Megan O'Bryan, president and chief executive officer of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, is part of a three-person special commission appointed by Mayor Frank Jackson to examine policies and procedures of police response to sex crimes and missing-person reports.
In addition, the 39-year-old Cleveland resident is gearing up for her center's signature fund-raiser, "Sing Out," on Thursday, May 27, at the Cleveland Play House.
She has a serious job, but O'Bryan makes time to have fun. Check out her recommendation for the best sandwich in Cleveland -- a vegetarian hot dog topped with ancho chile barbecue sauce and potato chips (with a side of Tater Tots) at the Happy Dog at West 58th Street and Detroit Avenue.
"I hope my trainer isn't reading this," said O'Bryan, who washes down the deluxe dog with a Pabst Blue Ribbon.
Tell us about living in Cleveland's Edgewater/Cudell neighborhood.
Our neighborhood is just minutes from downtown, on the Lakewood-Cleveland border. Our particular street is a little gem lined with great houses and lots of kids. It is a built-in play date! On the street we all help each other, and so many of our neighbors are engaged in the civic life of the community in some way.
The crown jewel of the neighborhood is Edgewater Park. The park is especially fascinating on summer weekends. You see people of every race and culture enjoying the simplest pleasures in life like a picnic, flying a kite and spending time with family and friends. Seeing that reminds me how much we are all connected and alike.
You've lived in Cleveland for 17 years. Where and why?
Since graduating from college I have lived in downtown, Ohio City and the Edgewater/Cudell neighborhoods. I love urban environments for the walkability, architecture, diversity and proximity to the city center and all the arts and cultural institutions. I think there is so much potential to be realized in Cleveland, and by being a city resident I can actively support and participate in that.
Give us a childhood memory.
I have great memories of spending time at Wagar Beach in Rocky River and inviting myself onto friends' boats.
You and husband Michael Rastatter are going out on Saturday night. What's the plan?
A great night would be to eat dinner at Flying Fig, where we have been patrons since Karen Small opened a decade ago. Then we would meet friends at a favorite night spot of ours, Belinda's Night Club on West 96th and Madison.
Every Saturday night Belinda's has live Latin music, from merengue to salsa. It is like stepping into a club in San Juan. There is a huge dance floor and it is pretty dark, so you don't feel self-conscious about getting out there and having fun dancing. You can't help yourself! And often ladies get in free, which is a bonus!
You and your children, Dinah, 5, and Toby, 3, are planning a day. Where will you go?
In the winter, a favorite stop is the West Side Market Cafe for pancakes and then a visit to the warm and toasty Glasshouse at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.
In the summer, our favorite outing is a picnic at Lakewood Park, followed by ice cream at Malley's in Lakewood. Being surrounded by pink and green colors and the scent of chocolate is heavenly! It takes me back to my childhood.
Your food vice and where you get it?
My biggest vice is coffee. I have a bit of a problem with the stuff. Gypsy Beans and Bakery in the Gordon Square Arts District functions as a remote office for me. My standard drink is a Red-Eye, which is coffee with two shots of espresso. If it's before noon on any given day, I can be found tightly clutching a Red-Eye.
A gallery you frequent?
78th Street Studios is a great place to get lost in and explore its treasures. It is a labyrinth of art galleries, working-artist studios and creative businesses.
Where do you walk your Cairn terriers, Maya and Zeus?
Our regular route is a nice loop from our house to Edgewater Drive to Cliff Drive to take in the view of downtown and Lake Erie. The dogs like parading around the neighborhood because they get a lot of attention for their good looks and personalities.
Favorite restaurants and what you order there?
I love Ty Fun Thai Bistro in Tremont; everything is delicious. A favorite dish is stir-fried eggplant, tofu, basil and chili.
Li Wah on Payne and East 30th is a lot of fun on Sundays for dim sum. It is noisy and hectic and the kids enjoy all the action. Mom enjoys all of those steaming little dumplings that go wheeling by on the carts.
Bar Cento on West 25th is great because it is always open late with a full menu. I like the Olivo pizza and a simple mixed-greens salad with a glass of red wine.
One of the best things about Cleveland is . . .
The people! They are friendly, hard-working, proud and down-to-earth. I am outgoing and enjoy meeting and talking to everyone I meet, which is welcomed and reciprocated here. It is unique. When I engage strangers like that in other cities, people look at me funny.