Mentor of the Year
Ira Sumkin​
Ira Sumkin​
Alexander Holdings LLC

Ira Sumkin is the living embodiment of what Bill Gates most likely had in mind when he said, “It’s fine to celebrate success, but it’s more important to heed the lessons of failure.” He also embodies the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ oft-quoted guidance: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

In other words, Ira Sumkin is not afraid to fail. Nor does he like to take no for an answer. After graduating from the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree and then later with a Masters degree in Special Education, he became a special education teacher for 10 years at BOCES and other public school systems around Long Island. He then went on to be the founder of the first boys’ home in Port Washington, an accomplishment that included a legal battle that went all the way to the Supreme Court.

He also co-founded – with the late Monsignor Tom Hartman, whom he describes as the “best human being I ever met” – the first residential drug addiction rehabilitation program in Farmingdale.

His success in the education and counseling fields inspired Sumkin to try his hand in the business world, where “learning from failure” and “not taking no for an answer” are almost perquisites. He currently owns and operates such Long Island-based companies as Bath Fitter and Durablis Solutions Inc, which offers specialized and resilient-engineered panel systems. He dabbles in commercial and residential real estate renovations as the owner of Alexander Holdings LLC., a real estate management company. He attributes his management style and business savvy to embracing what he learned from “failed ventures” including - “but not limited to” - an ice-cream franchise and office supply business.

His hobbies include: “Work, mentoring, reading, embracing life and constantly reinventing myself and always looking for the next disruptive idea.”