Eric KaufmanFounder, Executive Director, Board Director
Eric Kaufman, author of A Call to Action: How to Save Millions of Lives, has over 33 years of real estate experience as a broker, investor, contractor and developer of commercial (office, retail, hotel, industrial, multi-family) real estate valued at about $1 billion. During the 80’s, through Creative Capital Group, which he established with his mother, Joan Kaufman, he saw the conversion of 1100 apartments in New York and New Jersey into co-operatives and condominiums. He then joined in the 90s, The Carlton Group – a real estate banking firm – as Senior Managing Director.
In 2008, he began developing with Meir Laufer the concept of a giant Ferris wheel in New York City modeled after the London Eye. The New York Wheel, under a public-private partnership with the City of New York, as of November 2016 is half constructed and capitalized with $610 million of private money; April 2018 the New York Wheel is scheduled to open in Staten Island, NYC.
During the Internet’s early days, Kaufman also launched WorldWide Network Magazine as a B2B and a B2C link. By 1992, he incorporated in the magazine a computer bulletin board known as Global Electronic Marketplace (GEM), which was the forerunner of Google, AOL and eBay. Kaufman learned how important it is to “time the market” with innovative concepts.
Kaufman learned of the concept of “climate resilience” in September 2012 during an American Institute of Architects event in Manhattan. Following Superstorm Sandy, he founded, along with Ellie Sugarman, Joaquin Matias and James-Robert Sellinger, The Natural Resilience Foundation as a 501(c) (3) public charity in August 2013 to advocate and develop financing strategies to safeguard life, real estate and critical infrastructure from the effects of extreme weather patterns.
Kaufman has an A.B. in Psychology from Vassar College and an MBA from the Wharton School, with a Marketing concentration and a minor in Finance. He now resides in Austin, Texas.
Joaquin MatiasCo-Founder, General Counsel, Board Director
Joaquin F. Matias, co-author and editor of A Call to Action: How to Save Millions of Lives, is an attorney, public management executive and business entrepreneur experienced in government, higher education, non-profit and private and entrepreneurial sectors. He is committed to advancing urban economic development, social entrepreneurship, good governance and sustainable and resilient communities.
He is also a Partner at City Strategy Group, LLC, where as the Chief Strategy Officer, he is developing initiatives that promote innovation and public / private initiatives to rebuild urban communities and cities into desirable sustainable and resilient locations.
Matias has held senior level positions in the government, non-profit and for profit sectors. As Director of Economic Development for the City of Newark, he negotiated and managed many complex, multi-phase, large-scale commercial, industrial, retail, retail/residential mixed-use and sports developments. As Executive Director of Real Estate & Economic Development for Rutgers University (Newark), Matias advanced the growth of the Newark campus of Rutgers around public-private partnerships, multi-use and shared facilities, and value-added research and civic engagement.
At the Rutgers School of Public Affairs and Administration, Matias also developed and taught a graduate seminar course entitled “Redefining Economic Development from an Urban Perspective: Turning Collapse into Opportunity.” He is a former Ford Foundation Fellow, during which he authored an article – “From Work Units to Corporations: Chinese Corporate Governance in a Transitional Market Economy” – that was published in the New York International Law Review (Winter 1998).
Matias is a member of the New York Bar with an A.B. and M.P.A. from Harvard University and J.D. from Northeastern University.
James-Robert SellingerCo-Founder, Chief Financial Officer, Board Director
James-Robert Sellinger is a real estate executive with over 25 years’ experience in diverse institutional and entrepreneurial environments. He has a successful career in transactional commercial real estate and a record of formulating creative financial structures within the capital, property and asset markets.
Sellinger is also involved in funding a ground up land development for senior housing properties as a principal of SLD. As former Chairman of the Tenafly (NJ) Planning Board, he was instrumental in advocating its Green Agenda and sustainability and resilience efforts to alleviate storm water runoff.
His past positions have included Manager and Senior Underwriter at Merrill Lynch Mortgage Capital, Senior Director at the hedge fund Palisades Financial, Mortgage Banker at Northmarq Capital, and Manager with AT&T Real Estate.
Sellinger has a B.B.A from University of MA, Amherst and an M.B.A. from Cornell University. He is currently an Adjunct Professor in the graduate program at the Schack Real Estate Institute, New York University.
Ellie SugarmanCo-Founder, Board Member
Ellie Sugarman is an alumna of The School of Environmental Science at the University of New Hampshire. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.S. Ed from St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, N.Y. and Summa Cum Laude with a M.S. Ed from Western Connecticut State University. She also received her degree in Business Management as Valedictorian of her graduating class at Southern Vermont College.
Sugarman was influenced at a young age by the works of Rachel Carson, especially Silent Spring, and by Frances Moore Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet, as well as by her grandfather, who was early proponent of reusing and recycling natural resources. As a kindergarten teacher, she taught ecological sustainability to hundreds of young children. She was featured in a children’s book by Katie Davis entitled, Kindergarten Rocks!