By Jenna Bagcal
The Douglaston Local Development Corporation (LDC) recently welcomed area resident Rebecca Gellos as their new executive director.
Gellos assumed the position this year when the current LDC director stepped down. She was approached by the organization to step into the role and officially started back in mid-October.
According to LDC vice president and founding member Victor Dadras, the organization was created in 2010 to preserve and revitalize the neighborhood. Since its inception, the LDC has been able to offer residents green markets, new plants, festivals and movie nights in a brand new community plaza.
She moved to Douglaston seven years ago from Brooklyn and was immediately attracted to the neighborhood’s character. In other areas she’s lived — including Forest Hills — she said that residents tended to keep to themselves.
But she soon realized that Douglaston was different, recalling a time when a man offered to give her husband a ride to the Long Island Railroad station when he was running late.
“People are really nice. I speak to at least 25 people a day when I walk my dog,” she said.
The executive director also learned that residents were passionate about their neighborhood and community engagement. According to Gellos, there are 15 different organizations serving the community including civic associations, environmental groups, nonprofits and religious institutions.
“It’s the most unique neighborhood to any place I’ve ever lived. People are so involved with so many things,” said Gellos. “It feels alive, not like a ‘botanical garden’ type of neighborhood.”
She added that people in this “special community” know its history well.
When Gellos moved to Douglaston, she became an active member of the community. Last year, she participated in the annual Douglaston Winter Festival as a parent volunteer when her son was in the fifth grade at PS 98.
Gellos said that there “wasn’t enough” for the previous executive director to do while the Douglaston Long Island Railroad station underwent construction, so the LDC took a short hiatus.
During its regrouping phase, Dadras and treasurer Ravi Thakur approached Gellos with the opportunity to become the new executive director, based on her previous involvement and experience organizing events at her old job.
Her first project as director is organizing the second Winter Festival, which she said is a new experience compared to last year when she and the other parents were involved with providing food for the event. This time around Gellos said that she has to focus on the “bigger picture” including securing vendors, merchants and area residents.
She said that her new role has been a “learning curve” but everyone that she’s worked with thus far have been “super helpful” in her first months learning how to run and grow an organization.
Over the next few months, Gellos said that the LDC’s goal is to get the Douglaston Station Plaza up and running in time for the spring, following construction in the surrounding area. When it’s “back to being operational” she hopes to plan more events that get the community together.