There is nothing quite like getting chased by a rooster that’s gone rogue while collecting fresh chicken eggs. Neoma Jardon recalled this funny memory from growing up with her sister and Dad on a cattle ranch out near Fernley. One day she went to collect eggs and a rooster chased her out of the barn and over a fence. One point for the rooster, zero for Neoma who ended up with a big bump on her head.
This didn’t stop Neoma or her friends, even though hanging out on the weekends was a different kind of fun. Friends would come over and Neoma’s Dad would put everyone to work, bucking bails and hoeing weeds. This is what Neoma did every morning and every night. Some morning’s she’d wake up and the water was frozen for the cattle. She’d have to break the ice and carry water from the ditch to fill the troughs.
Friends would hang out on the weekend and my Dad would put everyone to work, bucking bails and hoeing weeds.
Growing up on a ranch and tending farm prepared Neoma with strong work ethic, even temper and the respectful approach she brings to her career. She was raised in a house where there was no sitting down and there was always something to be done to keep things going. She promised herself as a professional woman she would never hoe another weed, which ironically may have led to the strength she has to maintain a 30,000 foot perspective. She looks at things from a bigger picture with a respectful approach to keep public service and the community in mind (i.e., she stays out of the weeds).
I look at things from a bigger picture with a respectful approach to keep public service and the community in mind.
With her big picture approach to public service, Neoma is the visionary behind the Reno Works program which helps transition the most vulnerable among us out of homelessness while at the same time addressing our river and downtown cleanliness. She says there are three sides to every story; you have to hear all sides and assign each with equal weight before determining the best solution. It’s easy to have emotional reactions, but at the end of the day, good policy is formed by balancing feelings and facts. Neoma came up with the idea and the desire to try something different, but it is Pat Cashell, the regional director of Volunteers of America, that deserves much credit for bringing the Reno Works program to fruition.
It’s easy to have emotional reactions, but at the end of the day, good policy is formed by balancing feelings and facts.
The Reno Works program simultaneously cleans up the river district downtown while providing part-time work, employability skills and supportive housing to hard working homeless individuals. Since the pilot in October 2015, there are 14 graduates of the Reno Works program who are now out of the shelter and have secured full-time employment. The program costs $35 per person per day compared to $150-500 per person per day at the shelter. It’s through keeping an open mind and hearing all sides to every issue that allowed Neoma to spearhead an effort to change the mindset from managing homelessness to working to solve it in a way that’s fiscally and ethically responsible.
We need to change the mindset from managing homelessness to working to solve it.
Neoma Jardon is seeking re-election as Reno’s Councilwoman in Ward 5, and I recently had the pleasure of attending a lunch to support her candidacy. She introduced herself, shared accomplishments and the advice she’d give her younger self and then opened up the floor for each woman in the room to provide their own wisdom. It was quite an amazing experience being surrounded by some of Reno’s most excellent and influential leaders. I walked away feeling inspired and I hope you feel the same by reading some quotes from the Lady Boss Lunch.
Always remain flexible. No situation is as you first thought. Your position on something can be evolving.
Play a game of addition not subtraction. Don’t take people from your team; add people on.
Always help women play big.
Encourage cultivation of an inquisitive mind.
Lead with your heart and when you encounter bullies, stand up to them for those that come behind us.
What advice would you give your younger self?