Alum Circles Back

Hernandez ’88 connects students with opportunities
Hernandez Family
Friday, July 28, 2017

Russell Hernandez ’88 will always be an ILRie at heart.

“The ILR School is the only school I know of that is built like a family,” he said. “The professors, administrators and students are close, and it feels like a small school in a big university. That’s an important part of a quality education.”

The Westchester County, N.Y., real estate developer is an alum who is eager to help, whether it’s videotaping a reminder to his fellow ILR alums about Cornell Giving Day or going behind the scenes to help students prepare for careers.

“If a professor or administrator asks me to help a student, I’m on the phone with the student, talking to them about their resume and career options,” he said.

“Fortunately, I have been exposed to many industries in addition to real estate — entertainment, sports, hedge funds — and I can get these students some great opportunities.”

The son of a Bronx plumbing and heating contractor, Hernandez is the founder and president of Atlantic State Corp., a Pound Ridge, N.Y., construction management and owner’s representative company with about 70 employees.

“I grew up around the construction industry, and I remember the tension between union and non-union workers in the 1970s and ’80s in New York City,” he said. “The ILR School taught me the broad perspective on how union and non-union employees work, and how to bridge the gap between them effectively.”

Professors David Lipsky and Harry Katz were influential faculty. “They shaped my academic career. I thought I was too smart to have to learn anything, but they engaged me and made me want to do the work.”

Hernandez’s first job was as a non-union contractor in the construction industry. “I can’t tell you how much respect I received from the union construction companies and delegates because I was an ILR graduate.”

Today, he has two children at Cornell and a third eager to attend. Gabriel is a senior in the ILR School who will start in July as a real estate analyst and manager with a New York City company.  “Gabriel chose the ILR School because of its diverse course options, especially the law and economics classes,” his father said.

Daughter Serena, a sophomore in the College of Human Ecology, is a human development major planning to help children in need. Daniel, a high school junior, wants to work in the sports industry.