If elected as the Alder for District 15, I’d like to ensure our community reflects our shared values - safety, sustainability, and diversity, and strengthens the necessary building blocks to grow our vibrant community - education, health, access to nature, housing, and transportation. The socioeconomic disparities have created inequities and it’s time to blaze new trails while ensuring that our unique identities are protected.
I’m excited for the possibilities that await and can’t wait to see what great things we’re able to achieve together!
I was born in Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia. When I was 12, my parents, sister, and I immigrated to the United States to Seattle, Washington in pursuit of the American dream. We dreamed of a future that included limitless opportunities, where hard work and dedication paid off. As any first generation immigrant, the first few years were spent balancing the competing cultural differences. In many ways, one may say it was cultural assimilation. To the surprise of many, language was not a barrier as I grew up speaking and learning multiple languages.
My grandmother was our primary caretaker growing up while my parents worked long hours. Both my parents and grandmother taught me to do my best and work really hard.
I’m extremely fortunate to have found my partner in life, my husband, Rodney whom keeps me balanced and supports me. Less than two weeks after we’d officially tied the knot, we packed up our belongings into a 15 footer U-haul and moved over three thousand miles to the great Midwest. It was a new adventure we’d start together as newlyweds. We told ourselves that if it’s not a good fit, we’d keep moving or we can always go home. That was over fourteen years ago.
We have since planted roots firmly in this city that we fell in love with. In 2008 we moved into our home in Lake Edge neighborhood that we share with our children, Rhys (3rd grade) and Ansley (kindergarten) along with our furry kids; canine Mason and Nicollette (9 years old) and feline Gulliver (best guess ~2 years old). Gulliver was a surprise addition (a story which I’ll share some other time). We enjoy outdoor activities such as biking, hiking, and exploring the various treasures and amenities the city and surrounding areas offer. Even though it has been over a decade since our relocation from the Pacific Northwest, we are still discovering Wisconsin and are loving the quality of life Madison offers.
Just like the previous owners of our home and many others in the neighborhood, we are in love with our home and we fell hard for the neighborhood! With our nearest family members being over 3000 miles away, we expanded our “family” where neighbors became friends/family. The saying “it takes a village to raise a child” hit home when our son was born. We have the best neighbors. Really, we do. They do care and never hesitated to lend a helping hand whenever we needed it.
We were curious about the neighborhood association and wanted to learn more but the schedules (work and children) initially didn’t work out. So, when we finally had a good grasp on the parental end and schedules, Rodney and I talked about an alternate rotation where we would each attend the monthly neighborhood meeting. Coincidentally the first meeting, the one that Rodney volunteered to attend, happened to be the annual meeting. He came home an elected member of the board! I was the cheerleader behind the scenes. I wanted to help, whether it was to support my husband and the neighborhood. I leveraged my professional skills and helped organize the garage sale. One thing led to another and come the next annual meeting, I was elected as the President of the Lake Edge Neighborhood Association (LENA). I didn’t know what was all entailed but I worked hard to learn.
The first community/neighborhood event I led was regarding the paint gun vandalism in the neighborhood. The event was very well attended and we walked away with great information for how we can better protect each other. As a newly elected President of a neighborhood association, I had an idea of what I’d like to do and my vision for the organization. Both my plan and vision came together seamlessly. Under my leadership, LENA has created a website, expanded our social presence via a Facebook group, and increased the Board presence at NextDoor. In addition, we’ve tripled the number of LENA sponsored events aimed to raise engagement and community building. Historical or long-standing events such as the summer picnic and Earth Day clean up were preserved and added a line-up of events aimed to appeal to the diverse demographics and interests in the neighborhood. We’ve also experimented with pilot events to gauge interest such as the food carts dinner at the park which was largely based on requests by neighbors. Infrastructure was another goal that was achieved; we now have an archive and no longer rely solely on institutional knowledge. I’ve also revamped our primary income model from traditional transactional to a partnership model reducing the overall operating expenses and we now have a “healthy” balance in the account. In fact, in 2018, we were able to increase our scholarship contributions to Upham Woods to several students (historically, we’ve been able to support one or two students) at Sennett Middle School. These are just some examples of what I’ve been able to achieve in my tenure as the President of the Lake Edge Neighborhood Association since the fall of 2015.
This was not all accomplished on my own or unilaterally but it is my vision and distinctive leadership style that contributed the overall success we as a neighborhood organization have been able to achieve. My success and proven record have prepared me to take on greater responsibility in advancing our community. I can’t wait to see what we as a community will be able to achieve together with me as your representative at the Common Council.