The Sag Harbor Partnership has announced that it has hired John Shaka, a longtime village resident, community activist, and volunteer as its new executive director. He will replace Molly Bishop, the partnership’s initial executive director, who recently resigned to take a similar position with Heart of the Hamptons in Southampton.
Mr. Shaka and his husband Matthew O’Grady recently returned to Sag Harbor after living in London for two years. Prior to their departure, Mr. Shaka had served as chairman of both the village Harbor Committee and Planning Board.
When he led the Harbor Committee, Mr. Shaka pivoted it toward a focus on waterfront and environmental protection issues. Through collaborations with the Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University and the Peconid Estuary Protection Program, the village was able to demonstrate that its waterways were suffering from ongoing degradation caused by septic seepage, road runoff, and other forms of pollution.
Mr. Shaka represented the village before both the East Hampton and Southampton Town Boards and worked with village environmental consultants to secure water quality improvement grants from both towns’ Community Preservation Funds.
Mr. Shaka’s mandate is to continue to propel the partnership from a successful volunteer collective into an effective nonprofit organization.
“I look forward to picking up where our inaugural executive director, Molly Bishop, left off and to work to support the initiatives of our new Mayor-elect Jim Larocca and his administration,” he said in a release. “For 20 years I have lived in Sag Harbor, and following my two-year stay in London, I return feeling all the more educated in ways in which the village can be made just a little better. It’s nice to be home.”
“John knows and is well liked by everyone, and there could not be a better liaison between the partnership and the village,” said Hilary Loomis, a founding member of the organization and a member of its board of directors. “We know he will help us carry out our mission of preserving the natural, historic, and built environments of Sag Harbor; supporting its cultural life and addressing social concerns. We all welcome John.”
The partnership has supported a number of efforts, from bike racks on Main Street, to the Wear A Mask Project banners launched last year during the height of the coronavirus pandemic. The partnership has sponsored walking tours and apps, helped underwrite the construction of a new playground at Mashashimuet Park, and sought traffic calming solutions in the village.
Other board members are April Gornik, Diana Howard, Susan Lacy, Susan Mead, Carol Ostrow, Renee V.H. Simons, Susan Sprott, and Jayne Young. For more information, please visit the partnership’s website at sagharborpartnership.org.