Jeri Epstein, a longtime resident of the West End community and member of the board of trustees at Arena Stage, is running unopposed for seat 2A06 in the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
Epstein, 72, said Commissioner Florence Harmon – Epstein’s neighbor who decided not to run for re-election this year – asked her to run because Epstein is a longtime D.C. resident with knowledge of community functions.
Epstein, who currently serves on the board of trustees at Arena Stage, a nonprofit theater based in Southwest D.C., said that since she has reached the point in her life where she is not working professionally, she has ample time to devote to the commission and other volunteer projects, like supporting people who experience homelessness.
She said she was impressed with other cities that have built small houses for the homeless and added that she hopes to address traffic congestion in her neighborhood by exploring options like restricting parking during rush hour.
“My generation was the one that agreed that we were going to work and be mothers and not give up anything,” Epstein said. “When I stopped working professionally, I thought this was the time I’d give back to the community.”
Epstein worked in multiple states as a foreign language high school teacher for 15 years and served as the vice president of sales and business development for three years at a startup called Internet Travel Network, now GetThere.com. Epstein also was formerly an executive director at the nonprofit organization The Ambit Foundation, which provides support for veterans and their families.
She said her work running philanthropy efforts for veterans in the D.C. area for nearly three years makes her more sensitive to and sympathetic for people experiencing homelessness in the District.
“These people are veterans who didn’t come out the way they hoped, so I’m hoping to get a little understanding there finding a little way to help them,” Epstein said.
Epstein said she hopes to increase community participation in local politics by working with apartment buildings’ operating committees to encourage residents to attend ANC meetings.
She said she hopes to work with developers of new restaurants and other projects during her time on the ANC to ensure establishments do not play music or stay open late at night and keep outdoor seating contained so sidewalks are clear for pedestrians.
Epstein pointed to an incident last month when the owners of Argiro, a new Greek restaurant, proposed to increase seating availability and offer outdoor music at their new space on 23rd and L streets, but after talking with the ANC and the community, the owners agreed to downsize the number of seats and not play music outside.
“I’d like to see a little reality and truthfulness in terms of projects, and I’d like to work with people when they say they’re going to come and do something,” Epstein said. “Let’s just make it appropriate to the neighborhood, so working with people to come up with compromise is something I want to do.”