Choosing a person to nominate Person of the Year is never easy, but selecting a business leader who stood out during this strange and remarkable year has turned out to be a thankless task. In both Westchester and Fairfield County, there were a surplus of business professionals whose accomplishments helped cauterize the chaos created during the 2020 pandemic and redirect the region to a pattern of growth.
For 2021, the Business Journal pays tribute to 10 men and women who stand out in their respective sectors by their intrepid and intelligent leadership qualities and by an indefatigable spirit turned towards success. Our Personalities of the Year have changed the region for the better, and as we move towards 2022, we are grateful to have them with us to ensure a better and brighter future.
Nicolas coriano ran Cervitude, a Bridgeport-based start-up consulting firm, before being hired in April as vice president of east coast operations at 3DX Industries Inc., a Ferndale, Wash. company specializing in in specialized 3D printing applications in the metal additive manufacturing and plastic printing segments. In October, he was back in Bridgeport to open 3DX Industries’ first east coast office at the Bauer Hall Innovation Center at the University of Bridgeport. He’s in talks with the university to create a degree program in additive manufacturing, and he told the Business Journal that one of his goals for 2022 is to “recruit other companies to come in and do it.” part of this additive manufacturing ecosystem. We can set up another manufacturing center in the United States.
Marguerite Feeney is in a unique position to see the future of the region’s high tech sector. She is the director of the UConn Stamford technology incubator program – more commonly known as TIP Digital – which was launched earlier this year in collaboration with the nonprofit StamfordNext. The program offers startups in the data science space a variety of benefits, including lab and office spaces, participation in educational and networking events, access to UConn research facilities and the contribution of industry mentors and UConn entrepreneurs in residence. Under Feeney’s leadership, a new wave of data science startups are establishing their presence, with 23 companies in the program’s first-year cohort. Rarely has a person like Feeney been able to help so many startups grow in such a short time.
Susan fox is widely respected for the leadership role she continues to play as President and CEO of White Plains Hospital, where she has successfully guided her growth and enhanced her medical capabilities. Fox also plays a leading role in the county’s business community, most notably as the new chairman of the board of directors of the Westchester County Association. She has been active outside the hospital as chair of the board of directors of the Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association, member of the visitors’ council of Columbia University School of Nursing, member of the board of the Healthcare Association of New York State and President of the American Hospital Association (AHA) -Regional Policy Board, among other organizations.
Wilson kimball is recognized not only for its influence on the direction of development at Yonkers, but also for its promote the importance of safe, comfortable and affordable housing for current and new residents. Kimball currently heads the Municipal Housing Authority for the town of Yonkers. Previously, she was the town planning and development commissioner. Prior to that, she had been Senior Vice President of Operations for the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority in New York City. She was previously legal counsel to former New York First Lady Libby Pataki, advising her on political issues including economic development, women’s and children’s health and tourism.
Greg king is CEO of the cryptocurrency-focused investment products provider based at Tarrytown Osprey Funds. Formerly the digital assets subsidiary of Fairfield-based REX Shares, Osprey Funds transformed into an independent entity in March and zoomed into 2021 with offers, including the Osprey Polkadot Trust, the Osprey Solana Fund and the Osprey Polygon Fund – the latter is the first American fund to invest exclusively in MATIC, the native token of the Polygon network. Last month King announced the launch of Osprey Alpha LLC, a division responsible for actively managing funds for high net worth investors and institutions; Osprey Alpha will launch its first product, the Osprey NFT Fund, in early 2022. King has also become a sought-after thought leader in financial media, providing insight into the rapidly growing world of digital assets.
William S. Null was selected not only for his activity as a lawyer but for the roles he plays in nonprofit and business communities. Null is a partner at White Plains-based law firm Cuddy & Feder. He has been regularly present before government agencies, helping to guide the approval of numerous real estate developments. Null is also one of the 16 founders of The Westchester Bank, a major financial institution in the county. He has been active with the Westchester Section of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, White Plains Hospital Center, Gilda’s Club Westchester and the White Plains Bridge of Friendship Foundation.
Howard saffan is one of the few people who can take credit for changing the shape of a city. As the developer and director of the Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater, he led efforts to reuse the the former Bridgeport Bluefish baseball stadium into a 5,700-seat venue that hosts large musical groups. Working in a public-private partnership with the City of Bridgeport and LiveNation, Saffan has persevered in a business that has encountered more than a few potholes, including Covid-related construction delays that took the company to a budget over $ 30 million. Nonetheless, the July 28 opening concert by REO Speedwagon and Styx was a sold-out success, and it looks to 2022 with plans to host “more than 75 events” next year, including some 40 concerts – including 13 already reserved.
Bill Taibe is something of an icon on the Fairfield County restaurant scene. As the owner of For the Food Restaurant Group, he is the driving force behind three of Westport’s most popular restaurants: The whelk, Don Memo and Kawa Ni. And while the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the restaurant industry, Taibe has not only weathered the storm, but also emerged from the Covid-induced chaos with a fourth restaurant, the Norwalk Art Space Café. Based on his continued accomplishments and a lifetime of culinary honors, as well as his extensive volunteer work within the communities of Westport and Weston, Taibe has been honored as 2021 Restaurateur of the Year by the Connecticut Restaurant Association. .
Jean Visentin took the reins of management as CEO and vice president of Norwalk-based Xerox Holdings Corp. in May 2018, when the company was unwinding from a failed merger with Japan’s Fujifilm Holdings. This year, Visentin reinvented Xerox with an innovative restructuring that created three businesses focused on software, finance and innovation. He also entered into a new partnership with the US Navy to focus on 3D printing research to create metal parts and equipment for the Navy and Marine Corps, and he entered into a trio of acquisitions that extended Xerox operations across North America. Visentin is rarely seen in the media, but in his low-key way he has steered Xerox into what promises to be an exciting future.
Michel Zarine of White Plains-based law firm Zarin & Steinmetz was selected not only for its advocacy for numerous development projects in Westchester but also for its activity as a promoter of responsible actions vis-à-vis the environment. In addition to serving on the environmental section of the New York State Bar Association and being co-chair of its land use committee, Zarin has taught a course at the New York University Real Estate Institute titled Dealing with environmental issues in real estate transactions. He has been a guest lecturer in the Masters of Environment program at Pace University School of Law. In business, one of the boards he sits on is TCI Inc., the largest PCB decommissioning and recycling company in North America.
Compiled by Phil Hall and Peter Katz