I have known Elizabeth Peyton for years, even before she met her husband and before she had her daughter Caroline. Now, she leads a very full life, juggling life as a busy mom and her role as president of the Junior League of Greenwich. Here is a peek into Junior League of Greenwich President Elizabeth Peyton’s Life in Greenwich, CT.
Tell me about your journey to Greenwich
My first job out of college was in Greenwich. I moved here single, straight out of college and have lived here ever since.
When you moved to Greenwich, did you know anyone?
I did not know anyone when I moved to Greenwich. I was fortunate that the company I worked for had a lot of younger employees that were single and working their first or second job out of school. Luckily, I clicked with some of my co-workers and they became my first friends in the area. But the way I found my close friends was when I joined the Junior League of Greenwich. I joined the league in the fall of 2006. The friends I made there I now consider my best friends- we volunteer together, formed book clubs together, vacation together, etc.
Any tips/advice you can give to newcomers on how to meet people?
Greenwich offers a lot of social outlets for newcomers to meet new people and make friends. I’d start with your interests. Are you a tennis player? If so, there are teams you can join to meet people. In my early years living in Greenwich, I actually made some friends when I joined tennis teams through the Greenwich Racquet Club and Grand Slam Tennis Club. If you are into volunteering, then find an organization like the Junior League of Greenwich. The JLG has hundreds of members so you can easily meet people. The Greenwich Newcomers Club is also very active and does a good job welcoming people and integrating them into town. Another avenue, although not necessarily for everyone, is to join a church or synagogue and you can meet people through there.
Can you describe your social life?
My social life has evolved over the years I’ve been in Greenwich- from being single to married with no kids and now as a mother of a young child. Being president of the Junior League of Greenwich, my social life at the moment definitely revolves around JLG events. Some are family events, some include only my husband, while others are just for members. I do make an effort to try to arrange some girls night out dinners and get-togethers where we can do something casual to catch up and relax. We get so busy so it’s nice to just unplug and to hang out. Another big part of my social life are playdates and activities with my daughter where I get to spend time with other mothers. We are members of the Milbrook club and that is another go-to for me since there are often lots of different social opportunities.
How would you describe Greenwich residents?
I heard this phrase once in another context, but I’ll paraphrase it to fit Greenwich – “If you’ve met one Greenwich resident, you’ve met one Greenwich resident.” In many respects, we are not a very diverse town. But we are a large enough town such that we can offer some diversity, culturally, ethnically, in family composition, life stage, etc. There is a true sense of community I have found in Greenwich that I didn’t find in the town I grew up in. One of things that I love is when I run errands, I can still run into friends. Greenwich is big enough that you are not going to know everyone in town- it’s big enough that you can keep to yourself if that’s what you want. But if you want a sense of small town community where everyone knows each other you can also get that from here. Philanthropy is a big part of the culture in Greenwich, residents are involved in the dozens of non-profits in town and they range from large chapters such as the Red Cross to small organizations and they are all trying to make Greenwich better.
What are some things you don’t like about Greenwich?
I think for a town this size one of the first things that come to mind are the restaurants. Although we have a nice variety of good restaurants around town, there are some gaps. It can be repetitive; a little more variety would be nice. I also don’t care for the parking and traffic in Greenwich. Although, you can complain about parking and traffic anywhere you live. There are days when it’s a little frustrating because it becomes a huge undertaking to park just to pick up tomatoes. Another thing I don’t like is that this town is a little bit transient. I’ve experienced a few occasions where someone moves to town, you get to know them, you become friends and then their company relocates so they end up moving away due to work.
You live in the Cos Cob section of Greenwich. Why Cos Cob?
When I first moved to Greenwich I lived in Old Greenwich. I really loved it there. When we started house hunting, we opened the scope of house hunting to other areas within Greenwich. We ended up in Cos Cob mostly because we loved our house and the location is perfect for us. We can walk to playgrounds, the Cos Cob library and neighborhood shops. We are 5 minute drive to the Cos Cob train station and we can get on I-95 easily. We can be almost anywhere in Greenwich within 15 minutes. It wasn’t something we realized when we first bought our house (in fact we moved into our house before we had our daughter). We are so happy that this is where we wound up.
You are the Junior League of Greenwich President. Tell me more about the Junior League of Greenwich.
The Junior League of Greenwich is a volunteer organization that trains and develops women to be community leaders and to create long lasting change in the community. We have about 650 members and we are celebrating our 60th anniversary this year. It really is a group of women who are doers and movers and leaders in the community. In the 60 years since our founding we have started over 100 projects within the town of Greenwich, many of which we ultimately transition to other local organizations. I’m especially proud of our most recent brick and mortar project – the Greenwich Town Pool which was a public-private partnership between the town of Greenwich and the Junior League of Greenwich. The Junior League dedicated 8 years to make it happen- building support for a new pool, and keeping it on the town agenda until ultimately the town approved the project and the JLG privately raised $2.5M to build the town pool. This is an accomplishment we are incredibly proud of and feel that it is a much needed amenity in the community. We also do smaller scale projects and we work with dozens of local non-profits in the community to help everyone increase their impact in the community.
Anything exciting happening at the League?
It is the Junior League of Greenwich’s 60th anniversary this year so we are doing several things to celebrate. Feb 2nd is our celebratory fundraiser- a Totally 80s Murder Mystery party. Everyone is welcome to attend including significant others, friends and neighbors- all are welcome. 80’s attire encouraged but optional. It’s an interactive night where you will be part of solving a murder mystery, to try to figure out who “did it”. It will be a very interactive night. We’ll be serving desserts and drinks at the event, as well. If you are interested, tickets are available at www.jlgreenwich.org. We also have some great 60th anniversary JLG merchandise to commemorate our anniversary. There is a spring time celebration in the works so stay tuned for that. On Saturday, January 26, we have the Illusions Broadway Magic Show for children – there are two shows that day. Another exciting thing we are kicking off is a new project that focuses on financial literacy for teens where we will teach high school students the basics of personal finance and budgeting. We will run the classes in February and March at the Boys and Girls club in Greenwich. If it’s a success, it will be rolled out to all Greenwich high school students.
What do you like best about the JLG?
What I like best about being a member of the JLG is the opportunities for personal growth and leadership development. The best way to explain it is from my personal story- a year after I joined the Junior League, I co-chaired one of our fundraisers called “Touch a Truck”. At the same time, I was applying for jobs and was hired as development director for a non-profit organization, without having any professional development experience. The organization respected and valued my JLG experience and willing to bring me on due to my strong JLG experience. I credit the JLG in helping me make that career transition. Within the JLG we are always encouraging women to try new things and take on leadership opportunities that they wouldn’t have in their professional and personal life. We support our members and give them the tools to make them successful. The outcome is we are an organization that makes positive change in the community from building the town pool, to the Bruce Park playground and Positively Me (self-esteem class for 3rd grade girls). We make positive change through the collective action of the women of JLG.
How old is your daughter? What do you like to do with her in Greenwich or in the area?
Caroline is 4 Years old. She loves being outside and has never been to a playground she didn’t like. We are lucky to be within walking distance to 3 playgrounds. We like to spend as much time as we can playing at the playground. We like the Bible Street playground, Loughlin Avenue playground and the Cos Cob school playground (when school is not in session). As a special treat, we drive to the Bruce Park playground. It is another favorite of ours and not just because there is always an ice cream truck parked in front of Bruce Park playground. Caroline also takes ballet at the Greenwich Ballet Academy. And she started ice skating lessons at the Dorothy Hamill rink (the indoor Greenwich town rink). There are so many kids activities offered through the town and local organizations like the YMCA, YWCA and school programs that we can easily fill any afternoon of the week and weekends too.
What are your favorite restaurants in Greenwich or in the area? Date night? Kid Friendly?
For date night, Le Fat Poodle is a favorite spot. We love to take Caroline to Boxcar Cantina, Gingerman and we discovered by accident, East End. They are really great with kids. And our default is always the Milbrook Club.
Are you a member of a country club? If so, which one? Can you give some advice on how you decided which club to join? How do you like it?
We decided to join Milbrook Club because we have several good friends who are already members there. They invited us to a few events to get a feel for it. We love the atmosphere and amenities and immediately felt a connection and felt comfortable there. If you are interested in joining a club, my advice would be to ask your friends if they belong to clubs and find out a little more about what they enjoy about their club. Let them know you are interested because people are always looking to get their friends to join their club. Don’t be afraid to let your interest be known- be upfront about it.
What has your experience been so far with schools in Greenwich?
Our daughter is currently in Nursery school in Greenwich. There are so many great choices for Nursery schools in town. We are so happy with the one we chose, this is her 3rd year here. The nursery schools in town all offer open houses and tours in the Fall. You should look at as many as you can. There are lots of similarities and differences- there may be certain priorities that are more prevalent. Location is main a factor especially since the days are short and you don’t want to spend a lot of time driving back and forth after a few hours. Certainly staying within a reasonable distance, it makes your life easier. Plus if you live near your preschool, it will also be easier to see friends outside school hours.
Any tips/advice you can give to someone who is looking to move to the area?
My number one suggestion would be to rent for a while when you first move out here and really get to know the town. Get a sense for where it is you want to be. Greenwich offers a pretty broad spectrum- you can live right in town or back country. There are good things and bad things in all the different areas. Get a better sense for your lifestyle preferences and priorities. Once settled, make an effort to put down roots and make Greenwich your home by joining organizations like the Junior League or getting very involved in your child’s school. You will be happier if you are connected and weave yourself into the community.
About Elizabeth Peyton
Elizabeth Peyton moved to Greenwich in 2003, and lives in Cos Cob with her husband Bob and daughter Caroline. She moved here after graduating from Boston College, where she earned a B.A. in History.
Elizabeth joined the Junior League of Greenwich in 2006 and currently serves as the President. She has held many leadership roles within the League and received the Junior League of Greenwich Leadership Excellence Award in 2011. Outside of the JLG, Elizabeth volunteers with Boston College’s Office of University Advancement and the Grace Institute in New York City. She has served as co-chair of the Board of Deacons at First Presbyterian Church of Greenwich, and served as co-chair and committee member of several fundraisers for the Greenwich United Way and YWCA Greenwich.
Professionally, Elizabeth has held several roles at different companies. She worked in consulting and relationship management at Greenwich Associates, in recruiting at Bridgewater Associates, and as the Development Director at the Port Chester Carver Center.
In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys traveling, especially to new ski destinations, reading, and yoga.