Last summer, as city officials were in the midst of shaping the South Glendale Community Plan, Rondi Werner, president of the Adams Hill Neighborhood Assn., attended a City Council meeting where she spoke about the plan.
Afterward, a Glendale Community College professor passed Werner a note, suggesting she run for a District 4 seat on the school's board of trustees.
"I thought, wow. Me?" she recalled.
Later, she realized she would make "the perfect person" for the role, she said.
District 4 encompasses all of Glendale south of Colorado Street, and since 1999, Werner has lived in Adams Hill, where she's belonged to the neighborhood association for more than a decade.
Shortly after she moved to Glendale in the 1980s, she took courses at the college: three semesters of Armenian, one semester of French, as well as astronomy, aviation and music classes.
Her day job as a construction contract administrator would enable her to ask the right questions as the college begins taking on extensive upgrades and construction funded by a $325-million Measure GC bond that voters approved in November.
Werner said she'll be able to ask the right questions during construction projects to avoid what the college is facing now with its lab/college services building nearly complete but more than a year behind schedule.
"It's a skill set that I think will be really vital as they expand and upgrade," she said.
Werner views Glendale Community College as offering "something for everyone," saying middle-class families can save on tuition costs by enrolling their children there. Low-income families can take advantage of the college's training programs to secure higher-paying jobs, and older residents can take extended learning courses.
She's not confident that all residents are aware of what the college's Verdugo and Garfield campuses have to offer.
Many residents she's met told her they are unaware of tuition-free or workforce training programs, or that college officials plan to expand the Garfield campus, which is located in District 4.
She also views the college's lower enrollment numbers in recent years as a communication issue.
"If people say declining enrollment is the major problem with the college, it's a symptom of a problem, and that bigger problem is the lack of communication," she said.
As a trustee, she said she would engage the community to share what's being offered, from adult education programs to dual-enrollment courses that high school students can take to earn college credit before they even receive their high school diploma.
For years, she's held community colleges in high regard for the way they enable people to earn higher-paying jobs. After Werner's parents divorced when she was 9 years old, her mother, raising three daughters on her own, enrolled in business administration courses at a community college and went from working as a secretary to earning more income as a financial controller.
In her run against two fellow newcomers for a District 4 seat, Werner also sums up her candidacy this way: "Right person. Right time."