Howard Zemsky

In January 2015, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo nominated Howard Zemsky to serve as President and CEO of Empire State Development and Commissioner of the New York State Department of Economic Development. Commissioner Zemsky was confirmed by the Senate on March 30, 2015.

As Commissioner of Empire State Development (ESD), New York State’s chief economic development agency, Mr. Zemsky leads the Governor’s decentralized, collaborative and strategic approach to economic development. ESD administers a range of programs, initiatives, incentives and services designed to increase private sector investment and job creation across New York State.

Prior to joining ESD, Commissioner Zemsky co-chaired the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council and worked on initiatives aimed at revitalizing the upstate economy. A longtime Buffalo business leader, Mr. Zemsky’s company, Larkin Development Group, has redeveloped approximately 1 million square feet of historic building space in Buffalo since 2002.

Commissioner Zemsky received a bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and MBA from the University of Rochester. A Brooklyn native who was raised on Long Island, Mr. Zemsky currently resides in Buffalo, where he and his wife have lived for over 30 years.

ESD leadership at a glance

See an entire organizational chart of Empire State Development.

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. Board members serve without compensation. 

Howard Zemsky, Ex-Officio Director
Empire State Development, President and CEO
NYS Department of Economic Development, Commissioner
Confirmed - March 30, 2015

Robert R. Dyson, Director
The Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation, Chairman and CEO
Confirmed - March 16, 2010
Reappointed - June 20, 2012

Hilda Rosario Escher, Director
Ibero-American Action League, President and CEO
Confirmed - June 16, 2015

Eric J. Gertler, Director
U.S. News & World Report, Chairman
Ulysses Ventures, CEO
Confirmed – June 20, 2018

Cesar A. Perales, Director
Confirmed - June 17, 2016

Linda A. Lacewell, Ex Officio Director
NYS Department of Financial Services, Superintendent
Appointed - February 4, 2019
Confirmed - June 20, 2019

Board meetings

The board typically meets the third Thursday of every month.


You can find board meeting archives here.

ESD Executive Management Team

Howard Zemsky – President, CEO and Commissioner
Kevin Younis – Chief Operating Officer and Deputy Commissioner
Richard Newman – Chief of Staff and EVP, State Marketing Strategy
Elizabeth Fine – EVP, Legal and General Counsel
Rhoda Glickman – SVP, Film, Arts and New Media Development
Ed Hamilton – Sr. Deputy Commissioner for Finance and Administration
Elaine Kloss – Chief Financial Officer
Michael Lefebvre – EVP, Public Policy, Planning and Incentives
Holly Leicht – EVP, Real Estate Development and Planning
Jeff Nordhaus – EVP, Innovation and Broadband
Pravina Raghavan – EVP, Small Business Services and Community Economic Development
Valerie White – EVP and Executive Director, Division of Minority and Women’s Business Development
Matthew Gorton – EVP, Public Affairs and Communications

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