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To cap the end of Women’s History Month, the Los Angeles City Council last week celebrated “dynamic leaders who pave the way” at the 26th annual Pioneer Women Awards. Each city council member nominated a woman from their district as part of a mandate to advance the general welfare of women and girls in Los Angeles.
Councilman David Ryu, 4th District, nominated Cindy Chvatal, a Hancock Park resident.
Her service to her community started about 16 years ago when she led the effort to install speed bumps.
“We lived on McCadden Place and we had little children,” she remembered. “We needed speed bumps.”
She contacted her area homeowner’s association and asked if they knew what to do. Now, her son who she was worried about is a healthy freshman in college, and she has nearly two decades of community service under her belt.
“Neighborhoods are what make this city great,” she said. “We need to protect that sense of community. That’s what got me involved. In L.A. it’s tough because it’s all streets and freeways and traffic, so we need to work hard to preserve it.”
Chvatal formed a neighborhood captains program so neighbors get to know each other – an aspect she said was missing from her hometown of Chicago. She helped found the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and she developed and maintains the current Hancock Park neighborhood email alert system, which provides neighbors with information about emergency procedures, lost pets, traffic issues, city hall meetings and other relevant activity.
Chvatal is the board president of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association and has worked with the 4th District office on everything from patching potholes to preserving the neighborhoods and forestall the threat of mansionization. Chvatal said she believes strongly in building community consensus on citywide issues and preserving the residential character of neighborhoods and their zoning designation, which protects the status of single-family homes. Chvatal also serves on Ryu’s Discretionary Funds Task Force, and is a member of the executive board of the California Science Center.
“I have seen firsthand Cindy Chvatal’s commitment to preserving our residential neighborhoods and prioritizing infrastructure improvements,” Ryu said. “As president of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association and a member of my Discretionary Funds Task Force, Cindy has proven she is a strong advocate for her neighborhood and the entire 4th Council District.”
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, 13th District, nominated Socorro Callejas, who moved to Hollywood in 1992. To provide her family with a safe and clean neighborhood, she joined the Yucca Resident’s Group – a group of women who rid the community of drugs, prostitution, graffiti and gangs. In 2002, she partnered with then-Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg and then-councilmen Eric Garcetti and Tom LaBonge to establish the Yucca Park Community Center, which provides computer classes, art, music, dance and sports to keep children away from streets and gangs.
“Socorro’s energy, passion and professionalism has enabled her to take on the many projects which have been of tremendous benefit to the community, families and children in the 13th District,” O’Farrell said.
Councilman Paul Koretz, 5th District, nominated Nickie Miner, a Los Angeles community leader, activist and long-term volunteer devoted to preserving of open space and quality of life. She survived two bouts of cancer and remained an instrumental player in the community, Koretz said. Miner has been a liaison between the community and city council and Koretz said she has made it her life’s work to maintain the natural environment of the Benedict Canyon and protect wildlife. She volunteers with the Benedict Canyon Association and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. She is a proponent of “responsible building” in the hills as well as “in the flats” of Los Angeles. She worked with Koretz’s office and the planning department to establish the Hillside Ordinance, Baseline Mansionization Ordinance and the Retaining Wall Ordinance. She is currently working to establish a Ridgeline Ordinance.
“Throughout the city of Los Angeles, there are numerous projects that have been quietly shaped, influenced and preserved due to Nickie Miner’s incredible efforts and ultimate success,” Koretz said.
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