Robert Speyer was born to great things. His father and his father’s father built—and rebuilt—modern New York City, and he is following in their footsteps. After graduating from Columbia, he became an employee of The Observer. From Mr. Speyer’s start in journalism, he found his way to Tishman Speyer—whose properties include the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center—where he has been president and co-CEO since 2008. Mr. Speyer was involved in the firm’s $5.4 billion purchase of—and default on—Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village. But Mr. Speyer managed to change his trajectory; Tishman Speyer has gone global, building office towers in Berlin, Frankfurt, London and São Paulo. Mr. Speyer is also in the process of expanding his influence in New York: he built the new Yankee Stadium. In January, he took over as chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York. At 43, he is the board’s youngest-ever chief. He will become the third member of his family to serve as the board’s leader. (Robert Tishman was chairman from 1972 to 1975; his father, Jerry Speyer, from 1986 to 1988.) Mr. Speyer was appointed in 2006 to chair the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City and is co-chairman of the Construction Committee of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral Landmark Foundation. His quiet work on behalf of a variety of public policy initiatives and private philanthropies marks him as one of his generation’s biggest supporters of New York—its people, its institutions and its buildings.