Real leadership never starts with a title or a position on an organizational chart. Rather, it begins because one feels something could be made better. It might start as a resolve that comes from a tragedy (i.e., Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) or an effort that comes from a creative concept for improvement (i.e., Apple, the Obama campaign). What is does take is courage, consistency, and commitment. My sister, Susan Mullins, has these attributes in spades! For the past three years, Susan has spent, literally, a couple thousand hours establishing, developing, and leading a new community organization in her Los Angeles County Nichols Canyon neighborhood to improve safety, communication, and a real sense of community. More than 400 households have joined the Upper Nichols Canyon Neighborhood Association (UNC) and participated in a range of activities both in the immediate area and in the larger Hollywood community of Los Angeles. This has included:
Creating the UNC Neighborhood Emergency Preparedness Task Force.
Creating the Public Safety Committees which together certified 40 neighbors in CPR and licensed 15 Ham radio operators.
Having eight residents formally trained as Community Emergency Response Team members.
Establishing a model Neighborhood Watch program that has proven very effective.
Susan also took a leadership role in events such as putting together food and clothing drives for "People Assisting The Homeless" and "Food for Change." She crafted a major Los Angeles Fire Department Evacuation Drill with 500 participants in the canyon. Officials said they were astounded and gratified by the numbers who participated—all of which served as great learning exercises for both the citizens and the fire department.
Part of Susan's work also included forming working partnerships with local law enforcement and various city agencies and organizations. She hosted education sessions with these agencies so that residents could learn everything from emergency procedures to how to keep neighbors safe. This week Susan was presented with the 2011 Centurion Award from the Peace Officers Association of Los Angeles County—an association made up of all the law enforcement agencies from local city Police Departments throughout LA County, Sheriffs, Highway Patrol, ATF, FBI, city, county and state attorneys. This award is for Outstanding Achievement in the Area of Community Partner. It is the only "civilian" award this group gives in this county with a population of more than ten million people. Winners are chosen by a judging panel that reviews nominations submitted by all their law enforcement member agencies. The Los Angeles Police Department Hollywood Division nominated Susan. While my sister would say that she attributes the success of her efforts to the involvement of many other people, the truth of the matter is that it took one person to conceive, organize and guide it: Susan. What is the place that troubles your heart? Where might you jump in and take the lead? Or, who is your “Susan” that could use an assist in making work, family, or a community better.