The six contestants for this year’s Pitch contest presented their entrepreneurial ideas and fielded questions from an impressive panel of judges that included the co-founder of The Bozzuto Group Thomas S. Bozzuto ’68, L.H.D. ’18 (In photo above, third from left), project director of the Rippel Foundation Jane M. Erickson ’07 (second, from left), landscape architect Josephine Grayson P’18 (right) and co-founder and CEO of PureSolo Ltd. and Murge LLC David A. Kaplan ’83 (left).
“We were delighted to have this panel of judges, as they collectively brought a lot of wisdom and experience to the Pitch,” says Amy Forbes, director of the Centennial Center, who sponsored the competition on March 5. A video of the event is available.
Forbes adds that the judges challenged finalists with the rigor of real-world investors — and the support of potential mentors. “Finalists had to think on their feet as the judges probed their ideas for potential weaknesses,” she says.
Bozzuto, who also serves as chair of the HWS Board of Trustees, is the chairman and co-founder of The Bozzuto Group. During Bozzuto’s more than 45-year career in real estate, he has overseen and been responsible for the creation of more than 50,000 homes and apartments. In 1988, Bozzuto and his partners established The Bozzuto Group of companies, which today provides a range of real estate services throughout the East Coast.
The recipient of the Freddie Mac Builder of the Year award among many others, Bozzuto was a Congressional Appointee to the Millennial Housing Commission and served several terms as a gubernatorial appointee to the Maryland Housing Commission. He previously served as chair of the board of the National Multi Housing Council, which represents the leadership of the apartment industry nationally.
Erickson, a member of the HWS Board of Trustees, leads the Rippel Foundation’s Learning and Evaluation team, directing the design and execution of cross-organizational learning and project evaluation for the ReThink Health and FORESIGHT initiatives. In her work, she implements large-scale national programming to advance multi-sector approaches for community health and well-being.
Prior to joining Rippel, Erickson established and ran the grants department at the Clinton Health Access Initiative, was a Fulbright Scholar in Indonesia and worked with the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. She holds a master’s degree in public administration, a master of arts in international relations and a certificate in public health from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
Kaplan is co-founder and CEO of PureSolo Ltd. and Murge LLC, a global video collaboration platform in the Apple, Android and Amazon app stores. Prior to PureSolo, he spent 22 years at Goldman Sachs, where he began his career in Operations and moved on to trading securities. He then moved to London to run the market making operation in Japanese equity-linked products and was later appointed Head of European Equities Trading.
Kaplan was made a Goldman Sachs partner and then moved to the Fixed Income Division, where he built Equity Macro, a proprietary business within the FX Global team. Kaplan served as Trustee for Priority Trust, an organization that provides physically disabled children and young people greater independence by funding mobility equipment and sharing experiences. He sits on the NYC Development Council of the USA Soccer Federation.
Grayson spent a decade in the financial markets before becoming a landscape architect and environmentalist. She went on to spend nearly 12 years at Rutgers University planning land use, managing environmental projects and monitoring new construction.
Driven by creativity, social good and beautiful spaces, Grayson now pursues her interests in art and her family philanthropic organizations, The Peter and Josephine Grayson Foundation and the Fund for Individual Potential.
In addition to holding a B.S. in environmental planning and design from Rutgers University, a B.S. in Business from the College of New Rochelle in New York, she has completed extended study programs at Parsons School of Design in N.Y., Universita Bocconi in Milan, and the School of Visual Arts in N.Y.