There’s a new face at the helm of the Shelter Island Heights Property Owners Corporation.
Stella Lagudis takes over from veteran Julie Ben-Susan, who is still on the job this summer, assisting in the transition to her hand-picked successor.
But if Ms. Lagudis is a newcomer to Shelter Island, she’s not unknown to the area, having spent summers in East Marion with her grandmother since her childhood, Ms. Lagudis is living in the East Marion house she purchased from her parents in 1995 and began using as a weekender, while returning to her apartment in Manhattan during the week for her job at the Bank of New York Mellon Corporation.
She and Ms. Ben-Susan had worked together at J.P. Morgan — now J.P. Morgan Chase — and when Ms. Ben-Susan took the HPOC job 15 years ago, she called on her friend for assistance with some special projects. The two continued their friendship through the years “I have a lot of transferable skills,” Ms. Lagudis said, pointing to her experience with strategic and capital planning, budgeting and serving as a liaison to customers.
At the same time, one attraction of the HPOC job was “the chance to learn something new,” she said.
She also didn’t want to slow her pace and the demands of the HPOC job ensure she won’t.
That has been true throughout her financial services career involving global strategic sales, global client management, investment operations outsourcing, marketing and branding. In addition to J.P. Morgan, she has worked at the New York branch of ABN AMRO Bank NV, Smith Barney Capital Management and Medsolve.com, a startup launched to automate medical billing and transcription services.
She had been torn between her city life and her weekends in East Marion, but the pull to relocate here become all the more real on 9/11, living so close to the World Trade Center in an apartment from which she had to relocate for awhile.
That started her thinking about a move, but she wanted to make the kind of job change that would not only bring her to the East End, but continue to provide the challenge and pace of the work she had been doing in New York City.
She eyes the HPOC job as having three distinct components:
• Dealing with the community to meet the needs of Heights residents while ensuring that the history and flavor of the area is preserved;
• Providing services, including maintenance of the beach and tennis club; and
• Overseeing the maintenance of infrastructure — roads, water supply and sewer systems.
She’s currently working at making connections with the so-called “wrap-around” town officials, services and activities that affect the Heights, attending meetings and meeting those with whom she will need to interact as she takes the reins from Ms. Ben-Susan.
Her mentor will continue to return to the Island during summer months, but will be headed back to her Florida winter home with her husband Paul at the end of the season.
“I know I have big shoes to fill,” Ms. Lagudis said. But she’s approaching her role with optimism and a real love for the Island.
As for goals — either short- or long-term — it’s simply too early, she said. She has been in place only a few weeks.
“There are so many positive things in place, you’d have to be crazy to change it,” Ms. Lagudis said about how HPOC operates and the team of professionals with whom she is now working.
“Fresh eyes are also good,” she said.