The Persuaders

A who’s who of REBNY’s top brass — from 30-year veterans to newly minted senior managers

Sep.September 01, 2017 11:00 AM

John Banks, Jim Whelan and Carl Hum

John Banks,

Much like his predecessor, Steven Spinola, what Banks brings to the table at REBNY are years of experience in policy and the many connections he made along the way. He’s also earned a reputation as a firm and level-headed negotiator.

From humble beginnings in New York City’s Finance Department, Banks rose to chief of staff for the City Council and went on to spend 13 years as the top lobbyist for Con Ed.

He knows how laws get written and how to sew up unlikely alliances to serve REBNY’s 17,000 members.

In 2016, Banks and his colleagues partnered with the hotel workers’ union to win stiffer regulations on short-term home rental sites, such as Airbnb, and with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to clear a huge backlog of sites — including some on the agency’s calendar for decades.

Jim Whelan,
Executive Vice President

Having served as REBNY’s senior vice president of public affairs for five years, Whelan built a track record that put him on the short list of possible Spinola successors.

When Banks got the nod in late 2014 instead, he quickly made Whelan the board’s second-in-command. The seasoned lobbyist does the hands-on job of executing REBNY’s agenda and coordinating with its allies. He’s also the day-to-day point person at City Hall and Albany, where the status of the board, and its top donors, commands respect.

Related:Putting REBNY back on the agenda

In recent months, Whelan worked with the city to impose tougher safety regulations on crane operators and alter how the city evaluates historic districts.

Before joining REBNY, he served as chief of staff to Michael Bloomberg’s Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and later as a senior executive at the Queens-based, family-owned real estate firm Muss Development.

John Doyle,
Senior Vice President of Government Affairs

A 30-year REBNY veteran, Doyle uses his institutional and industry knowledge as the board’s day-to-day point man at the City Council.

That role allows him to weigh in on public policies rarely associated with New York’s real estate industry — such as when he testified against a proposal to double the number of permits the city issues for food cart vendors.

Recently, Doyle relayed REBNY’s stance on a bill that would make it harder for landlords to increase retail rents, and on another dealing with proposed increases to NYC’s property tax rate. He also had a hand in drafting rules designed to boost the city’s paltry commercial recycling rate by putting more accountability on tenants.

Additionally, Doyle oversees REBNY’s ethics hearings and helps mediate disputes over broker commissions.

Perhaps not surprisingly, he previously served as the director of adjudications at the city’s Parking Violations Bureau.

Carl Hum,
Senior Vice President of Management Services and Government Affairs

Banks tapped Hum to join REBNY’s senior management team in the fall of 2015 to tackle what can often become a thankless job.

Day in and day out, Hum works with building managers and government officials to help implement and interpret the latest revisions to the city’s labyrinth of building codes — 2,500 pages of rules and regulations. He also helps the city’s real estate industry navigate 13 new resiliency laws drafted in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Some of the bigger issues and initiatives on Hum’s plate now are construction safety and REBNY’s sustainability initiatives, including one designed to cut the amount of power that office landlords are required to provide their tenants.

Hum got his professional start in 1997 as an assistant prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. From there he worked for the Bloomberg administration, where he developed 16 Industrial Business Zones to help spur manufacturing.

Joe Barbaccia,
Senior Vice President of Brokerage Services and Education

Barbaccia gets paid to stand on the receiving end of queries and occasional complaints from the organization’s broker members. He also oversees educational programs, including licensing courses and ethics training.

He joined REBNY’s senior management team in February 2015, taking over the role of long-serving Senior Vice President Eileen Spinola — Steven Spinola’s wife.

Having long been a dues-paying REBNY member himself, while working as sales director at the residential firm Essential New York Real Estate, Barbaccia carries a direct knowledge of the brokerage community’s needs. Last year, he launched a set of public-speaking courses for brokers to help them brush up on their presentation skills.

Barbaccia founded REBNY’s Rental Committee for the Residential Division back in 1994. He also sat on the trade group’s Board of Governors and co-chaired its Residential Brokerage Membership Committee during his years as an active member.

Jamie McShane,
Senior Vice President of Communications

When McShane signed on as REBNY’s head spokesperson in 2014, he brought further insight into the personalities and inner workings of City Hall.

As the former director of communications for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, he worked with the volatile leader from 2007 all the way through her defeat in the Democratic mayoral primary in 2013.

On top of serving as a guard dog with the press, McShane supervises the department that runs REBNY’s Twitter account — which has 49,000 followers — and has helped put brokers in the spotlight through social media and videos on the board’s website.

McShane began his career as a journalist, working behind the scenes as a producer for television news. He covered the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and their aftermath for NY1 and the trial of Michael Jackson on the West Coast for CNN.

Michael Slattery,
Senior Vice President of Research

A philosophy major from Iona College and a firm believer in the power of numbers, Slattery has headed REBNY’s research department since 1989.

It’s there that he mines the board’s data and member expertise to advance its take on everything from land use planning to economic development and taxes.

He’s also in charge of preparing REBNY’s quarterly market reports on investment sales and residential activity in the New York market.

In recent months, research compiled by Slattery’s team has helped advance the real estate community’s stakes on a range of issues — from rezoning Midtown East to reviving the 421a developer tax breaks.

Slattery started at REBNY 31 years ago as executive director of its affordable housing fund, designed to build homes in Queens and the Bronx. Prior to that he worked at the predecessor to today’s New York City Economic Development Corporation.

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