CB 12 district manager looks after her neighbors

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Municipal manager, complaint taker, information source,...

By Betsy Scheinbart

Judging from her tranquil, almost soothing demeanor, one would never know that grandmother Yvonne Reddick supervises one of the busiest and fastest growing community districts in New York City.

Municipal manager, complaint taker, information source, mediator and advocate are just a few of the many hats Reddick wears as district manager of Community Board 12, which covers the neighborhoods of Jamaica, South Jamaica, Hollis, St. Albans, and the northern section of Springfield Gardens.

Most importantly, Reddick acts as a liaison between the community and the city government, proposing new projects for her swathe of southeast Queens and making sure New York City’s current services reach her district.

According to the 1990 Census, District 12 had more than 200,000 residents, a number Reddick said is much higher now.

“There are 59 community boards in the city and no board in the city of New York has had as many housing units built as Board 12 in the last 10 years,” Reddick said calmly as smooth jazz played in her Jamaica office.

Born and raised in Rocky Mount, N.C., just across the Virginia border, Reddick was the oldest girl in a family of six children.

“Being the oldest girl, there were certain things your parents expected of you,” Reddick recalled, “but it was fun competing with my older brother.”

With six children in the public school system, Reddick’s parents never missed a PTA meeting. Their involvement with the schools and the community served as an example to their eldest daughter, who joined community groups once her own children were in school.

Reddick’s mother had family in Jamaica, Queens, so Reddick spent several summers visiting the city, and it captured her heart. After attending college in North Carolina, Reddick moved to Jamaica, got married and had two children.

One day after her children had graduated from pre-school to elementary school, the future district manager wandered into a meeting of the 160th Street Neighborhood Civic Association. She was immediately drafted as the group’s secretary and moved up the ranks to vice president, and then president, over several years.

“I think I was the young thing there,” Reddick recalls of her years the civic group when she was in her late 20s.

Meanwhile, Reddick became a den mother with the Cub Scouts when her son joined.

“I figured, if I have to drive him to the meetings anyway, why not get involved?” Reddick said.

And the PTA also tapped Reddick as secretary, a job she said she “always got stuck with.”

But the civic group was what introduced Reddick to Community Board 12, where she would present the neighborhood’s complaints and issues at monthly meetings.

Reddick soon joined the community board, and worked her way up to assistant district manager in 1984 — a post she held until she was promoted to district manager in 1994. She is the first woman to hold the position of district manager for Board 12.

“I never had a problem relating to people. I enjoy talking with people, helping people,” Reddick said. “I enjoy my job, and I take it seriously.”

In fact, Reddick is so busy working with the community that her granddaughters, ages 15, 12, and 5, have started to complain.

“They say, ‘You know, I feel like you are neglecting me,’” Reddick said, smiling.

But Reddick is not ready to become a full-time grandmother, not just yet. She said she could see herself still working at Board 12 in five years because there are so many project she would like to see completed.

“Looking back at my years at community Board 12, there are many things that have been accomplished but still a lot needs to be done,” she said.

Reach reporter Betsy Scheinbart by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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