How does one find themselves deeply embedded in the East End community if their life is committed to serving as President Bill Clinton’s Deputy Director of the National Park Service? Love. That’s how.
Jackie, can you explain how you landed on the East End as you were deeply involved in a fascinating career in Washington D.C.?
I moved to Washington, D.C. right out of college and began a career on Capitol Hill as a legislative aide working for several members of Congress. My focus was primarily on environmental and transportation issues. When President Clinton was elected, I joined his administration first as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Department of Transportation, and later as Deputy Director of the National Park Service.
The National Park Service job was my dream job. I adored it. Among the programs I am most proud of was my work to establish the National Park Service’s first alternative transportation program (which brought shuttle buses into Zion and Acadia etc.) and its first office of Soundscape management (which focused on preserving the natural quiet in parks). I am passionate about National Parks, the environment, and about historic preservation.
I probably would have never left, except . . . I fell in love! Labor Day weekend 1998 I met my husband at the Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett. We commuted for two years and then decided that if we wanted to start a family, it would make sense to live in the same town! And so, I moved to East Hampton — and that was 20 years ago!
You have such a passion for the community, local government, and helping the downtrodden. With everything going on right now— with the protests, COVID-19 — what are you working on at the moment?
I’m a big believer in “being the change” that you want. I am not a complainer, I’m a doer. Democracy requires participation. I’ve been a volunteer member of the East Hampton School Board for nine years and am running for re-election for a final term. Our schools are the heart of our community and can be a force for good and change. We are working actively on plans to re-open safely (if the governor allows) in the fall.
I’m particularly proud of the leadership role the district has played in feeding the food insecure during the COVID crisis. I also believe the district can play an important role with respect to racial injustice and am hoping to see some educational forums for our kids. As educators, the East Hampton Union Free School District can make a difference.
You have family in politics?
Yes. My mother is Congresswoman Nita Lowey. She has represented New York in the U.S. Congress for 32 years. She has announced her retirement after a magnificent career, most notably as the first woman chair of the Appropriations Committee. I am super proud of her and the difference she has made.
What are some of your favorite charities?
I try to support local nonprofits because I believe that is where I can make the most difference. They are grassroots and are the fabric of our community. I was one of the original board members of the Children’s Museum of the East End and was deeply involved in raising money to build it. I was a longtime board member.
I love the work Kate Mueth does supporting local arts with the Neo-Political Cowgirls — so authentic. I had breast cancer and have supported Fighting Change and their work. I think Project MOST fills a vital role in our community. I love the work Concerned Citizens of Montauk does on our environment.
I think the Montauk Playhouse is tenacious and wonderful! I love the grassroots effort to rebuild the Sag Harbor Cinema. And of course, our local food pantries are more important now than ever! And finally, I will always donate to a local GoFundMe for families in need. These are not formal nonprofits, but we are a community that helps take care of each other. That’s what I love!
How long have you been in luxury real estate?
I have worked for Saunders for four years. Andrew and Colleen Saunders have been personal friends for many years and they had suggested that I join the firm. The timing was right, and I was ready for a change, so I jumped in full-throttle. My previous work made real estate a natural transition — I love working with people and understand the local market well.
Your community work is so multi-level and intense, in fact you have consulted on many nonprofit organizations. Can you speak about this work?
Yes! When I left government and Washington D.C. in 2000, I started a consulting business and focused on fundraising and advising for local nonprofits. I spent many years helping the Concerned Citizens of Montauk transition from an all-volunteer organization to a professionally staffed environmental group and I set up and ran their fundraising program for many years. I think they are one of the most important environmental groups on the East End — not just Montauk.
I worked with the Montauk Playhouse both on board development and on fundraising for years.
Back when Wounded Warrior Project was a small organization, I helped to set up their high donor program. I am still deeply committed to our nation’s veterans.
Why did you choose Saunders as your brokerage?
I didn’t (or wouldn’t) consider other firms. Saunders has an agent-centered collegial atmosphere, which makes it a pleasure to work there. They have a full-time support staff in marketing, legal, and administration, which lets agents like me focus on our clients. It is a dynamic and friendly place to work. Colleen and Andrew Saunders have built a remarkable company and attracted a wonderful group of agents who make it fun to come to work every day for me.
You’ve been involved in some transactions that involved historic homes.
I’ve sold and represented a number of historic properties. From a gorgeous old whaling home in Sag Harbor rumored to have been a stop on the Underground Railroad, to an 18th Century saltbox in East Hampton which had been owned by only three families in 300 years! That one had a unique interior preservation easement because there was so much special still remaining about it.
Currently I am representing a magical property, 9 Cross Highway in East Hampton, built in the 1740s and later used as the clubhouse for the Riding Club of East Hampton, where Jackie Bouvier learned to ride!
Are there any trends you’re seeing?
New construction is flying off the shelf. There is more of a trend towards modern and transitional design.
How do you feel about the Hamptons real estate market?
The Hamptons real estate market is on fire. It’s hard to catch my breath! When you talk to other agents, none of us has ever seen anything like this. I believe that the market will continue to be strong.
What advice would you give to those looking to sell their homes quickly and efficiently?
The most important advice to sellers who want to sell their homes is to price it realistically. It is never a good strategy to list your home high because you want to leave room to negotiate. The market is very efficient if your home is priced low — buyers will bid it up. If it priced right, they will snatch it up. If it’s priced too high, they will mostly ignore it! My other advice to sellers is to de-clutter! Less is more!
To reach Lowey or inquire about her inventory of Hamptons homes, email JLowey@Saunders.com or call 631-766-8978.