2014 Award Winners
Marcy Benstock received numerous awards for her leadership in the successful 11-year David against Goliath battle to get billions of taxpayer dollars reallocated from the Westway highway and Hudson River development project to mass transit and a riverfront bikeway, greenway and road. After an overwhelming, bi-partisan 1985 vote in Congress to de-fund Westway’s planned development site in the river, a “Westway trade-in” provided $1.4 billion for mass transit, which helped turn New York City’s decrepit subway and bus system around.
Benstock is Executive Director of Clean Air Campaign and its Open Rivers Project. The organization advocates wiser use of natural resources, and public spending priorities which are environmentally sound, fiscally prudent, fair and just. Benstock’s group also works to make government more open, democratic and accountable to all the people, not just a wealthy and powerful few.
Benstock’s current focus includes opposing environmental deregulation, especially end-runs around the Clean Water Act and other bedrock national laws. She is also providing information to citizens, journalists and public officials aimed at keeping more people out of harm’s way in upcoming storms and hurricanes; making better use of Superstorm Sandy and other disaster recovery funds; preventing potentially catastrophic financial risks from being inflicted on taxpayers through complex new financing schemes to build out into public waterways, in order to benefit the wealthiest 1 percent; preserving irreplaceable marine habitats in open river waters, in order to protect treasured views of open water while saving public funds and sustaining the coastal and global fisheries necessary to feed the world’s malnourished populations; and building a WestwayThenandNow.org website to counter the Orwellian spin used to market ruinous public policies.
Benstock worked at the Center for Study of Responsive Law and co‑authored Water Wasteland with David Zwick (1971). Her work through 1983 was described in “The Woman Who Blocked Westway” in Jack Newfield’s book, The Education of Jack Newfield (1984). She has been quoted in hundreds of stories in the New York Times and other publications from 1972 through 2014.
Dinesh S. Thakur is an expert and accomplished entrepreneur in pharmaceuticals, biomedical product development, drug regulation, and information technology.
During his career, he held senior positions at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Ranbaxy Laboratories, and Infosys Technologies. Most recently, he co-founded and was the Chief Executive Officer (2007-2012) of Sciformix Corporation, a Scientific Processing Outsourcing organization that delivers services in the areas of drug safety, biometrics, medical and regulatory writing, and clinical operations.
During 2003-2005, Mr. Thakur was the Director & Global Head, Research Information & Portfolio Management at Ranbaxy Laboratories, India’s largest generic drug manufacturer. He was responsible for managing research and development information for generic drug development, manufacturing, and commercial operations. In addition, he implemented automated systems to capture research and development data for global regulatory submissions, compliance, and manufacturing.
While at Ranbaxy, Mr. Thakur discovered that the company was falsifying drug data and violating current good manufacturing practices and good laboratory practices. He resigned in 2005 after reporting the fraud to company management, and worked with authorities for eight years to unravel the complicated trail of falsified records and dangerous manufacturing practices. In May 2013, Ranbaxy pleaded guilty to multiple criminal felonies and agreed to pay $500 million to resolve criminal and civil allegations of falsified drug data and systemic manufacturing violations resulting in substandard and unapproved drugs. The groundbreaking settlement is the largest of its kind against a generic drug manufacturer.
Thakur received a Bachelor’s degree in Technology from Osmania University, a Master of Science in Chemical Engineering from University of New Hampshire, and graduate training from Syracuse University.