Press Release

REBNY Celebrates Industry Leaders and Charts the Path for New York City’s Greatest Comeback at 125th Annual Banquet


June 10, 2021

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Virtual Banquet Honors Essential Workers in Real Estate and Individual Leaders Including Bess Freedman, Kevin McCann, Gregg Schenker, Robert Shapiro, Alan Wiener and Laurie Zucker for Outstanding Accomplishments and Public Service

Elected Officials Including US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Governor Andrew Cuomo Join REBNY in Recognizing the Heroic Contributions of Essential Workers and the Crucial Role of the Real Estate Industry in New York’s Economic Recovery

NEW YORK, NY – New York City’s real estate industry gathered virtually with City and State dignitaries on Thursday, June 10 at the Real Estate Board of New York’s (REBNY) 125th Annual Banquet. This year’s banquet, which was presented by Newmark, focused on the theme of “New York City’s Greatest Comeback” and highlighted the central role the real estate industry has played in supporting the City throughout the pandemic and on its road to economic recovery.

As in years’ past, the banquet also celebrated the recipients of REBNY’s prestigious annual awards, including Essential Workers in Real Estate, Bess Freedman, Kevin McCann, Gregg Schenker, Robert Shapiro, Alan Wiener and Laurie Zucker.

REBNY President James Whelan and REBNY Chairman Douglas Durst presided over the virtual banquet, which drew an audience of approximately 1,200 from across the City.

“Throughout a year of great challenge and uncertainty, our industry has repeatedly risen to the occasion to help our tenants, residents, neighbors and our City,” said REBNY Chairman Douglas Durst in his introductory remarks. “Now, because of our collective dedication and resourcefulness, we can see the City coming back to life. While there is much work to do, I know we are on the path to New York City’s greatest comeback.”

Elected officials joining this year’s banquet included Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Letitia James, Congressman Gregory Meeks and Congressman Ritchie Torres. 

In his remarks, Governor Cuomo applauded the heroic contributions of essential workers across New York City and emphasized the crucial role that economic development and the real estate and construction industries have and will continue to play in the City’s path to long-term recovery.

“The future is going to be what we make it,” said Governor Cuomo. “We must build the future with new transportation, including a new Penn Station, a new Moynihan Station, a new bus terminal and new green energy systems. FDR knew that after the Great Depression, he was not just building buildings, he was building confidence – and so are we.”

Majority Leader Schumer also highlighted New York City’s path to recovery and the crucial federal aid that he and New York’s congressional delegation secured in the American Rescue plan, while also applauding REBNY members for stepping up throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

“Many members of REBNY pitched in to support their fellow New Yorkers by marshalling their immense resources, connections and expertise in so many different ways, including donating hospital space, holding food and blood drives and helping the most vulnerable among us get through this dark chapter in New York’s history,” said Majority Leader Schumer.

To that end, the Banquet also included presentations on the many ways in which REBNY members, the real estate industry and its essential workers played a key role in supporting New York City and its residents and businesses over the past year. This included efforts such as:

  • Providing much-needed surge hospital space, PPE and other emergency resources during the months when New York City faced its greatest challenges managing the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Partnering with the non-profit community to fund, conceive and launch Project Parachute, a philanthropic program that has provided thousands of New Yorkers impacted by the pandemic – including many undocumented families – with rental assistance that has helped them to remain safely housed.

  • Working closely with small business tenants to help keep them afloat amid economic turmoil and actively support the many ways in which small business owners also sought to give back to their communities throughout the crisis.

The awards presented at this year’s Banquet are among the top professional distinctions in the real estate industry. This year’s honorees were:

  • Essential Workers in New York City Real Estate received 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. The award was accepted on behalf of essential workers in the industry by:

    • Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York

    • Kyle Bragg, President of 32BJ SEIU

    • Kuba J. Brown, President of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 94

  • Bess Freedman, Chief Executive Officer at Brown Harris Stevens received 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 received 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 received 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 received 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 received 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. received The Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award for her invaluable contributions to New York’s civic welfare and the broader real estate community.

The sponsors of this time-honored networking event were: Presenting Sponsor – Newmark; Premier Sponsors – The Durst Organization, RXR Realty, Brookfield Properties, Tishman Speyer and Related; Diamond Sponsors – The Douglaston Companies, Extell Development Company, A&E Real Estate; Platinum Sponsors – Fisher Brothers, Suffolk Construction, Fetner Properties, Jack Resnick & Sons, Rosenberg & Estis, P.C., Gotham Organization, Mercury, Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP and Kramer Levin; Ambassador Sponsors – CBRE, Inc., Tishman Realty Corporation, JLL, Vornado Realty Trust, Cushman & Wakefield, Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, H.J. Kalikow & Co., LLC, Glenwood Management Corp., IUOE Local Union 94, Wells Fargo, Rudin Management Company, Inc., Silverstein Properties, SL Green Realty Corp, WatermanCLARK, Ogden CAP Properties, LLC, GFP Real Estate, The Feil Organization, Donald Zucker Company/Manhattan Skyline and Himmel + Meringoff Properties, LLC. The 125th Annual Banquet’s Underwriting Sponsors were: 32BJ SEIU, ABS Partners Real Estate, LLC, AECOM Tishman, Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company, Brown Harris Stevens, TF Cornerstone, The Guarantors, RFR Realty LLC, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York and Empire State Realty Trust.