifer planted his multi-million-dollar company in Westchester because “Westchester opened its arms welcomingly to us,” he says. “I think ultimately Westchester can compete with the West Coast and Massachusetts, and eventually grow into what would be the center of the biotech industry.”
Armed with a research budget of $700 million, Regeneron has one prescription drug on the market (Arcalyst, used to treat a rare inflammatory condition), eight more in advanced testing, and it plans to have 40 more in trials by 2017. Dr. Schleifer is in no rush, not really. “I’m patiently impatient,” he says. “Most entrepreneurs are in a hurry. But when you’re in the world of science and medical breakthroughs, that’s a very long-term process.”
It’s his impatient patience and his strong commitment to long-term research that helps explain the company’s success, believes Regeneron’s Chief Scientific Officer and President of Regeneron Laboratories Dr. George Yancopoulos. “A lot of people in biotech want to figure out how to create a company with some mirage of value, then turn it over and sell out without any real long-term view, but Len was honestly committed to building a real, long-term, self-perpetuating enterprise. He understood the importance of not building a whole company around one discovery and becoming a one-trick pony. And, more important, he’s really driven by pure motives. He wants to do well by doing good.”
Dr. Schleifer has done very well—he managed to recruit his medical-school advisor and mentor, Nobel Laureate Dr. Alfred Gilman. Together, they founded Regeneron. “Len is as smart as hell," Dr. Gilman says, "and he could sell you the Brooklyn Bridge any day of the week. He’s extraordinarily persuasive. I don’t know if he was ever on a debating team, but he would have been the captain of it.”
Indeed, upon his retirement, former Merck & Co. Chairman and CEO Dr. Roy Vagelos was persuaded by Dr. Schleifer to head Regeneron’s board. “Len is a very strong leader—he’s someone who can elect, recruit, and retain very strong people. He is a magician at deal making."
The Retail Guru
Area Director of Mall Marketing
Some would have you believe that the mall, as we know it, is dead. Not Westchester shoppers. Our malls are doing just fine—thanks in large part to 59-year-old Paula Kelliher. Each year, 11 million shoppers visit The Westchester, the county’s most prestigious mall with 130 shops, including high-end boutiques like Gucci and anchored by Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus. And, for the everyday shopper, well, Kelliher’s got that covered, too, with The Galleria—just a little over a mile away from The Westchester, and home to brands like H&M and Old Navy—which draws even more shoppers: 13 million visit the mall’s 135 stores every year.
As director of mall marketing for these properties, as well as the 80-shop Nanuet Mall across the river (all owned by national mall conglomerate Simon Malls), it’s up to Kelliher to drive enough foot traffic into all three properties to keep their stores open and in the black. It’s no small feat, especially in this economic climate, with fierce competition from—what else?—the Internet.
Clearly, she’s doing something right. To date, Kelliher has overseen the successful openings of 15 new shops at The Westchester and another dozen at The Galleria. The average duration of a shopper’s visit to The Westchester is 108 minutes, and to the Galleria is 96 minutes—both well over the national average of 75 minutes. And Kelliher has managed to produce 500 “grass-roots events” at The Westchester and The Galleria annually. These programs and activities run the gamut from the obligatory appearances of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to cocktail parties, fashion and bridal shows, and health and wellness events which (as often as possible) involve charities and non-profits from throughout Westchester.
A case in point—and one of Kelliher’s proudest achievements—was this spring’s Simon Fashion Now, a two-day extravaganza showcasing The Westchester’s merchants’ latest apparel. “Unlike a fashion show at fashion week, if you saw something on the runway that you liked, you could go purchase it the same day,” says Kelliher, who, as part of that weekend, orchestrated an in-store cocktail event at luxury shoe merchant Salvatore Ferragamo that benefited the Westchester chapter of the American Heart Association. “It was a win-win-win for everybody,” Kelliher says.
“It was a huge success for us,” Garry Lavena, general manager of Salvatore Ferragamo, reports. “I have been in retail for twenty-five years, and when it comes to promoting and marketing, Paula is one of the best.”
Perhaps one of Kelliher’s greatest strengths is that she’s one of the best-connected people in Westchester. Two large rolodexes adorn her desk. (“One,” she says, “isn’t enough.”) Says Lavena, “She hooked me up with the Ritz-Carlton, and, to this day, I still have a relationship with the Ritz in White Plains, where we show our merchandise.”
Westchester Community Foundation
Philanthropy is hard. There’s deciding what kinds of organizations you support, vetting them for legitimacy, and setting up a payment plan, not to mention all of that paperwork.
Catherine Marsh, executive director of the 30-plus-year-old, five-employee Westchester Community Foundation, makes philanthropy easy—and possible for people who wouldn’t be able to do the legwork otherwise. Instead of working with a hodgepodge of organizations, or trying to set up a staffed foundation, donors can create funds with the Westchester Community Foundation. They then can suggest where those funds go, by choosing specific local or nationwide organizations, or they can select areas they’d like to help, like children or the arts. The Foundation then takes over the work: the vetting, the administration, the federal filing, even the liability.
“It only takes five-thousand dollars to have a fund here,” says Marsh, a Hartsdale resident who has been executive director for the past 11 years. “To start up your own foundation and to be cost-effective, we estimate you need over five-million dollars.”
Then, Marsh gets to help with the fun side of the Westchester Community Foundation—distributing the money to deserving nonprofits. The Foundation manages approximately $30 million annually and gives away nearly $5 million per year. In 2009, donors set up 483 grants through the Foundation, 184 of which went to organizations in Westchester. In addition, the Foundation has close to $2 million that it has total control over—no donor opinions necessary—and gives away through a competitive grant process. Under Marsh’s direction, all those grants stay within Westchester-based organizations. Last year, 60 organizations benefited from these funds.
“It’s one thing to give away fifty thousand dollars,” she adds, “and it’s another thing to say, ‘Where can this fifty thousand dollars have the most benefit?’”
“Catherine leaves no stone unturned in her search for values,” says Lisa Buck, director of The Bridge Fund of Westchester. Under Marsh, the Westchester Community Foundation has grown, from $728,256, managing 50 funds in 1998 to $1,864,403, managing 171 funds today.
“Non-profits, like businesses, sometimes compete for resources,” says Michael Clark, president of the Nonprofit Coordinating Committee of New York, an umbrella organization for nearly 1,700 nonprofits. “Catherine brings them together in unique ways, strengthening them and strengthening the Westchester community. She’s a real visionary leader and a unifying force.”
The centerpiece of this process is an annual event known as The Summit, presented by Marsh with ArtsWestchester and the United Way of Westchester and Putnam. The event brings together all of the region’s not-for-profit leaders and teaches them management and leadership strategies. Marsh estimates that 700 people attended this year.
“Catherine Marsh built the Summit up from basically nothing,” Clark says. “Now, it’s the envy of others. She’s been able to bring a strong cross-section together.”
Laurence P. Gottlieb
Director of Economic Development
What is Westchester’s strongest selling point for businesses? Great schools? Natural beauty? The number of golf courses? No, no, and no. Laurence P. Gottlieb, the new director of economic development, tapped by County Executive Robert Astorino to re-energize the county’s business climate, gets right to the point. “It’s the quality of our work force—our intellectual capital—in virtually every job category,” he says, noting that 45 percent of residents over age 25 have a BA or higher while the national average is only 27 percent.
Playing off the double meaning of the word “capital,” Gottlieb’s multi-year advertising and branding campaign declares “Westchester County: New York’s Intellectual Capital.” Pretty heady statement, given our proximity to that big city just to the south of us. But Marsha Gordon, president and CEO of the Westchester Business Council, thinks it’s right on target. “This new campaign is an example of the consistent brilliance of Larry Gottlieb’s vision.”
Gottlieb, 43 and a Mount Pleasant resident, left a cushy position as a managing director at Burson-Marsteller, the world’s largest public relations firm, to take on this challenge; previously, he had been the director of communications at Entergy Nuclear. His focus is on attracting the hot growth sectors of biotechnology, finance, healthcare, and information and environmental technologies to Westchester. “We are lucky in that we are tied to New York City’s economy, which has weathered the downturn better than other parts of the country, but the state’s economic situation makes it hard for us to provide financial incentives for businesses,” he says. “So we need to be proactive in other ways if we want businesses to come here, grow here. I’ve met with large corporations, small entrepreneurial firms, individuals who have lost their jobs. They all want to know that this county cares about them and their needs. I want to make it clear: this administration is very pro-business. If we’re not optimistic about the county, why would businesses be?”
“Smart economic development begins with government providing a solid platform upon which entrepreneurs in business of every size can build their vision for the future,” says Astorino. “A successful public-private partnership begins with the county offering help and eliminating obstacles. This campaign is a major first step in the right direction.”
Adds Gordon: “Larry’s a great advocate for the county and always delivers on his promises. He is the best voice possible for Westchester’s economic development.”
—Nancy L. Claus
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
Professor of Environmental Law, Pace Law School; Co-Director, Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic;
Chairman of the Board, Waterkeeper Alliance; Chief Prosecuting Attorney, Hudson Riverkeeper
Perhaps nothing is more an iconic representation of Westchester than the Hudson. And perhaps no one has been a bigger supporter and defender of the storied river than Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. For his efforts to clean up the abused and neglected waterway, Time magazine named Kennedy, who operates a wildlife rehabilitation facility at his home in Mount Kisco, one of its “Heroes for the Planet.”
The confluence of Kennedy’s commitments to the law, to Westchester, and to the environment go back nearly three decades. After graduating from Harvard and earning his law degree at the University of Virginia, Kennedy attended Pace Law School’s master’s degree program in environmental law. He got his master’s—and a job: to found and direct the Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic. The clinic’s major client is the Hudson Riverkeeper, Inc., the 44-year-old nonprofit whose mission is to protect the ecological integrity of the Hudson River and the drinking water supply for the greater New York City area.
As the Riverkeeper’s chief prosecutor, Kennedy has successfully brought more than 150 legal actions against the Hudson’s myriad polluters. His successes helped to spark more than 100 similar Waterkeeper organizations around the world, which have all coalesced into the Waterkeeper Alliance, an umbrella group Kennedy founded that today supports nearly 200 Waterkeeper programs on six continents.
“Kennedy is a dynamo of constructive activity,” declares Richard Ottinger, a former New York Congressman and the current Dean Emeritus of Pace Law School, who was one of Kennedy’s professors. “I’ve never met anyone who is more completely dedicated to environmental improvement.”
The dedication began early in life. “I had a sense from when I was very young that pollution is theft. When I was nine I wrote my uncle, President Kennedy, a letter, asking if I could come talk to him about pollution, and he invited me to the Oval Office. I told him I wanted to write a book about pollution, and he arranged for me to interview various members of his administration. It’s a preoccupation that has been with me all of my life.”
Says Kennedy, “The best measure of how a democracy functions is how it distributes and protects the goods of the land—the common wealth. Environmental injury is just deficit spending—it’s a way of loading the costs of our generation’s prosperity onto the backs of our children.”
Michelle Simon, the Dean of Pace Law School, says Kennedy's students are lucky to have him as a teacher—and the environment, as a result, is lucky too. “Every year we have about two dozen students who train under him,” continues Simon. “They’re going on to be our world’s future environmental lawyers and leaders.”
The News Anchor
News Director and Anchor
Pelham resident Janine Rose is a familiar face about the county—and for good reason. The director of Cablevision’s News 12 Westchester—which reaches 270,000 households in the region—is also an Emmy-winning news anchor for its evening newscasts, and Newsmakers, a weekend program focusing on the county’s movers and shakers.
A fixture at the station since 1979, when she started out as a customer sales rep, Rose has led News 12 Westchester to seven Emmys, four Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio Television News Directors Association, and a Cable Ace Award, the highest award in cable television. Personally, she has won two Emmys—one for the segment “Surfing for Sex Town Meeting” and the other for a three-part series, “The Predator Next Door.”
While News 12’s credo may be “as local as local news gets,” it does not convey either the power or professionalism of the station. Indeed, a February 2007 New York Times article stated: “News 12 Westchester has steadily raised its journalistic ambitions during its 12-year history, supplementing, and, at times supplanting, the efforts of longer-standing news media outlets like the Journal News in White Plains or the network-affiliated television stations in New York City. As [the station] evolved into a round-the-clock news operation, Ms. Rose evolved, too.”
But Rose is the first to downplay her influence. “The television news medium is very powerful, and as news director for Westchester and the Hudson Valley, it is my job to deliver the news,” she says. “I have responsibility, not power. There are two hundred cable stations out there, and viewers turn to us for local news. We provide a service that no one else does for Westchester and the Hudson Valley.”
Whatever she has, it’s clear that she is well respected by both her staff and peers. “She inspires us, gives us the room to be creative, embraces our quirkiness,” says News 12 anchor/reporter Tara Rosenblum, who has worked under Rose for the past six-and-a-half years. “I’d never had an Emmy nomination before working for Janine; since then, I’ve had six nominations and I credit her direction for those.”
“Janine Rose is to electronic journalism in this area what my late friend Nancy Q. Keefe was to print journalism,” says William O’Shaughnessy, president of Whitney Radio in New Rochelle. “Janine is the complete antithesis of the airhead, bleached-blonde bimbos who populate our television fraternity. She is a grounded, trusted, and comforting presence in our lives with an exquisitely tuned ‘Bozo Meter.’ The lady is earth.”
—Nancy L. Claus