Neighborhood Council self-defense class, Lions 4th Annual Bingo Night, Mardi Gras for soldiers


Given the current economic climate, it might not seem like the right time to make a life-changing job switch into a new field with a slew of new responsibilities. But Cedric Sutherland is used to swimming against the stream ñ and he’s doing it again.

Sutherland recently announced that he is leaving CORT ñ a leading provider in rental furniture ñ after more than a decade to become chief operating officer of City National Security Services.

The firm provides a wide range of security and investigative services, including body-guarding, executive protection, loss prevention and alarm systems.

“I enjoyed my time at CORT and learned a great deal working in a company led by Warren Buffett, but City National Security is providing me with an incredible opportunity to grow the business and take it to a whole new level,” said Sutherland, who in his new role, will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the company.

And given the tenacity of the company’s founder and chief executive officer, Chiraz Zouaoui, that might not be such a far-fetched goal.

Born in Tunisia, Zouaoui’s parents died when she was a little girl, and her aunt and uncle raised her. They told her America was the land of opportunity, so the first chance she got, she came to the United States, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from California State University-Dominguez Hills.

In 2001, she started City National Security with just $10,000 in start-up capital.

Operating out of a small Westchester office, Zouaoui said she soon discovered she was one of very few women in the male-dominated security industry. But she persevered. She made cold calls. She walked off the street into the office of potential clients. And before long, Zouaoui had landed a wide range of clients.

Zouaoui, an American citizen, said she has realized the American dream.

“I don’t mind paying taxes,” she said. “This is the only country on earth where you can still realize your dreams, so I’m happy to do my share.”

Zouaoui has tapped Sutherland with achieving that goal.

Sutherland has been a local fixture throughout his time at CORT. He has served as both president of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce and the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Area Boosters Association. Along the way, he has earned a number of awards for his community service, including LAPD Booster of the Year, the chamber’s Helmsman Leadership Award and Lion of the Year.

“I’m not going to stop being involved in the community,” Sutherland said. “I love this area and I will continue to give back to the community.”


The Public Safety Committee of the Neighborhood Council of Westchester-Playa del Rey has arranged for a self-defense class for women.

The class will run for five sessions over five weeks. The first session from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12th is free and is for all women who are interested in learning more about self-defense. The following four sessions, scheduled on the following four Thursdays from 6:45 to 9:15 p.m., are for a small group of six to 12 women. All sessions will be in the Community Room of the Municipal Building at 7166 Manchester Ave. in Westchester.

There is a $125 fee for the hands-on training.

The four-week course will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The instructor, Nelson Nio, has been trained in various martial arts, self-defense and street fighting over the past 28 years. He founded SHIELD Women’s Self-Defense System and has specialized in teaching self-defense and personal safety exclusively for women during the past five years.

From April to September last year, Nelson personally trained more than 600 women in the greater Los Angeles area. During that time, he has received an award from the Santa Monica Police Activities League and was honored by Amanecer Community Counseling for his work with the domestic violence group.


The Venice-Marina Lions Club will hold its Fourth Annual Bingo Night at 6 p.m. Saturday, February 28th at the Westchester Elks Lodge, 8025 W. Manchester Ave., in Playa del Rey.

Sponsored by Playa Vista and L.A. Carpet Warehouse, the event will include ten games of bingo with a $100 prize per game as well as a barbecue dinner of tri-tip and chicken presented by The Outdoor Grill. Tickets are $45 per person and there will also be a silent auction and a variety of door prizes.

Proceeds from the event will go to benefit LAPD Pacific Area DAPS and Explorer programs, Lions Camp for Deaf Children at Teresita Pines/Wrightwood, Lions Seeing Eye Dog Programs, Lions Eye Mobile Screening Unit and other local charities.

For more information, Jann Brauer at (310) 822-0074.


On Saturday, February 28th from 1 to 5 p.m., Uncle Darrow’s Ninth Annual “Mardi Gras West” event will bring together families from throughout the area to celebrate Mardi Gras in a family-fun atmosphere while raising funds to benefit our soldiers overseas and one of Westchester’s former business leaders.

The event will be held at Uncle Darrow’s restaurant at 2560 Lincoln Blvd., on the northeast corner of Lincoln and Washington boulevards.

Guests will enjoy free live music, including Zydeco, jazz and blues, provided by T-Lou and Super Hot Zydeco Band. The day festivities for adults and children will also include crawfish boil, dancing, and raffles throughout the event, along with a silent auction.

Funds raised and on-site donations during the Ninth Annual “Mardi Gras” festival will go to the Soldiers’ Angels in Germany to honor fallen hero Army Captain Matthew Charles Ferrara, who was killed in Afghanistan. Soldiers’ Angels is an organization through which people can send care packages to soldiers overseas. It supports wounded and sick troops undergoing treatment at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, where many wounded U.S. soldiers are sent directly from the front lines with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.

The event, sponsored by City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, H.B. Drollinger, Co., and Re-United America, will also raise funds for Evey Loyo, the former manager of the Westchester IHOP restaurant, who recently lost both of his legs due to diabetes.

For more information, (310) 306-4866.