High Profile: Lynda Moran, Islip Arts Council Executive Director

Lynda Moran with Suffolk County Legislator Steven Flotteron and other at the ribbon-cutting of Islip Arts Council Gallery at South Shore Mall in 2021.
Photos Courtesy of Lynda Moran.

Those who know Lynda Moran agree she is a force of nature. As Executive Director of the Islip Arts Council for the past 15 years, she continues to infuse the organization with creative energy. Under her leadership it has grown into an important Long Island venue for music, art exhibitions, as well the performing arts. This year Islip Arts Council celebrates its 50th Anniversary. We took some time to speak with Lynda about this milestone – and to hear the story of the woman who was instrumental in making it happen.


Fire Island & Great South Bay News (FI&GSB): Are you a native Long Islander, Lynda?


Lynda Moran (LM): Born and raised in the Bronx, I moved to Long Island in 1972.


FI&GSB: Tell me about your life on Long Island.


LM: We moved to East Islip to live closer to my husband’s sister, who lived in Great River. She had four children. We watched them grow up alongside our son. I was a school teacher commuting to Yonkers from East Islip, but eventually I got a job in the East Islip School District. Then my husband, Russ, was accepted to law school. So, I left my teaching job and we moved to Chicago. There was no reciprocity, so I couldn’t teach there. Instead, I got a job as the Director of Conferences for Illinois Institute of Technology. We lived in Chicago for three years. Then I got a job Dunn & Bradstreet Technical Publishing company, where I became a technical editor.

When my sister-in-law died, we returned back to East Islip. After answering a blind ad in the New York Times, I was hired by Dr. James Watson, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where I remained for five years while my husband built his law practice. He founded the New York Jury Verdict Reporter in 1981 and grew his business. Because I had an editorial background, I was fine with doing that, but he thought I should go to law school as well. So, I went to law school and while in law school, we established the company Verdict Search. We researched verdicts in New York State and we traveled to courthouses in every county. We had our building on Carlton Avenue, across the street from the Irish Coffee Pub, for a very long time. Lawyers would come and pick up their research at our location. It was a wonderful time.

In 1995, I became very involved with the founding of Splashes of Hope and became Chairman of their Board. We sold the New York Jury Verdict Reporter and Verdict Search to the New York Law Journal in 2000. I became involved with the Islip Arts Council in 2008. Lillian Barbash, who founded it, was still the Executive Director at that time. I became the Director of Operations, but transitioned to Executive Director when Lilly retired about a year later and I’ve been here ever since.


FI&GSB: What do you think are some of your biggest accomplishments with the Islip Arts Council under your leadership?


LM: Transitioning it from an organization focused solely on music, to one that includes other arts as well. My father was an artist. I wanted to go to art school, but he would not allow me to. He said women shouldn’t become artists. They should become teachers. So, I attended Mercy College as an Education major with an English minor, from there, I became the teacher. When I began to work with Lillian, I told her that I really wanted to bring art into the fold, and she was instrumental in start-up of the Islip of Art Museum. She was very supportive of my ideas. In 2011, I took over the management of the Islip Art Museum. I brought in a lot more popular music into the concert series over the summers. Then most recently, we introduced Shakespeare at the Park, which I’m very excited about. That was something that I wanted to do for a very long time. We will be in five different parks this summer.

I art brought the Teeny Awards to Islip of Arts Council is, and we’re in our 15th year that. It’s grown absolutely out of the ballpark, so much so that the term is copyrighted. It’s among a national group of awards for teenagers involved in high school stage and theatre production. The nice thing about is that what we do is we include all 11 high schools within the town of Islip. For the final award program, we have a gala performance all the teeny nominees. All the students get to perform on stage. This year’s performance is scheduled for June 2 at Brentwood High School.

Now since June of 2021, we have the gallery at the South Shore Mall. Islip Museum never reopened to the public after the pandemic. All the artwork is in storage. The South Shore Mall space has been a wonderful gift. We are very happy here and have about 2300 square feet. Recently we

Lynda Moran with Suffolk County Legislator Steven Flotteron and other at the ribbon-cutting of Islip Arts Council Gallery at South Shore Mall in 2021.

also gifted additional space right across from our gallery. As a matter of fact, for Women’s History exhibit this month, and the salon is being used by Women’s Sharing Art, while our main gallery is being used for another Women’s History Month art exhibition. Both run through March 30.


FI&GSB: This year, Islip Arts Council is celebrating its 50th anniversary. What else do you have planned to celebrate this milestone?


LM: Well, we kicked our 50th anniversary celebration at the Cohalan Court Complex with a Black History Month art exhibition on February 1, which was very well received. Now we’re following it the Women’s History month gallery shows. We will have a big gala planned for October 17, at Captain Bill’s, and it’s going to be quite a blowout. We’re in the process of getting in touch with as many of the musicians who have been performed with the of Arts Council in the past as well as artists whose work is in our permanent collection with the Islip Art Museum. Additional collaborative events are being planned and those will be announced at a later date when arrangements are finalized.


FI&GSB: In the context of Women’s History Month, this interview has shown me that being a woman has influenced your choices in life. What are your thoughts about women in your generation, women today, and why you keep doing what you do?


LM: I keep doing what I do because I love it. I was an only child and my parents, especially my father put me on a pedestal. Because he was an artist I was seeped in that culture at a very young age. Then I went to a Catholic elementary school where we were taught art history early on in the classroom. So, for me, being the Director of the Islip Arts Council is a dream come true. It’s deep in my heart.

As for being a woman, yes. my dad said, ‘I will pay for your education as long as you become a teacher and don’t go to art school.’ I was a little upset about that, but I took art history at college and I did all the things I wanted to do. I went on from there, always having an appreciation for art and music. I wouldn’t call myself a trailblazer, but sometimes I think back about all that brought me here. I feel very strongly about what I do and want to encourage all children, but pay attention to the young girls who will follow. I tell them my story and hope it makes a positive difference.