Things are coming full circle for attorney Lisa Kombrink.
After helping draft the legislation for Southampton’s Community Preservation Fund two decades ago as the then-town attorney, the Southampton resident is back to lead the department that oversees land purchases through the fund.
“I’m so thrilled,” Kombrink said. “For me the land here creates a feeling of serenity, and it helps me feel grounded and connected in a special way that I think is unique to places like the East End. This is just a really great opportunity and I’m really excited about it.”
Kombrink began her career arguing criminal appeals cases in New York as a member of the Legal Aid Society. She graduated from Illinois State University in 1977 with high honors, and from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in 1983.
While Illinois is where her roots are, it’s also where her passion for land preservation began. Kombrink said she remembers visiting her grandparents’ small home in southern Illinois on the edge of what had been the family farm, which was sold when they retired and turned into a large subdivision. It was the start of intense development across the area, she said.
“I always remembered the fact that I didn’t get the chance to be on their farm,” Kombrink said of her feelings for saving open space. “It goes way back for me.”
While she admits it makes her wistful, looking out across the farmland on the East End does remind her of home.
“When I came to the East End, just enjoying the quality of life that we have here and the special open space and farmland that we have preserved, it’s always really meant a lot to me,” Kombrink said. “My sister-in-law still has a farm in central Illinois that I go visit as often as I can. I bring that deep respect for home and place to my work with clients.”
She has most recently been a partner at Twomey, Latham, Shea, Kelley, Dubin & Quartararo, LLP, which she will remain affiliated with as counsel, and was also previously an attorney for the Village of Sag Harbor. Last year, Kombrink received the Top 50 Women in Business award from Long Island Business News.
“She’s extremely experienced, and it’s unique that she was one of the advocates early on for the CPF program, going community by community to help get support for it,” Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said. “She most recently defended the program in a lawsuit challenging parts of the farmland preservation program. She comes highly recommended and I think she’s going to do a phenomenal job.”
Education has also always been a motivating factor for Kombrink, who also serves on the board of directors of the Southampton Hospital Association and is a member of the Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Executive Committee and the Quality Assurance Committee. At the state level, she is a board member of the New York Higher Education Capital Improvements Matching Grant Program.
“I’ve spent a lot of time doing different types of programs on preservation and writing articles on preservation, so I think education is an important component of any kind of preservation program, especially ours where we’re also looking at water quality,” Kombrink said. “I want to be able to continue that and be a big part of that.”
She was on a team of attorneys that traveled across the East End presenting how the CPF works when it was first adopted, and is looking into educational programs that might be good for the department to put forth now. Kombrink said she’s looking to pick up where her predecessor left off. She had worked with Mary Wilson, who retired to move to Florida last month, on recent
“This is a position that I’ve always been interested in,” Kombrink said. “This is a very nice opportunity for me to really concentrate on land preservation in the town where I live.”