After an extensive search, Maria D. Lasday has been selected as the new town manager of Bay Harbor Islands. Following an open discussion among town council members about their thoughts on the three finalists, Lasday was chosen to serve by a majority vote. Lasday will come to Bay Harbor Islands from Bannoncock, IL, where she has worked as village manager since 2008. Before that, she was a city administrator in Highwood, IL and received a law degree from the University of California, Los Angeles. Even thought she works in Illinois, Lasday said she is a resident of Florida. She has a house in Bonita Springs, FL where she spends some weekends and holidays. Lasday comes to Bay Harbor Islands with a long resume of accomplishments during her time in municipal services in Illinois. Some highlights during her career in municipality including serving as village spokesperson, overseeing the upgrade of all the roads in the village of Bannoncock, obtaining $11,000,000 in grants during her tenure, and implementing social media marketing for her village. As a manager of a town with less than 10,000 people, Lasday said in her cover letter that she knows how to communicate with small communities like Bay Harbor Islands. She said that she understands that small communities like this require “superior customer service.” As town manager, she plans to be very involved in the community as well as other government entities.
Prior to working in city government, Lasday worked as a commercial transactional attorney and a municipal attorney. In her letter of interest for the position in Bay Harbor Islands, she said these roles help her understand many aspects of economic development including contract negotiations and working with local businesses. She also noted that when she first arrived at her job in Bannockburn, many of the village’s office buildings were unoccupied. Today, she said they are 95% full. Lasday said that she leads by example. As town manager, she plans to teach her staff to have pride in their work and have integrity. She said she is a team player, and wants to listen to her staff’s idea. As a current village manager, she has implemented an “open-door” policy for her staff to come and talk to her. As a city administrator in Highwood, she oversaw 34 full-time and 27 pat-time employees. Highwood is a town with a 40-50% hispanic population. Lasday, who is fluent in Spanish both orally and written, worked with local agencies in Highwood to help provide different services to the community’s low-income hispanic population. While in Highwood, Lasday administered the annexation of 90 acres of land from the United States Army. By doing this, Highwood was then able to provide water to the United States Army, bringing in thousands of dollars of revenue to the community. In a town forum last Wednesday, Lasday said she had two goals she wanted to achieve in her first 90 days as town manager: hire a new police chief and evaluate the budget. She said she wants to look at the budget and reevaluate it based on Covid-19. At the town forum last week, Lasday said she plans to create agendas and accept feedback from the community in order to build transparency. The Town will now work out an employment contract with Lasday. It is expected she will begin working in Bay Harbor Islands before the end of this year.