Skip to main content
Spark: The InnovateLI Podcast

Spark: The InnovateLI Podcast

By InnovateLI

This is Spark: The Innovate Long Island Podcast, featuring up-close conversations with the inventors, investors, executives and entrepreneurs fueling the dynamic Long Island innovation economy. Spark is a production of Innovate Long Island, the home of exceptional thought in Nassau and Suffolk and beyond.

Innovate Long Island is a digital media company covering and promoting the Long Island innovation economy. Our website is located at www.InnovateLI.com
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo

RadioPublic

Spotify Logo

Spotify

Currently playing episode

An interview with David Hamilton, Executive Director of Stony Brook University’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program

Spark: The InnovateLI Podcast

1x
An interview with Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island
An interview with Eric Alexander, Director of Vision Long Island
“Downtowns” and “Main Street USA” are 100-year-old concepts that can be easily lost in the modern shuffle. But while the personalities of downtown districts and main street markets have changed, their importance hasn’t. These lessons are paramount to Eric Alexander, the longtime director of Vision Long Island and founder of the Long Island Main Street Alliance. Through 25 years of planning and lobbying efforts, the innovative influencer has boosted more than 150 Long Island infrastructure projects, always keeping his eye – and the eyes of local stakeholders – on important smart-growth principles. In today’s episode, Eric joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss how his mission has changed (and hasn’t) over a quarter century – and the dire need for “the Long Island elite” to get with the program.
34:20
November 25, 2022
An interview with Dr. Kevin Tracey, President & CEO, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research
An interview with Dr. Kevin Tracey, President & CEO, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research
The genius researcher, oft-published innovator and “father of bioelectronic medicine” spearheads a field of study that promises to permanently rewrite the medical textbooks: electric nerve stimulation. Offering drug-free alternatives for the treatment of inflammation throughout the body – and the diseases and other conditions causing it – bioelectronic medicine attracts top minds and huge investments around the world. And nowhere is that more evident than the Manhasset-based Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, the Northwell Health R&D mecca blazing trails under President and CEO Tracey’s steady hand. In today’s episode, the global research rock star joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss his amazing career, his most gratifying achievements … and the “accidental” discovery that started it all.
33:14
October 31, 2022
An interview with Christian Gonzalez, producer of "The Macabre Sessions" radio show
An interview with Christian Gonzalez, producer of "The Macabre Sessions" radio show
Like many creative geniuses, Christian Gonzalez borrowed liberally from established works when he created “The Macabre Sessions” – in this case, from the best of the horror and science-fiction genres. But if the young digital artist mined Stephen King’s worst nightmares for inspiration, the end result – an original audio story set on Long Island, told over 13 super-creepy episodes with a full voice cast, sound effects, original music, growling monsters and interdimensional stakes – was all about 21st Century innovation. In today’s special Halloween-themed episode, Christian joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss how a Suffolk County Community College class assignment became a living, snarling cornerstone of Suffolk Internet Radio – and explore how emerging technologies have modernized the creative process.
28:12
October 17, 2022
An interview with Elaine Gross, ERASE Racism founder
An interview with Elaine Gross, ERASE Racism founder
After 21 years as president of ERASE Racism, founder Elaine Gross has handed the baton – and a two-decade legacy of litigious success and social progress – to a worthy successor. The Long Island-raised Boston University graduate has made a career of racial justice in housing, education and other key areas, taking a graceful approach to an ongoing street fight that continuously exposes the ugly underbelly of systemic racism – and fosters progressive solutions in conjunction with lawmakers and educators across Long Island, New York and beyond. In today’s episode, Elaine reflects on her long odyssey from civil rights crusader to civil rights champion – and expresses her highest hopes for New ERASE Racism President Laura Harding, as she takes the reins.
38:13
September 19, 2022
An interview with Andrew Parton, President of the Cradle of Aviation Museum
An interview with Andrew Parton, President of the Cradle of Aviation Museum
Andrew Parton was a banker before he landed at the Cradle of Aviation Museum, but no ordinary banker – the St. John’s University MBA had already carved a decades-long career in major-league marketing for some of the nation’s leading financial institutions. That experience – and his childhood love of air and space, fueled equally by “Star Trek” and real-life NASA missions – made him the perfect person to spread the word about the Cradle of Aviation, a shining salute to the region’s glorious aerospace history and centerpiece of Long Island’s impressive Museum Row. In today’s episode, Andy joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss his risky transition from corporate to nonprofit marketing, Cradle of Aviation’s tireless dedication to regional education and the unique museum’s exciting, hands-on journey through time and space.
33:16
August 22, 2022
An interview with Dr. John Nader, President of Farmingdale State College
An interview with Dr. John Nader, President of Farmingdale State College
Long Island is blessed with a multitude of world-class colleges and universities and an impressive roster of all-world scholars to run them – and right at the top is Dr. John Nader, President of Farmingdale State College. A veteran of the SUNY system and former mayor of the City of Oneonta, John – who doubles as co-chairman of the critically influential Long Island Regional Economic Development Council – has led Farmingdale State through six years of remarkable growth, expanding the college’s student body, physical footprint, industry/academic collaborations and cutting-edge programming. In today’s episode, the highly optimistic problem-solver describes how politics prepared him for academia – and why Farmingdale State is so important to Long Island socioeconomics.
37:44
August 08, 2022
An interview with Dawn Smallwood, Stony Brook University Chief of Police
An interview with Dawn Smallwood, Stony Brook University Chief of Police
Raised by strong women with long careers in professional healthcare, Dawn Smallwood seemed destined to become a doctor. She even went to college to study biology. But fate had other ideas. In January, the veteran law-enforcement officer – after decades in the service of the FBI, the NCIS and CUNY Public Safety – became chief of the Stony Brook University Police Department, the first woman to fill the role. As SBU’s top cop, she commands a 190-member department that serves and protects 26,000 students, staffers and visitors every single day, from dormitories to university stadiums to hospital ERs. In today’s episode, the chief joins spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss the immense responsibilities of her pressure-packed job, her adventures as a Greater New York federal agent and her biggest challenges of all: raising two daughters to believe they can accomplish anything, and finding time for a good true-crime podcast.
42:57
July 26, 2022
An interview with Paule Pachter, Chief Executive Officer at Long Island Cares, The Harry Chapin Food Bank
An interview with Paule Pachter, Chief Executive Officer at Long Island Cares, The Harry Chapin Food Bank
With some estimates counting more than 218,000 food-insecure Long Islanders, including 80,000 children, the Herculean efforts of Chief Executive Officer Paule Pachter and his team at Long Island Cares-The Harry Chapin Food Bank cannot be overstated. The former deputy commissioner of the Nassau County Department of Mental Health, who earned a master’s degree in social work from Adelphi University, heads a massive rescue mission that annually manages millions of dollars in private and corporate donations and distributes more than 16 million pounds of food to children, seniors and veterans, among others in need. In today’s conversation, Paule joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss 40 years of innovation at Long Island’s first food bank, as well as the regional community’s endless generosity and the comprehensive logistical effort required by late philanthropist Harry Chapin’s vision of a hunger-free Long Island.
41:27
June 23, 2022
An interview with Robert Catell, a Long Island Socioeconomic Icon
An interview with Robert Catell, a Long Island Socioeconomic Icon
Robert Catell is a living legend of the regional energy sector and an iconic influencer, across Long Island and beyond. Starting as a junior engineer for Brooklyn Union Gas way back in 1958, Robert rose quickly through the ranks, prioritizing modernization and energy efficiency at every step. A savvy and respected leader, he was a key player in a multibillion-dollar merger that forever reshaped regional energy distribution – and since his “retirement” has only gotten busier, leading clean-gen crusades, advising startups, mentoring future leaders, helping to build Long Island’s best socioeconomic future. In today’s episode, the former KeySpan and National Grid U.S. chairman joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss a life spent in the literal corridors of power – and his fervent belief that Long Island’s brightest days are yet to come.
32:06
June 16, 2022
An interview with former New York Knick, John Wallace
An interview with former New York Knick, John Wallace
John Wallace needs no introduction to fans of the Syracuse Orange or the New York Knicks – but you might not know how deeply the Rochester native’s roots run throughout New York State. Since hanging up his professional sneakers, the one-time NCAA scoring machine has embarked on numerous professional and personal efforts designed to empower youth and promote social justice. A master communicator with a hard-earned degree in sociology, John has also carved out an impressive broadcasting career, while lending his compassion and intelligence to innovative workforce-development efforts on Long Island and beyond. In today’s episode, the Knicks’ 1996 first-round pick joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss his greatest mentors, fiercest opponents and most heartfelt social causes – and to review the X’s and O’s of “giving back,” and how they’ve changed over his amazing career.
34:08
April 13, 2022
An interview with Donna Drake, Drake Media Studios
An interview with Donna Drake, Drake Media Studios
Welcome to the first-ever Long Island Multimedia Crossover Virtual Extravaganza, a groundbreaking collaboration between Drake Media Studios, Brandtelling and Innovate Long Island. This episode of Spark: The Innovate Long Island Podcast, featuring multimedia producer and talk show host Donna Drake, is also being recorded as a video segment for “The Donna Drake Show,” which is based on Long Island and syndicated across the United States and in 25 countries. In this tech-savvy episode, Donna joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss her successful program and her burgeoning Melville multimedia studios, and to introduce her viewers to the Spark podcast and Innovate Long Island’s progressive socioeconomic mission.
33:01
March 07, 2022
An interview with Paul Schwartz, Co-Founder & Director, ThermoLift, Inc.
An interview with Paul Schwartz, Co-Founder & Director, ThermoLift, Inc.
Paul Schwartz is an entrepreneur, a networker, a VC magnet and the co-founder of a company promising to revolutionize the heating and cooling industries: Stony Brook-based ThermoLift, home of the Hofbauer Thermal Compression Climate Control device. The “TC3,” for short, eliminates toxic refrigerants and replaces older heating, cooling and hot-water systems with one energy-efficient machine that does it all – and does it with low (or zero) carbon emissions, powered by clean biofuels or hydrogen. In today’s conversation, Paul joins Spark Host Gregory Zeller to discuss his partnership with legendary engineering master Peter Hofbauer, brushes with other world-class scientists and investors, collaborations with national laboratories and top universities and the steady course that has brought his 2012 startup to the edge of international commercialization.
30:12
February 22, 2022
An interview with Kevin Law, Partner, EVP, Tritec Real Estate
An interview with Kevin Law, Partner, EVP, Tritec Real Estate
The Long Island innovation economy has many leaders, but few as driven or accomplished as Kevin Law. Known best as the longtime president and CEO of the Long Island Association, Kevin has amassed an amazing economic-development record across Long Island’s public and private sectors, helping to generate $5 billion in government and private infrastructure investments – a lawyer, planner, conservationist, business networker, affordable-housing spearhead and relentless soldier for Long Island’s myriad socioeconomic causes. In today’s conversation, the nominee to lead Albany’s Empire State Development Corp. joins Spark Host Gregory Zeller to remember his most influential mentors, review his long public-service career and share his brightest hopes for the future of Long Island energy, transportation and housing development.
33:56
February 15, 2022
An interview with David Chauvin, Executive Vice President of ZE Creative Communications
An interview with David Chauvin, Executive Vice President of ZE Creative Communications
Innovate Long Island readers already know David Chauvin, executive vice president of ZE Creative Communications in Great Neck and a cornerstone of Innovate LI’s fantastic Voices column. As our government and media expert, David has explored a wide breadth of accessible and important topics, ranging from social responsibility to the Millennial mindset to the importance of science over sensationalism, with a healthy exploration of social media’s risks and rewards. These topics, of course, cross his desk constantly at ZE Creative Communications, where David manages day-to-day operations and helps numerous clients share their best public face. In today’s conversation, the executive VP joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss innovation in the PR world – and how being a Mets fan creates a certain air of pollyannish optimism.
35:27
January 31, 2022
An interview with Dr. Timothy Sams, President, State University of New York College at Old Westbury
An interview with Dr. Timothy Sams, President, State University of New York College at Old Westbury
This month marks one full year since Dr. Timothy Sams assumed the presidency of the State University of New York College at Old Westbury. And what a year it’s been.  Succeeding longtime president Dr. Calvin Butts III, Tim took over smack dab in the middle of the ever-changing COVID pandemic – a unique challenge for any new administrator, though it turns out his particular set of experiences with inclusive innovation and strategic change, and his decades of professional success at well-regarded universities, prepared Tim well.  In today’s conversation, the SUNY Old Westbury president joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss the importance of liberal-arts education and social justice – and the need for creative management of society’s most crucial resource: young, impressionable minds.  
37:56
January 10, 2022
An interview with Mitch Maiman, president and cofounder of Intelligent Product Solutions
An interview with Mitch Maiman, president and cofounder of Intelligent Product Solutions
Mitch Maiman truly needs no introduction to the Innovate Long Island audience. A fixture of Long Island innovation, he’s the president and cofounder of Intelligent Product Solutions, a Hauppauge-based product-development consultancy that’s carved a mighty niche as one of the region’s premier creator/enhancers. Mitch has led the company since its 2007 launch and straight through its 2018 acquisition by Forward Industries, which actually relocated itself from Florida to Long Island to allow IPS to stay in its well-developed flow. Recognizing a job well done, the longtime president finally stepped down on Jan. 1, 2022 – but there are many itches for this experienced engineer and unparalleled entrepreneur left to scratch. In today’s episode, Mitch joins Spark Host Gregory Zeller to discuss the past, present and future of Intelligent Product Solutions – and reveal what “retirement” has in store for one of Long Island’s great innovators.
36:32
December 23, 2021
A conversation with Renee Flagler, Executive Director of Girls, Inc.
A conversation with Renee Flagler, Executive Director of Girls, Inc.
Renee Flagler is knee-deep in partnerships and outreach efforts designed to help future socioeconomic innovators positively influence the world they inherit – specifically, the next generation of young professional women. The teacher, award-winning writer and passionate public speaker is entering her fifth year as executive director of Girls Inc. of Long Island, the regional chapter of the national organization devoted to empowering girls to be strong, bold and self-confident in work and all facets of life. In today’s conversation, Renee joins Spark Host Gregory Zeller to discuss community-based programming, critical capital campaigns and the “human duty of service” – and to reveal how running a Girls Inc. chapter is the perfect way for a natural-born writer to express herself.
29:27
December 20, 2021
An interview with Brian Fried, The Inventor Coach
An interview with Brian Fried, The Inventor Coach
Brian Fried is an inventor in the truest sense – a home-based tinkerer with a garage full of exciting contraptions, a real dedication to creating a better world and a fully realized sense of human nature. Since he made his first commercial mark in 2007 with Pull Ties Fasteners – think “Twisty Ties: The Next Generation” – Brian has created podcasts, written books, launched professional consultancies and formed inventor clubs, all designed to help other makers commercialize their designs. What started as a monthly Suffolk County-based entrepreneurs club has now gone national, exponentially expanding Brian’s ability to help rookie inventors get where they want to go. In today’s conversation, Brian joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to retrace his steps toward inventive mentor, define his personal creativity process and discuss the differences between a good idea and a commercially viable idea – not always the same thing!
28:20
December 06, 2021
An interview with Dr. Susan Poser, President, Hofstra University
An interview with Dr. Susan Poser, President, Hofstra University
Change is in the air at Hofstra University, where freshly minted President Dr. Susan Poser – the first woman to fill the post – has completed her first 100 days in office and is steaming toward a bold new future for Long Island’s largest private university. A lawyer and long-experienced academician, Dr. Poser now runs what is, essentially, a small city: Hofstra boasts nearly 120 buildings across a sprawling 244-acre campus, with a student body of 10,000-plus and more than 2,500 staff and faculty members. And while she’s already impressed by the institution and its accomplishments, she’s promising some big changes – at her October inauguration, the new president announced a yearlong effort to solicit input from the Hofstra community on where the university will go in a post-pandemic world, and how it will get there. In today’s conversation, Dr. Poser joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to define that ambitious innovation strategy and discuss the rich history, multifaceted programs and powerful off-campus alliances that make Hofstra University a true jewel of Long Island’s academic crown.
29:52
November 08, 2021
An interview with David Hamilton, Executive Director of Stony Brook University’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program
An interview with David Hamilton, Executive Director of Stony Brook University’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program
Stony Brook University cornerstone David Hamilton is one of the hardest workers in all of Long Island innovation. As executive director of Stony Brook’s Clean Energy Business Incubator Program (the “incubator without walls”) and chief operating officer for the university’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center (a New York State-funded Center of Excellence), he’s a teacher, a mentor, a master networker, a logistics expert and a team leader for dozens of early-stage energy and sustainability companies … exactly the kind of roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-’er-done type inexperienced entrepreneurs need to help them navigate the treacherous, unforgiving waters of business development. In today’s conversation, David joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss the past, present and (increasingly international) future of CEBIP and the AERTC – and to underscore the critical work of the busy Stony Brook University incubator programs, which operate on the front lines of the global war against climate change.
32:23
October 29, 2021
A spooky interview with Michael Cardinuto, co-founder of the Long Island Paranormal Investigators team
A spooky interview with Michael Cardinuto, co-founder of the Long Island Paranormal Investigators team
Armed with gallons of courage and the latest ghost-busting technology science can offer (forget the proton packs, this is serious stuff), the 17 volunteer members of the Long Island Paranormal Investigators team are knee-deep in the other side – facing fearsome phantoms and probing petrifying poltergeists in Long Island’s cemeteries, haunted houses and spooky woods. Fiction, you say? Maybe. But co-founder Michael Cardinuto, a lead director at Westbury-based special-needs social-services agency Tiegerman Community Services, can tell you stories that will turn you white as a ghost: disembodied screams, mysterious hooded beings, demonic pig-lizards, shadow people and more, all here on Long Island and all very real, according to the paranormal professional. In today’s conversation, Michael joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to debunk the “nonsense” of “reality TV” ghost-hunting, review his most blood-curdling experiences from 18 years of real-life afterlife investigations and confirm that – if you know where and how to look – the truth is out there. Happy Halloween, brave listeners!
33:22
October 20, 2021
Long Island Economic Progress with Terri Alessi-Micelli, President and CEO of HIA-LI
Long Island Economic Progress with Terri Alessi-Micelli, President and CEO of HIA-LI
With its trendsetting tradeshows, forward-looking committees, 1,300-plus member companies and 11-square-mile industrial park – packed daily with more than 55,000 employees – the HIA-LI (formerly the Hauppauge Industrial Association of Long Island) ranks among Long Island’s most powerful economic engines. As its face, voice and guiding hand, President and CEO Terri Alessi-Micelli occupies a prominent spot in the Long Island zeitgeist and plays a critical role in the Island’s ever-evolving quest for economic progress. Pulling the HIA-LI’s strings since 2004, Terri has led the government-lobbying group and regional networking lynchpin through significant changes – and headfirst into the digital age. In today’s conversation, the major-league rainmaker joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss the past, present and post-pandemic future of the HIA-LI, where COVID-19 has forever altered the playing field – but not the goal, which has remained unchanged over the organization’s 42-year history: socioeconomic greatness for all of Long Island.
31:18
October 12, 2021
An interview with Dr. Christine Riordan, Ph.D, President of Adelphi University
An interview with Dr. Christine Riordan, Ph.D, President of Adelphi University
Deep in the Galactically Underrated File sits Adelphi University, a 125-year-old private institution that is routinely overlooked on an Island heavy with world-class universities and laboratories – though not by U.S. News & World Report, which ranks Adelphi a top college for veterans, nursing students, career guidance, social mobility and other key categories that define the nation’s best schools. Keeping Adelphi, it’s roughly 8,000 students and its impressive academic staff ticking is Dr. Christine Riordan, an internationally acclaimed leadership-development expert who in 2015 became the first woman to serve as the Garden City-based university’s president. A former University of Kentucky provost, one-time University of Denver Business School dean and enormous proponent of diversity, Christine brings lengthy experience to the job, and a savvy that served the school well during the COVID crunch. In today’s conversation, the president joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss Adelphi’s post-pandemic renaissance, including new programs, new student-housing plans and a host of COVID-era pivots and lessons that will help Adelphi grow now and in the future.
30:16
June 21, 2021
An interview with Matt Cohen, president and CEO of The Long Island Association
An interview with Matt Cohen, president and CEO of The Long Island Association
The Long Island Association has a new leader – but the LIA is hardly new to Matthew Cohen, the freshly minted president and CEO who’s already logged a decade with Long Island’s largest business and networking organization, primarily as its government relations director. Matt takes over at a touch-and-go time for the 95-year-old association, with the nation emerging from the COVID pandemic and socioeconomic stakeholders jockeying for position in the so-called “new normal.” He’s uniquely suited to the job: The new head honcho has also directed government relations for the Long Island Power Authority and spent years as Sen. Chuck Schumer’s right-hand man on Long Island, and while helping the LIA win billions of state and federal economic-development dollars, he’s become quite familiar to rainmakers from Long Island to Albany. In today’s conversation, Matt joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss his LIA ascension and the association’s near- and long-term plans – with greater small-business outreach and the introduction of new technologies topping a very long list.
18:58
June 21, 2021
An interview with Kenneth Bowes, Vice President for Offshore Wind Siting and Permitting at Eversource Energy
An interview with Kenneth Bowes, Vice President for Offshore Wind Siting and Permitting at Eversource Energy
Exciting socioeconomic winds are blowing across the nation, and nowhere do those forward-looking gales blow harder than Long Island, where offshore wind-generated electricity is foremost on the minds of private corporations, local governments, top universities and national laboratories, all jockeying for position in the clean-gen power play of the next century. Among those surfing the winds: Eversource Energy, a New England-based utility (and Fortune 500 company) with about 4 million retail electricity, natural gas and water-service customers on land and some serious ambitions at sea. Partnering with Danish multinational power company Orsted, Eversource is developing three offshore-wind farms in the Northeast, including two projects off the Montauk coast: South Fork Wind and Sunrise Wind, with commercial operations slated to begin in 2023 and 2024. In today's conversation, Kenneth Bowes – Eversource Energy’s vice president for offshore wind siting and permitting – joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss the heavy-duty science and major-league lobbying behind the nation's growing offshore-wind industry, and Long Island's critical role in that burgeoning infrastructure.
24:22
June 08, 2021
An interview with Arthur Germain, Principal of Communication Strategy Group
An interview with Arthur Germain, Principal of Communication Strategy Group
The Angels had Charlie, that time-traveling dude in Quantum Leap had a Dean Stockwell hologram, Spider-Man has his best buddy Ned and here on Spark: The Innovate Long Island Podcast, we are absurdly lucky to have Arthur Germain as our “man in the chair.” An innovator, entrepreneur and a bona fide genius, Arthur is cut from the classic ink-stained writer/editor mold, with a modern-day finish. He launched Communication Strategy Group in 2005 as an experiment combining boutique-firm intimacy with folksy storytelling; flash forward 16 years, one drawn-out Great Recession and a corporation-clobbering global pandemic, and CSG is still going strong, refining its “brand storytelling” capabilities and assembling an impressive client list, with customers lining up for key services including website development, video production, all manners of marketing collateral and, of course, podcasts. In today's conversation, Arthur joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss how COVID-19 has changed everything in the marketing world -- and how, for CSG and its innovation mission, the song remains the same.
36:46
June 01, 2021
An interview with Mitch Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute
An interview with Mitch Pally, CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute
constant voice for economic and environmental balance. Mitchell Pally has been the cornerstone institute’s chief executive since 2010, adding another important and influential role to a curriculum vitae that’s absolutely packed with them. A former New York State senator, Mitch held numerous positions in the State Legislature throughout the latter 20th century, helping to draft a first-in-the-nation seatbelt law, among other progressive legislation. For 14 years, he masterminded governmental affairs for the Long Island Association, the Island’s largest business and civic organization, after directing the LIA’s legislative and economic efforts for seven years. From 2005 to 2019, he was Suffolk County’s representative on the board of the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and now he’s more than a decade in as CEO of the Long Island Builders Institute. In today’s conversation, Mitch joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss the socioeconomic issues laid bare by the COVID-19 pandemic and other monumental challenges facing Long Island and its myriad construction-related trades in the rapidly evolving 21st Century.
31:44
May 24, 2021
An interview with Ann-Marie Scheidt, Director of Economic Development at Stony Brook University
An interview with Ann-Marie Scheidt, Director of Economic Development at Stony Brook University
Ann-Marie Scheidt is a one-woman economic engine, one of the most vital cogs in Long Island’s entire socioeconomic apparatus. A relentless innovator and supporter of innovators, she is personally responsible for more than $25 million in federal and state funds flowing into regional economic-development proposals she herself authored or co-authored. And that barely scratches the surface for this Yale University graduate and Stony Brook University PhD, now the director of economic development at the university where she earned her PhD in History of American Foreign Relations. Occupying too many director’s board and advisory board positions to list here and a slew of past and present executive roles at organizations ranging from Women Economic Developers of Long Island to the New York State Business Incubator Association, the self-described “godfounder” of the Long Island Angel Network is a true champion of new enterprise development. In today’s conversation, Ann-Marie joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss SBU’s comprehensive commercialization ecosystem and her thoughts on Long Island entrepreneurship during the pandemic, and beyond.
33:28
May 18, 2021
An interview with Debra Markowitz, Producer & Director, Intention Films and Media
An interview with Debra Markowitz, Producer & Director, Intention Films and Media
Debra Markowitz is a study in innovation – personally, technologically, even economically, as in, the Nassau County economy, which now benefits from $169 million in annual economic activity from local film and TV production, a number that grew steadily (and dramatically, wink) during Debra’s 33 years as Nassau County Film Commissioner. Now home to multiple Hollywood-grade production studios, Nassau boasts more production days than any other New York county except Manhattan, with regional support businesses of every size and type along for the ride. Behind all that economic mojo: Debra, who retired earlier this year from the Nassau County Film Office she founded, and is now producing and directing her own feature films through her 2014 Long Island startup Intention Films and Media. In today’s conversation, the ex-commish joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to dish on A-listers, entrepreneurism and the unique challenges of turning the Island’s westernmost county into a moviemaking mecca.
27:36
April 28, 2021
An interview with Rosalie Drago, Suffolk County Long Island Commissioner of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs
An interview with Rosalie Drago, Suffolk County Long Island Commissioner of Labor, Licensing and Consumer Affairs
Regular Innovate Long Island readers know this name – Rosalie Drago has long energized regional workforce and socioeconomic initiatives, previously as Long Island director of the nonprofit Workforce Development Institute and now as the Suffolk County commissioner of labor, licensing and consumer affairs.   As the head of a busy and influential 160-person Labor Department in the nation’s 26th most-populated county, the rookie officeholder has faced many unique challenges – pandemic-related and otherwise – since her March 2020 swearing-in. As the first woman to fill the office, she senses an important opportunity to influence impressionable young women on Long Island and beyond.   In today’s conversation, Rosalie joins Spark host Gregory Zeller for a trip through time, from her days as a struggling college dropout to her arrival as Suffolk County’s brightest self-starter – plus the immense responsibility of ensuring every supermarket scale and gas pump in the county is up to snuff.  
25:28
March 29, 2021
An interview with Dr. James Hayward, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, Applied DNA Sciences
An interview with Dr. James Hayward, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, Applied DNA Sciences
As COVID-19 circumnavigated the globe, scientists representing many disciplines rose to meet it. Among them: James Hayward and the incredible minds at Stony Brook-based Applied DNA Sciences, where long experience and a unique technology set the pace. A molecular biologist by trade, Hayward brings decades of biotech and consumer-product experience to his roles as chairman, president and CEO. Applied DNA cut its teeth as a DNA-based supply chain authenticator – creating forgery-proof DNA markers and next-generation tracking technology – and is now a primary supplier to worldwide laboratories and researchers keen on COVID and other scientific challenges. In today’s conversation, James joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss his standout science and his biotech’s unique role in the global COVID struggle – and to reveal some of the secrets of modern innovation.
24:04
March 29, 2021
An interview with Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment
An interview with Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment
If you’ve ever seen a protest or press conference advocating for Long Island environmental justice, you’ve seen Adrienne Esposito, at the microphone, way out in front of the politicians and philanthropists, dispensing wisdom and cracking wise. Now in her 17th year as executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Adrienne is a lobbying and public-education force across Long Island and Connecticut, with groundwater protection, carbon reduction, coastal fortification and a host of other critical issues in mind, and an alternative-energy future – including Long Island’s promising position in the nation’s offshore-wind infrastructure – in her heart. In today’s conversation, Adrienne joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss the Citizens Campaign for the Environment’s post-pandemic priorities – and the galactic challenge of changing minds, and public behaviors, in a hyper-political world.
29:25
March 29, 2021
An interview with Michael Dowling, CEO, Northwell Health
An interview with Michael Dowling, CEO, Northwell Health
For all intents and purposes, America’s COVID-19 pandemic started in New York. That put Nassau County-based Northwell Health, the state’s largest healthcare system and the nation’s 14th largest, on the front lines from Day One. Leading that fight is CEO Michael Dowling, who turned Northwell into New York State’s largest private employer – and steered Northwell through the crisis – leveraging lessons learned in the hardscrabble Irish village of his youth, in Albany’s corridors of power and over 20 years in the C suite. In today’s conversation, Michael joins Spark host Gregory Zeller to discuss Northwell’s performance during the heights of the COVID crisis, and the health system’s plans for innovation, expansion and even contraction (?!?) in a post-pandemic world.
31:46
March 29, 2021
An interview with Marlene McDonnell, President of InnovateLI
An interview with Marlene McDonnell, President of InnovateLI
Anyone who’s done Long Island business over the last quarter century knows Marlene McDonnell – the former events director for Long Island Business News, the two-decade member of the Long Island Business Development Council (including a long stint as LIBDC administrator and Executive Board member) and the president of Innovate Long Island. Marlene, of course, took over when Innovate LI founder John Kominicki – her longtime business partner and mentor – passed suddenly in 2017. Since then, she’s helped Kominicki’s creation survive and thrive, welcoming new sponsors and an ever-growing audience as it rockets through its sixth year of covering Long Island’s exciting innovation economy. In today’s conversation, Marlene joins Innovate LI Vice President and Editor Gregory Zeller to kick off Spark: The Innovate Long Island Podcast, an exclusive series of one-and-one conversations with the elite of Long Island innovation.
27:41
March 29, 2021