Jemmy Rezk obtained a civil engineering degree from Helwan University Cairo. The Upper Egypt native worked on numerous projects as a contractor in different regions of the country, and he continued to work in the civil arena in Dubai for two years before continuing his career in the US.
In the US, he improved his problem-solving, project management, and technical skill sets, while also navigating new cultures, languages, and traditions.
“It was very challenging as a young man yearning to pursue a higher education and dealing with the angst of being separated from my family, as well as having to travel to new countries with a newfound independence,” Rezk says.
The opportunity though to work with multiple stakeholders from varied backgrounds and priorities imparted the leadership skills he’d need to thrive in one of America’s most diverse cities.
At the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT), Rezk serves as the deputy director of parking management, facilities, and capital projects. Leading a team of 65 people, Rezk oversees the management and operations of 30 municipal parking fields, and 7 multilevel parking garages, in addition to spearheading construction, repairs, and contract compliance efforts.
Rezk began his career at the NYCDOT as an assistant civil engineer with the goal of advancing his career and his skills. The work was exciting and reminiscent of what he’d done in Egypt and Dubai, where he learned about project management and was exposed to working on projects for city agencies.
Another familiar aspect of his job was working on projects while also overcoming language and cultural barriers between him and his colleagues. Fortunately, he had already learned that the best way to navigate that challenge was by familiarizing himself with colleagues and the workspace.
In his current role as deputy director, Rezk prides himself on being a forward-thinking leader, who prioritizes clear communication, loyalty to his team, and proactive planning to help the city reach its goals.
“Being a forward-thinking leader means having the ability to anticipate future challenges and opportunities and proactively prepare for them,” he says. “Forward-thinking leaders encourage creativity and experimentation and are willing to go the distance to achieve the city’s goals. That kind of leadership requires excellent communication skills that can inspire and motivate team members.”
At NYCDOT, that vision includes bolstering the city’s sustainability practices and initiatives. Transportation is responsible for almost 30 percent of NYC’s greenhouse gas emissions, primarily stemming from personal vehicles. That’s why the department is aiming to increase the pace of replacing combustion engine vehicles with electric vehicles (EVs) in the city’s five boroughs where transit and cleaner modes is unavailable.
The goals include reducing emissions by 80 percent in 2050; increasing the amount of city-operated, fast-charging networks to over 80 charging stations by 2025; equipping 20 percent of all spaces in municipal parking lots and garages with level 2 chargers by 2025; and increasing public awareness of EVs.
“I believe it’s important to encourage and enable drivers to make the transition to EV by providing specific infrastructure,” he says. “This will make the ownership of EVs more attractive. Ultimately this transition is an investment in a better quality of life for New Yorkers.”
Rezk and his team are helping to reach those goals through several projects, including the creation of a new parking garage and community space in Queens. The garage will provide over 600 parking spaces for the community, including over 30 charging stations for EVs, with infrastructure for over 100 stations.
The top level of the facility will be covered with a field of photovoltaic panels to achieve net-zero energy usage. Adjacent to the parking structure will be a two-story, 25,000 square-foot community space that will feature an entry plaza with cascading monumental stairs.
To supplement these efforts, Rezk is working with multiple City and State agencies such as the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services and the New York Power Authority to install 800 kilowatts of solar photovoltaic panels on the Court Square Garage as part of another city-wide effort to alleviate electricity demands in the future.
“EV Connect is proud to support Jemmy Rezk and NYDOT’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions through sustainable transportation solutions,” says Joe Thell the SVP of Sales and Business Development, at EV Connect. “Our comprehensive EV charging solutions for installation, data analytics, and driver support are designed to meet the needs of New York’s business owners, residents, and property developers.”
Rezk believes initiatives like these are critical for improving energy security, creating economic opportunities, and driving technological advancements. However, for him and other city leaders, the stakes are extremely high. The city is primarily built on islands and has 520 miles of shoreline. As a result, its especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including rising sea levels, extreme storms, and more intense heat waves.
To Rezk, that means the time to make the city more sustainable is now. For leaders who realize the threat climate change poses, he says “lets unite and do more.”
“We need every department, city, state, every country to have a dedicated expert staff with a clear plan and timeline to address this issue,” Rezk says. “Even in the face of challenges, perseverance is key. By learning from experience, we can continually improve our approach and address the challenges of today and the future.
“Cooperation between leaders should be the next step in tackling the crisis,” he adds. “By sharing information and insights, we can work together to solve the problem and help those countries that may still be struggling. The unity of nations will be a crucial component in combating this global issue.”