Board & Executive Staff
Joanne M. Mahoney, Chair, Thruway Board of Directors
Joanne M. Mahoney
Joanie Mahoney was nominated by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, and confirmed by the New York State Senate as a member of the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation Boards on March 30, 2015. Ms. Mahoney will serve in a term that expires on January 1, 2020.
Joanne M. (Joanie) Mahoney was first elected Onondaga County Executive in November 2007, and is the first woman to serve in that role. She was re-elected in November, 2011. Among her many accomplishments as county executive, Ms. Mahoney has focused on increasing literacy, ensuring that all students receive an education that prepares them for successful lives, and protecting the environment.
Ms. Mahoney has shown a strong commitment to working collaboratively with her government partners. In 2010, then Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo asked County Executive Mahoney to serve as co-chair of his transition team and in 2012, he appointed Ms. Mahoney to serve as a trustee for the New York Power Authority.
In the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Governor Cuomo asked County Executive Mahoney to help investigate New York’s power utilities’ preparation and response to the major storms that devastated communities across New York State in recent years.
A Syracuse native, Ms. Mahoney graduated from Corcoran High School, and then from Syracuse University's School of Management and S.U.'s College of Law.
After spending time in private practice, Ms. Mahoney worked for five years as a criminal prosecutor in the District Attorney’s office before being elected Councilor-at-Large in the City of Syracuse, where she served a four year term.
Ms. Mahoney and her husband Marc Overdyk have four sons and reside in the town of Dewitt, New York.
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.
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.
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.
Bill Finch serves as the Acting Executive Director of the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation. Prior to leading the Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation, Mr. Finch served as mayor of Connecticut's largest city, Bridgeport, from 2007 until 2015. As mayor, he oversaw a budget of more than $500 million and more than 2,000 employees and helped facilitate the city's first population increase in decades. As mayor, Mr. Finch initiated a $750 million program to rebuild local schools over the course of eight years, as well as initiating an environmental sustainability plan called "bGreen 2020."
Mr. Finch also served as a Connecticut State Senator from 2000 until 2007, where he held the positions of Majority Whip, Chair of the Environment Committee, and Vice-Chair of the Transportation Committee. As a State Senator, Mr. Finch worked to create jobs, attract businesses to the state, and promote green energy across the state.
Throughout his career, Mr. Finch has been recognized as a national leader and model for revitalizing an industrial city through climate change mitigation efforts, including being awarded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Climate Leadership Award in 2015.
Maria Lehman, P.E. serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Canal Corporation. With more than 34 years of diverse technical and leadership experience in both the private and public sectors, Ms. Lehman has extensive expertise in transportation and facility planning, environmental assessment; design and construction; program, risk, quality and project management; as well as emergency management. She was elected to the National Board for the American Society of Civil Engineers for two terms, one as a Director and one as a Vice President. Ms. Lehman has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from SUNY Buffalo and is a licensed Professional Engineer in several states.
Karen Hunter serves as Chief of Staff for the New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Canal Corporation. Ms. Hunter brings 30 years of finance experience in both the private and public sectors. With a master's degree in business administration from SUNY Albany and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Ms. Hunter has extensive experience in internal audit; budget development, negotiation and implementation; and New York State financial management. Ms. Hunter previously served as a budget examiner for the New York State Division of the Budget; assigned to transportation, energy and housing, and also as the Upstate Regional Director for the Housing Finance Agency. Most recently she served as the Director of Financial Administration for New York Homes and Community Renewal.
Catherine T. Sheridan, P.E. serves as Chief Engineer for the New York State Thruway Authority and New York State Canal Corporation. Ms. Sheridan has served in progressively responsible positions at Thruway and Canals since 1993, including deputy chief engineer and director of canal maintenance and operations. Her prior state service included positions at the New York State Department of Transportation. Ms. Sheridan served in the United States Army as a combat engineer and was honorably discharged as a captain. She received a Bachelor of Music in Performance from Boston University and Master of Science in Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics from Columbia University. Ms. Sheridan is licensed as a professional engineer in New York State.
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.
Gordon Cuffy was appointed by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to the post of General Counsel of the New York State Thruway Authority and Canal Corporation in February of 2015. Mr. Cuffy previously served as the County Attorney of the Onondaga County Department of Law from 2008 until his appointment as General Counsel. In this role, he was the legal advisor to all departments of the Onondaga County government, representing the county in both state and federal courts. Previously, Mr. Cuffy served as Assistant Deputy Attorney General for the New York State Office of the Attorney General in Syracuse, where he was part of the Statewide Organized Crime Task Force, handling criminal prosecutions and investigations throughout the state. He was also an Assistant Attorney General in the Syracuse Regional Office where he handled civil litigation. Prior to that position, Mr. Cuffy was a Senior Assistant District Attorney in the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office for 11 years. Mr. Cuffy has been an adjunct professor at Syracuse University College of Law since 1996, and has a Bachelor of Arts from Syracuse University and a Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School.
Matthew A. Howard was appointed as the Chief Financial Officer of the Thruway Authority in January of 2015. Mr. Howard's career in public service spans nearly 19 years, and includes leadership roles in fiscal management, public policy and public administration. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Howard served as the Secretary to the New York State Assembly Committee on Ways and Means. In this role he worked as a chief budget negotiator for the Assembly during its negotiations with the Office of the Governor and the New York State Senate. Mr. Howard received his undergraduate degree from Springfield College and a master's degree in public administration from Cornell University.