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Sunday, October 26, 2014
Karen Montalbano
(Page 2 of 2)
Karen Montalbano

We have dozens of photos of the Baldwin Civic Association’s Economic Development Committee chair, but none in which she was the central focus. Montalbano, an active member of St. Christopher’s Church and the editor of the parish’s Courier newsletter for 15 years, always seems to settle at the margins of photo ops. She’s always standing behind the person at the microphone, or off to the side, ready to hand off the giant scissors when it’s time to cut the ribbon.
Although Montalbano, whose maiden name is Hambel, does not seek public acclaim for the energy she expends promoting the hamlet, her activities are so numerous that it was impossible not to notice her this year … or last year, or the year before that. A person from Baldwin who is looking to become more involved with the area’s upkeep could use the Baldwin Senior High School alum’s calendar as a virtual menu of ongoing local projects.
Montalbano, who earned a B.A. in communication arts from Hofstra and worked as a broadcast meteorologist in local radio until going into public relations in 2001, is vice president of the BCA, advocates for Baldwin with town and county officials and coordinates Baldwin’s New Business Days and Cash Mobs. She is involved with the Long Island Rail Road Infill Development Project, the South Shore Blueway Trail (which will establish a launch point for kayaks in Baldwin Park) and was one of the key members of the group that helped save the Kellogg House from demolition. She cantors at masses at St. Christopher’s and has been a member of the choir for three decades. She is the vice president-elect of the Baldwin Historical Society, where she played an important role in the group’s recent overhaul. During a single week this year, the Herald received notices from Montalbano about a half-dozen efforts for which she had provided behind-the-scenes support. Meeting up with her later that week, we asked her when she found the time to sleep.
“Oh, you know …,” she said sheepishly.
What she meant was that she doesn’t sleep — at least not when there’s work to do.
Karen Montalbano has, from all appearances, given 110 percent on Baldwin’s behalf over the past year. There has not been a ribbon cut, a meeting held or a patch of ground broken where she was not on hand. The 55-year-old mother of two, who moved to Baldwin with her family from Brooklyn in 1970, generally shies away from the spotlight at these events. It is revealing that after the Herald selected her as 2013’s Person of the Year, we could not find a single photo in which Montalbano was front and center.
We have dozens of photos of the Baldwin Civic Association’s Economic Development Committee chair, but none in which she was the central focus. Montalbano, an active member of St. Christopher’s Church and the editor of the parish’s Courier newsletter for 15 years, always seems to settle at the margins of photo ops. She’s always standing behind the person at the microphone, or off to the side, ready to hand off the giant scissors when it’s time to cut the ribbon.
Although Montalbano, whose maiden name is Hambel, does not seek public acclaim for the energy she expends promoting the hamlet, her activities are so numerous that it was impossible not to notice her this year … or last year, or the year before that. A person from Baldwin who is looking to become more involved with the area’s upkeep could use the Baldwin Senior High School alum’s calendar as a virtual menu of ongoing local projects.
Montalbano, who earned a B.A. in communication arts from Hofstra and worked as a broadcast meteorologist in local radio until going into public relations in 2001, is vice president of the BCA, advocates for Baldwin with town and county officials and coordinates Baldwin’s New Business Days and Cash Mobs. She is involved with the Long Island Rail Road Infill Development Project, the South Shore Blueway Trail (which will establish a launch point for kayaks in Baldwin Park) and was one of the key members of the group that helped save the Kellogg House from demolition. She cantors at masses at St. Christopher’s and has been a member of the choir for three decades. She is the vice president-elect of the Baldwin Historical Society, where she played an important role in the group’s recent overhaul. During a single week this year, the Herald received notices from Montalbano about a half-dozen efforts for which she had provided behind-the-scenes support. Meeting up with her later that week, we asked her when she found the time to sleep.
“Oh, you know …,” she said sheepishly.
What she meant was that she doesn’t sleep — at least not when there’s work to do.
Presidents, chairmen and chairwomen receive lots of accolades for the work they do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you stop and look at the second row of all those publicity shots, you’ll see the same face time and time again: Karen Montalbano’s.
Although she could certainly handle the spotlight, the top of the marquee isn’t where she feels most comfortable. She eschews one-word job descriptions like president or chair, preferring to slip a “co” or a “vice” into her titles as a buffer. Despite her best efforts, however, she was so ubiquitous in 2013 that we eventually had to disregard her attempts to remain inconspicuous and name her our Person of the Year.
We know she will probably be a little apprehensive when she finds out she has received this honor, but when you do the math on all the little things Montalbano does for Baldwin, it adds up to right around 110 percent.


Presidents, chairmen and chairwomen receive lots of accolades for the work they do. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you stop and look at the second row of all those publicity shots, you’ll see the same face time and time again: Karen Montalbano’s.
Although she could certainly handle the spotlight, the top of the marquee isn’t where she feels most comfortable. She eschews one-word job descriptions like president or chair, preferring to slip a “co” or a “vice” into her titles as a buffer. Despite her best efforts, however, she was so ubiquitous in 2013 that we eventually had to disregard her attempts to remain inconspicuous and name her our Person of the Year.
We know she will probably be a little apprehensive when she finds out she has received this honor, but when you do the math on all the little things Montalbano does for Baldwin, it adds up to right around 110 percent.

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