When Town of New Castle Supervisor Lisa Katz was growing up she always knew she wanted to be a lawyer, but she never thought politics was in her future. As a student at White Plains High School she was very involved in the school community as a managing editor of the newspaper, a cheerleader and on the tennis team, so it isn’t surprising that she got involved in New Castle first joining the Town Board in 2014, and then elected Town Supervisor last fall.
“I started speaking out about Chappaqua Crossing. I thought it was too big. The project was changed, and it’s much better now. I met a lot of people at that time and Rob Greenstein approached me about running for office. I could either keep complaining or I could do something about it, and that’s what I did. The rest is history.”
Katz has lived in Chappaqua since 2006 with her husband Steven, her daughter Arden, a sophomore at Rice University and her son Spencer, a senior at Horace Greeley High School.
In 2008 Katz was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Her children were four and six years old when she began treatment. “We were too young to know how serious it was. To try to make it more fun for us our mother let us decorate her wig stand and put makeup on it,” says her daughter Arden.
“Lymphoma made me realize what was important in life.” Katz is an honored hero of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and an Advocate who has given motivational speeches for the organization.
Initially a corporate attorney, Katz made a switch to Estate Planning, Trusts and Elder Law after her bout with Lymphoma. “When I had cancer sitting in the room with other chemo patients, people would say, ‘My doctor said I have to get my will together and get a health care proxy. And the lawyers are so matter of fact.’” She saw this as another opportunity to help people and opened her own practice in 2011. Katz loves this work, “I get to know my clients and to know about their families, their children, and their wishes for the future.”
The Pandemic has impacted her practice. “It has made my practice busier with healthcare proxies and wills. People don’t want to think about it, but the Pandemic prompted people to start thinking about it.”
Katz developed a love of travel from her parents, and she has continued her passion for travel with her family. In December the family went to Alaska and two years before, prior to the Pandemic they visited Amsterdam and Munich. “I like to eat and travel, experiencing life.” Katz is quite adventurous and once ate a tarantula when she was on a food tour in Cambodia.
Theater is another one of Katz’s many interests and her daughter is her frequent companion on Broadway. “I’ve always been into theater, so I love seeing the shows with her. It’s a day in the city,” says her daughter Arden.
Katz loves to cook and according to her family she’s quite good at it. “I eat a lot of meals with my mom. She’s a good cook. I like breakfast food and she creates weird egg dishes.” says her son Spencer.
Katz’s legal practice and the town keep her very busy but when she does have some spare time, she likes to read. “I’ll read everything.” Lately she is escaping into a book of poetry by Kahlil Gibran, and she has been listening to Audiobooks. The most recent was Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil which she was inspired to read after a brief trip to Savannah.
In 2021 in her role as Town Board member, Katz organized a rally in the town to bring awareness to anti-Semitism. This rally was personal for Katz. “I always want to fight against injustice, and anti-Semitism is on the rise. And it’s my past, my history.”
Katz has lots of ideas as to how to make the Town of New Castle even better than it is. She wants to figure out how to revitalize the hamlets and make New Castle a destination while keeping the charming feel.
“There’s a way to accomplish both. To be a welcoming, vibrant, and exciting place to live while maintaining the feel we moved here for.” And she adds, “I’m looking forward to figuring out how we’re going to sort out the puzzle in a way that makes everyone feel included.” One of the first things she did when she assumed office in January was to initiate the Community Corner as part of the town’s e-Newsletter. She wishes to encourage people to share milestones in their lives. “I think that we have the opportunity to connect with each other, open our hearts to each other. It fosters a sense of happiness.” And she adds, “Life is too short not to be joyful and spread joy.”
Katz is looking forward to the Memorial Day Parade in May, the first since the Pandemic. She also wants to have more community events. “We’re an amazing town with phenomenal people. I want to have events that bring our children in, bring our seniors in, bring everyone in, and get to enjoy each other, and everyone leaves happy.”
“We had the bonfire around Christmas time. We should have a Diwali festival and one for the Lunar New Year. We should have all different celebrations where we get to learn about our differences and the unique things we bring to the community.”
Her son Spencer is very proud of his mother’s role in town government. “I think it’s cool that she puts so much time helping the town. Her working for the town inspired me to join the Recreation Department too.” He serves on the Master Plan Subcommittee.
Katz just calls herself a “normal person” who fell into this. “I love it so much because I can see that we can do great things for our town, and it makes me happy to be able to help be a part of it.”
“I am a Democrat, but I believe that people aren’t defined by silos. People are people and I don’t care what party they are. It doesn’t matter to me. Politics aside, I just want to do what’s right for people,” says Katz.
Reflecting on her life, Katz gets inspiration from this quote attributed to Maya Angelou, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” She wears it on a necklace that she had made. “I try to make memories, and maybe it’s after the cancer, that quote speaks for itself and it’s very important to me.”