enCourage Kids Foundation has been fortunate to have been guided by a continuum of solid visionary leadership since 1987 whose strategic decision-making and guidance steer the organization. The Board of Directors includes individuals from key area businesses, organizations, and the community, including such industries as real estate, finance and banking, media and entertainment, international apparel, beauty, and hospitality. Their knowledge and insight combined with their vision for the future are essential to the Foundation’s continued success.
After a career span of nearly 40 years in the banking industry, Joe Wessely retired in 2018 from his position as Managing Director at Dime Community Bank where he was responsible for business banking clients and commercial banking products. Prior to working at Dime, he was Executive Vice President and Market Manager at FleetBoston Financial and then the Director of Business Banking at Greenpoint Bank.
Mr. Wessely has the reputation of being a focused leader who used his industry experience to build successful partnerships. He has served in many capacities on the Board of Directors of enCourage Kids Foundation since the organization was founded, and provided invaluable financial guidance as Chair of the Investment Committee and Board Treasurer for nearly a decade. Most recently in his capacity as Executive Vice President, Mr. Wessely led the organization through a nationwide expansion to nearly 300 hospitals throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.
Mr. Wessely graduated from St. John’s University with a B.S. in Accounting and Finance. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Deborah, and is the proud father of daughters Erin and Caitlin.
As a Partner in Ernst & Young LLP’s Assurance practice, Joan Palermo serves as the Northeast Region Health Care Market Segment Assurance Leader, managing teams of high-performing professionals and coordinating EY resources to assist clients in the health care industry, including provider care and managed care companies.
With more than 23 years of experience, Ms. Palermo has served a broad range of clients including hospitals, health systems, health insurance plans, health care networks and other health-related companies throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. She has extensive experience in providing health care accounting services including auditing and technical matters, tax-exempt debt offerings, reimbursement issues, and financial due diligence. In addition to her client-serving duties, she is a member of EY’s National Audit Quality Review team, where she performs quality reviews on EY’s provider care audits throughout the US.
As a market leader that strives to build a better working world, the EY Health Care group provides assurance, tax, transactional and advisory services to some of the Northeast Region’s largest public companies as well as to a diverse client base of innovative and entrepreneur organizations.
Ms. Palermo is a licensed CPA in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut and is also a member of the AICPA, the New Jersey Society of CPAs and the Healthcare Financial Management Association. She is active in community activities, serving on the Board of Directors of enCourage Kids Foundation since 2009 and on the Board of Trustees of the Paper Mill Playhouse.
Tony Fineman has more than 20 years of experience in the commercial real estate business. At ACORE, he is responsible for originating, underwriting, structuring and closing commercial real estate financing opportunities, and for managing originations for the Eastern Region.
Prior to joining ACORE, Mr. Fineman was an Executive Vice President with Brickman and a principal at Hillcrest Finance, where he was responsible for originating, underwriting, structuring, and closing equity and debt investment opportunities, and financing new and existing equity investments. Prior to Brickman, Mr. Fineman held various positions in commercial real estate finance including a senior role with Wachovia Bank, where he managed, structured and closed more than $25 billion of complex commercial real estate finance transactions often involving multiple lenders and tranches of debt, and a role as a banker with Nomura Securities in the mid to late 1990s. In addition to his finance experience, Mr. Fineman has also spent a significant amount of time on the equity side of the commercial real estate business where he was involved in the development, ownership, management, and operation of commercial real estate, including in senior roles with Centres Inc. and Terranova Corporation, and in his time with Brickman. Mr. Fineman began his career in commercial real estate as an attorney representing institutional and private clients in a wide range of commercial real estate transactions, including finance, acquisitions, dispositions, leasing, development and land use. After college and prior to law school, Mr. Fineman spent several years at IBM Corporation as a marketing representative.
Mr. Fineman received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Drexel University and a J.D. from the University of Florida and has served on the Board of Directors of enCourage Kids Foundation since 2009.
Mary Krayeske has more than 25 years of experience as a State and Federal regulatory attorney with expertise in rate cases and privacy. As an Associate Counsel at Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc., she leads the team handling the company’s privacy program as well as handles numerous regulatory proceedings. She recently worked with other New York State utilities and state agencies to develop an incentive program for Electric Vehicle fast charging stations and is working to improve cyber security for participants in retail markets. During the course of her career at Con Edison, Ms. Krayeske has litigated and/or settled dozens of cases on behalf of the company, including arguing Article 78 proceedings before the New York State Supreme Court and Appellate Division.
Ms. Krayeske received a B.A. in Economics and Political Science from Manhattanville College and a J.D. from Fordham University School of Law. She has served on the Board of enCourage Kids Foundation since 2010 and is the Chair of the Governance Committee. Ms. Krayeske also serves on the Board of Elle Foundation Inc and is a Mentor for The Fresh Air Fund.
Jeffrey Gural is Chairman of GFP Real Estate. GFP Real Estate has an ownership interest in 41 properties, almost all of which are located in Manhattan. Mr. Gural, along with his son, Eric Gural, and nephew, Brian Steinwurtzel, are responsible for all future acquisitions and the managing and leasing of the 10 Million square feet in which they have an ownership interest.
Mr. Gural joined Newmark Knight Frank in 1972 and served as Chairman until 2017, after which he became Chairman Emeritus. Prior to that, he was a member of the staff of Morse-Diesel Construction Co., for approximately six years where he was responsible for the supervision and construction of more than one million square feet of new office space in such notable buildings as 437 Madison Avenue and 645 Madison Avenue.
Mr. Gural is widely recognized as an invaluable member of the Greater New York community as well as a highly respected leader in real estate. He is a visionary, and is admired by all who know him not only for his business acumen but for his philanthropy and support of dozens of organizations that serve the community through education, the arts, and outreach programs. As a founding member of enCourage Kids Foundation, Mr. Gural has served as Chairman of the Board of Directors since its doors opened in 1987 until 2018 when he became Chairman Emeritus. His passion for helping children in need is surpassed only by his generosity. A stalwart champion for enCourage Kids, his vision and leadership has inspired others to service and reflects the core values at the heart and soul of the organization.
Mr. Gural’s industry and charitable affiliations include: member of the Board of Directors of The Real Estate Board of New York; Chairman of “I Have a Dream” Foundation – NY and Co-Sponsor of the Chelsea-Elliot “I Have a Dream” Project; former Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Times Square Alliance; member of the Board of Trustees of The New School; Chair of the Board of Governors for Eugene Lang College The New School for Liberal Arts; Chairman of the Board of Directors for Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York; Vice President of The Broadway Association; member of the Board of Directors of the Museum at Eldridge Street; member of the Board of Directors of the Statue of Liberty Foundation; member of the Board of the Settlement Housing Fund; member of the Board of Directors of New York City Outward Bound Schools; member of the NYC Board of Directors for the March of Dimes and President of The Realty Foundation of New York. Mr. Gural is also a member of the Board of Directors of the UJA-Federation, where both he and his father, Aaron Gural, were honored at the organization’s 1995 Annual Luncheon.
As a sideline, Mr. Gural is a major owner and breeder of Standardbred racehorses and has two farms in Upstate New York and Northern Pennsylvania. He owns the Tioga Downs Casino in Upstate New York and a racino at Vernon Downs, and is also Managing Partner of New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC, which is the current lessee and operator of the New Meadowlands Racetrack. The Meadowlands recently opened a new $120 Million grandstand which is a state of the art new facility.
Mr. Gural is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with a degree in Civil Engineering. He is married, has three grown children, six grandchildren and resides in Manhattan.