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Moms Making a Difference: Cyndi Otteson

This is a sponsored post.

When Cyndi Otteson drives her kids by their local park, they often say that it’s the park that mommy built. Lots of people talk about giving back to their community, but Cyndi Otteson took it to heart and served on her Neighborhood Council in Eagle Rock. She worked tirelessly to get accessible sidewalks built around a park that didn’t have them.

Cyndi is one of the many Los Angeles residents serving on their local Neighborhood Councils. The Councils are a way for residents in neighborhoods all over Los Angeles to have their voices heard. From 7 to 30 individuals serve on each of the 99 Neighborhood Councils around Los Angeles and form the grassroots level of the Los Angeles City government. NC members are elected by their local communities, so they are elected officials, but serve as volunteers. Anyone who lives, works or owns property in an area can run to serve on a Neighborhood Council.

Neighborhood Council Elections are happening now through June. Find out who is running for a spot on the council in your neighborhood and find out when and where to vote at EmpowerLA.

We are working with Empower LA to get the word out about the Neighborhood Councils and how important they are to having a vibrant and thriving Los Angeles. This post is the first in a series where we highlight local moms who have served or are serving on their local councils. We begin the series talking to Cyndi Otteson.

Cyndi Otteson joined her Los Angeles Neighborhood Council so she could give back to her community. #losangeles #empowerla

Cyndi Otteson is the mother of a 4-year-old girl and 6-year-old boy and the head of Head of Marketing for NOM, an advertising technology company that helps brands run video advertising on brand safe content on YouTube and across other social media platforms.

1) How did you first hear about the Neighborhood Council?

A mom from my local moms club chapter (The Moms Club of Eagle Rock and Highland Park) posted on Social Media about a vacant board seat. I had just had my second child and moved to Eagle Rock a year earlier. I was starting to come out of new baby hibernation mode and thought joining the neighborhood council would be a great way to get involved in my community.

2) What made you decide to run for neighborhood council? Was there an issue happening in your neighborhood that you wanted resolved?

When we moved into our first house, my husband and I were given such a warm welcome by our neighbors and we felt grateful to be living in such a wonderful community. I wanted to give back and ensure our community and neighborhood would continue to be a great place to raise our children.

3) What is an average meeting like?

First we take roll call and see if there is a quorum in case there are actions items that require a vote. Then the President of the board will provide a report.  After some announcements from public departments such as LAPD, LAFD, as well as our local council districts, the board will address any new business which can involve stakeholder concerns or issues which can range from land use items or public safety. If there are any action items on the agenda, the board votes on these items which can range from approving funding for programs in the neighborhood such as neighborhood clean ups, tree watering or approving funds in support of our local public schools.

4) What has been most surprising to you about the experience?

It’s always surprising how many people don’t realize the power they have to impact change. People would often come to a board meeting with an issue they want the board to address or solve. What they end up realizing is that they themselves have the power to impact change. As a board member, it’s our job to advise stakeholders and advocate for our community, but mostly we connect people to the city government.

Another surprise is the friendships I’ve made with other board members. I have made very strong bonds with my fellow board members because we know how much work it takes to make a neighborhood great and therefore have a lot of love and respect for each other!

5) What is something that people might not understand about the Neighborhood Council?

Neighborhood Councils have money! Each NC receives public funds each year to support programs and events to improve or enhance their communities. If you have a good idea, hit up your local neighborhood council for funding!

6) How do you balance raising kids with your work on the council?

It can be a challenge just like all things related to raising children. I am constantly evaluating where I choose to spend my time. I carve out space for the things that matter most to me and make it work!

7) What do your children think of mom being in the council? Do you talk to them about giving back to the community?

My kids are still young so I’m not sure they completely understand, aside from me being away from them at bedtime sometimes. I mostly give them facts. They think it’s cool that I was able to get new sidewalks for our local park. They know I’m working on getting an accessible playground and ADA compliant improvements for the park so it can be a space accessible for everyone. My husband and I talk with them about the importance of community service. We talk about how grateful we are to be part of an amazing community and the importance of doing the work to keep it great!

We also involve them as much as possible. Whether that means participating in community clean-ups as a family or volunteering for local events, my children understand how important it is to give back.

8) Do you think Moms are uniquely qualified to help their neighborhoods? Why?

Yes. Yassss! I think moms feel a deep sense of obligation to create a better world for the children we are raising. Moms understand the importance of starting within our own neighborhoods and communities. They see the benefits in nurturing the family unit and how that extends beyond themselves. Moms get things done! We don’t have time to waste so we put our energy and time toward things that matter!

This post is part of a sponsored campaign with Empower LA. All opinions are my own.

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