By Tien-Shun Lee
A lawyer who serves as vice president of one of the co-op boards for Hilltop Village in Holliswood and is active in the Italian-American community was recently named a new member of Community Board 8.
Michael Rodi, 40, said his acceptance into CB 8 on April 1 will lead to his first significant, active role within the board's jurisdiction, which encompasses Fresh Meadows, Kew Gardens Hills, Briarwood, Hillcrest, Utopia, Jamaica Hills, Jamaica Estates and South Flushing.
“I'm very pleased. I look forward to serving the community the best I can,” said Rodi, who has lived in Queens almost all his life. “My mother was a charter member of the Newtown Civic Association in Elmhurst. I saw how active she was in the community and always had an interest in Queens.”
Rodi will be serving on the government liaison committee and transportation committee of CB 8.
“I'm an attorney, so I can help the board read legislation and draft legislation,” said Rodi. “And for the other committee, transportation, I can lend a unique ear and mouth because I both drive and use mass transit. I'm like a hybrid.”
Rodi decided to apply to become a CB 8 member when Marc Haken, the president of the Hilltop Village Board 4, suggested that he take his place on CB 8. Haken retired from the board last fall when he began working as a public affairs liaison for Councilman David Weprin (D-Hollis).
Community board members are approved by the borough president in conjunction with the local city council member.
“They look for somebody who's more of an activist. I'm active in the Italian-American community, so there's no reason for me not to be active in my local community,” said Rodi.
Rodi has served as the national president, Queens chapter president and Bronx chapter president of Fieri, an organization for Italian-Americans between 18 and 39 years of age.
Fieri tries to correct negative stereotypes of Italian-Americans in the media, promote higher education and social events for Italian-Americans, and to provide networking opportunities for Italian-Americans, said Rodi.
As president of Fieri, Rodi helped to organize national networking events that brought together high school students with professionals in fields they were interested in pursuing. He also organized letter- writing campaigns to put pressure on HBO to take the Mafia drama “The Sopranos” off the air because the organization believes it portrays Italian-Americans in a negative light.
Fieri gives out national and local scholarships to high school and college students, said Rodi.
Rodi became vice president of Board 4 of Hilltop Village, which houses about 700 families, in May 2002. Prior to that, he served as a co-op board member for about seven years. He moved into the apartment complex, located along Francis Lewis Boulevard and 204th Street in 1989.
Rodi said Haken had encouraged him and other Hilltop Village board members to attend meetings of the 107th Precinct community council and the Queens Civic Organization, and to support the Queens Theater in the Park.
Rodi predicted that zoning would be a hot issue with home owners within his community of Holliswood and the neighboring Jamaica Estates community.
“My tactic is to do a lot more listening in the beginning,” said Rodi. “I plan to just get acquainted with how guys on CB 8 hash things out.”
Reach reporter Tien-Shun Lee by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com, or call 718-229-0300, ext. 155.