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Statement of Real Estate Board of New York President Steven Spinola on receiving The Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award
January 16, 2015
“Thank you for this wonderful honor tonight. To receive an award in the name of Harry Helmsley is an extraordinary recognition. To have had the privilege to represent our industry for nearly 30 years has been a continuing honor and an opportunity of a lifetime. You have trusted me to serve as REBNY’s President and be the voice of the most important industry in our City. I will never forget the confidence you have shown in me and the support, advice, time and the money you have given to allow REBNY to be the most effective real estate organization in New York and perhaps beyond. As an industry we continue to build and renovate, market and sell, finance and manage the most important City in the world. Your love for New York is displayed in the contributions you make to our great institutions and the responses you offer to the difficult challenges we face as a City. We love Wall Street, but New York is a Real Estate town, it is the engine that makes everything possible in the Big Apple.
I want to thank my Chairs over the years along with two individuals who never held that title. Jerry Speyer who had the guts to give me this job 30 years ago, the indomitable and generous Steve Ross, the great statesman and gentleman John Zuccotti and Mary Ann Tighe, who somehow manages to be the First Lady of REBNY as well as just one of the guys. Jack Rudin welcomed me on my first day at REBNY and supported me and our industry ever since. Sandy Lindenbaum who always had an answer to the most impossible problems and made my job so much easier. Lennie Litwin, or should I say Mr. Litwin, never said no to any request. A century after his birth he continues to be an important factor in our State. I offer a special thank you to Burt Resnick. Burt has been there every year, fighting the fight, giving the right advice and support, and being a friend. Then there is Bernie Mendik, who for almost ten years served as our Chair and my friend. I continue to feel his presence at important meetings, following what I believe would be his advice and especially tonight feeling his loss.
I especially want to thank Rob Speyer for his kind, kind words and the partnership we have had these past two years that will continue into much of 2015. We have an extraordinarily gifted Chairman who is a wonderful, skillful leader.
My stepping down as your President only ends one chapter in the very impressive continuing history of The Real Estate Board of New York. Together we have accomplished much. Great challenges remain and REBNY could not be in better hands. With Rob as Chair, supported by our members and an extremely talented staff to whom I will always be grateful, we are up to the task, especially with the selection of John Banks as our President Elect. I have known John for two decades and he brings to this position all of the skills necessary to lead our great industry.
Finally let me say that I consider myself to have been blessed to serve as your President, so let me ask God to bless all of you and offer a very inadequate but extremely sincere Thank You.”
The Harry B. Helmsley Distinguished New Yorker Award, created in 1992, recognizes REBNY members who have a lifetime of exceptional accomplishment in the profession and have made invaluable contributions to New York’s civic welfare.