John J. Cuticelli, Jr. is Chief Executive Officer of ARK Development, LLC, the corporation responsible for leasing, development, financing and construction of the land and structure known as Building 78 – The ARK at JFK ad ARK Import Export Center, LLC the operating entity for the animal quarantine and export center.
During his tenure as head of ARK Development, LLC, Mr. Cuticelli has led a world-class team of veterinarians, bio-chemists, architects, engineers and other professionals to accomplish the planning and construction of this state-of-the-art facility. No other private entity has developed a facility of this scope and complexity in this discipline.
Mr. Cuticelli is committed to private development for the public good; another of his recent endeavors is the Cornell Ruffian Equine Specialty Hospital located in Elmont, NY adjacent to the Belmont Race Track. This state-of-the-art hospital is dedicated to the treatment and surgery of horses. Mr. Cuticelli acquired the functionally obsolescent equine surgery center and, together with the expertise of Cornell University Veterinary School, re-positioned it into a leading destination of equine welfare.
Alex is a veteran real estate executive, with extensive knowledge and experience in acquisitions, asset valuation, and asset management. Prior to joining Racebrook, Alex was the Chief Operating Officer of Accelerated Marketing Partners, LLC. Much of his recent focus has been in the area of distressed real estate and operating companies in both an acquisitions and advisory capacity.
Previously, Alex was the Director of Real Estate Portfolio Management at Starwood Hotels & Resorts responsible for real estate strategy and product development, developing and executing on business plans for some of Starwood’s largest assets, including the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, the Sheraton Boston, and the Sheraton Manhattan. In a different role at Starwood, he evaluated and executed corporate acquisitions, partnerships, and investments, in addition to managing Starwood’s corporate leasing activities. Prior to his tenure at Starwood, Alex was an Investment Banker at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc.
Alex is a Chartered Financial Analyst, holds a B.A. in economics from Williams College and he is a member of the Boston Security Analysts Society.
Elizabeth is Managing Director of The ARK at JFK with dual responsibilities for oversight and promotion of The ARK’s entire import/export business as well as specifically managing and directing the operations of The ARK Pet Oasis – which is dedicated to the in-transit travel needs of companion animals.
Prior to taking on her responsibilities at The ARK, Elizabeth served as Managing Director with Racebrook Capital (developer of The ARK) with strategic planning, compliance and oversight responsibilities. She is a licensed real estate broker in CT, FL and RI. In addition, Elizabeth is President of George Washington Mortgage & Investment Corp. – a closely held boutique firm that manages real estate assets in NY and MD and provides consulting services on asset portfolio acquisitions.
Earlier in her career, Elizabeth managed the operations divisions (credit analysis, servicing and asset disposition) of banks and equipment leasing companies including HSBC/Concord Leasing, Household International, and Citytrust (acquired by Chase). She was a financial/portfolio analyst with Booz Allen and Hamilton and Kaplan Smith and Associates (acquired by Boston Consulting Group).
Elizabeth received her B.A. in Economics with Honors from The College of William and Mary where she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and a M.A. in Economics from The George Washington University.
Kiera Mejia is Communications Manager of The ARK at JFK and works alongside the Managing Director to communicate the core message of The ARK. She manages the social media outlets, assists with ARK Pet Oasis and/or Import Export Center operations, in addition to daily outreach efforts and content marketing, Kiera can be seen wearing many hats with a smile on her face.
Kiera is a Queens, NY native with a Bachelor of Business Administration from the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College. Since receiving a certificate for “Animal Care and Passion” in Kindergarten, Kiera has made it her mission to love any animal that crosses her path. She began riding horses when she was 8 years old and grew up around dogs, cats, birds, and rabbits. During her years at Baruch College, Kiera worked as a waitress, bartender, and assistant manager at a neighborhood restaurant while training and caring for horses in her spare time. After graduating, she joined a Social Media Marketing and Consulting agency where she was tasked with educating, consulting, and selling social media strategies for a variety of businesses. With a wealth of knowledge in hospitality, management, marketing and animal welfare, Kiera joins The ARK at JFK excited to be able to turn her lifelong passion into a career.
Her four-legged companions include: Cyrus the Formosan Mountain Dog rescued from North Shore Animal League, and Akuma the Lionhead bunny.
Joanne O’Connell has devoted practically her entire life to the care and well-being of animals, so it’s no surprise that she’s here at The ARK at JFK. What’s more amazing, she has filled most of her adulthood with a life of consideration for other people, and doing so with the help of her caring dogs.
You may have already seen Joanne’s companion Aiden, who is an ambassador for The ARK.
For almost a decade, Joanne has served as a fundraiser, docent and puppy raiser for The Guide Dog Foundation as well as for America’s VetDogs. Over the past eight years, Joanne has raised six puppies, five of whom became assistance dogs: three guide dogs (for people who are blind) and two service dogs (for veterans with disabilities). For the past three years, she and Aiden have served as visiting therapists, continuing the prior eight years of service Joanne and her beloved shepherd Shadow performed for Therapy Dogs International.
Aiden also serves as an ambassador dog for The Guide Dog Foundation. He was released from the guide dog program as a puppy for a potential medical issue and adopted by his puppy raiser Joanne. Aiden is still able to help people in another way, so Joanne signed him up for the Foundation’s ambassador dog program, where he goes on speaking engagements to schools, clubs, and other events.
If that wasn’t enough, for over 15 years, Joanne has been a Wishing Granter, fundraiser and event co-chair for Make-A-Wish.
In her spare time, she found success in corporate America with the unique experience of being devoted to the same company for 35 years as a successful Engineer, Manager and Executive, trading on her demonstrated leadership, organizational, and operational abilities. Joanne’s business acumen, empathy, and interpersonal abilities helped her to work with and support such notable firms for 25 years on Wall Street at Citibank, JP Morgan and SmithBarney, then moving to Long Island becoming HP’s Account Executive to Canon USA. Throughout her professional career and years of humanitarian efforts, Joanne has been recognized by those she has helped with numerous Volunteer, Customer Satisfaction and Client Service Excellence Awards, not to mention the numbers of shout-outs from appreciative people on Social Media. If only animals could Tweet.
You can see how we knew immediately that there is no better person than Joanne to manage the ARK Pet Oasis and the Aviary here at The ARK. She and Aiden live in Nassau County with Joanne’s loving and supportive husband, Sean.