Taubman Advisory Board
ROBERT S. TAUBMAN – BOARD CHAIR
Bobby Taubman is the Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Taubman Centers Inc. Mr. Taubman joined Taubman Centers Inc. in 1976 and held positions of increasing responsibility until 1992 when he was named Chairman, President and CEO.
Mr. Taubman serves on the executive board of the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts and is a member and immediate past Chairman of the Real Estate Roundtable in Washington, DC. He is a member and past trustee of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) and founding Chairman of ULI’s Detroit Regional District Council. He also is a member and past trustee of the International Council of Shopping Centers. Mr. Taubman is a member of the board of directors of Comerica Incorporated and is a past board member of Sotheby’s Holdings, Inc.
Among his many civic and charitable commitments, Mr. Taubman serves on the executive committee of Southeastern Michigan Council of Governments and is as a member of the board of directors of Business Leaders for Michigan. He is a trustee of the Cranbrook Educational Community, where he is Chairman of the audit committee. He serves on the University of Michigan Investment Advisory Committee, and is a council member of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy Schools. Mr. Taubman holds a B.S. degree in economics from Boston University.
Christopher is a co-founder and Managing Director of Ackerley Partners, LLC, a private investment holding company based in Seattle, WA. Portfolio exits since inception have included College Sports Television to CBS, Withoutabox to IMDb (an Amazon company), ScreenLife, LLC to Paramount and Sparq.it to Yahoo. Prior to co-founding Ackerley Partners in 2002, Chris was the President of The Ackerley Group, Inc. (NYSE: AK) where he oversaw the daily operations of the national media and entertainment company. He served in a variety of operational roles for the company for more than 15 years, and was also a member of the company’s board of directors. In 2002, Mr. Ackerley successfully led the merger of The Ackerley Group, Inc. with Clear Channel Communications, Inc. (NYSE: CCU) and the prior year, he led the negotiations and completion of The Ackerley Group’s sale of the NBA’s Seattle SuperSonics and the WNBA’s Seattle Storm to The Basketball Club of Seattle led by Starbucks Chairman and CEO – Howard Schultz. Chris began his career in the Capital Markets Group at Bank of America in London, England. He has and continues to serve as a director or advisor to a number of corporate boards including Washington Trust Bank, the Space Needle Corporation, Limeade (ASX: LME), The Four Seasons Hotel & Residences – Seattle, Concure Oncology and Solius. He is a minority owner and serves on the Executive Committee for the Seattle Kraken of the National Hockey League which will begin play at Climate Pledge Arena in October 2021. Chris has been involved with many civic and community organizations including the Pacific Science Center (Board Chair), the Downtown Seattle Association, Group Health Research Foundation and Lakeside School (Treasurer). He also serves on the National Board of Advisors for the Eller College of Management at his alma mater - The University of Arizona, and is a Vice-President of their family foundation - The Ginger and Barry Ackerley Foundation. In 2001, Mr. Ackerley was recognized by the Puget Sound Business Journal as one of the region’s most influential “40 Under 40” business leaders and in 2004, he was the recipient of the inaugural Outstanding Alumni Board Member Award by Seattle Works for his many contributions to the Seattle community. In 2007, he was inducted into the Hall of Honor for the Beta Phi Chapter of The Sigma Chi Fraternity at his alma mater – The University of Arizona and in 2013, Mr. Ackerley and his family were recognized at the AFP National Philanthropy Day as Outstanding Philanthropic Family for the State of Washington. Additionally, Mr. Ackerley and his family were the recipients of the 2017 Champion of Freedom Award by the Washington Policy Center for their longstanding commitment to free-market principles and philanthropy, which make our region a better place to live, do business and raise a family.
Judith Bunnell is a proven education entrepreneur who co-founded Flex Academies (“Flex”) and rapidly expanded it from a local business, to a multi-state enterprise serving approximately 20,000 students in over 60 schools across six states. Flex is a consumer-facing K-12 company, focused on providing a rich array of afterschool enrichment programs to students through the management of a portfolio of third-party vendors. Judy recently sold her interest in the company to an investor group and is now active in the angel investor community.
Before launching Flex, Ms. Bunnell spent a decade in the non-profit sector focused on supporting K-12 and higher education at national and international organizations, such as the DC College Success Foundation, The Sallie Mae Fund, NPower, World Vision and Seattle’s “It’s About Time for Kids!”. She successfully managed complex national education projects, developed original classroom curriculum and managed the implementation and evaluation of youth development/ college preparation programs. She is an accomplished trainer with diverse communities, a creative problem solver and strategist, and a skilled fundraiser and board development specialist.
Prior to her work with the education sector, Ms. Bunnell served as Deputy Mayor and Budget & Planning Director for the City of Seattle, and Chief Financial Officer of its public utilities. She started her career as a public finance investment banker at Piper Jaffray. Ms. Bunnell holds a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and an undergraduate degree from Yale College.
debra a. cafaro
Debra A. Cafaro is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Ventas, Inc., an S&P 500 company and real estate investment trust that owns approximately 1,200 demographically driven healthcare, research and innovation and senior living properties in North America and the United Kingdom and serves as a leading capital provider to premier care providers and research institutions.
A recognized industry leader, Cafaro set and oversaw execution of a long-term strategy that drove Ventas’s market capitalization to $28 billion in 2019, from $200 million since her leadership began in 1999. The Company’s compound annual total shareholder return (TSR) has exceeded 20 percent for the 21 years ended December 31, 2020.
Widely-acclaimed for her strategic vision and enduring business success, Cafaro has received multiple professional recognitions. Cafaro has been twice named one of the World’s 100 Most Powerful Women (Forbes Magazine), a list of global political, media, entertainment and business leaders; a Top 100 Best-Performing CEOs in the World for six consecutive years (Harvard Business Review); and the top female executive in the commercial real estate industry (National Real Estate Investor). She has also been recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare six times (Modern Healthcare); highlighted in The 70 Elite real estate executives who shaped the industry for the past 70 years (Real Estate Forum); and selected multiple times to the Top 25 Women in Healthcare (Modern Healthcare) and the All-America Executive Team (Institutional Investor). Cafaro was named a Top 50 Woman in World Business (Financial Times), one of the Bankable 21 CEOs in Jim Cramer’s book Get Rich Carefully and one of nine Game-Changers in commercial real estate since 2000 (GlobeSt.com). To honor her contributions to her industries, she received the Industry Leadership Award from the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts (NAREIT), where she previously served as Chair, and was inducted into the ASHA Senior Living Hall of Fame.
In addition to her work at Ventas, Cafaro is broadly engaged across business, public policy, academic, sports and non-profit sectors. Cafaro is the immediate past Chair of the Real Estate Roundtable, a public policy organization that brings together leaders of the nation’s top real estate firms on key national policy issues and the Economic Club of Chicago. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Business Council, and serves on the Boards of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc. (NYSE: PNC), the University of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and World Business Chicago. She is an Advisory Board Member of the Harvard Kennedy School Taubman Center for State and Local Government. She served successive terms on the Board of the Chicago Infrastructure Trust. Cafaro is an owner and member of the Management Committee of the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins, 2016 and 2017 Stanley Cup Champions.
Cafaro established the Cafaro Scholars program at the University of Chicago Law School. It provides full scholarships to students with outstanding potential whose parents did not attend college. Over 20 students, many of them diverse, have been recipients of the Cafaro scholarships.
Prior to joining Ventas, Cafaro was President of an NYSE-listed multi-family REIT, a practicing lawyer for 13 years and a judicial clerk for the Hon. J. Dickson Phillips, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She received her J.D. cum laude from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was named its 2011 Distinguished Alumna, and her B.A. magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame. She is married and has two children.
Henry Cisneros is Chairman of American Triple I, an infrastructure investment firm based in New York. He is also a Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors & Equity Owner of Shank Williams Cisneros & Co., L.L.C, and Principal of Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC, a national municipal and corporate finance firm.
Mr. Cisneros’ community-building career began at the local level. After serving three terms as a City Councilmember, in 1981, Mr. Cisneros became the first Hispanic-American mayor of a major U.S. city, San Antonio, Texas. During his four terms as Mayor, he helped rebuild the city’s economic base and spurred the creation of jobs through massive infrastructure and downtown improvements. After completing four terms as Mayor, Mr. Cisneros formed Cisneros Asset Management Company, a fixed income management firm operating nationally and ranked at the time as the second fastest growing money manager in the nation. In 1992, President Clinton appointed Mr. Cisneros to be Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. As a member of President Clinton’s Cabinet, Secretary Cisneros was credited with initiating the revitalization of many of the nation’s public housing developments and with formulating policies which contributed to achieving the nation’s highest ever homeownership rate.
After leaving HUD in 1997, Mr. Cisneros was president and chief operating officer of Univision Communications and served on Univision’s Board of Directors until 2020. Mr. Cisneros has served as President of the National League of Cities, as Deputy Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and as Vice-Chairman of Habitat for Humanity International. Mr. Cisneros remains active in San Antonio’s leadership where he is former Chairman of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and BioMed SA. He is a former member of the advisory board of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Mr. Cisneros holds a bachelor of arts and a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from Texas A&M University, a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University, and a doctorate in public administration from George Washington University.
Greg Dawley is a Managing Director in the Los Angeles office & California Regional Municipal Manager for RBC Capital Markets. Mr. Dawley has served over 23 years in the municipal finance and governmental industries. He focuses on a wide range of issuers throughout the Western Region, including those in the general government, utilities, public power, transportation, higher education and K-14 sectors. Previous firms include Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Banc One Capital Markets and J.P. Morgan Securities.
Before his career in public finance, Mr. Dawley served as Assistant Chief of Staff to Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan. Mr. Dawley graduated with an M.P.P. from the University of Southern California and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Michigan.
Kathleen deLaski founded the Education Design Lab in 2013, seeing the need for a non-profit to help learning institutions and other emerging school-to-work providers design more equitable education and hiring models toward a fast changing world of work. Using a human-centered design process, the Lab has co-created 100 pilots to demonstrate where “college” needs to move to support the changing needs of learners, earners and employers. The Lab has worked with and built innovation capacity at 200+ colleges and helped them redefine their role with employers, cities, regions, as groups look to transform the broken talent pipeline and address the wealth gap. Recently moving from CEO to Chairman of the Board, Kathleen has been asked to speak globally to set the stage for how the future of work meets the advent of skills-based, visible, work-integrated learning and what that means for New Majority Learners and earners.
In addition, Kathleen serves as the president of the deLaski Family Foundation, a leading grant-maker in education reform and new pathways to the middle class. She founded or co-founded three previous education non-profits, including EdFuel, a national organization working to build a diverse talent leadership pipeline for K-12 education. Previously, Kathleen served for eight years on the Governor-appointed Board of Visitors for George Mason University, chairing the Academic Affairs and Diversity committees. Kathleen created Sallie Mae’s award-winning college access foundation and co-founded Building Hope, a charter school facilities financing non-profit. In previous careers, Kathleen was a television correspondent for ABC News covering the White House and foreign affairs, a consumer product developer in the early days of AOL and was appointed by President Clinton as the first woman to serve as chief Pentagon spokesperson.
John Fish is the Chairman and CEO of Suffolk. Under his vision and leadership, Suffolk has grown into one of the leading privately held general building contractors in the country. With approximately $4 billion in annual revenue, Suffolk is currently ranked #26 on the Engineering News-Record national list of “Top 400 Contractors.”
Mr. Fish is a fixture on numerous Boards focused on improving the economy and raising the competitiveness of the Northeast region, particularly the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston and New York. He is the founding member and former Chair of the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP), former Chairman of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, and former Chair and current Executive Committee member for the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Mr. Fish is a member of the National Business Roundtable and Construction Industry Roundtable, and he is a director of the Real Estate Roundtable. In New York City, Mr. Fish is a member of the Partnership for New York City, New York Building Congress, and Real Estate Board of New York.
Mr. Fish is committed to philanthropic endeavors focused on creating opportunities for young people. He is the current Vice-Chair and former Chairman of the Board at Boston College, the first non-alumnus to ever fulfill that role, currently chairs the Boston College Board of Regents, and sits on the Board of Trustees for Bowdoin College. He is also the founder and Chairman of Scholar Athletes, a program that leverages the proven link between school athletics participation and strong academic performance to improve the academic performance of inner-city high school students in the Boston and Springfield, Massachusetts Public Schools. Mr. Fish is chairman of the Board for Brigham and Women’s Hospital and serves on the Executive Committee at Partners HealthCare.
Mr. Fish is a graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. He received an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering Technology Degree from Wentworth Institute of Technology. He is also the recipient of an honorary degree from Regis College and Curry College.
Dr. Patricia Hurter serves as CEO and President of Lyndra Therapeutics, a privately held biotechnology company focused on the development of oral, ultra-long-acting, sustained-release therapies, with a goal of making daily pills a thing of the past. Lyndra is focused on developing and commercializing therapies for the treatment of psychiatric disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, HIV, transplant rejection, opioid use disorder, malaria eradication as well as developing a once-monthly oral contraceptive.
Prior to Lyndra, Dr Hurter was Senior Vice President of Pharmaceutical and Preclinical Sciences at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ: VRTX). She also served as Interim Head of Global Regulatory Affairs from 2013-2014 and oversaw several label expansions for Kalydeco® and the submission of the new drug application for Orkambi®. She played a leadership role in the development and commercialization of 5 transformative therapies for Vertex: Incivek®, Kalydeco®, Orkambi® and Symdeko® and Trikafta®. Prior to joining Vertex, Dr. Hurter was Director, Formulation Design and Characterization for Merck where she was a key member of the early development team for Januvia®, a treatment for Type II diabetes.
A respected thought leader in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Hurter is a frequent contributor to many scientific publications. At Vertex, she founded and was the executive sponsor of “IWILL,” a Vertex employee network devoted to the advancement of women leaders. She holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from West Virginia University and earned a B.Sc. in chemical engineering, cum laude, from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.
Chris Ilitch is the President and CEO, Ilitch Holdings, Inc. Mr. Ilitch leads and provides oversight to the Ilitch companies – the businesses that were founded or purchased by Detroit entrepreneurs Mike and/or Marian Ilitch. These businesses include: Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Distribution, the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Entertainment, the Detroit Tigers, Olympia Development of Michigan, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program and Champion Foods. The organization also has a joint venture interest in 313 Presents. Additionally, Marian Ilitch owns MotorCity Casino Hotel. Together, these companies employ 23,000 people. Their combined revenue in 2017 was $3.6 billion.
Mr. Ilitch has held a variety of roles throughout the organization over the past 30 years. Currently, in addition to his leadership of Ilitch Holdings, he serves as the governor and president and CEO of the Detroit Red Wings, as well as the chairman and CEO of the Detroit Tigers. Mr. Ilitch also serves as chairman of Ilitch Charities, a nonprofit organization that promotes charitable purposes aimed at developing communities and enhancing lives.
Mr. Ilitch is currently leading the most ambitious development effort in the Ilitch organization’s history, The District Detroit. This dynamic sports and entertainment district is comprised of eight world-class theatres, five neighborhoods, four professional sports teams and three multi-use sports facilities, including the new, state-of-the-art Little Caesars Arena – home of the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Pistons and world-class entertainment and community events. The economic impact of The District Detroit to the region and the state of Michigan is expected to exceed $2 billion.
Beyond his work at the Ilitch companies, Mr. Ilitch is involved in various business and civic groups that help improve and promote Detroit and the region. He serves on the board, executive committee and nominating committee for Business Leaders for Michigan as well as the board and executive committee for the Downtown Detroit Partnership. He is also a member of the board of directors for the Detroit Economic Club.
Mr. Ilitch has served on host/hospitality committees for several large-scale sporting events in Detroit, including the 2010 NCAA Men’s Frozen Four Hockey Championship (co-chair), the 2009 NCAA Final Four Men’s Basketball Tournament, Super Bowl XL and the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star game (chair).
Mr. Ilitch holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He and his wife Kelle have three children and reside in metro Detroit.
Charles Isgar is a sports business advisor to public, private, and academic institutions including USA Volleyball, the University of Southern California, Mayor of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and others.
While representing the then-mayor Richard Riordan, Mr. Isgar had the inspirational idea and master plan for the development of the Staples Center project. This exciting sports venue project capitalized on the strong brands of the Lakers, Kings, and Clippers to lead the most significant private investment in decades for the City of Los Angeles redevelopment and enhanced the public investment in the adjacent convention center.
Mr. Isgar also has worked with stadium construction, finance, redevelopment, and public policy issues for the ongoing Los Angeles efforts to return NFL to the market place. He has provided support to Olympic and Super Bowl bids, PGA Championship, World Cup soccer, and collegiate championships as opportunities to showcase the city and promote the Los Angeles region.
Mr. Isgar has also served on the city's Productivity and Efficiency Commission, Private Industry Council, Police and Fire Pension Board, and currently the Sports and Entertainment Commission, and USA Volleyball Foundation Board of Directors. He received his MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School and his PhD from the Sol Price school of public Policy at the University of Southern California.
Mayor Michael Nutter
After serving almost 15 years in the Philadelphia City Council, Michael A. Nutter was elected the 98th Mayor of his hometown in November 2007 and took office in January 2008. At his inaugural address, Mayor Nutter pledged to lower crime, improve educational attainment rates, make Philadelphia the greenest city in America and attract new businesses and residents to the city. He also promised to lead an ethical and transparent government focused on providing high quality, efficient and effective customer service.
With the support of an experienced, professional staff, Mayor Nutter made significant progress on every pledge: homicides were at an almost 50 year low at the end of his tenure; high school graduation and college degree attainment rates increased significantly; Philadelphia added hundreds of miles in bike lanes and trails and launched the first low-income friendly bike share system in America, called Indego; and Philadelphia 's population grew every year since 2008, including the largest percentage of millennial population growth in the nation. He actively recruited businesses to set up shop in Philadelphia, both domestically and internationally with tax reforms, better business services and international trade missions.
Mayor Nutter made a commitment to strong financial stewardship, vigorously managing the City through the worst economic recession since the Great Depression. As a result, Philadelphia’s credit rating was upgraded to the "A" category by the three major credit rating agencies for the first time since the 1970s. In 2013, Philadelphia City Council passed his Actual Value Initiative, the City's first ever property assessment system overhaul, transforming a broken and corrupt system into a fair, accurate and understandable system.
In affiliation with the National League of Cities, Mayor Nutter and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu launched Cities United, an initiative aimed at creating partnerships between cities, non-profits, and other stakeholders to combat violence and crime among African-American men and boys. He also serves on President Obama's My Brother's Keeper Advisory Council.
In June 2013, Mayor Nutter concluded his tenure as President of the United States Conference of Mayors, which is the official non-partisan organization of almost 1,300 U.S. cities with populations of 30,000 or more. In June 2015, Mayor Nutter completed his year of service as President of the Pennsylvania Municipal League, which brings together municipal government officials from across the Commonwealth to advance policy initiatives state-wide.
Mayor Nutter is a life-long Philadelphian, born and raised in West Philadelphia and educated at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been dedicated to public service since his youth. Mayor Nutter is happily married to his wife Lisa, and a proud parent to Christian and Olivia.
Mayor Annise Parker
Mayor Annise Parker is the Victory Fund and Victory Institute President & CEO. Annise is the first former elected official to lead the organizations, having served six years as a Houston City Council member, six years as City Controller, and six years as Mayor of the city. She is one of only two women to have been elected mayor in Houston, and is the only person in Houston history to have held the offices of council member, controller and mayor. She was the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a major American city.
She currently serves on the Policy and Global Affairs Committee of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the boards of Houston Botanic Garden, Houston BARC Foundation, Patient Care Intervention Council, and the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP).
Prior to joining Victory Fund and Victory Institute, she was Senior Vice-President and Chief Strategy Officer of BakerRipley, a community development nonprofit. She was also a Fellow at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders and Professor in the Practice at Rice University. She served on the boards of FirstNet – created by Congress to implement a nationwide broadband network for first–responders and the Airbnb Mayor’s Advisory Board.
In 2010 Time magazine named Mayor Parker one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She was named top US mayor and seventh ranked world mayor in 2014 by City Mayors Foundation. She has received numerous awards during her career, including Scenic Houston’s Scenic Visionary Award, Guardian of the Human Spirit Award from Holocaust Museum Houston, Guardian of the Bay Award from Galveston Bay Foundation, Rice University Distinguished Alumna for 2011, and Local Arts Leadership honoree by Americans For the Arts.
Mayor Parker has been involved in Victory Fund and Victory Institute since its founding. She was endorsed by Victory Fund in all her successful campaigns for elected office, served on the board of directors, is an alum of Victory Institute’s Candidate & Campaign Training, and is a former Victory Institute David Bohnett Leaders Fellow. Her first LGBTQ organizing event was the Texas Gay Conference in 1975, and she was a founding member of the Rice University Gay and Lesbian Support Group in 1979. She served as an officer or board member of dozens of organizations, including President of the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, Co-Chair of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, Co-Chair of the Lesbian and Gay Democrats of Texas and Treasurer of the Names Project Houston. She was a community liaison to the Houston Police department for many years, and created and taught an LGBTQ human relations module to cadets.
Mayor Parker graduated from Rice University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. In the private sector, she spent 20 years working in the oil and gas industry, including 18 years with Mosbacher Energy Company. She also co-owned Inklings, a lesbian/feminist bookstore for 10 years.
Jeanette Hernandez Prenger
Jeanette Hernandez Prenger serves as the founder, CEO and President of ECCO Select. She leads one of the Top 500 Hispanic businesses in the country, with more than 300 employees serving clients across North America. ECCO Select is a talent acquisition and consulting company, specializing in providing people, process and technology solutions.
She leverages her expertise in quickly assessing situations, identifying issues and developing the right solutions to help businesses strengthen operations, revenue, profitability and competitive advantages. Jeanette has put these skills into practice at ECCO Select since 1995. Beginning with a single client, ECCO Select has grown into a leading provider of technology talent for Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies, with offices in Kansas City, MO, Washington, D.C., and St. Louis, MO.
Jeanette advocates for business and economic growth through her leadership and involvement in organizations around the country. She serves on the national boards of The Latino Coalition (Chair), Junior Achievement USA, Boy Scouts of America, Women Impacting Public Policy and Orphaned Starfish Foundation, as well those closer to home – Missouri Tourism Commission (commissioner), Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank Economic Advisory Council, Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association (Visit KC, vice chair), the American Royal, the Heart of America Council of Boy Scouts, Kansas City Tech Council, and Park University (Trustee Chair). She is a former chair of the Greater Kansas City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and former vice chair of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC).
Tom Rousakis is a Senior Managing Director and US Infrastructure Leader with EY Infrastructure Advisors, LLC (EYIA), an affiliate of Ernst & Young LLP.
Mr. Rousakis has focused on US infrastructure finance since 1997 and is a recognized authority on the growing US public-private partnership market. Mr. Rousakis joined EYIA in 2013 after sixteen years in infrastructure investment banking for Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Mr. Rousakis has led transaction teams from inception through execution of debt and advisory assignments, developing rating agency, deal structure and investor marketing strategies for over $25 billion in infrastructure projects for transportation agencies, universities, and state and local governments generally. Mr. Rousakis currently leads project teams for a variety of highway, transit, multi-modal, resiliency and social infrastructure projects.
Mr. Rousakis currently leads the efforts of EYIA, which provides public and private sector clients with financial, commercial, and transaction advisory support for large-scale and complex infrastructure projects and programs, from the earliest stages of analysis and strategy through procurement, financial close, construction and operations. EYIA maintains infrastructure professionals across the country who specialize in development strategies to deliver pathfinder projects in the transportation, social/governmental facilities, water/wastewater, environmental/resiliency and renewable energy infrastructure sectors. EYIA assists clients in devising and evaluating financial plans, delivery approaches and public-private partnership opportunities for projects and programs that involve complex funding and financing considerations.
Mr. Rousakis’ notable past and current engagements include the redevelopment of Moynihan Station in New York City, the Gateway Tunnel between New York and New Jersey, the Denver Eagle Commuter Rail and Denver Union Station projects, UC Merced’s 2020 Project, and the Fargo-Moorhead Flood Diversion Program.
Prior to his work in infrastructure, Mr. Rousakis worked for the City of New York and interned for the City of San Francisco and non-profits. Mr. Rousakis lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and two children. He serves as vice president of the Flatbush Development Corporation and a Trustee of the Citizen’s Budget Commission of New York. Mr. Rousakis received his AB from Harvard College and his Master in Public Policy from Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Michael Spies is a Venture Partner with Navitas Capital, a venture capital firm focused on technology in the real estate and construction industries. He is also founder of Fuse Strategies, LLC, an investment and advisory platform engaged real estate and technology. Michael was a senior executive with Tishman Speyer for 30 years, the majority of which were spent internationally establishing and leading its businesses in Europe and India. He also chaired the firm’s Investment Committee for 20 years, and initiated and led its Innovation efforts globally. Prior to joining Tishman Speyer, he was Executive Vice President of the Public Development Corporation, which was the City of New York’s lead economic development agency.
Mr. Spies is a Global Governing Trustee of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), and in the past Chaired the Jury for awarding ULI’s highest honor, the Urban Land Institute Prize for Visionaries in Urban Development. He also serves on the Boards of Directors of TechnoServe, a global non-profit reducing poverty in the developing world through entrepreneurship; Equiem, a global leader in commercial tenant experience technology; and RE5Q, a real estate data platform. He is also on the Advisory Board of the Taubman Center in State and Local Government at the Harvard Kennedy School; and is engaged as an advisor with several early stage enterprises. Mr. Spies graduated cum laude from Princeton University and from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government with a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning.
Ajay Thomas, Executive Vice President & Head of Public Finance, joined FTN Financials Public Finance Department in August 2017 to serve as the firm’s national Head of Public Finance. Ajay joined the Firm from William Blair where he also served as Head of Public Finance Banking and Head of the Municipal Securities Group. Additionally, Mr. Thomas has worked with Morgan Stanley, Raymond James, and Robert W. Baird & Co., as a senior banker within their respective municipal departments managing investment-banking groups in the Southwest United States. Mr. Thomas has 15 years of experience in public finance and has significant Texas K-12 transaction experience having led transactions for a significant number of public independent schools across the State of Texas since 2007. Ajay is a leading expert on the application and execution of soft put bonds and other structuring products for K-12 schools. Under Ajay’s leadership and active participation, Texas public finance banking teams over the last six years have consistently achieved “Top 5” K-12 Municipal Underwriting firm rankings.
Mr. Thomas received his B.A. in Economics from Southwestern University, where he was selected as a representative from the United States and named a General Course Scholar to the London School of Economics. Ajay later earned his Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University, and his J.D. from the University of Texas. He has been appointed to serve as a member to the Texas Business Leadership Council (formerly the Governor’s Business Council) and is a member of the TBLC’s Legislative Task Force and active in their subcommittees on Texas Public Education and Infrastructure helping to advise state leaders on various public policy matters. Ajay was most recently appointed to serve as a member of the Board of Visitors at Southwestern University advising its leadership on matters of higher education policy. He holds his Series 7, Series 53, Series 79, Series 52, and Series 50 FINRA licenses.
Jay Walder served as the Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Hyperloop One, a privately held company out to create fast, effortless journeys that expand possibilities and eliminate the barriers of distance and time. Mr. Walder previously served as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Motivate, the largest bike-share company in the country. He was recruited to Motivate in October 2014 and led its successful financial turnaround, growth and sale to Lyft in 2018. He has enjoyed a distinguished international career in the public transportation sector, which includes 30 years working in the rail industry in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Asia.
Mr. Walder was the Chief Executive Officer of MTR Corporation in Hong Kong, one of the world’s largest rail and property companies. Prior to that, he was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest transit agency in the U.S.
From 2007 to 2009, Mr. Walder was a partner at McKinsey & Company London where he was the global leader of the firm’s Infrastructure Practice. Between 2001 and 2007, he was Managing Director, Finance and Planning at Transport for London, where he was credited with the introduction of the Oyster card and with drafting London's successful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Prior to that, he was a Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Mr. Walder holds a Bachelor of Science in Economics with Honors from Binghamton University, Harpur College, and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He also completed the Executive Programme in Strategic Leadership from Templeton College at the University of Oxford.
Tracey Zhen most recently served as president of Zipcar, the world’s leading car-sharing network, where she oversaw all facets of the business. Ms. Zhen focused on innovation and leveraging technology to grow Zipcar’s position as a category leader within the fast-growing mobility industry.
Ms. Zhen has 20 years of experience in leadership roles at consumer technology companies, including senior management roles at TripAdvisor and Expedia where she oversaw business strategy, finance, operations, product development, and marketing.
At TripAdvisor, Ms. Zhen oversaw the company’s vacation rental brands, scaling the business and growing revenue through strategic acquisitions and the restructuring of its business models. At Expedia, Ms. Zhen served as general manager for emerging markets and strategy, leading international business growth in Europe and Latin America. There she launched new markets, built a European strategy team, and scaled the business to multi-million-dollar growth. Ms. Zhen has a proven track record of scaling start-up businesses through product innovation, technology platform development, and consumer marketing.
Ms. Zhen started her career in investment banking at Bear, Stearns & Co., Inc., and she held senior roles at IAC where she built and oversaw a finance and analytics team, was responsible for new business development and subsequent wind-down and aided corporate restructurings and capital financings.
Ms. Zhen is a graduate of New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business holding dual B.S. degrees in Finance and Information Systems. She is a resident of Boston and a native of New York City.