For Howard Milstein, the saga of his family’s real estate enterprises and philanthropy starts with Morris Milstein, a Russian Jewish immigrant, who began his life in the new world as a floor scraper. Eventually, his work scraping floors transitioned to installing floors and in 1919, he formed a modest company called Circle Flooring. Decades later, Morris’ son, Paul Milstein, had the idea that if Circle Flooring could install parts of buildings, they could also take on the construction of entire buildings. Milstein Properties was launched.
Paul’s son Howard P. Milstein learned the family business at his father’s knee. His interests have resulted in successful business ventures in the fields of marketing, hotels, finance, technology, and banking, but in particular, he inherited the family acumen for real estate.
Howard earned his bachelor’s degree from Cornell University in 1973, graduating summa cum laude. He continued his studies at Harvard University, where he received degrees in both Law and Business through the JD/MBA Program in 1977. Soon afterwards, he was admitted to the New York State Bar, and he has since become a member of the American Bar Association, the New York City Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Council.
In 1989, the Milsteins purchased Douglas Elliman-Gibbons & Ives, a white glove real estate management and brokerage firm whose star had long been waning. The Milsteins restored its position as the pre-eminent residential real estate and management firm in New York City. During Howard’s ten-year tenure as Chairman, Douglas Elliman became a vertically integrated, full-service operation, cross-selling housing-related services from insurance to interior design. In 1999, Douglas Elliman was successfully sold to the largest real estate firm in the U.S.
Howard P. Milstein currently serves as Chief Executive Officer, President, and Chairman of New York Private Bank & Trust and its operating bank, Emigrant Bank (the largest privately held bank in the country). Howard is also the head of the other Milstein family real estate companies, including Milford Management, the Milford Agency, and Milstein Properties. Howard is the founding Chairman of the private investment firm, FriedbergMilstein.
In addition to his work in the real estate sector and his other entrepreneurial endeavors, Howard provides counsel, hands-on leadership, and support to many communal, educational, and civic organizations. He is particularly active in the fields of medical research and healthcare delivery and also dedicates time and significant support to law enforcement/counter-terrorism programs, higher education, disaster relief, the arts, and communal giving.
Howard is a civic-minded leader who believes the private sector has a duty to carry out the unfinished business of American capitalism by complementing government with efficiency, effectiveness and an entrepreneurial spirit. In 2011, Howard was selected by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo to serve as the Chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority. The New York State Senate unanimously confirmed Howard’s appointment in June 2011. Howard’s leadership of the procurement process for the new Tappan Zee Bridge replacement resulted in a cost savings to taxpayers of $2 billion versus original estimates. To recognize that achievement, Howard received the Regional Plan Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013 and President Barack Obama hailed the project as “a model for infrastructure projects nationwide.”
Howard has served as a member of the Board of the Economic Club of New York and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Real Estate Board of New York. He is a member of the Real Estate Forum of the Columbia University Business School and the Real Estate Roundtable, and serves on the Columbia M.B.A. Real Estate Program Advisory Board. In May 2015, Howard was elected to the Board of Directors of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.
In April 2014, Howard received the Insignia of Chevalier in France’s Legion of Honor in recognition of his personal commitment to French-American cooperation and friendship, and fostering the French-American partnership in cultural and economic areas.
Other honors include recognition by New York Blood Center (NYBC) as the first individual inductee to NYBC’s Hall of Fame in November 2015 and by the United Hospital Fund with the Health Care Leadership Award in October 2015. In addition, Howard was recognized with the Community Builder Award from Phipps Houses, Humanitarian Award from the American Skin Association, JASA Man of the Year Award, Make a Wish Foundation Award, ORT Community Builder Award, Tanenbaum Center Corporate Bridge Builder Award, awards from the Jewish National Fund and B’nai B’rith Youth Services, the Catholic Youth Organization Gold Medal Award, Emerald Isle Immigration Society Robert Briscoe Award, Federal Law Enforcement Foundation Humanitarian Award, and Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award. In March 2012, Howard was sworn in as an honorary FDNY Battalion Chief, in recognition of his significant support for the Fire Department and the people of New York.
A graduate of Cornell University, Howard earned a B.A. in Economics summa cum laude (1973). In 2008, Howard was honored as the Entrepreneur of the Year by Cornell University. At Harvard University, he earned both his Law and Business degrees in the JD/MBA Program (1977). He was admitted to the New York State Bar, and is a member of the Federal Bar Council and the American, New York State and New York City Bar Associations.
Howard is the elder son of Irma Milstein and the legendary businessman and philanthropist Paul Milstein. Howard is married to Abby Sniderman Milstein and they have a son, Michael.