By Cynthia Gellis
BHCA Board elections took place via email in February, and the slate of nine was approved by BHCA members. The new Board elected Derrick Muska as President, Will Cullen (past President) as Vice President, Alex Saldana as Treasurer, and Gina Redican as Secretary. Four new Board members-at-large were added in the spirit of many hands make light work.
2020 BHCA Board
Derrick Muska, President Will Cullen, Vice President Alex Saldana, Treasurer Gina Redican, Secretary
Diana Muska Jack Cunningham Jill Unze Julie Folcik Kathleen Brady
We thought it would be nice to get to know our Board members and find out what is behind their dedication to our neighborhood.
Derrick Muska, President
Derrick was seeking a beach community without waves and relocated to Long Beach in 2003. In 2010, he moved to Belmont Heights with his family and fell in love with the neighborhood. A licensed real estate broker, Derrick is a broker-associate at Coldwell Banker Coastal Alliance. Some of his interests outside of work (besides the BHCA) are eating, astronomy, and dancing. One thing that he misses most during the stay-at-home order is walking his son to school at Fremont Elementary in the morning.
If you could change one thing about our neighborhood, what would it be? Increase our BHCA membership so we could do more community-building events around the neighborhood.
Will Cullen, Vice President
Will was President of BHCA last year and has done so much to help improve our neighborhood! Will is a familiar face throughout Long Beach due to his work with the Neighborhood Leadership Program. Over the past 14 years, he facilitated, counseled, and photographed this unique city enterprise. Will is a founding member of the Craftsman Village Historic District Association and has been active with the Rose Park Neighborhood Association. In his spare time, Will led a delegation to Yokkaichi, Japan, a Long Beach sister city. Currently, he is a facilitator with the Orange County School District Ambassador Leadership Program. These activities, plus others, earned him the Mayor Beverly O’Neill Lifetime of Leadership Award in 2011.
Alex Saldana, Treasurer
Alex has lived in Belmont Heights for fourteen years. He is the CEO of Oxford HealthCare and loves to spend time with his family when he’s not working.
If you could change one thing about our neighborhood, what would it be? More access to parks.
Gina Redican, Secretary
In spite of her youth, Gina might get the long-timer award for residing in Belmont Heights; she’s been here since “my days on earth began.” Clearly, Gina knows a good thing when she sees it. She is a personal trainer and the owner of Accel Fitness on 7th Street, near Termino. In her free time, Gina loves to mountain bike and even though she has taken a few spills he doesn’t let that stop her from pursuing the challenge of the climbs and the thrills of riding downhill.
If you could change one thing about our neighborhood, what would it be? I'd love to see more Belmont Heights residents become members of the BHCA! Or maybe some more trees.
Kathleen Brady, Member-at-Large
Kathleen has lived in Belmont Heights for twenty years. She is retired and loves to devote her time to the community as a volunteer, especially serving as the LBPD liaison for the BHCA. Some of her favorite activities are Tai Chi, walking, reading, and visiting with family and friends.
If you could change one thing about our neighborhood, what would it be? I would like drivers, whether residents or not, to operate their vehicles in a safe and courteous manner. This change could really de-stress our neighborhood! To those who already do so, I feel deep gratitude.
Diana Muska, Member-at-Large
Diana is married to Board president, Derrick Muska and has lived in Long Beach for twenty years, the past ten in the Heights. She took over the management of the BHCA membership in November. It was a huge job that took a few months, transferring data into our new member management software system. Thanks, Diana! Diana is a special education teacher whose work focuses on students with moderate to severe disabilities. Some of her hobbies are collecting gnomes, hiking, visiting museums, and reading.
If you could change one thing about our neighborhood, what would it be? I love where we live and think we have a pretty fabulous neighborhood. I can't think of anything to change because overall I think we are pretty lucky to be living here.
Jill Unze, Member-at-Large
Jill has also lived in the Heights for twenty years. She is a retired financial analyst and an active community volunteer. Some of her favorite ways to spend her time include hiking, swimming, biking, running, reading, cooking, sewing, and having fun with friends.
If you could change one thing about our neighborhood, what would it be? More connection.
Jack Cunningham, Member-at-large
Jack is a relative newbie to the neighborhood, having lived in the Heights for only four years. In spite of being Chief of Staff to Councilwoman Suzie Price, Jack wanted to get involved with the BHCA in a volunteer capacity. When he’s not working for the councilwoman or the BHCA, Jack likes to camp and spend time with his family.
If you could change one thing about our neighborhood, what would it be? More kids my son Max’s age (3years old).
Julie Folcik, Member-at-large
Julie is a native of Long Beach who lives and works in the city she loves. She worked most of her professional career in local city government (15 years were with the city of Long Beach) and is currently a realtor. Julie became a member of the BHCA because she jokes, it was “about time to stop thinking about it and just do it.” She feels it has become a great way to get to know more of her neighbors and stay better connected to what is going on in the community. Currently, she is one of the many volunteers that lovingly deliver the BHCA newsletter to homes and businesses. Additionally, she has helped with coordinating sponsors for BHCA monthly meetings and is now looking forward to expanding her involvement in our association.
We asked our Board members some “hard-hitting” questions. Here are their answers:
What was your first job?
Alex: I worked for my father’s business.
Gina: I worked at an ice cream shop and I couldn't eat the stuff for years after.
Derrick: I was hired at a pet store when I was sixteen. I lost animals around the store and I would find them days later roaming the store. The highlight of the job was getting bitten by a giant red- tail boa.
Diana: I worked in a mall.
Jack: I was an assistant at a law library.
Jill: Babysitting and flipping burgers at the New Mexico state fair.
Kathleen: Working the lunch-time cafeteria line at Claremont McKenna College.
What is your favorite sandwich? Why?
Alex Saldana: meatball. No need to explain.
Derrick Muska: vegetarian.
Diana Muska: grilled cheese panini with olives and sundried tomatoes. It seems way more exciting than a cold sandwich and it's super delicious too.
Gina Redican: I love a BLT. It's simple and delicious.
Jack Cunningham – pastrami: never had a bad one.
Jill Unze: the green chili cheeseburger at the San Antonio Owl Bar & Café in San Antonio, New Mexico; Hatch green chilies are amazing.
Kathleen Brady: grilled chicken with lettuce, tomato, and avocado on a wheat- berry bun. It's plain but tasty.
When we asked Board members what their favorite movie genre was, the overwhelming consensus was a comedy. Some of their favorite comedy stars are Bill Murray, Dora the Explorer, and Curly from The Three Stooges.
When it comes to music, Jack’s walk-on song would be “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution” by AC/DC; Diana’s “Staying Alive” by the BeeGees; Derrick’s “Satellite of Love” by Lou Reed; Alex’s “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor. Jill favors a karaoke duet with her husband - John Prince’s “In Spite of Ourselves”; Gina’s biggest fear is singing karaoke!
As far as superpowers go, a favorite among our Board members would be the ability to fly.
Derrick Muska would like to have the power of the Kavorka (pronounced Kah-vor-kah) a Latvian word for "the lure of the animal," making the bearer irresistible. This superpower, as portrayed in the Seinfeld TV show, is often described as a curse. Jill Unze would like the superpower of kindness, spreading joy. That certainly is a superpower that is within all of our abilities; maybe we can create a superhero squad with Jill.
Most importantly, here is the advice that our Board members would offer their Belmont Heights neighbors in the event of a zombie apocalypse:
Call Suzie Price's field office--not me!
Stick together and maintain your cardio. Zombies are slow and dumb.
5 Ps - Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance.
Wave "Hi" from across the street.