Jerry Zaro, Chair of Banking and Real Estate Services Department, focuses his practice on banking and finance, real estate, corporate and government relations matters. He began his law career as a judicial secretary to the Honorable Thomas F. Shebell, Jr. in the Superior Court of Monmouth County. Prior to joining Sills Cummis & Gross, Mr. Zaro was the President and Managing Partner of Ansell Zaro Grimm and Aaron for 25 years and served as the Chair of the Commercial Real Estate and Finance & Banking departments.
Mr. Zaro has served in a variety of leadership posts in the administrations of the last eight consecutive Governors of New Jersey—five Democrats and three Republicans. Mr. Zaro served as Commissioner of the New Jersey Highway Authority, Chairman of the New Jersey Highway Authority, Commissioner of the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority and as the Chief of the Office of Economic Growth for the State of New Jersey, a cabinet level position in the administrations of Governor Jon Corzine (D) and Governor Chris Christie (R). During his tenure as New Jersey’s “Economic Czar,” Mr. Zaro made multiple significant strides in promoting and improving the business environment in the State utilizing incentives offered by New Jersey. In this capacity, he had a hand in bringing thousands of jobs to New Jersey and helping retain jobs in danger of being relocated out of state.
On April 10, 2018, upon recommendation of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Mr. Zaro was appointed as the New Jersey Trustee of the three member Gateway Development Corporation (GDC), to serve alongside the New York and Amtrak designated Trustees. Mr. Zaro served as Chairman of the GDC in 2019 and now serves as Treasurer. GDC oversees the Gateway Project, a $30 billion infrastructure initiative to build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River, an expansion of New York’s Penn Station, and other ancillary projects which would comprise the largest current infrastructure project in the United States. Following reconstitution of the Gateway Development Commission, Mr. Zaro continues to serve as one of its three New Jersey Commissioners.
In May 2020, Mr. Zaro was appointed as a Member of Governor Murphy’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council – Facilities and Construction Subcommittee. The Governor’s Restart and Recovery Advisory Council brought together leaders throughout New Jersey to advise state leadership on economic matters impacted by COVID-19.
Mr. Zaro has also worked to make New Jersey a friendlier environment for all businesses. He helped to create and then lead the New Jersey Real Estate Advisory Board, comprised of the leaders in the industry, to identify and eliminate red tape, propose pro-business legislation and attract more businesses to locate in New Jersey. He worked to develop the widely praised Licensed Site Remediation Professionals Act, which outsources some Department of Environmental Protection applications to private licensed professionals and fast-tracks the application process.
Mr. Zaro is also engaged in numerous business and corporate entities. He was a founder of Ocean Independent Bank, where he served as chairman, a Member of the Board of Directors of First DeWitt Bank and Rumson-Fair Haven Bank, as well as Commerce of Bank Shore N.A., now part of TD Bank. He is also a principal in numerous real estate companies which acquire, develop, own, manage and operate various properties, consisting of several million square feet, located in eight states, including office, industrial, warehouse, residential and retail properties. Mr. Zaro also serves on the Board of Directors of Zaro’s Bakery, a 90 year old, 4th generation, closely held family business operating in bus and train terminals in New York.
On February 9, 2022, New York Governor Kathy Hochul appointed Mr. Zaro to the New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) Board of Directors. NYRA holds the exclusive franchise to conduct thoroughbred racing at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park and Saratoga Race Course. NYRA tracks are the cornerstone of New York State’s thoroughbred industry, which is responsible for 19,000 jobs and more than $3 billion in annual economic impact to New York State.
In addition to his involvement with a variety of businesses and corporate boards, Mr. Zaro has been engaged in numerous charitable, governmental organizations and civic affairs.