Every year SAAAI honors a few selected industry leaders with outstanding contribution to AEC industry.




The following are the 2016 honorees with outstanding contribution to AEC industry:


James Starace, P.E.

Jim Starace, Chief Engineer and the Director of Engineering for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is responsible for the Engineering Department’s services that include design, structural integrity, construction and quality assurance to support the Port Authority’s Capital and Operating programs.  The programs involve major projects at the Port Authority facilities, which include airports; tunnels, bridges and terminals; ports; and the PATH rail system.


Mr. Starace’s Port Authority career spans over 30 years and includes assignments in an increasing capacity to his current position, which he assumed in August 2015.  Assignments have included overseeing construction projects of various PATH and Tunnels and Bridges projects, the Resident Engineer for the construction of the Newark Liberty International Airport International Arrivals Building, Resident Engineer for LaGuardia Airport, Engineer of Construction for the AirTrain Terminal at Jamaica Station and New Jersey Airports, Manager of the Construction Management Division and Deputy Chief Engineer.


Mr. Starace holds a Bachelor of Engineering Degree from the State University of New York Maritime College, a Master of Engineering Degree from Stevens Institute of Technology and is a licensed Professional Engineer in New York and New Jersey.



Gordon Tung, P.E.

Gordon Tung has over twenty-six years of experience in design, construction and construction management on various types of projects. 

He joined the New York City School Construction Authority in 2000 as a project officer and advanced to his current position of Vice President of Construction Management and Operations.  In his position as Vice President, Mr. Tung is in charge of over 400 professionals overseeing all construction contracts for the current (2015-2019) $14.9 billions capital plan.

Prior to advancing to his current position, he served as the Senior Director responsible on managing all aspects of school construction and rehabilitation and has opened over 35 new schools within the borough of Queens in the past ten years.  Before joining the School Construction Authority Mr. Tung was working as a project manager for MTA – New York City Transit supervising multiple projects involve power and lighting upgrade for subway stations.

Gordon Tung holds a Bachelor of Electrical Engineering from State University of New York at Stony Brook and a Master of Business Administration from Baruch College, and is a registered professional engineer in the State of New York.


Christine J. Flaherty, CCM, LEED AP

Christine J. Flaherty is the Associate Commissioner for the New York City Department of Design and Construction's Public Buildings Program Units. She leads the Public Buildings Division which manages the design and construction of buildings for more than 20 client agencies. The Division designs, renovates and builds a diverse $5 billion portfolio for the City’s sister agencies including library, recreational, justice, and transportation facilities, as well as cultural institutions with projects ranging in value from $250,000 to $750 million.


Prior to joining DDC, she served in senior leadership positions in the private sector in New York City and was responsible for client relations, strategic planning and managing work for New York City public sector and private building clients in the institutional, public works and education markets. She has worked as a general contractor, construction manager, and owner representative for non-profit, private and public sectors on project values ranging from $1 million to $175 million.


Ms. Flaherty earned her Master of Business Administration from New York University's Stern School of Business and a Bachelor of Science degree from Bucknell University in Civil Engineering. In addition, she is EIT certified, a Certified Construction Manager, and certified trainer for Construction Management Association of America (CMAA), as well as a member of American Society of Civil Engineers and Chi Epsilon. She is currently CMAA NY/NJ Metro Chapter Vice President, and has spoken on numerous industry related panels over the last ten years. She has been recognized by numerous industry organizations including New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce 2014 and Engineering News-Record New York’s “Top 20 under 40” design and Construction Leaders.



Christopher J. Alvarez, P.E.

Christopher J. Alvarez, P.E. is the Assistant to the Director of Construction and Regional Construction Engineer for the New York City Region of the New York State Department of Transportation, a position he has held for over 10 years. 


During his career with the NYSDOT, Mr. Alvarez has held several positions within the Region 11 Construction Group:  Engineer-In-Charge; Plan Review Supervisor; and Technical Services Supervisor.   He has over 29 years experience with the Department working and managing large construction projects, including construction of the Nassau Expressway, the Reconstruction of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Reconstruction of the Miller Highway Viaduct between W 57th and W 72nd Streets.


Mr. Alvarez is also Region 11 Coordinator of the Department’s Summer Intern Program, in which he is in charge of  interviewing ,  hiring, and placing  over 50 Engineering Students each summer on active construction projects in the Region’s capital construction program of over $2 Billion. 


Mr. Alvarez received his Bachelor of Civil Engineering Degree from Manhattan College in 1986, and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Civil Engineering at the Manhattan College School of Engineering.

Rakhal Maitra

As the Deputy Commissioner of Public Works Department, County of Nassau, NY, Mr. Maitra is responsible for Engineering Department managing Design and Construction of capital projects for Infrastructure, Parks and Buildings. He has over 40 years of experience in large civil engineering projects in several states and abroad. Before joining Nassau County, Mr. Maitra served in responsible positions in private sector with large corporations such as Westinghouse, Ebasco, Bechtel and lastly with LiRo Engineers.  Mr. Maitra is a Fellow of ASCE and was conferred prestigious “Life Member” status in 2009. He went to China as part of ASCE Team of experts to visit construction of Three Gorges Dam. He is also a member of ACI and a Licensed Professional Engineer in NY, NJ and PA.







The following are the 2015 honorees with outstanding contribution to AEC industry:


Purnima Dharia, P.E.

As the Assistant Commissioner, Purnima Dharia manages approximately $1 billion of the New York City Department of Design and Construction Infrastructure’s design projects. Critical projects such as the Southeast Queens Program and the Accelerated Water Main Replacement Program are overseen by her. Purnima has over 25 years of experience in construction and design. The City Tunnel Number 3 Shaft Connection Projects and the Madison Avenue Trunk Water Main Lining Project were led by her. Ms. Dharia is an Envision Sustainability Specialist and is instrumental in adopting various green infrastructure design initiatives. She continues to be a key member of the team responsible for the activation of Water Tunnel No. 3 and the on-going shaft connection projects in Manhattan and Queens.  Purnima leads a robust number of in-house engineers and technicians.

David Dunn, P.E.

He has been working for 22+yrs as Civil Engineer and Administrative Engineer with NYCDOT Bridges. He began in NYCDOT Bridges as an Assistant Civil Engineer, then moved up the chain to Civil Engineer and Administrative Engineer. He is currently serving as Deputy Chief Engineer for NYCDOT Bridges and heads the bureau of Bridge Capital Design and Construction. He manages a bureau of 120+ employees and a capital program in the $100M’s.



Craig Ruyle, P.E.

Craig Ruyle, P.E. is the Regional Construction Engineer for the Long Island Region of the New York State Department of Transportation.  He has almost twenty-four years of experience managing large construction projects, including Segment 3 of the 9A Project, the Reconstruction of the BQE between Broadway and 25th Avenue, the Reconstruction of the BQE between 61st Street and Broadway, the Kew Gardens Interchange Projects, and the Kosciuszko Bridge Project.

He has been active in the ASCE since 1997, serving as Chair of the Met Section Construction Group from 2004-2006, President of the Met Section from 2009-2010, Chair of the New York State Council, and as a Governor on the ASCE Construction Institute Board of Governors. Currently he is President of the ASCE Construction Institute for the 2015-2016 year. 

Joe Keane, P.E.

As Vice President and Chief Engineer of MTA Bridges & Tunnels (MTA B&T) Joe Keane is in charge of the planning, design and construction of Capital and Major Maintenance projects at Bridges & Tunnels’ seven bridges and two tunnels.  Mr. Keane leads a 179 person professional Engineering and Construction organization with responsibility in the management of design and construction, and construction administration.

Mr. Keane is responsible for the execution of the MTA B&T’s multi-billion dollar Capital and Sandy programs, as well as, over $70 Million in yearly operating expenditures related to non-capital projects.

Mr. Keane has been at MTA Bridges & Tunnels since 1988 and previously worked for New York City Department of Transportation.

Mr. Keane is a licensed professional engineer in both New York and New Jersey. 

Robin L. Wilcox

Robin Wilcox began her career at the New York City School Construction Authority in 1990. In 2003, Robin transferred to the Mentor Program where she worked to develop the program into a world class model that is replicated by other municipalities and government agencies.
Promoted to Director in 2004, Robin implemented several initiatives that continue to expand the development of mentor contracting firms working with the SCA. Her initiatives create hundreds of contracting opportunities for small, emerging minority/women business enterprises.
Robin has been instrumental in changing the Mentor Program from a set-aside program to a business economic model.

Robin is passionate about working with small businesses, which has helped many entrepreneurs realize their dream of ownership; and has contributed to the success of many minority and women owned firms.





The following are the 2014 honorees with outstanding contribution to AEC industry:


Anil Parikh, P.E.

Anil Parikh is the Senior Vice President and Program Executive for MTA Capital Construction Company.  He has been working with the MTA  for over 28 years and has successfully managed some of the most difficult  and high investment projects, such as the 63rd Street Line Connection,  connecting the 63rd Street Tunnel (which was once known as  “The tunnel to nowhere”) to the Queens Brooklyn Line.

He is presently managing the design and construction of Second Avenue Subway Project, one of MTA Capital Construction’s mega projects.  When the 2nd Ave subway is built, it will be one of the largest projects in the history of MTA New York City Transit.

Anil is a registered Professional Engineer in New York and began his career with New York City Transit after completing his B. S. Degree.  He owes his success to having worked with a manager who provided excellent guidance on the management of projects and how to get things done.


Thomas Foley, P.E.

As Associate Commissioner for New York City’s Department of Design and Construction, Tom currently manages an extensive engineering and administrative staff responsible for daily management of the Infrastructure Division’s consolidated roadway and plaza reconstruction, retaining walls, green infrastructure, security features, water and sewer construction programs within the five boroughs. This includes DDC’s Infrastructure’s Capital construction projects portfolio valued at approximately $2 billion. He Oversees the agency’s infrastructure capital construction initiatives; ensure the agency meets its capital construction commitment plan and meet with senior management to set and review goals and objectives. Additional responsibilities include Chair meetings with various groups to discuss the Capital Construction scope, schedule, impact, residential concerns, traffic detours and other pertinent issues

Robert Collyer, P.E.

Mr. Collyer oversees all aspects of design, construction, rehabilitation and reconstruction, maintenance, operation and administration of 789 bridges and tunnels under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Transportation. He is responsible for formulating policy and providing executive and administrative direction for the Division of Bridges.

In 2007 Mr. Collyer joined the Department of Transportation as the Deputy Director of Moveable Bridges. He took over the position a Director of Movable Bridges in early 2008 which added the capital design management for the movable bridge program to his responsibilities.

In mid-2010, Mr Collyer was appointed as the Deputy Chief Engineer for the Bureau of Roadway Bridges. In that capacity he was responsible for the four East River Bridges, 25 Movable Bridges and 7 Tunnels to the group and it was re-named the Bridge Capital Design & Construction Bureau.

Currently there are several dozen bridge and tunnel projects in various stages of design and well over $2 billion worth of construction projects in progress.


Wallace Caban, P.E.

Wallace Caban oversees the Construction Management Division for the Port Authority of NY & NJ Engineering Department.  The Construction Management Division is responsible for overseeing the rehabilitation and construction of facility improvements and state of good repair projects by outside contractors and vendors who have contracted work both with the Port Authority and with its tenants. 

His staffs are located at Facilities which include six (6) airports; John F. Kennedy, LaGuardia, Newark, Teterboro, Stewart and Atlantic City International Airports, four (4) bridges; George Washington Bridge, Goethals Bridge, Bayonne Bridge, Outerbridge, two (2) Tunnels; Lincoln and Holland; three (3) bus and transportation terminals, a Path Railway System,  as well as multiple Cargo Terminals and ports in both NY and in NJ. 

 His most recent accomplishment was the onsite coordination of activities required for the successful restoration of the PATH Rail System service from Newark NJ to New York City NY after Hurricane Sandy, which impacted the entire system.


Bruce Ogurek, P.E.

Bruce is the Director of Construction for Region 11 and is managing the Region’s capital construction program of over $2 billion in active construction, representing 40% of the State-wide program. Bruce recently oversaw the successful completion of the $415M Alexander Hamilton Bridge project, the largest project ever completed by the Department.  He is now helping to manage the $555M Design-Build replacement of the Kosciuszko Bridge, now the largest project ever undertaken by the Department.

As NYSDOT is the direct recipient of the FHWA’s funding for local projects, Bruce’s group is also responsible for oversight of the $2B local program in New York City.      

  Some notable projects include the elimination of the Long Island Railroad grade crossings in the Village of Mineola and the construction of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane on the Long Island Expressway.    

Bruce has garnered many awards during his 31 year career with NYSDOT, including recognition from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for his work on the JFK Air Train project. 


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