Featured Story

Lisa Shaw is the Reporter’s Person of the Year

“She’s just one of those women who lives what she believes.”

That’s how her husband of almost 40 years, Tom Hashagen, describes Lisa Shaw.

Ms. Shaw is the definition of a renaissance woman, possessing a unique set of abilities that few others have in combination. It’s why she is the 2023 Shelter Island Reporter Person of the Year.

You might know her as the longtime leader of the West Neck Water (WNW) District Board of Directors, whose attention to detail and a talent for crunching numbers with the best of them negotiated hard and long with professionals from the Suffolk County Water Authority (SCWA).

Her patience and intelligence put a 40-year contract in place with the SCWA. It took countless hours reviewing technical proposals, always keeping in mind the best interests of those who depend on the WNW District for responsible management and delivery of clean water.

Her work through the years provided her with the basics of volunteer service on Shelter Island’s Water Advisory Committee, where in her short tenure, she has contributed mightily to that very knowledgeable group. Her efforts with respect to water systems has gone above and beyond what is expected and yet, it’s only one facet of all she has contributed to Shelter Island.

“This year, Lisa Shaw led the way for a reliable water supply, not just for her West Neck Water District, but likely, eventually for the entire town,” said Charity Robey, the Reporter columnist and feature writer.

But don’t stop there.

In 2022, Ms. Shaw wrote and performed in her second community musical celebrating Island history, “The Prospect of Summer,” bringing full-and part-time residents together at the Shelter Island Historical Society, raising “significant money” for that organization, Ms. Robey said. It was a smash hit in mid-summer, loved by all ages.

“I’m in awe of this woman who is at the height of her creative and managerial powers and is contributing her efforts to lift the community,” Ms. Robey said.

Music was what brought Ms. Shaw and Mr. Hashagen together; they often perform at several venues, on and off the Island. Wendy Turgeon called Ms. Shaw “an amazing person, a gifted musician and she knows more about our water supply than any of us, to be sure.”

Donna Emma weighed in, calling Ms. Shaw “a talented musician, songwriter, historical archival super sleuth, director, producer, singing coach and overall motivational guru.” Ms. Shaw inspires others to “join in the merriment and challenge themselves to even perform for the first time,” Ms. Emma said.

“Motivating our Shelter Island community to sing and dance and inspire laughter in an audience especially during these challenging times, and doing so gratis, is surely worthy of being Shelter Island’s Person of the Year,” she said.

It’s worth noting Mr. Hashagen was not among the many who nominated Ms. Shaw as Person of the Year. When he was first asked to comment on her selection, his response was she would never accept it. But with a little coaxing, and his agreement to keep his knowledge to himself until the paper published, he was forthcoming in talking in glowing terms about the woman who shares his life.

“I’ve always known how sweet she is,” he said, singing her praises as a wonderful grandmother.

Ms. Robey confirmed that despite Ms. Shaw’s hectic community activities, she finds time for “grandchild sitting, family feeding and vegetable farming.”

Mr. Hashagen described Ms. Shaw as “tenacious,” explaining that when she takes on a cause, she gives her entire heart and soul to the effort — all without compensation.

Sharon Wicks confirmed that Ms. Shaw doesn’t seek recognition for all of her contributions to the community. “She likes to stay out of the spotlight,” Ms. Wicks said, applauding the plays that have been “a treasure to the Island.”

Ms. Shaw’s determination and ability to focus was demonstrated when she chose to pursue a master’s degree program in general studies through Stony Brook University about 10 years ago, Mr. Hashagen said.

Although Ms. Shaw was brought up on Shelter Island, she left for 10 years. When she returned, she wasn’t certain she wanted to stay. That has changed. “She’s really invested with her community,” Mr. Hashagen said.

Marie Bishko, who acted in plays at the Historical Society, said Ms. Shaw is “an unbelievably dedicated community member. She gives and gives and gives some more.” Those who have worked with Ms. Shaw on the plays refer to her as “our fearless leader,” Ms. Bishko added. As an advocate for the community, Ms. Shaw always says yes, putting others before herself, she said.

Lenore DiLeo-Berner said Ms. Shaw was her choice as Person of the Year for creating the musicals to benefit the Historical Society.

And Island artist Roz Dimon, creative and inspirational in her own right, summed up the joy and community celebration of the Island’s theatrical hit provided in two words: “Lisa Shaw.”