For Michelle Stoddart, vice president of public affairs and community development at Resorts World Casino New York City, Shulman was always accessible and approachable. Stoddart said she marveled at how generous she was with her time.
“Any event you went to, she was always a steady presence,” she said. “She always focused on you and made you feel important, always had advice for you. I will miss that.”
Stoddart, a Queens Chamber board member, said she looked up to Shulman as a strong woman leader, someone who always championed the borough and had Queens’s best interests at heart. She learned from Shulman to be bold, forceful and passionate.
“Those of us who follow in her footsteps were emboldened by her passion,” she said. “That’s her legacy to me.”
Tom Grech, president and CEO of the Queens Chamber, said he considered Shulman a mentor. He said she took him under her wing, taught him the ropes and helped him navigate the intricacies of Queens, the business community and the borough’s politics.
Grech said her impact on the Queens business community can be felt throughout the borough, from Jamaica and Flushing to Long Island City. Nothing got done between 1986 and 2002, her tenure as borough president, if Shulman wasn’t involved, he said.
One of Shulman’s most important legacies, Grech said, is working collaboratively but never losing sight of her goal.
“She got things done, she was tenacious and never gave up,” he said. “We can all take a page from that playbook and do what she did all those years.
“She was one in a million,” Grech added. “She will definitely be missed.”
Someone who followed in her footsteps was Melinda Katz, the former borough president and current Queens district attorney. She said the day that Shulman passed away was “a sad day for Queens.”
Katz worked for Shulman for three years as director of community boards, an experience for which she’s grateful. The DA said she learned a lot under Shulman’s leadership.
“I was amazed at how she was able to navigate this system that we lived in so long ago,” Katz said, referencing Shulman’s trailblazing status as the first woman to serve as Queens borough president. “I’m not sure she was given enough credit for that.”
Shulman knew how to run a meeting, Katz said, and how to get the best out of everyone at that moment. She interpreted the information she was given and effectuated a plan.
“She was truly a master at that, there was always a goal from her,” she said. “She never dropped the ball.”
Soon after Katz was elected borough president, she saw a tweet that posed the question: “can Katz out-Claire Claire Shulman?” Katz said the fact that Shulman was used as the standard “was a real compliment to her leadership.”
She was an amazing leader,” she said. “She showed what impact one person could have on the city.”