What’s Happening: 2nd Quarter 2021

Newsletter sponsored by: TD Bank
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Construction, Real Estate and Development Council (CRED)

Economic Development Government Affairs (EDGA)

Green Council

Hospitality and Tourism Alliance

HR Connexions

Professional Marketing Council

Rockland Emerging Business Owners & Professionals (REBOP)

Technology Initiative

Women’s Leadership Council




Construction, Real Estate and Development Council (CRED)

The Construction, Real Estate, and Development Council started off the quarter in April with a joint meeting of the Green Council and REBOP (Rockland Emerging Business Owners & Professionals).  Titled Let’s Mix It Up,  these groups were brought together for some fun speed networking. In May, Clarkstown Supervisor, George Hoehmann joined us and spoke about Clarkstown’s Comprehensive Plan and Economic Development.  It’s always a pleasure to hear from the Supervisor and we thank him for joining us.  In June we met for a Round-Table discussion to allow our participants to share what’s happening in their businesses. 

CRED supports and empowers RBA members who are in real estate, development, and construction through networking, resource sharing, education and advocacy.  Exclusively for members in real estate, development, construction and allied fields including current and prospective commercial property owners; architects/engineers; project managers/general contractors; sub-contractors (HVAC, electricians, etc.); commercial real estate brokers; lenders; title companies; insurance providers; municipalities/regulatory agencies.

The Construction, Real Estate, and Development Council is sponsored by Rand Commercial and co-chaired by Michael Shilale, Architect and Judith Bachman, Esq.



Economic Development / Government Affairs

Since the NYS Legislature ends its session in June, the second quarter of every year is filled with lots of discussion and analysis of what we might expect. And, this year was no different, except there might have been more anti-business attitude being debated. From capping nursing home profits at 5 percent and new staffing requirements for medical facilities to an “expanded producer responsibility” act that would add $800 million in direct costs to New York businesses and a bill that would change our anti-trust laws and damage small businesses (something now being discussed at the federal level). 

We did enjoy a great session with NYS Senator Elijah Reichlin-Melnick. This was an extremely open conversation about the senator’s reasons for being in public service, things he would like to accomplish and some thoughts he had on topics of the day that one might not have expected. One of his primary goals was to see the East Ramapo School District monitor be given override authority over the district’s school board (something that was signed by the Governor in July).   



Green Council

As the Pandemic wanes, the RBA’s Green Council kicks off the Spring Meetings with some familiar faces in new roles.  The past Green Council Chair, Michael Shilale has stepped aside to focus his attention on the Construction, Real Estate, & Development Council. For over 10 years, Michael has led and coordinated the Green Council and the annual Green Awards Program. In short, Michael was the Green Council and we would not have enjoyed the success and celebrity of the Council without his efforts and leadership. We wish him well and a big THANK YOU for his efforts over the past decade.

The Green Council will now be co-chaired by Jan Degenshein of Degenshein Architects and Anthony Lisanti of Integral Building and Design. What remains constant – and with gratitude – is that the Green Council is sponsored by Suez Water New York.

This past Spring the Green Council meeting was held in conjunction with the Construction, Real Estate & Development Council on April  27th.  On May 11th, The Green Council returned to its stand alone meeting with a general discussion and roundtable – basically catching up with attendees after a long hiatus due to the pandemic.  On June 8th Green Council met again and hosted a presentation by Wendy A. Holser Hijos, NY Executive Director and Brydon Ross, Vice President, State Affairs of the – Consumer Energy Alliance. Their presentation focused on some of the critical energy supply and demand as well as policy issues facing New York State and in particular the Lower Hudson Valley Region. It is their position that – with government regulation and politics – achieving zero-carbon emissions by 2035 is unrealistic, and we must provide a roadmap toward that goal that can be navigated.

Energy policy, supply, demand and infrastructure and the effects on Rockland County Business and residents will be the topic of future Green Council Meetings. We hope you will attend.

Co-chaired by
Jan Degenshein of Degenshein Architects
Anthony Lisanti of Integral Building and Design



Hospitality and Tourism Alliance

HTA had a very active quarter, with a variety of important subjects being presented.  We started off with an exceptional presentation about the $28.6 Billion Restaurant Revitalization Grant Fund. Tom Morley, Director, NYS Small Business Development Center at RCC, provided tremendous insight into how our local dining establishments could best access the benefits of this program.

We also heard from Carlos Martinez, Executive Director of BRIDGES, who spoke about an innovative computer program that notes important information about ADA-compliant restaurants. This program, developed with the assistance of the students of the Rockland PTEC program at BOCES, can be used as a marketing tool by Rockland’s hospitality businesses.

Mark Davidoff, Culinary Arts Director at RCC, shared information about a Consolidated Funding Application the college is working on, in conjunction with Visit Nyack, to bring historical and cultural bus tours to Nyack. Angela McDonnell and Shannon Hargrove of St. Thomas Acquinas College, shared information about experiential learning and how it can be employed by the hospitality industry.

Also, Shawn Reilly, President of the NY Boulders spoke about the team’s 2021 season and some of the other activities at the ballpark. He noted the team would be hosting a game with the Israeli Olympic Team, that NYPD and NYFD would again play their annual game at the ballpark, that 26 school graduations were being held at the ballpark and that a number of events were planned to help our local charitable organizations.



HR Connexions Group

Might be Our Last Virtual Meeting…

As usual, our June 2021 meeting was our HR Legal Update with Mike Hekle, Partner, and Tom Petriccione, Associate from Jackson Lewis Law Firm in White Plains, NY. Mike has been doing the HR Connexions Annual Legal Updates since 2014 and we are very appreciative of his time each year.

Mike and Tom covered the nuances of working from home and returning to work during the Coronavirus pandemic and some challenges faced by both companies and their employees requiring them to rethink their workplace strategies. They also covered the NYS Recreational Marijuana laws and how it might impact companies and the updated American Rescue Plan and the HERO Act – things HR needs to make sure Companies are on top of. 

We meet every other months 5x a year so the June meeting is our last meeting until after the summer… we will be back in September and hopefully, in person, something we would all appreciate after having done this remotely for over a year!

If you are responsible for the HR function at your company or have an HR staff member – this group is for you! We have been around since 2013 and would love to see the group continue to grow… Since this is an invitation only group please reach out to Doreen or myself to be added to our invitation list.

Doreen:  db@rocklandbusiness.org

Lena:  lena@4prs.com

Liz:  ohalloranl@coned.com


Liz O’Halloran & Lena Bodin





Professional Marketing Council

The PMC spent the spring learning and growing from each other. In April, we hosted a joint meeting with the Women’s Leadership Council in which a panel of professionals joined us to talk about whether gender identity should drive marketing strategy. Panelists Chelsea Wulff, Senior Conservation Program Specialist, SUEZ, Robert Genovesi from Unleash My Beast Brand and Dana Star Kiwacz, Owner of Inspired Life Design Studio led a lively discussion on best practices for gender-based marketing, new trends on reaching different target audiences and how thinking about your sales and marketing pitches from the viewpoint of male and female audiences can influence and/or change your strategies.

The following meeting in May, we heard from public relations professional and PMC co-chair Jenny Mirmelstein and freelance public relations specialist Gabrielle Egger who gave us insight into how to use PR strategies and tactics when growing a business, launching a campaign and maintaining a social media presence. They gave us lots of food for thought!

The PMC is on hiatus for the summer, but will be back in September with new topics related to marketing and communications. As always, if you have a topic you are interested in learning about, or would like to volunteer your time towards this committee, please let us know.

Ann Byne and Jenny Mirmelstein, Co-Chairs



Rockland Emerging Business Owners & Professionals

We want to cultivate ambition and passion and create a comfortable, educational environment to help guide younger business professionals get acquainted with reality, and onto the proper path to success.

Chaired by David Palma, Payed Processing, Jason Horowitz, Triforce Commercial Real Estate LLC, and Michael Khekoian, Computuners

REBOP has held monthly Zoom calls to network and connect with our peers.  In April we joined the Green Council and the Construction, Real Estate, & Development Council for a joint meeting Titled “Let’s Mix It Up”, where we divided into breakout rooms for some speed networking.

We are very excited about things reopening so we can focus on returning to in-person events.  Our first event before we officially launched had over 70 people and our second quarterly networking event, which unfortunately had to be cancelled due to COVID, was set to have over 100 participants.

To learn more about REBOP visit the REBOP Facebook page facebook.com/reboprba



Technology Initiative

Educational and interactive discussions addressing the ever-changing business needs – for those with a technology background, and those without.

Critical Initiatives for the Second Half of 2021

As we all know, the coronavirus pandemic has affected security and risk-management leaders worldwide. Some of these leaders are developing and implementing security projects which are designed to simultaneously minimize the risk as well as support remote workers. In talking with our customers, here is what the technology industry are saying are the top goals for second half 2021, based on the lessons we have learned from first half 2021.

Remote Workforce Monitoring

Most of the workforce has moved from working from office buildings to working from various different remote locations. Some of the challenges with monitoring the remote workforce is getting real-time insights into your data with a remote workforce, which is not easy. Also, identifying users who are prone to phishing attacks is a significant issue. Organizations need to identify users who are accessing resources from untrusted or unsecure locations, because now they are not working in one secure location behind a corporate firewall. Employees might be accessing corporate assets directly through some of the cloud service providers, such as Microsoft or Amazon or Salesforce, or even using virtual meeting software like WebEx or Zoom. You no longer know what machines are connected to your assets. Where are they really coming from? And who is connecting from where? You need to be able to collect context, establish normal patterns, and then look for the things that are outside of the norm, which is a huge challenge.

Detecting and Preventing Insider Threats

The next critical customer goal is around detecting and preventing insider threats. Everyone is concerned about insider threats, especially with what’s happening with the pandemic. Insider threats include malicious as well as negligent insiders. It also includes outsiders impersonating insiders. Are insiders committing fraud? Are they stealing company data? Are they looking at records they shouldn’t be looking at? These are some of the key aspects that our customers want to know from an insider standpoint. Insider threats come in various flavors, from espionage to theft, to sabotage, fraud, and competitive advantage. We normally put insider threats into three major categories: access misuse, data exfiltration, and account or host compromise. What we are seeing with our customers is that all of the changes to work from home is what is driving the need to detect and prevent insider threats.

Extended Detection and Response (XDR)

XDR is an emerging technology and customers are looking to adopt that fairly quickly. One of the key aspects for embracing XDR is to improve advanced threat detection accuracy by linking together all the security telemetry across the organization. Endpoint, network, application, and identity telemetry are integrated for real-time threat detection. In addition, XDR delivers faster incident response with rapid incident correlation and causation. Automated response actions trigger orchestration playbooks and automation workflows, which ultimately lowers operating costs.

What we’ve learned from our business initiatives survey is that work from home is here to stay. It’s going to be a permanent change for a long time:

  • Insider threats are on the rise.
  • Automation is critical for SOC efficiency.
  • Security is even more critical than ever.

The RBA Technology Initiative will be bringing our members timely topics via zoom:

  • Are you the next headline for Ransomware? Do you Your enough Cyper insurance July 22nd 10:00am
  • P-Tech Industry Challenge for business: Cybersecurity Check list September 23rd 10:00am

The RBA Technology Initiative believes that companies that can simultaneously attend to and rise above the critical and day-to-day demands of their crisis response can gain unique insights to both inform their response and help ensure that their digital future is more robust coming out of COVID-19 than it was coming in.


The RBA Technology Initiative Council presents educational and interactive discussions addressing the ever-changing business needs in the technology and computer industries.

The Hudson Valley P-TECH is working to develop the high-skilled, well-educated workforce our region needs to support long-term economic growth.



Women’s Leadership Council

Fuel your business aspirations with the help of Women’s Leadership Council

Designed for female business owners and professional women.  WLC provides networking, inspiration and resources.  Zoom presentations are scheduled to provide information and stimulate discussions about topics that especially now, impact women in business.

The Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) was thrilled to present in April a joint program with the Professional Marketing Council entitled Should Gender Identity Drive Your Marketing Strategies. The panel, expertly led by PMC’s co-chair Ann Byne, included panelists Jenny Mirmelstein, Rockland BOCES, Chelsea Wulff, Senior Conservation Program Specialist at SUEZ and Robert Genovesi, Unleash My Beast Brand.  This energetic and fun panel revealed the newest trends in targeted marketing approaches for your business.

In May, WLC welcomed Donna Johnson-Klonsky, MBA, PCC, President of DJ Consulting Services, Inc. for her presentation Leaders Become More: Strengthen Your Core (Courage, Organization, Resilience and Efficiency).  Donna’s highly motivating presentation provided both structure and examples for taking concrete actions to effect real operational change.

June’s program, Navigating Return to Work in a Post-Vaccine World, presented a panel featuring Lena Bodin, President/CEO of People Resource Strategies, Sabrina Hosang Jordan, CEO of Caribbean Food Delights and Christina Espindola, Resource and Referral Coordinator, Child Care Resources of Rockland, Inc. The panel spoke to what one needs to know about the new normal work environment, from HR do’s and don’ts to managing childcare to workplace adaptation and functionality.

WLC is taking a break in July and August but we can’t wait to launch a new season of programming in September! We look forward to seeing you then, and wish you all a great Summer!


Marian Rokeach, mrokeach@fountainview.org

Robin Rosenberg, robin@garnervillearts.com

Stephanie Madison, madisons@mharockland.org