CenterState CEO President Rob Simpson and Members Recognized in the 2021 Upstate Power 100

Posted on April 11, 2021

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South Grand Island Bridge Mihai Andritoiu Shutterstock

CenterState CEO's Rob Simpson, was featured on The 2021 Upstate Power 100, a list of movers and shakers who have upstate New York on the upswing. Congratulations to our members who additionally made the cut:

9. Ray Halbritter

Oneida Nation Representative and Oneida Nation Enterprises CEO

Ray Halbritter has used his perch as head of an Iroquois Confederacy nation to promote positive portrayals of Native Americans in media and culture. The Oneida Nation leader convinced professional sports teams in Washington, D.C., and Cleveland to remove derogatory mascots last year. He also launched a film and TV production company to champion Native and Indigenous peoples’ stories and led efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.

36. Colleen Wegman

President and CEO, Wegmans

The popular Rochester-based grocery chain, one of the top-ranked companies to work for in any industry, was deemed an essential business when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Colleen Wegman made sure her workers had enough masks, loaded up on staples and closed food bars and free sample stations to protect shoppers. Wegmans, which has 48 stores in New York, never turned off the lights and managed to keep its customers and employees safe throughout the year.

41. Mantosh Dewan

President, SUNY Upstate Medical University

Few leaders have played as critical a role in helping the state pinpoint the spread of the coronavirus as Mantosh Dewan. The medical school president led efforts to develop one of the most accurate COVID-19 tests on the market, and the FDA called the saliva test the best of its kind. SUNY Upstate recently opened a COVID-19 testing lab at the University at Buffalo as well as its own lab to study infectious diseases. 

65. Robert Simpson

President and CEO, CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity

When central and northern New York businesses struggled at the start of the pandemic, Robert Simpson stepped up to help. The CenterState president reached out to his 2,000 member businesses to assess the damage, publicized concerns about reaching customers and resolving supply chain disruptions, prepared a “toolkit” to help stores reopen and secured grants for minority-owned companies. Simpson also helped lure Amazon to Central New York, creating about 1,000 jobs.

68. Melanie Littlejohn

Regional Executive Director, Upstate New York, National Grid

When Gov. Andrew Cuomo put together his advisory board for reopening the state economy last spring, adding Melanie Littlejohn was a no-brainer. The Syracuse-based energy executive, who’s a National Grid vice president and upstate point person as well as CenterState CEO board chair, has made her mark as a promoter of small businesses and a mentor for up-and-coming leaders. National Grid launched a residential energy savings pilot program in Central New York in November under her watch.

75. Michael Printup

President, Watkins Glen International

The Northeast’s premier stock car racing event regularly draws 100,000 fans per year, but Watkins Glen couldn’t host its annual NASCAR race last year due to pandemic-related travel restrictions, so it was moved to Daytona Beach, Florida. Though Michael Printup was disappointed in the decision, some events were able to return to the Southern Tier venue by the end of the summer, and racing driver Jimmie Johnson said he’s coming to Watkins Glen in 2021.

78. Leslie Paul Luke

President and CEO, St. Joseph’s Health 

The Syracuse hospital leader’s mantra has been to focus on improving quality first and let everything else follow. When the pandemic struck, Leslie Paul Luke took a 25% pay cut, furloughed 500 employees until surgeries resumed and closed two urgent care centers as a result of a projected $40 million in losses. He urged U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer to secure federal aid as his health care network weathered the intensity of the virus’s wrath.

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