Jay S. Jacobs is a force of nature in the Hamptons and across the State of New York. From Buffalo to Montauk, Jacobs is renowned as a business, political and thought leader, who takes an out-front role in moving the state forward.
Perhaps most notably, Jacobs is regarded as one of the most powerful influencers in New York State Democratic politics. He is currently the chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee. It’s his second time helming the post after serving first under former Gov. David Patterson. Jacobs is the only chairman to hold the position of state Democratic chairman twice.
But there’s another role Jacobs takes on with passion and vigor, and has for over three decades.
Jacobs is the CEO and major owner of the well-respected TLC Family of Camps & Inns, which includes three sleep-away camps, three day camps, a preschool and two country inns. Two of his camps, Hampton Country Day Camp and Southampton Camp & Club, are the premier day camps on Long Island’s East End. His camps have helped tens of thousands of children develop life and social skills through a focus on developing children’s self-esteem, self-confidence and resilience, and his innovative approach to camping has earned him critical acclaim. Jacobs has served as the president of the New York State Camp Directors Association, president of the American Camp Association’s New York Section and served on the state’s Camp Health and Safety Council. In many ways, his leadership and vision has revolutionized summer camps into what we know them to be today.
“I began as a camper in 1967 and never left Timber Lake,” he says. “I became a camp counselor, and bought the camp during my last year of law school. I am passionate about summer camp because it provides an invaluable opportunity for children to learn social skills, build self-confidence and self-esteem. It’s been my life’s work to afford children the opportunity to develop life skills, and I am proud of the work that our team at the TLC Family of Camps & Inns has done for future generations.”
In the political ring, he has served as chairman of the Nassau County Democratic Committee for almost 20 years and under his leadership has propelled dozens of Democratic candidates to victory. Widely regarded as one of the state’s brightest political minds, then-President Barack Obama appointed Jacobs as an at-large Democratic National Committee member. Jacobs chooses to serve in all his political capacities without compensation.
“For me, politics is about affecting positive change and make our state better and country better,” he says. “I consider myself a moderate progressive and I believe that everything we do should be directed toward creating that more-perfect union our founders first envisioned. I believe that politics should be about finding common ground and disagreeing, when we must, without being disagreeable. Respect and appreciation are an important part of the political discourse that we don’t see enough of these days. I am working hard to bring that back.”
Jacobs has also been a history maker, helping to shatter glass ceilings and help the government better reflect the New Yorkers that they serve. As chairman, Jacobs has helped elect the first female county executive in Nassau County history, the first female district attorney in Nassau County’s history, as well as electing the first ever Iranian-American and Indian-American to the New York State Senate. The diversity of the party and our government officials has progressed, due in large part to the strategic decision making of Jacobs. His efforts were instrumental in the Democratic Senate wins on Long Island which gave them the majority in the New York State Senate.
“In America, we elect our officials to lead, but it is our responsibility as Americans to vote and let our voices be heard,” he says. “I believe that diversity is a critical component of this—electing leaders that reflect the diversity of thought, background, race, creed, etc., that is America—and specifically the ‘melting pot’ that is New York. We support candidates that believe that new ideas, from people with different backgrounds, is what moves our society forward, which is why we are so proud to break down barriers with our candidates for office.”
When Jacobs is not leading thousands of children at camp or leading successful, contested political campaigns, he is also a philanthropist. Jacobs’ TLC Starfish Foundation partners with charities to provide underserved children the opportunity to participate in a variety of not-for-profit summer camps, educational, recreational and wellness programs that would otherwise not be available. Over the past 10 years, the foundation has donated over $10 million to worthy causes. Jacobs is also the founder and a board member of Summer Camp Opportunities Promote Education (SCOPE ), a program that provides provide summer camp opportunities to all children, regardless of socio-economic background.
Todd Shapiro is an award-winning publicist and associate publisher of Dan’s Papers.