Just in time for Women’s History Month, Community Board 11 on March 3 elected an all-woman slate for its top four positions.
In what may be a first for community boards in Queens and definitely for CB 11, the new all-female leadership includes Chairwoman Christine Haider of East Flushing; First Vice Chairwoman Laura James of Little Neck; Second Vice Chairwoman Ocelia Claro of Bayside; and Third Vice Chairwoman Eileen Miller of Bayside.
All longtime CB 11 members, the four gathered in Bayside on Tuesday to discuss their goals for the future. They will retain their positions for a year and can be re-elected for up to four additional years. They will take office at the April 7 monthly meeting.
Haider is retired, but is very active in many community organizations. She began as an executive secretary, working up to become the administrator of the Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine at Columbia University’s Department of Medicine for eight years, retiring from that position in 2004. She went on to serve as a human resources specialist with the military at the Lexington Avenue Armory for two years.
Haider has received numerous awards over the years including Outstanding Woman of Queens and Outstanding Citizen Award. She is affiliated with numerous organizations including the International Association of Administrative Professionals, county chapter, and is president of the Harding Heights Civic Association.
She has been a member of CB 11 for 23 years, currently serving as first vice chairwoman. “My goal is to continue to work on ongoing projects,” Haider said. “Overdevelopment, illegal conversions and variances are a major concern.”
She noted that aviation noise is another major issue for the board, adding, “We will continue to work with Consumer Affairs, and appoint ad hoc committees to work with State Liquor Authority applications.”
Haider has high praise for the outgoing chairman, Jerry Iannece. “Jerry was a great chairman,” she said. “I’m the first woman and it will be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it. The board is a team and I believe in that.”
James serves as director of communications for a private school in Manhattan. She previously worked in media and lived in England for 10 years, working for the BBC.
Her civic involvement began with the Little Neck Pines Association, where she now serves as vice president. She is also a member of the borough president’s Queens General Assembly that deals with diversity.
A 12-year veteran of CB 11, James called the group “very congenial” and hopes it continues. She pointed to zoning as the top issue.
“I’m very excited about starting a new era with Christine and not forgetting the good work Jerry has done,” she said.
Claro has been on the board for eight years. A local realtor for 11 years, she previously operated a women’s shoe store with her husband.
Claro got involved in the community through the John Golden Block Association and later the Weeks Woodlands Association. She is also on the Queensborough Community College Fund board.
In addition, Claro teaches home staging classes at QCC to prepare homes for sale.
She is particularly concerned about airplane noise and schools. “We will fight to keep a little part of the world good and make it better,” Claro said.
The new second vice chairwoman credits Iannece with making an easy transition because of his leadership. “I think Christine will be just as good,” she added.
Miller has been a registered nurse for 39 years and now works for the North Shore-LIJ Health System in home care. She’s been on the CB 11 board nine years and also is on the board of the Bayside Hills Civic Association.
She said she wanted to get involved in the community after the hospital she worked for, St. Joseph’s in Flushing, closed. “We couldn’t save it, but we don’t want that to happen again,” Miller said.
She is also excited about the four-woman leadership. “I think it will be great,” she said. “We’re going to do a good job.”
The last name of the board's first vice chairwoman initially was misspelled. She is Laura James.