Where are they now? RIOC General Counsel and Acting CEO Don Lewis

Where are they now? RIOC General Counsel and Acting CEO Don Lewis

When I last saw Don Lewis, he absorbed a stream of information from RIOC President/CEO Charlene Indelicato, circa 2013. They walked under a Westview overpass along Roosevelt Island’s East Promenade. Not much later, he sued her and the state agency’s board.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island Daily News

Like Steve Jobs at Apple, Indelicato held walking around meetings, and before she left, I saw her doing the same with Lewis’s successor, Susan Rosenthal.

The snake pit at 591 Main Street is so fraught with litigation, you sometimes wonder when they manage to work. Most, like Lewis’s, involve racial strife within the agency, and numerous others strain the employee complaint chain north to Albany.

In spite of his lawsuit against RIOC and its alleged hostile racial environment, the brilliant, Harvard trained lawyer moved on.

As our astute reader and friend Sylvan Klein found, he’s started his own law firm, Lewis Law, LLC, but the surprise is in how he got there.

Don Lewis and His Trail Out of Brooklyn

A nationally ranked junior tennis player in the 1980s, Lewis had a choice of doors to walk through, but he picked law. With two Harvard degrees in hand at the turn of the 21st Century, his career started with high profile Skadden Arps, a prestigious start for any young lawyer…

ball court design game
A Harvard educated lawyer by trade, Don Lewis first made his mark as a nationally ranked junior tennis player./Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

…which makes his next more a little strange.

Don Lewis became the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation’s chief counsel. He was “appointed,” he says, by Governor Andrew Cuomo. That’s a striking piece of honesty because RIOC’s board is responsible for hiring and firing, but they allow Cuomo to usurp them with sheeplike consistency.

Lewis is an honest guy.

But it still makes no sense that he went from Skadden Arps to RIOC, a state job so low profile you couldn’t find it on the mountain range of NYS legal profiles.

And it ended badly.

Inherited turmoil…

With his boss Leslie Torres skedaddled out of office, Lewis became acting ceo and president of a scandal-filled state agency, and it got worse.

During his last months in that job, community outrage over abusive tactics from the Public Safety Dept. boiled over in protest. Hundreds crowded Good Shepherd Plaza, demanding action.

Catch the Roosevelt Islander’s report on Lewis’s last board meeting as acting CEO.

Cuomo acted, bringing in Charlene Indelicato as president and CEO while Lewis went back to general counsel. Significantly, she recruited the much admired Jack McManus as PSD chief, resolving the crisis.

Before long, though, Lewis left RIOC, filing a lawsuit against them, citing a daily dose of racially charged comments. Funny coincidence — his successor, Rosenthal, also sued RIOC after being fired. And she filed a parallel claim against its board and Cuomo for, you guessed it, racial bias.

But Don Lewis never lets moss grow under his feet…

As Sylvan Klein noticed, finding Lewis featured on Hulu’s documentary about WeWork, he led the legal team during the company’s wild ride through corporate upheaval.

He describes WeWork as “legitimately the craziest work experience you’ll ever have in your life.”

And this came after RIOC.

“If you wanted to drink ’til the end of time, you could drink ’til the end of time,” he added.

This sounded, honestly, more interesting than anything going on at 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island.

Later, he hooked up with Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht LLP, a law firm Lewis now says was “built on smoke and mirrors.” That ended badly.

The much traveled Harvard grad today…

Don Lewis’s career makes a great story, if Hollywood or Publishers Row is looking for one. This is a smart guy who lands on his feet.

He brags about his vast array of connections, from business execs to “the guy who fixes the elevators.”

His career is equally varied, and it promises great — and fun — things to come.

We will try to keep up.

Latest from the Roosevelt Island Daily News desk…

A Golden Sunrise, Fine Art Photography Print/©Deborah Julian

Roosevelt Island Daily
24/7 Roosevelt Island News
Foodtown Dairy Section with Eat Well Guides

At Roosevelt Island Foodtown, a fresh circular, fresh deals, each week.

Flatbread pizza, café @ Cornell Tech
Flatbread pizzas, fresh from the café at Cornell Tech.

Blast From the Deep Past, a Tall Ship Cruises Roosevelt Island

A sight you don’t see often – yesterday, an authentic-looking tall ship cruised past Roosevelt Island. The sails were down, but she rode the current as if driven by the wind as in the old days. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News Because it’s UN Week with the General Assembly in session, security…

Keep reading
jigsaw puzzle on pink background

The Strange Case of RIOC and the Missing LinkedIn Profiles

Missing LinkedIn profiles are not new at RIOC where secrecy and scrubbing the past are common among executives. But these activities accelerated recently, and each case is loaded with questions. Let’s take a look. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News First, What Is LinkedIn? LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service that enables…

Keep reading
couple smiling while looking at each other

A Bundle of Activities for Older Adults and Disabled Coming Up

The Carter Burden Network along with the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association have set up a string of activities through the end of September. They benefit older adults and others with physical limitations. Here’s the list. The Roosevelt Island Daily News September 20th September 21st September 22nd September 23rd September 26th September 27th September 29th davidstone1313…

Keep reading
Fall for Arts with Tad Sudol and Ioan Popoiu

Is Fall For Arts Failing This Year Because of RIOC Neglect?

Fall for Arts failing this year seemed likely from its belated start and now seems more so. An email blast from RIOC, its primary sponsor hints at chaos and disconnection. After dumping the project on an ill-equipped partner, RIVAA, the state agency appears to have ducked for cover. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily…

Keep reading
calm asian couple standing on train platform

No F Trains Into Manhattan from Roosevelt Island, Sept. 16th through 19th

Starting tonight – Friday, September 16th – at 9:45 p.m., southbound F Trains will bypass Roosevelt Island while the MTA does some track maintenance. Regular service resumes on Monday at 5:00 a.m. In the meantime, we’ve got some options for you. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News F Train Alternatives Your best choice…

Keep reading

Freedom Rises As The Sun Sets At The Iconic Park Oasis

At an annual event in Roosevelt Island’s FDR Four Freedoms Park, Freedom was more than an overworked cliche. It was dramatic and visionary. Friends and supporters gathered for a special Sunset Garden Party in New York City’s most serene space. by David Stone The Roosevelt Island Daily News In a Special Year, the Emphasis on…

Keep reading

Loading…

Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

Written by:

2,538 Posts

View All Posts
Follow Me :

Leave a Reply

You May Have Missed

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial
0
2k
%d bloggers like this: