Board of Directors
Elaine Brodsky, Chairman of the BoardBrooklyn Partners
Elaine Brodsky is the former co-owner of CitiStorage, LLC – an archival storage and records management company, located in Brooklyn, NY. The company, founded in 1990, grew into the largest independent, privately-owned, single- location records-storage company in the United States. In December, 2007, Elaine and her partners sold a majority interest to a NYSE company.
During her years as owner of CitiStorage, Elaine created a unique culture in the company. Toward that end, she planned and implemented "business excellence" sessions for her employees, most of whom came from the inner city. The programs, which have been the subject of several articles in Inc. magazine, were designed to encourage personal growth and promote teamwork throughout the organization. In 2005, the company received the Strive Employer of the Year Award for “demonstrating a commitment to providing second chances to individuals and assisting them in becoming productive members of society." Elaine herself was the winner of the 2006 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year regional award for New York City. She also received the 2007 National Association of Women Business Owners Lifetime Achievement Award in New York City. A nationally recognized speaker, Elaine has co-authored numerous articles on women in business for the Inc. magazine website. Her company and its culture have been featured in two best-selling business books, Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big and The Knack.
Martha M. Holstein, SecretaryStrategic Urban Solutions
Martha M. Holstein has decades of experience in government relations and administrative management, specializing in legisla¬tive and regulatory pro¬grams, outreach and consensus, economic development and com¬munications, particularly in the New York area. Careful research, good planning, timely feedback, and structured negotiation leading to program acceptance mark her approach to project and program work. Strategic Urban Solutions is proud to have public agencies and private companies as its clients.
Ms. Holstein believes in supporting the community. For more than twelve years, through 2012, she served on Greenpoint YMCA's Board of Managers. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce and of Government Affairs Professionals.
Martha M. Holstein is committed to balancing a high standard of regulatory protection with the practical needs of the urban society.
Kevin Thompson, TreasurerExxonMobil
Kevin Thompson received his undergraduate degree in Business at LSU, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and later attended Law School at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana. Originally from New York City, Kevin has lived in many places across the US, as a result of working in the oil and gas industry. He is licensed as a Commercial Diver, diving the Gulf of Mexico oil platforms and also practiced law in New Orleans for 9 years, prior to moving into Public Affairs. In this new capacity, he represented ConocoPhillips as the Community Affairs Manager and Tribal Liaison in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. He was responsible for maintaining positive relations with the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Jicarilla Apache Tribes, as well as the Navajo Nation. Later, while representing Shell Oil and Motiva as Communications and Public Affairs Manager for Downstream Refining and Chemical assets, he handled communications and community relations at their New Orleans facilities. He then moved in the role of Communications and State Government Relations Manager for Sunoco, based in Philadelphia; responsible for external communications and government relations in the 25 States in which Sunoco operates.
Currently Kevin is responsible for Public & Government Affairs for ExxonMobil Environmental Services conducting community outreach and communications relating to ExxonMobil’s remediation projects in New York, including Greenpoint and Newtown Creek.
He is also a volunteer exhibit diver at the NY Aquarium every other Saturday, helping the Animal husbandry program and a board member of the Greenpoint and Brooklyn Chambers of Commerce. Additionally, he manages a summer science camp for local high school students interested in the STEM subjects called SYSTEM.
Paul Salmuski, OfficerEast River Ferry
Currently VP Creative/Marketing for the East River Ferry and NY Waterway, Paul's career path has taken many unexpected and exciting turns...and also included many overlapping projects. He was the US Project Manager for Karsan, the Turkish auto manufacturer whose submission made it into the finals of Mayor Bloomberg's NYC Taxi of Tomorrow competition (NOTE: It was the people's choice.) and was also a partner & innovator in the HUB Project, which made it's debut at the Northside Festival in 2013. Paul spent time as the Creative Director of Uberangst, a Brooklyn-based innovation & technology company and also as Creative Director/Interactive at Mirrorball, a NYC advertising/promotions agency that focused on alternative, nightlife and video game development.
He was a Senior Producer with Action Sports Adventure Productions (ASAP), a sports film & video company that represented both the men's and women's World Cup soccer teams, the US Soccer Federation, the Women's Sports Foundation, the American Basketball League, the Women's Professional Fastpitch Softball League, the Continental Basketball Federation, and the US Volleyball Association. While at ASAP he produced and/or directed numerous commercials for such clients as Nike, Reebok, UPS, Budweiser, Noxzema, the USTA, Wilson Sporting Goods, Time Warner Communications, and The Goodwill Games. Paul also spent over 20 years in the video game industry as a Chief Creative/Technology Officer, working with such companies as Sony Computer Entertainment America, Nintendo of America, Nintendo Company Limited (Japan), Microsoft XBox, and Acclaim Entertainment. He was also Executive Vice President of Product Development, Research & Development & Licensing for Acclaim Entertainment and maintained all relationships with Major League Baseball & the MLB Player's Association, the National Football League and the NFL Player's Association, the National Basketball League, the National Hockey League, the NCAA, and also MCA/Universal Studios, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., and Lightstorm Entertainment.
He managed the conception and development of such video games as the Mortal Kombat series, the NBA Jam series, the World Wrestling Federation series, and the Simpsons games. At Acclaim, Paul was also integral in the design, development and operation of the first ever, dedicated motion capture studio, where, in addition to creating content for various video games, numerous special effects for the first two Batman movies were also produced there. Prior to video games, Paul spent quite a few years in the toy industry working for Matchbox Toys and LJN. As Executive VP of Product Development at LJN, he experienced one of his proudest creative accomplishments, which was being part of the team behind the creation of the Thundercats series and subsequent toy line.
During his time at both LJN and Matchbox, Paul also Art Directed and/or Produced quite a large catalog of commercials for everything from miniature cars & trucks to fashion dolls to articulated super heroes. Earlier in life he also had the pleasure of participating in the highly influential (and sometimes misunderstood) world of rock n' roll, but that's for another time. He was born in Buffalo (Go Bills!), and now lives in Tribeca with his wife Debbie and their dog Juno. They have one son, who's on his own, but stops by occasionally for a free meal. Oh, Paul also owns a collegiate, summer baseball team located in Albany, New York. The Albany Dutchmen. If you're in the neighborhood, stop by. He'll arrange for you to throw out the first pitch.
Josh Cohen, OfficerAnella
Josh Cohen is the owner/partner of Anella, Jimmy’s Diner (featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Chopped and Bon App),Jimmy's, Over the Eight, Saint Vitus which recently hosted Nirvana who played a 15 song set after their induction to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame,, and Lucha Lucha-- all in Greenpoint, Williamsburg and BedStuy. He lives with his wife Blair and their three young children. Cohen is a founder of Project Hunger (soup kitchen at Church of the Ascension) and sits on the Executive Board of the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce, Open Space Alliance and Community Board 1
Carolina Roberts, OfficerCommunity Member
Ben Waller, Managing DirectorABS Partners Real Estate
Ben Waller is a Managing Director with ABS Partners Real Estate and runs the company’s Brooklyn/Queens operations from their East Williamsburg office. Ben has provided creative real estate strategies for numerous owners and businesses throughout the five boroughs. Currently, Ben and his team represent over 400,000 SF of office, retail and flex space most of which is located in North Brooklyn. In addition to Landlord and Tenant lease transactions, Ben has completed a number of complex land and building sales throughout NYC. Prior to joining ABS, Ben spent several years as the Director of Sales for RGS Energy (formerly Mercury Solar Systems). During his brief tenure, he was responsible for the sale and installation of tens of thousands of solar panels across homes and businesses throughout the Northeast.
Ben received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Rochester and was a four year letter winner on the football team. Ben lives in Brooklyn with his wife and baby son.
David Lombino, DirectorTwo Trees Management
David Lombino is the Director of Special Projects at Two Trees Management where he oversees the development pipeline for the Dumbo-based firm and serves as its government and community liaison. His current projects include the redevelopment of the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg and the development of BAM South in Downtown Brooklyn. Two Trees also developed and manages the Wythe Hotel. Previously David served as Executive Vice President in charge of External Affairs at the New York City Economic Development Corporation under Mayor Bloomberg. He is the former City Editor of the New York Sun newspaper. A native New Yorker, David now lives in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He holds a Master's Degree in public policy from Columbia University and a B.A. from Williams College.
Ken Varga, DirectorNew York Grant Company
For the past 2 years Ken Varga has supported NYC economic development at the New York Grant Company providing business development, marketing and event production services. Ken was a dedicated advocate for the Brooklyn business community from 2006 to 2012 at Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce where he served as membership representative, educational events producer, and co-chair of several member committees.
In 2001 Ken moved from New Jersey to Brooklyn and began working in film production as a Second Assistant Director, Lighting Technician, Location Sound Recordist, Assistant Set Designer and Wardrobe Assistant. Since 1997 Ken has enjoyed the live performance aspects of being a professional Emcee and DJ Entertainer. Now only booking corporate events and wedding by referral he volunteers for non-profit organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of America, hosting their Gala and the Brooklyn American Cancer Society, hosting Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay for Life in Brooklyn.
Ken holds and a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production from Brooklyn College and an Associates of Applied Science in Respiratory Care from Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, MD.
Gina J. Argento, DirectorBroadway Stages
Broadway Stages is New York City's premier film and television production facility. With over half a million of square feet of space covering 27 stages and support facilities, the company has earned a golden reputation among the largest movie studios and major television networks. Today, Broadway Stages is proud to be home to "The Good Wife," "Royal Pains," "Blue Bloods," "Believe," "Us and Them," "Unforgettable" and "Hostages."
But president Gina Argento makes Broadway Stages more than just film production. The company is committed to the community - priding itself on being a good neighbor. Whether its remediating Brownfield sites, supporting local businesses or bringing Green Science Week to PS 110 The Monitor School, Broadway Stages stands in support of its community, its businesses and its neighbors.
From collaborating with NYC Service, the NYC Department of Building and the Community Environmental Center to promote cool roofs, becoming the largest privately placed solar power installation in NYS and creating the first ever fully operational organic rooftop garden in NYC. Further, Broadway Stages has installed 50,000 sq. ft. of solar panels to offset 30% of their annual electricity consumption! Evidently, Broadway Stages goes beyond their expectations as a small business.
Besides working full time and taking care of her three children, Gina is an avid supporter of museums, cultural institutions and charities. Today, Gina sits on the board of the Greenpoint YMCA and EWVIDCO, striving to make Brooklyn not only a great community to work but also an awesome community to live.
Diana Zelvin, DirectorPsychotherapist and Business Coach
For two decades Diana Zelvin has been a practicing psychotherapist, helping people find inner harmony, develop better relationships and move forward in their lives to reach their goals. It is a collaborative process on the journey for self-growth, empowerment and change.
Over the past few years she has been using the same skills as a Business Coach and Advisor, helping businesses bridge the gap from where they are, to where they want to go.
She helps businesses develop clarity about their vision, helping them identify the reality of where they are, prescribes the roadmap for getting to where they want to be, and transforms the roadblocks to become allies not obstacles. Some other critical functions she provides for her clients are connecting to potential clients/customers, accomplishing fundraising goals and developing positive community relations.
Her most recent project was raising $2 million for Williamsburg’s PS84 Greenhouse Rooftop Hydroponic Classroom.
Charley Ryan, Director
Charley was raised in Michigan, and was a league bowler at age 12 and an All-American swimmer at 16. He never got very good at bowling. Upon graduation from Dartmouth College, Charley worked in the financial markets, first as a Stockbroker at Dean Witter in San Francisco. He then moved to New York’s Commodities Exchange Center and headed precious metals floor trading operations as a Trader, Broker and Officer for Donaldson Lufkin, Jenrette and British bullion giant Mocatta. Charley’s next move applied his worldwide contacts and knowledge of market mechanics to establish an independent brokerage of physical metals, handling and moving gold, silver and platinum to North America from bases of operation in Montevideo, Uruguay and Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Charley then shifted his focus to restaurants (Cowgirl Hall of Fame restaurants, Global 33, and Aunt Baba Jean’s) and venues, including Wetlands Preserve, where he and Peter engineered a renaissance of the legendary club. Following Wetlands’ closure in 2001, they jointly developed the concepts that became Brooklyn Bowl. Charley has served as an elected Councilman and Police Commissioner in his adopted home of Leonia, New Jersey and currently is on the Board of the Open Space Alliance, a parks advocacy group in Brooklyn, as well as the Board of the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce.
Latishia Seabrook, DirectorTime Warner Latisha Seabrook is Time Warner Cable’s Director of Government Relations in New York City. She is a native New Yorker, born and raised in the Bronx. After graduating from Cornell University’s College of Arts and Sciences, Latisha worked at a small personal injury law firm in the Bronx. Following a long held interest in government, she moved on to the New York City Office of Management and Budget (OMB), spending eight years working for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. At OMB, she was responsible for administering review of New York City’s multi-billion dollar capital budget. Prior to starting at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, where she graduated in 2012 with a concentration in Advanced Management and Finance, Latisha travelled to Ayutthaya, Thailand to teach English to low-income schoolchildren.
Jessica Wertz, DirectorLone Wolf, No Name Bar, Black Bear, Old Chrome Inc
Jessica Lee Wertz has built, opened and operated four bars and restaurants in the Brooklyn area and continues to operate Lone Wolf, No Name and Black Bear Bar. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce as well as BABAR and continues to produce annual events in the Brooklyn community including the Brooklyn Invitational, a custom motorcycle builder showcase attracting 1,000's of visitors from around the world to the Brooklyn area. She was born and raised in Seoul, Korea of which she is of half decent, and Okinawa, Japan. Her heritage as well as her tenure in Hong Kong, working in the Food & Beverage and events industries, help bring an international cultural sensibility to her endeavors here in Brooklyn, New York.