Interview with CB5 Board Member Rachel Weintraub

“I’m a Data Analyst and Analytics Consultant at IBM, but I’m passionate about politics, so the Community Board has been a great way for me to pursue my passions for advocacy and policy on the side”  

CB5 board member Rachel Weintraub took a few moments after Community Board Five’s last Full Board meeting to talk about why she joined the board and why others who want to be more active in their communities should apply to be a member.

Rachel Weintraub: I was appointed in the spring of 2018.

Luke Szabados, CB5 Community Associate: And how has it been so far?

RW: It’s been really fun, It’s been great way for me to get engaged in what’s happening in my community, take a stand on issues I’m passionate about, and collaborate with the many stakeholders in my community.

CB5:  How do the committees you are on address your passions and interests differently?

RW:  I am on BECS, or Budget, Education and City Services, and Parks and Public Spaces.  Parks and Public Spaces is fundamentally different from BECS because we receive applications.  Whether it’s a sidewalk café that I pass everyday on my way to work, or an event happening at a local park, it’s important that we weigh in and give input to ensure we represent the interests of all community stakeholders.

BECS has been a completely different experience, in a good way. We don’t formally receive applications in the same way as other committees, so it’s up to us to proactively stake out issues and policies that impact our community and hear from relevant stakeholders so we can form a position. Something that I care a lot about is education; I grew up going to public schools (not in New York City) so I believe that it’s crucial to have a strong and equitable public school system.  On BECS this year, we’ve passed resolutions advocating for increased ADA accessibility and mental health services in schools. It’s been cool to learn the role of each stakeholder in the NYC education system, while advocating for issues important to students, parents, and educators in the district.

CB5:  How did you hear about Community Board Five?

RW:  Last spring I heard about it on NPR, did some research, and went to a couple committees to see what it was about and then decided to apply.  It was a really good way to just jump right in and get involved.

CB5:  People might see this as a big commitment.  Was that something you were conscious of or concerned about before joining?

RW:  I definitely took the time to talk to different people on the board to learn more about the commitment. It’s more of a commitment than a lot of other volunteer roles in the community, so if you’re just looking to get involved in something outside of a 9-5, there are a lot of valuable ways to do that. But if you really care about how small local policy changes can make a big impact, then the community board is a good place to be.

CB5:  All right! What are some things you’ve learned about how the city works?

RW:  I’ve learned that there are a lot of different stakeholders, more than I could have ever imagined. We all think about our representatives and our elected officials, the people we actually vote for, but there are a lot of people in the background who work hard to get things done.  And at the end of the day, all these roles are incredibly important, and it’s been encouraging to see how we all -- community boards, agencies, staffers that work for the representatives, etc. – can work together and enhance our community.

CB5: Do you have any advice to potential board members or want to share anything they should know?

RW: For people who really care about how really, really small local things make an impact, it’s a great place to be.  Some people don’t want to sit through a 2 hour meeting about sidewalk cafes but obviously we do. Also, since we cover many issues ranging from transportation to land use to education, it’s fun to figure out what issues you’re passionate about and eventually take on leadership and delve deeper.

 CB5: Do you see this informing your trajectory; can you speak to where to see yourself in the future?

RW: I’m a data analyst at IBM so for me, I love my job, but politics and policy is something I’m also really interested in and studied in school. I like being able to balance both, and the Community Board is a great way to be involved in that other passion of mine on the side.

CB5: Thank you so much!

RW: My grandparents will be excited to read this, so thank you !

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