Board & Executive Staff
Donna J. Luh, Vice-Chair, Thruway Board of Directors
Donna J. Luh
Donna J. Luh was nominated by the Governor, and confirmed by the New York State Senate as a member of the Thruway Authority/Canal Corporation Boards in June 2008. Ms. Luh will serve in a term that expires on June 22, 2017.
Ms. Luh’s extensive experience in budget analysis, planning and community affairs will greatly benefit the Authority/Corporation.
Ms. Luh is currently the owner of Luh Consulting Services, an organization that serves as liaison between the public and private sector. Luh Consulting Services provides public participation facilitation, project coordination, governmental affairs, community relations and a host of other client services.
Prior to founding Luh Consulting, Ms. Luh served as the Airport Project Coordinator for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority in Buffalo, New York, from 1989-1996.
Additionally, she is the co-creator of the successful Peer Review Group of airport executives from across the nation. The Peer Review Group has been featured in a number of aviation trade magazines.
Ms. Luh also serves on the Board of Directors of the Cheektowaga Economic Development Corporation.
Ms. Luh received her Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Science in Education Administration from Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. She resides in Depew, New York. She has two adult sons.
E. Virgil Conway, Thruway Board of Directors
E. Virgil Conway was first confirmed by the New York State Senate as a member of the Thruway Authority/Canal Corporation Boards in December 2006. His first term expired on January 1, 2008. Mr. Conway was reconfirmed by the New York State Senate on June 18, 2008; his current term will expire on January 1, 2017.
A financial consultant and corporate director for more than 50 years, Mr. Conway had served most recently as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the New York State Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The MTA serves as the umbrella organization for the various agencies that operate the public transportation systems in the 14-county metropolitan New York area.
Prior to serving as MTA’s Chairman, Mr. Conway served as the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council Chairman from 1992-1995; from 1968-1988, Mr. Conway served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and Director of The Seaman’s Bank for Savings, PSB.
Mr. Conway received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Colgate University in Hamilton, New York and his LLB from Yale University Law School in New Haven, Connecticut. He resides in Bronxville, New York with his wife, Elaine.
Richard N. Simberg, Thruway Board of Directors
Richard N. Simberg was nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the New York State Senate as a member of the Thruway Authority/Canal Corporation Boards on June 3, 2009. His term will expire on September 14, 2017.
Mr. Simberg’s extensive experience in transportation and bridge operations, capital construction and maintenance throughout New York State will greatly benefit the Authority/Corporation.
Prior to retirement, Mr. Simberg was Assistant Commissioner for Engineering and Chief Engineer at the New York State Department of Transportation; responsible for all engineering activities throughout New York State for the 12,000-employee department, its consultants and contractors. He also served 17 years of his DOT career as Regional Director of the Mohawk Valley and then Central NY Region at a time when the Barge Canal was one of the programs in his charge. Since retirement, Mr. Simberg has remained active in engineering education and professional ethics, and has consulted with the City of Alexandria, Virginia, on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
Mr. Simberg received a Bachelor of Civil Engineering degree from Clarkson University and a Master of Civil Engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
He resides in Oneida, New York.
Brandon R. Sall, Thruway Board of Directors
Brandon R. Sall was nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the New York State Senate as a member of the Thruway Authority Canal Corporation Board in June 2008. Mr. Sall will serve in a term that expires on January 1, 2014.
Mr. Sall, a partner at Schuman Sall & Geist (White Plains, NY), Schuman & Sall (White Plains, NY), and Gellert & Rodner (White Plains, NY), specializes in real estate law, trusts and estates, tax certiorari, litigation, and transactional work representing numerous businesses and individual parties.
Mr. Sall’s vast experience with real estate law and knowledge of the process involved with land transactions will benefit the Authority/Corporation during complex real property negotiations, as well as land sales and leases.
With more than 22 years of experience, prior to becoming partner at the abovementioned law firms, Mr. Sall has practiced law at the Law Offices of Brandon R. Sall (1991-1992), Rothschild, Esposito, Himmelfarb, Sher & Pearl (1988-1990), and Jacobs, Sieratski & Zinns (1986-1988).
Admitted to the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Florida Bars, Mr. Sall is also a member of the New York State Bar Association and has lectured on estate administration for the New York State Bar Association’s Continuing Legal Education program.
Mr. Sall received his B.B.A from the University of Miami in Miami, Florida, and attended the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, New York. He resides in Rye, New York.
J. Donald Rice Jr., Thruway Board of Directors
Don Rice was nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the New York State Senate as a member of the Thruway Authority/Canal Corporation boards in May 2010. His term will expire on June 13, 2018.
Mr. Rice is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Rice Financial Products Company, a New York City-based investment banking firm. Mr. Rice formed Rice Financial in 1993 to provide services to municipalities and not-for-profit institutions in debt structuring and underwriting; municipal bond sales and trading; and taxable fixed income investing. Over the years, Rice Financial has grown into a leading municipal investment banking firm and has served as senior manager on transactions as large as $1 billion.
Mr. Rice's began his career as an engineer at General Motors. Later, he joined the bond business at Merrill Lynch where he was one of the founding members of Merrill Lynch's municipal derivatives department, which in the late 1980s developed methodologies for applying interest rate swap concepts to the municipal markets. There, and later at Rice Financial, he was responsible for developing some of the industry's most innovative and successful financing structures.
Mr. Rice has served on the Board of Trustees for Kettering University (where he chaired the Finance Committee), the Board of Directors for New York City's United Neighborhood Houses, and the Governing Board for New York City's Administration for Children Services, Office of Head Start, which oversees the New York City Head Start programs. He has received numerous awards and honors including Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Association of Securities Professionals.
Mr. Rice received an MBA with distinction from Harvard Business School and a B.S. in Engineering with honors from Kettering University. He resides in New York City.
José Holguín-Veras, Ph.D., P.E., Thruway Board of Directors
Dr. Holguín-Veras was nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the New York State Senate as a member of the Thruway Authority/Canal Corporation Boards in May 2010. His term will expire on December 12, 2018.
Dr. Holguín-Veras is the William H. Hart Professor and Director of the Center for Infrastructure, Transportation, and the Environment at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He joined Rensselaer in July 2002. Dr. Holguín-Veras has also been in the faculty of the City College of New York (1997-2002), and the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California (1996-1997).
He has extensive professional experience including the analysis of the intermodal alternatives for the trans-isthmian corridor that runs parallel to the Panama Canal. He has been consultant in transportation planning, modeling, and economics for international companies and financial institutions, including: The World Bank, The United Nations, The Inter-American Development Bank, among many others.
Dr. Holguín-Veras’s leadership positions at key international research organizations include: Vice President for logistics of the Pan-American Conferences of Traffic and Transportation Engineering; elected member of the Council for the Association for European Transport; member of the International Organizing Committee of the City Logistics Conferences; member of three technical committees and invitational Task Forces on freight modeling at the Transportation Research Board.
In addition to authoring dozens of articles on transportation modeling and economics, Dr. Holguín-Veras received several awards: the Milton Pikarsky Memorial Award from the Council of University Transportation Centers (1996); the CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (2001); and The School of Engineering Excellence in Research Award (2007).
Dr. Holguín-Veras received a bachelor’s of science degree in civil engineering from Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo; master’s of science degree in Transportation from Universidad Central de Venezuala; and a doctoral degree in transportation from University of Texas at Austin.
All Board members, including the Chairman, are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate. The members of the Board receive no salary in connection with the performance of their duties. Vacancies in the Board occurring other than by expiration of the term are filled for the unexpired term in the same manner. Pursuant to the Public Officers Law, members of the Board whose terms have expired continue to serve until a successor is appointed and qualified.
Brian U. Stratton, Director of Canals
Brian U. Stratton
Brian U. Stratton was appointed Director of the New York State Canal Corporation in April 2011, to oversee the operation and development of New York's 524-mile Canal System, including the historic Erie Canal.
He was appointed at the recommendation of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and serves as a member of the Governor's Cabinet. Prior to joining the Canal Corporation Mr. Stratton was elected Mayor of the City of Schenectady on November 7, 2003, and re-elected to a second term in 2007.
During his tenure, Mayor Stratton successfully identified and corrected the City's serious inherited financial problems, returning Schenectady's municipal credit rating from the lowest in New York State to investment grade, including a sustained A- rating by Standard & Poor's. During his seven years as mayor, he worked with local leaders to attract more than $300 million in new private investment in the City of Schenectady, creating and retaining more than 2,000 jobs.
As Mayor, Mr. Stratton also served from 2009-2011 as Co-Chair of the United States Conference of Mayors Water Council, leading mayors of more than 300 American cities in the discussion and national policy formation of issues impacting how cities provide safe and affordable water and wastewater services.
His numerous awards include the National Association of Government Accountants (AGA) Distinguished Local Government Leadership Award in 2009 and the AGA New York Chapter Outstanding Achievement Award in 2008.
Mr. Stratton received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from SUNY Oswego in 1980.
John F. Barr has served as Director of Administrative Services of the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation since November 2006. Prior to joining the Authority/Corporation, Mr. Barr served in a number of positions in his 18 years of service in the State of New York, including Executive Deputy Commissioner at the New York State Department of Civil Service, where he was responsible for merit system administration, recruitment, classification, examination and employee health services. Mr. Barr received his Bachelor of Arts Degree from Hartwick College and his Juris Doctor from Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
William J. Estes, Esq. has served as General Counsel to the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation since July 2009. Mr. Estes’ public policy background includes service as an Assistant Counsel in the Governor's Office where he was the legal liaison with all public authorities and agencies involved in transportation, public finance, economic development and housing. He has also served as a Senior Counsel at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and he was designated a Special Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. Prior to that he worked as an Assistant Attorney General with the New York State Attorney General’s Office. Mr. Estes received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Northwestern University and his Juris Doctor from the Emory University School of Law. He is admitted to practice law in the States of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Michael A. Shamma, P.E., joined the New York State Thruway Authority/Canal Corporation in May 2012 and was appointed Acting Chief Engineer in October 2012. Mr. Shamma brings more than 24 years of transportation-related public service and private sector experience to the organization. Most recently, prior to joining the Authority/Corporation, he served in numerous positions at the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) including Regional Director (Region 2), Director of the Engineering Division, as well as several other progressively responsible Engineering positions. Mr. Shamma received his Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering with a minor in Political Science and a Masters Degree in Transportation Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). He is a licensed Professional Engineer registered in the State of New York.