Leadership of Empire State Development

Howard Zemsky

Kenneth AdamsIn January 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo nominated Howard Zemsky to serve as President & CEO of Empire State Development and Commissioner of the New York State Department of Economic Development.

Empire State Development, or “ESD”, is the economic development agency of New York State.  Mr. Zemsky and his colleagues manage a broad range of programs, incentives and services designed to increase private sector investment and job creation in New York.  The organization has a staff of over 450 people located in 12 offices across the State.  Howard works closely with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul and the respective regional co-chairs to implement the Regional Economic Development Councils, the Governor’s decentralized, collaborative and strategic approach to economic development.

Howard Zemsky has co-chaired the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council during the past four years and has worked closely on the Governor’s Buffalo Billion revitalization initiative. His company, Larkin Development Group, has redeveloped approximately 1.0 million square feet of historic building space in Buffalo since 2002, with a particular focus on reclaiming Buffalo’s earliest industrial neighborhood, the Larkin Historic District.

In recent years Howard has chaired Western New York’s Transportation Authority, SUNY Buffalo State College serving over 10,000 students, and he has served as President of the Richardson Center Corporation, a non-profit board charged with rehabilitation of the Richardson and Olmsted designed former NY State Psychiatric Hospital.

Mr. Zemsky has a Bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and a M.B.A from the University of Rochester.

He is a Brooklyn native, a product of Long Island and a resident of Buffalo where he and his wife Leslie have lived for 30 years with their 3 children.

Board of Directors

The Corporation is governed by a Board of Directors comprising two ex-officio members and seven members appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate. The Chair of the Empire State Development Board is selected by the Governor and also serves as the Commissioner of Economic Development. Board members serve without compensation. 

Kenneth Adams, Director
Empire State Development, President and CEO
New York State Department of Economic Development, Commissioner
Confirmed – April 5, 2011

Derrick D. Cephas, Esq., Director
Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP, Partner
Confirmed – January 29, 2008
Re-Appointed – May 20, 2009

Robert R. Dyson, Director
The Dyson-Kissner Moran Corporation, Chairman & CEO
Confirmed – March 16, 2010

Joyce Miller, Director
Tier One Public Strategies, CEO
Confirmed – May 4, 2010

Benjamin Lawsky, Ex Officio Director
NYS Department of Financial Services, Superintendent
Confirmed – May 24, 2011

ESD Committees

Next ESD Board Meeting:
Board typically meets the third Thursday of every month.

Board Materials Archive

ESD Executive Management Team

Howard Zemsky
ESD President & CEO and Commissioner of New York State Department of Economic Development

Joe Chan
EVP, Real Estate Development & Public/Private Partnerships

Steve Cohen
EVP Small Business Services & Community Economic Development

Liz Fine
EVP, Legal & General Counsel

John Gilstrap
EVP, Business Attraction & Expansion

Rhoda Glickman
SVP, Film, Arts and New Media Development

Sam Hoyt
Regional President, Western New York

Charles Imohiosen
Chief Operating Officer

Richard Newman
EVP, State Marketing Strategy

Mehul J. Patel
Chief of Staff

Kay Sarlin Wright
EVP, Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives

Margaret Tobin
Chief Financial Officer

Leslie Whatley
EVP, Start-Up NY

Kevin Younis
EVP, Public Policy, Planning & Incentives

For more information, contact:
ESD Office of Public Affairs
(800) 260-7313


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