MAR 2024 / Lynda Moran Interview in Fire Island News

MAR 2024 / Lynda Moran Interview in Fire Island News

Those who know Lynda Moran all 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 her own powerful creative energy. Under her leadership it has grown into a leading Long Island organization that facilitates music, art exhibitions, and 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): I was born and raised in the Bronx and moved to Long Island in 1972.

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

LM: We moved to East Islip to be closer to my husband’s sister, who lived in Great River. She had four children that we watched grow up alongside our son. At that time, 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 in Chicago. I left my teaching job and we moved. 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. After that I got a position with Dunn & Bradstreet Technical Publishing company, where I became a technical editor. We lived in Chicago for three years.

When my sister-in-law died, we returned 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. Russ founded the New York Jury Verdict Reporter in 1981 and grew the 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 attended law school and during that time we established the company Verdict Search. We researched verdicts in New York State and traveled to courthouses in every county. We had our offices on Carlton Avenue, across the street from the Irish Coffee Pub, for a very long time. Attorneys would come and pick up their research at our location. It was a wonderful time.

In 1995, I became involved with the founding of Splashes of Hope and was appointed Chairman of their Board. We sold the New York Jury Verdict Reporter and Verdict Search to the New York Law Journal in 2000. In 2008 I joined the Islip Arts Council. 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 Lillian 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: I felt it was important to transition the Council from being focused solely on music to include the other arts as well. My father was an artist. I wanted to go to art school, but he would not allow it. He said women shouldn’t become artists; they should become teachers. So, I attended Mercy College as an Education major with an English minor, and from there I became a teacher.

When I began to work with Lillian I told her that I really wanted to bring visual arts into the fold. She was instrumental in the start-up of the Islip Art Museum and was very supportive of my ideas. In 2011, I took over management of the Museum. I began to add a lot more popular music to the concert series over the summers.

Most recently, we introduced Shakespeare In The Park, which I’m very excited about. This is something that I wanted to do for a very long time. We will be bringing the performance to five different parks this summer.

I also brought the Teeny Awards to Islip Arts Council, which is now in its 15th year. This program has met with so much success that the term has been copyrighted. It’s part of a national group of awards for teenagers involved in high school stage and theatre production. We include all 11 high schools within the Town of Islip. For the final awards program, we have a gala performance night featuring the Teeny Award nominees. All the students get to perform on stage. This year’s performance is scheduled for June 2 at Brentwood High School.

Sadly, the Islip Art Museum (the former home of the IAC) never reopened to the public after the pandemic and a lot of artwork is currently in storage. In June of 2021 we opened the IAC Gallery at the South Shore Mall in Bay Shore. The South Shore Mall space has been a wonderful gift. We are very happy there and enjoy about 2300 square feet of beautiful gallery space. Recently we were gifted additional space in the mall right across from our gallery which we refer to as the Salon. We utilized that space for one of the Women’s History exhibits this month presenting Women Sharing Art. Our main gallery is being used for our other Women’s History Month art exhibition, “What Was She Made For?” Both shows run through March 30.

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

LM: Well, so many special events are in the works. We kicked off our 50th Anniversary celebration with dual Black History Month art exhibitions in February. One opened at the Cohalan Court Complex in Central Islip, which was very well received. The other was at the IAC Gallery entitled Black Creativity: Family Stories. Now we’re following it up in March with two Women’s History Month gallery shows.  

We're planning the Free Concert in the Park at Heckscher State Park in East Islip on August 10.  The concert will celebrate both the 50th Anniversary of IAC and the 100th Anniversary of NYS Parks. It's very exciting.

We 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 musicians who have been presented by the Arts Council over the years as well as artists whose work is in our permanent collection with the Islip Art Museum. Additional collaborative events are being planned and 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 steeped in that culture at a very young age. Then I went to a Catholic elementary school where we were taught art history early on. 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, well, 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 anyway. 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 I want to encourage all children, but especially young girls. I tell them my story and hope it makes a positive difference.



Founded in 1974, the Islip Arts Council is dedicated to leadership, advocacy, and excellence in the arts. Our goal is to present, produce, and promote culturally responsive, high quality programs in varied artistic disciplines for our diverse Long Island community.


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South Shore Mall
1701 Sunrise Highway, N1
Bay Shore, NY 11706
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