07/04/2014 3:27PM

NYRA hires new director of communications


John Durso Jr., whose professional experience mostly is in the political and public policy arena, has been hired as the director of communications for the New York Racing Association, it was announced Friday afternoon. Durso replaces Eric Wing, who resigned his position at NYRA in May after just one year on the job.

Durso, 39, will lead all corporate communications and serve as principal spokesperson for NYRA, which conducts racing at Aqueduct, Belmont, and Saratoga. Durso comes to NYRA from New Jersey Transit, the nation’s third-largest public transportation agency, for which he served as senior director and chief spokesperson the last 2 1/2 years.

Prior to that, Durso worked as executive director for the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, a New York lobby group. He also has worked for several politicians, including former New York Gov. George Pataki.

Durso grew up on Long Island and is a graduate of Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, N.Y. He graduated with a bachelor of arts degree from Siena College near Albany. He said he spent numerous days at Saratoga. Durso said his grandfather was a racing fan and took him to Roosevelt Raceway and Belmont.

Asked what interested him in working for NYRA, Durso said, “It’s the prestige. The NYRA is the pre-eminent force in Thoroughbred racing. And this is coming home. I’m from Long Island. My family is from Long Island. My history is on Long Island.”

“I am pleased to welcome John into the NYRA family,” said NYRA President and CEO Chris Kay.  “John is a seasoned, tested communications professional who clearly understands Thoroughbred racing’s important impact on New York’s growing economy. His knowledge, experience, and leadership will serve our organization well.”

Durso has been awarded “40 Under 40” honors from City Hall newspaper (2009) and The Capitol newspaper (2011) and also received a Civilian Commendation Award from the NJ TRANSIT Police Department (NJTPD).