REBNY Celebrates Outstanding Commercial Property Management Professionals at 15th Annual Leadership Breakfast

CBRE’s Theresa Morzello is the first woman to receive the Commercial Management Executive of the Year Award

Boston Properties LP CEO Owen Thomas delivers the keynote speech

REBNY's Commercial Management Leadership Honorees
REBNY’s Commercial Management Leadership Award Recipients (L-R): Avi Itzikowitz, Theresa Morzello, Ron D’Amato, Diane Fields, Sandra Hahn, Maria Dedvukaj, Massiel Santana, and Michael Johnson (Photo Credit: Ed Lederman)

Among the 10 awards presented to exceptional commercial property management professionals at the Real Estate Board of New York’s (REBNY) 15th Annual Commercial Management Leadership Breakfast held on May 31st at the New York Hilton Midtown Grand Ballroom, Theresa Morzello was honored as the Commercial Management Executive of the Year.

Ms. Morzello is the first woman to receive this award since its inception in 2003. In 2010, the award was renamed The Edward A. Riguardi Commercial Management Executive of the Year Award in honor of its first recipient, Edward A. Riguardi, who passed away in March 2018. Mr. Riguardi, known as the “Dean of Property Management” in New York, was widely respected for his work in safety regulations, city codes, the rehabilitation of properties, and adding value to a client’s property.

As Managing Director for CBRE’s Asset Services in New York City, Ms. Morzello oversees services ranging from property management to project management, and activities ranging from due diligence to accounting. She also provides hands-on leadership for more than 65 properties totaling more than 28 million square feet.

“Not only is our Commercial Management Executive of the Year Award winner a woman, but half of this year’s awards were presented to women,” said John H. Banks, REBNY President. “We are gratified that more women in our industry are being recognized for their outstanding professional accomplishments, and thank all of the honorees for their dedication to our industry.”

Theresa Morzello and Peter Riguardi
Peter Riguardi, son of Edward A. Riguardi, presents the Commercial Management Executive of the Year Award to Theresa Morzello (Photo Credit: Ed Lederman)

The additional 2018 honorees recognized at the breakfast, organized by the REBNY Commercial Management Breakfast Planning Committee, were:

Best Engine Room Award winner Hines’ 1585 Broadway

John M. Griffin Community Service Award winner Avi Itzikowitz, Director of Operations for ATCO Properties & Management, Inc.

On-Site Manager of the Year Sandra Hahn, Vice President and General Manager at JLL

Portfolio Manager of the Year Diane Fields, Portfolio Manager at Empire State Realty Trust

Rising Star of the Year Massiel Santana, Property Manager at Cushman & Wakefield, Inc.

Small Building Engineer of the Year Michael Johnson, Chief Engineer for Forest City Ratner Companies’ Tata Innovation Center at Cornell Tech

Large Building Engineer of the Year Ron D’Amato, Chief Engineer for SL Green Realty Corp.’s 1185 Avenue of the Americas

Security Professional of the Year Jose De La Cruz, Building Security/Concierge for Waterman Properties, LLC

Porter of the Year  Maria Dedvukaj, Forewoman at ABM

The event, held in the Grand Ballroom at the New York Hilton Midtown, included a keynote speech by Owen Thomas, Chief Executive Officer and a Director at Boston Properties LP. In his address, Mr. Thomas discussed technology, co-working, and sustainability.

Keynote speaker Owen Thomas, CEO of Boston Properties LP
Keynote speaker Owen Thomas, CEO of Boston Properties LP

Platinum tier sponsors for REBNY’s 15th Annual Commercial Management Leadership Breakfast included: ATCO Properties & Management, Inc., Boston Properties LP, CBRE, Inc., Fisher Brothers, Platinum, Silverstein Properties, Inc., SL Green Realty Corp., and Vornado Realty Trust.  

The awards presentation was hosted by Gaston Silva of Vornado Realty Trust, co-chair of REBNY’s Management Division Board of Directors, and Louis Trimboli of CBRE, Inc., co-chair of REBNY’s Commercial Management Council. The award presenters included: Peter Riguardi, representing his late father, Edward Riguardi; Michael Griffin, representing the Griffin family; Anthony Malkin, Empire State Realty Trust; Howard Styles and Kuba Brown, IUOE Local Union 94; Héctor Figueroa, 32BJ SEIU; and Thomas L. Hill of Boston Properties LP, co-chair of REBNY’s Management Division Board of Directors.

REBNY's Commercial Management Leadership Honorees and Award Presenters
REBNY's Commercial Management Leadership Honorees and Award Presenters (Photo Credit: Ed Lederman)
The Honorees with Members of REBNY's Management Division Board of Directors and Commercial Management Council
The Honorees with Members of REBNY's Management Division Board of Directors and Commercial Management Council (Photo Credit: Ed Lederman)

ABOUT THE HONOREES

Theresa MorzelloTheresa Morzello

Theresa Morzello, Managing Director of New York City Asset Services at CBRE, Inc. and recipient of the Edward A. Riguardi Commercial Management Executive of the Year Award, was honored for her distinguished leadership for more than 65 properties, totaling more than 28 million square feet. In this role, she oversees services ranging from property management to project management, and activities ranging from due diligence to accounting. Previously, Ms. Morzello served as portfolio manager for Cushman & Wakefield; the general manager for the dual-campus portfolio of New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Royal Charter Properties; a property manager via CBRE for 650 Fifth Avenue, a 385,000-square-foot Midtown office tower; and a property manager for Emigrant Savings Bank.

Her excellence in leadership throughout her dynamic career has been demonstrated through multiple management positions with large institutions, including MetLife; in her past role as Director of Technical Services for a New York-based energy consulting and metering company; and through her experience as a maintenance and plant system engineer for the New York Power Authority overseeing the operation and maintenance of Emergency Generator Systems at the Indian Point III Nuclear Generating Facility. Ms. Morzello is a member of REBNY’s Management Division Board of Directors, the Building Owners & Managers Association of Greater New York (BOMA), and is an alumna of Loyola College where she received a B.S. in Engineering Sciences.

Avi ItzikowitzAvi Itzikowitz

Avi Itzikowitz, Director of Operations for ATCO Properties & Management, Inc., was presented with the John M. Griffin Community Service Award after receiving the Edward A. Riguardi Commercial Management Executive of the Year Award in 2017. The industry leader, with more than 20 years of experience, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of ATCO’s New York Metropolitan portfolio and several properties in other markets. Since joining the company in 2003, Itzikowitz has been praised by his peers as a results-oriented operations manager with a strong record of building value in commercial, residential, retail, and industrial properties through increased cash flow and satisfied tenants.

Mr. Itzikowitz is highly respected among his colleagues for his professional achievements and contributions to the community. He serves as the Dinner Co-Chair for the Annual Empire Ball presented by the Real Estate Division of the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, dedicated to finding a cure for Type 1 diabetes and its many life-threatening complications. He also serves as a board member for The Torch Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Local 32BJ SEIU Thomas Shortman School, New York Energy Consumers Council, and REBNY’s Management Division Board of Directors.

Sandra HahnSandra Hahn

Sandra Hahn, Vice President and General Manager at JLL, took home the On-Site Manager of the Year Award for her outstanding work at 140 Broadway, 685 Third Avenue, the Starrett-Lehigh Building, and Tower 45, among others. Over the course of her 20-year career, she has managed multiple facility locations for Chase, Sony’s United States headquarters, the corporate headquarters for Morgan Stanley’s investment management group, the Scholastic Portfolio, Steinway Hall, Heron and Nippon Towers, and more. Ms. Hahn’s well-known track-record for success, wealth of redevelopment and management expertise, and excellence in tenant relations fueled her ascent to leadership and highly-regarded work with high-end tenants at the aforementioned properties. She was formerly Chair and serves as member of the BOMA NY Pinnacle Awards Committee, and has been involved in The Torch Foundation, Covenant House, Chashama, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Hope with Heart, Central Park Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, New York Cares, Toys for Tots Foundation, City Harvest, and The Humane Society.

Diane FieldsDiane Fields

Diane Fields, Portfolio Manager for Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT), was named Portfolio Manager of the Year for her commended work overseeing two million square feet of commercial space in New York City. She is known as a hard-working, dedicated, well-respected and loyal member of ESRT's property management team whose can-do attitude inspires many within and outside of the organization. During her 15-years in property management, Ms. Fields has spearheaded many successful initiatives to improve customer service for all tenants. Prior to her role as Portfolio Manager, she served as Property Manager for ESRT and before that, started her career as an assistant with Newmark & Company. She is actively involved with many industry organizations and serves as an instructor with BOMA teaching ethics. Ms. Fields donates her time to many organizations and charities including Saint Jude Children’s Research Hospital and The Torch Foundation.

Massiel SantanaMassiel Santana

Massiel Santana, Property Manager for Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., was named the Rising Star of the Year. Within in her first year at 850 Seventh Avenue, a mixed-use retail and residential condominium property, Ms. Santana has been praised by colleagues for her skill in navigating financial and operational challenges including negotiating and resolving all tenant arrears. She is credited with re-bidding maintenance contracts, achieving cost savings, and managing two major capital improvement projects for the property–a sprinkler system installation and elevator modernization. Ms. Santana’s dedication, drive, excellent rapport with tenants, and leadership has elicited positive feedback and motivated other on-site personnel to greatly improve their daily performance.

Michael JohnsonMichael Johnson

Michael Johnson, Chief Engineer for Forest City Ratner Companies’ Tata Innovation Center at Cornell Tech, was honored with the Small Building Engineer of the Year Award. A member of IUOE Local 94, Mr. Johnson started as an Engineer Helper in 2007 at the New York Times Building before being promoted to Engineer in 2009. In 2016, he accepted a position as Commissioning Agent to launch the new Tata Innovation Center, a 230,000-square-foot, LEED Silver building at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island. Post-construction, he assumed the role of Chief Operating Engineer through which he oversaw the proper installation and performance of all building systems; set up operations and maintenance programs; worked closely with all trades, controls, and metering vendors; and completed enhanced commissioning activities to collect energy data for measurement and verification certification.

Ron D’AmatoRon D’Amato

Ron D’Amato, the Large Building Engineer of the Year Award winner, serves as Chief Engineer for SL Green Realty Corp.’s 1185 Avenue of the Americas. He is known among his colleagues for his professionalism, integrity, and extensive knowledge of building systems and emergency preparedness. Mr. D’Amato’s exceptional management of all physical operations and maintenance of his properties, on-the-job experience, and intimate construction knowledge helped guide 1185 to achieve LEED Silver status in 2017, climb to an Energy Star score of 75, and win the BOMA Pinnacle Award for Operating Office Building of the Year (Over 1 Million Square Feet) in 2013 to 2014. At the start of his 28 years of experience in building operations, he worked his way up to engineer, assistant chief engineer, and finally chief engineer for Chase Bank. Since joining SL Green in 2004 as Chief Engineer of 21 Penn Plaza, he has managed over 100 capital projects totaling an estimated $28 million.

Jose De La CruzJose De La Cruz

Jose De La Cruz, Building Security/Concierge for Waterman Properties, LLC, was presented with the Security Professional of the Year Award. The 32BJ SEIU member has served as a dedicated member of the property management team at 400 Park Avenue for the past 25 years, ever since he moved to New York City from Dominican Republic. His colleagues applaud him for his unmatched attention to detail, awareness, passion to put forth his best efforts, and general demeanor observed by all staff members and tenants, many of which confide in him as dear friend. Mr. De La Cruz is a mentor to many of his colleagues and an advocate for the tenant base. He keeps the property management staff apprised of any tenant issues, concerns, and experiences and frequently makes suggestions on how the team’s efforts can be improved.

Maria DedvukajMaria Dedvukaj

Maria Dedvukaj, Forewoman at ABM, received the Porter of the Year Award for her exceptional service at 7 World Trade Center. When the building opened May 2006, she was hired as a matron, but quickly worked her way upwards by going above and beyond the call of duty. The OPEIU Local 32 member has been recognized by her colleagues as being the can-do team member. She is consistently the first one in the park, or in front of the building, during a snow storm assisting with snow removal and shoveling; ensures that issues within common spaces are handled in an expedient manner; and helps out with all tenant-related issues, even running freight cars when necessary. Ms. Dedvukaj’s colleagues say that she treats 7 World Trade Center as if she were part of the Silverstein Family with 100 percent dedication to her job, acting as a role model for all employees.