Board of Directors
(from left to right: Nathan Bliss, Interim Executive Director; Carlo Scissura, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce; Eddie Mark, Community Board 13; Judi Stern Orlando, Astella Devleopment Corporation; Dennis Vourderis, Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park; Valerio Ferrari, Central Amusement International; Jon Forrest Dohlin, New York Aquarium; Nino Russo, Gargiulo’s Restaurant; Randy Watts, Nathan’s Famous; Bruce Miller, Nathan’s Famous; Nicole Robinson Etienne, New York Aquarium; front row: Steve Cohen, Brooklyn Cyclones; not pictured: Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr.; Borough President Marty Markowitz.)
The board of directors of Alliance for Coney Island represents many of Coney Island’s leading businesses and nonprofit organizations.
Dennis D. Vourderis, Chairperson
Mr. Vourderis represents three generations of the family-owned and operated Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park, which includes the New York City Landmark Wonder Wheel, which has entertained more than 30 million riders since its construction in 1920. Starting with Dennis’ father, Denos Vourderis, the kiddie park and family attractions have operated under the careful management of the Vourderis family. Dennis Vourderis is co-owner of the park with his brother, Steve, and both men’s sons are actively involved in carrying the park’s traditions into the future. Mr. Vourderis brings four decades of experience in Coney Island to his role as Chairperson of the Alliance for Coney Island.
Jon Forrest Dohlin, Vice Chairperson
Jon Forrest Dohlin, Director of the New York Aquarium, has been with the Wildlife Conservation Society since 1997 and was appointed Director in January of 2008. Both a biologist and an architect by training, Mr. Dohlin has worked for WCS as an exhibit designer and as a project manager in both the Design and Capital Construction departments. As Director of the New York Aquarium, a central Coney Island attraction since 1957, Mr. Dohlin oversees the care and exhibition of over 12,000 specimens representing 395 species, as well as the ambitious renovations underway at the facility as part of the Ocean Wonders initiative. As Vice Chairperson of the Alliance for Coney Island, Mr. Dohlin brings a wealth of experience from the Aquarium, the most-attended tourist destination in Brooklyn and a year-round attraction in Coney Island.
Wayne Norbitz, Secretary
Mr. Wayne Norbitz has been President of Nathan’s Famous Inc. since 1989 and serves as Chief Operating Officer and as a Director. He joined Nathan’s in 1975 and has served as Director of Operations, Vice President of Operations, Senior Vice President of Operations, and Executive Vice President. Nathan’s Famous is an anchoring institution in Coney Island and is now a worldwide company. As COO of Nathan’s, Mr. Norbitz is committed to the growth of the company as well as the original Coney Island location. Mr. Norbitz also serves as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Capital Corp and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Long Island Community Chest. He formerly served as Director of Operations of Wetson’s Corporation. As Secretary of the Alliance for Coney Island, Mr. Norbitz brings the perspective of one of the longest-operating businesses in Coney Island and a brand known around the world.
Steve Cohen, Treasurer
Mr. Cohen has been the Cyclones’ General Manager since the team’s inception in 2001. He also held the same position during the franchise’s temporary stop in Queens (as the Queens Kings) in 2000 and played an integral part in the transition to Brooklyn. The Cyclones have continuously led the New York–Penn League in attendance, drew their two millionth fan faster than any club in their classification’s history, and have finished each of their 12 seasons with a winning record. Born in Brooklyn, Steve currently lives in Oceanside, NY with his wife Michelle, son Evan, and daughter Emma. As Treasurer, Mr. Cohen, has custody of the Alliance’s funds and keeps the complete books and records of account.
Mr. Ferrari is President and CEO of Central Amusement International, LLC (CAI), an amusement park planner, developer, and operator that manages several Coney Island attractions including Luna Park, the Scream Zone, and the historic Cyclone Roller Coaster. CAI draws on its relationship with Zamperla, an industry leader in ride manufacturing, to bring state-of-the-art rides to its Coney Island parks. Through its array of entertainment venues, CAI is able to offer multiple vehicles of fun and excitement to please all visitors, all the while staying true to its mission “to provide a friendly, safe, and clean environment with amusement and entertainment activities that creates a memorable experience for the entire family.” Mr. Ferrari brings decades of experience in the amusement industry to his role as a Director of the Alliance.
Judi Stern Orlando
Judi Stern Orlando is Executive Director of the Astella Development Corporation. Astella is a not-for-profit community-based organization dedicated to providing affordable housing, fostering commercial revitalization, and improving quality of life in the Coney Island community. Astella was founded in 1975 by Coney Island residents who were concerned about the deterioration of their community. Ms. Orlando brings to the Alliance the perspective of the 50,000 residents who call Coney Island home.
Mr. Russo is co-owner of Gargiulo’s Restaurant, a fixture in Coney Island for over a century. Gargiulo’s Restaurant was established in 1907 by the Gargiulo Family. Throughout the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s, Gargiulo’s Grand Ballroom was the host of many weddings and other social functions. In April 1965, the Russo brothers Michael, Victor, and Nino embraced Coney Island as their new home and acquired the restaurant from the Gargiulo family. The Russo family kept the name and added their Neapolitan hospitality and cuisine, making it the landmark that it is today. Mr. Russo brings to the Alliance the unique perspective of a long-time, year-round business with strong ties to the local community.
Hon. Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn Borough President
Marty Markowitz is currently serving his third term as Brooklyn Borough President. Previously, he served in the New York State Senate for 23 years.
Hon. Domenic M. Recchia, Jr., Council Member, 47th District
Domenic M. Recchia, Jr. is the New York City Council Member for the 47thDistrict, which comprises Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Brighton Beach, and Gravesend. He is the chairman of the Council’s Finance Committee.
Eddie Mark, Chairman, Community Board 13
Eddie Mark is the Chairperson of Brooklyn Community Board 13, which encompasses the neighborhoods of Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Bensonhurst, Gravesend, and Seagate.
Nate Bliss, Interim Executive Director
Nate Bliss is a Vice President at the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the President of the outgoing Coney Island Development Corporation. He has worked on Coney Island redevelopment issues on behalf of the Administration since 2005.
Photo credit: Alexandra Silversmith