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A switch at Empire State Development: new Chief of Staff Justin Ginsburgh now has Atlantic Yards in his portfolio

According to a new Empire State Development (Corporation) organizational chart (below), dated 10/26/11, new Chief of Staff Justin Ginsburgh, whose appointment was announced 9/6/11, now has overall responsibility for Atlantic Yards.

The project previously was in the portfolio of Executive Director Peter Davidson, to whom Arana Hankin, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, reported.

The chief of staff is a newly created position. Before coming to ESD, Ginsburgh worked at Goldman Sachs for a year and seven months, following his 2009 graduation from Harvard Business School (where he signed the MBA Oath, joining others in aiming to “create value responsibly and ethically”).

Ginsburgh, who's in his early 30s, spent three years as Senior Project Manager for the New York City Economic Development Corporation and before that spent a year at the Boston Consulting Group.

What's the reason?

I queried agency spokesman Austin Shafran about the change. Shafran responded, "Mr. Ginsburgh has taken on some of the oversight of key ESD projects to ensure we maintain an active role in their progress."

That's not terribly helpful, given that, presumably no one at the agency would acknowledge that it had not previously been maintaining an active role.

I suspect that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who took over this year, simply wants the project supervised by one of his appointees, however little experience that appointee has with Atlantic Yards, just as he appointed his own ESD CEO, Kenneth Adams. (Ginsburgh also supervises the Harlem Community Development Corporation, or HCDC.)

Also, maybe Davidson--who still oversees five subsidiaries/projects--simply has too much else to do. Or perhaps the Cuomo Administration also would rather not have Atlantic Yards project overseen by an executive who claimed, incredibly, that it would "be the largest job-creating project in New York City in the last 20 years”?

Adams did not mention Ginsburgh's role at 9/26/11 meeting he had with Brooklyn residents and local elected officials. He brought at least seven staffers but not, to my observation, Ginsburgh.

At that meeting, local elected officials asked about--but were rebuffed--a proposed governance entity to oversee the project and provide more public input.

The organizational chart (click to enlarge)

Note that Brooklynite Joe Chan, the agency's new EVP of Business Development and former CEO of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, does not have any direct role in Atlantic Yards.

From the 9/6/11 press release:
Empire State Development (ESD) President & CEO and Commissioner Kenneth Adams today announced the appointment of Justin Ginsburgh as Chief of Staff. In his new role, Mr. Ginsburgh will oversee several major ESD projects and lead broader initiatives to make ESD more efficient, strategic, and customer-focused.
“Justin has a great blend of public and private experience, and we are fortunate to have someone of his caliber join ESD,” said President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “With his previous roles in finance, government and management consulting, Justin will hit the ground running and play a leading role in ESD’s efforts to grow New York State’s economy.” "Like all states, New York faces major economic challenges, but I believe the state is in an incredible position to grow its economy under the leadership of the Governor, the guidance of the regional councils and the work of the dedicated staff at ESD,” said Chief of Staff, Justin Ginsburgh. “Given the groundbreaking progress in state government over the past year, I'm extremely honored to join the Cuomo Administration at this exciting time.”
 Before joining ESD, Mr. Ginsburgh worked at Goldman Sachs in their Urban Investment Group, focusing exclusively on socially responsible investing in urban markets in the United States. He was also an Associate at the Boston Consulting Group and a Senior Project Manager at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, where he led projects focused on sector development, real estate and infrastructure. Mr. Ginsburgh holds a Bachelor of Arts with honors in history and economics from Northwestern University and a Masters of Business Administration with High Distinction from the Harvard Business School, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar. He is on the Board of Trustees for The Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights.
Ginsburgh ESD Announcement


  1. Anonymous8:38 PM

    It's still a big mystery what the Chief of staff does at ESD. Does he interact with staff? This chart has changed on a monthly basis since upper management changes weekly.


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