Senior Staff Bios


Maria Torres-SpringerMaria Torres-Springer
President and CEO
Prior to her appointment to NYCEDC, Maria served as Commissioner of New York City’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS). Before joining SBS, Maria served as the Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff at NYCEDC, a Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding and the Chief Operating Officer of Friends of the Highline. She received her bachelor’s degree in ethics, politics, and economics from Yale University and a master's in public policy from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government 
Benjamin M. Branham
Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer
Benjamin oversees the External Affairs division and the Center for Economic Transformation. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois, where he majored in English and received his master's in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Prior to joining NYCEDC, Ben worked at Edelman as a vice president and as the Global Strategy Group Vice President. He previously worked for the New York City Department of Small Business Services.

Meredith J. Jones
Executive Vice President and General Counsel
Prior to joining NYCEDC, Meredith worked at corporate law firms and as counsel to a multi-national engineering and construction company. She also served as general counsel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and as Chief of the Cable Services Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission. She is a graduate of Swarthmore College and received her juris doctor from Yale Law School.

Kim Vaccari
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
Prior to joining NYCEDC, Kim served as chief financial officer and treasurer for the New Jersey Transit Corporation. Before joining New Jersey Transit she worked as a public finance banker for Banc of America Securities on P3 projects and transportation bond financings and as director of finance for the MTA, where she was responsible for all aspects of funding the MTA’s capital program funding and debt issuance. Kim holds a bachelor’s degree in government finance from Wheaton College.
Seth Myers
Executive Vice President and Director of Project Implementation
Seth attended Columbia University and received a graduate degree in urban planning. Prior to joining NYCEDC, Seth worked in the Mayor’s Office of Capital Project Development where he was involved with key projects in Lower Manhattan and, in particular, at the World Trade Center site. Since 2006, he has managed the planning, design, and construction of large-scale capital and infrastructure projects, with a focus on coordination between multiple agencies or government entities.
John Cicerello
Executive Vice President and head of Asset Management
John is a graduate of Baruch College of CUNY where he majored in business/accounting and received his MBA in finance from New York University. Prior to joining NYCEDC, John worked at Borell Associates, LLC as a managing member.
Thomas McKnight
Executive Vice President and head of Planning, Development, and Transportation
Thomas is a graduate of Fordham University and also has a graduate degree from New York University in urban planning. Prior to joining NYCEDC, Thomas worked at New York City Council.
James N. Katz
Executive Vice President and Director of Policy and Planning
James is responsible for driving and implementing de Blasio administration initiatives to promote economic opportunity, income mobility, and job creation. He previously served as the executive director of then-Mayor-elect de Blasio’s Transition Committee and as senior advisor and special counsel to New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. James is a graduate of Brown University. He obtained his juris doctor from Harvard Law School and his master’s in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.
Charles Gans
Executive Vice President and Co-head of the Real Estate Transaction Services Group
Prior to his role at NYCEDC, Charlie worked at (Bovis) Lend Lease, a construction management firm, where he managed residential, office, and hotel construction projects during various stages of pre-development, construction, and close-out. Since joining NYCEDC in 2010, Charlie has overseen numerous complex public-private development projects including Cornell NYC Tech, Seward Park (Essex Crossing), and a new ambulatory care center for Memorial Sloan Kettering co-located with a nursing school for Hunter College. Charlie received his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a BS in civil engineering from Northwestern University.
Jeffrey Nelson
Executive Vice President for the Real Estate Transaction Services Group
Jeff is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in political science. He received his MBA from the Wharton School of Business. At NYCEDC, Jeff oversees a portfolio of NYCEDC-led public-private development projects throughout New York City with a focus on the 125th Street corridor, Financial District, the St. George Waterfront, and Downtown Brooklyn. During his time at NYCEDC, Jeff has closed transactions that comprise over 1.5 million square feet of mixed-use development and have generated in excess of $400 million in proceeds for the City.
Spencer Hobson
Executive Vice President and Treasurer, Finance Group
Spencer oversees NYCEDC’s Finance Division, which includes the Accounting, Budget, and Grants Management departments. Previously, he assisted in managing NYCEDC’s Internal Audit group for many years. He is a life-long resident of Queens, NY and received his bachelor’s degree in accounting from CUNY at York College in Jamaica, Queens. He is a certified public accountant as well as a certified internal auditor. Prior to joining NYCEDC, Spencer spent several years conducting audits throughout the east coast for a hotel and restaurant employee’s union trust fund.

News & Updates


Searching for a rewarding career in NYC? There could be a position waiting for you at NYCEDC.


Stay up to date with NYCEDC

Contact Us

Do you have a question, comment or suggestion for us? We would like to hear from you.

Follow Us

Social Media Customer User Policy