Our experiences in life shape us as people. My experiences formed my values and outlook, which I believe serve me well as a County Board member, its Chair and advocate for everyone in our community.
My first awareness of politics and being a Democrat was when I was 9 years old since my parents were Kennedy supporters. In 1970, I was a college freshman and met my future husband, Kennan.
Our first dates were during civil rights and Vietnam War protests. While I’m not in these pictures of the demonstrations for justice for Black Panther Bobby Seal and against the Vietnam War, I was there. The early 70s was a tense time. Protesting students had been shot. Many cities had demonstrations with riot police, tear gas, and even soldiers. I learned from those experiences that standing up for political principles can be dangerous even if you’re not looking for trouble.
Two years later, my father deserted our family and I went home for a semester to work. I had 3 younger siblings. My waitress pay put food on the table until my Mom could get back on her feet. I learned that I was lucky to be able to finish college. Not everyone can, even if they start. Also, as anyone who’s waited tables knows, service people work hard.
After college, Kennan and I married and went to teach in the Central African Republic with the Peace Corps. These pictures are from the Lycee in Bambari where we lived for 2 years. It was difficult work but we found it immensely rewarding. We learned more than we taught, and we found out that everyone has the potential to do great things. People who live without running water and electricity can still be smart, learn and enjoy life; but it’s not easy for them. I discovered I could help make a difference.
After Peace Corps, Kennan and I settled in Arlington. We started our family and I became active in the PTA. I saw inequities in our school system; tried to advocate; got frustrated and ran for School Board. I ran on equity in education and called for an audit of our Capital Improvement Program, which clearly had problems. No one wanted me to call for that audit, but I felt I had to. I lost the election, but the audit happened, and found significant mismanagement. The next year, I ran again and won. It was clear to me that you need to be persistent and not give up in order to get things done. You also need to do what you believe is right, even if others disagree.
I saw this clearly again during the Iraq War. I was part of a small group of people from our Quaker Meeting. Once a week we held an hour-long silent vigil at the Capitol holding a banner that said “Seek Peace and Pursue It” (Psalms 34). I got the permits for us and participated pretty much every week, rain or shine, for about 3 years.
At first, many people would yell curses or make rude gestures when they walked by. A few would surreptitiously give us thumbs-up signs. People were afraid to have others see them take a stand. That’s when I realized how important it was that we held that vigil and let people know they were not alone in opposing the war. We gave them an example of standing up for what we believed was right. Over time, fewer and fewer people yelled at us. After several years, no one criticized us and other people would even come and stand with us.
During my 15 years on the School Board, I worked with people across the County and saw how important both equity and wise spending are for government. There were challenges but we made big strides. We cut the achievement gap between groups of students by over half on several measures. You can see some of those measures on the graph from our school budget the last time I chaired the School Board (APS: School Budget, FY2012, p. 54). We built or renovated almost every school; pretty much on time and on budget.
Wakefield High School was our last school to be renovated and bond money was tight. One of my proudest achievements, after cutting the achievement gap, was bringing together the Yorktown and Wakefield PTAs to create enough political pressure to put planning money into our budget for Wakefield. I did not foresee the 2008 recession, but that planning money meant we were ready to build when construction costs plummeted. This allowed us to afford the beautiful and much needed school that is pictured here. Though we still have work to do and crowding is again an issue, Arlington schools now deliver an excellent education in good facilities. I learned that if you keep your focus, over time, you can get a lot done.
During those years, Kennan introduced me to cycling. We got a tandem bike and had almost 6,000 miles of great rides. This picture is from a wonderful ride we had on Mt. Desert Island in Maine. Sadly, Kennan died of a heart attack in 2008, which is the most difficult experience I’ve had in my life. I started a fund in his memory to support Phoenix Bikes, a nonprofit shop where minority and underserved youth can learn to repair bikes and run a business. It transforms young lives. I learned to always try to find positive outcomes and that helping others actually helps you. I learned, again, to never give up.
In 2012, I was elected to the County Board and looked closely into the streetcar project proposed for Columbia Pike. After careful study, I realized this project would be an economic and transportation disaster for the Pike and the County. This picture from Toronto shows just one problem of mixing streetcars and traffic. I had to do everything I could to stop that project, including supporting an Independent candidate for County Board, whose election bid was successful. Today, I’m pleased to work with my Board colleagues to support good Metro, VRE and bus rapid transit projects that serve Arlington and the region.
That brings us to today. I love my job. Serving Arlington means I can help people through good government that values equity. This can be seen in our Affordable Housing Master Plan, our Community Energy Plan, our Public Spaces Master Plan, our Equity Resolution and our Childcare Initiative, and more, all adopted or updated in the past few years.
And, I love that I learn new things every day. I have to. With Amazon’s move to Crystal City, Arlington is entering a new era. We have always managed change and development well, but we now need to change the old paradigm that the most vulnerable in a society are the first to suffer from change and the last to benefit. We will need to focus on equity and innovative approaches to change that paradigm and build an Arlington that is resilient, and where everyone thrives.
Toward this goal of meeting our new challenges with new responses, we will need to work even more closely with businesses and our regional colleagues. We must learn lessons from wherever there are good ideas, and consider solutions like this streetlight in London that provides charging to electric vehicles, or this residential building in Milan with over 900 trees. We are a part of a growing and global region, and we need togather ideas from the world over.
Arlington is up to our challenges and so am I. Life experiences have shaped my values and taught me valuable lessons. For more than 20 years, I’ve built important networks with colleagues across the region to help Arlington County.
In 2020, I offer Arlington citizens my experience, relationships, values, and commitment to continue to make our County a welcoming, inclusive community where everyone can thrive, even in a pandemic.
Experience / Leadership
Member, Arlington County Board 2012 to present; Chair in 2016, Chair Arlington County School Board,1999 to 2001, 2004-2005, Jan-June ’07; Member, Arlington County School Board, 1996 to 2012;Member, Council of Governments National Capitol Region Emergency Preparedness Council 2004 to present; Member, Governor’s Commonwealth Preparedness Transition Policy Committee Dec ’05- Jan ’06; Chair, Capitol Region Subcommittee, Commonwealth Preparedness Transition Policy Committee Jan ’06; Member, Governor’s P-16 Council Dec ’05 to present; Chair, Communications Work group of Governor’s P-16 Council, June ’07; Independent Consultant/Facilitator for career and Myers-Briggs counseling/workshops, 1984-1996; Associate Director, Mount Holyoke College Washington Internship Program, 1979-1984; Legislative Aide, Representative Lee Hamilton (D. Ind.), 1977-1979; Country Desk Assistant, Africa Region, US Peace Corps, 1976-1977; Peace Corps Volunteer (English (TEFL) teacher)and Trainer, Central African Republic, 1973-1975.
Leadership Positions – Leadership Team Member, VSBA Limited English Proficient Caucus, 2003 to present; Vice-Chair, Virginia Consortium for Adequate Resources for Education, 2000 to 2005; Vice-President Fairlington Civic Association, 1994-95; Vice-President County Council of PTAs,1993-1995; Vice-Chair, Advisory Council on Instruction, 1994; Assistant Editor, County Councilor Newsletter, 1994; County Council Representative Parent Involvement Committee, 1994; President, Abingdon PTA, 1990-1992; Career Counselor, Center for Women and Families, Alexandria, 1987-1991;Volunteer Co-coordinator, Abingdon PTA, 1985-1988.
Political – State Advisor, Edwards for President Campaign, ’04; Participant/Permit Obtainer, weekly Silent Vigil for Peace ’02 to 2005, Vice-Chair, LEAD (Local Elected Association of Democrats) ’04; Delegate, National Democratic Convention, 2004; Chair, Get Out The Vote, Arlington Democratic Committee, 1995; Delegate, Virginia State Democratic Convention, 1992 & 2004; District Volunteer Co-Coordinator, Tsongas for President Campaign, 1992.
Writing – 1990 Series of articles on Myers-Briggs and Parenting published in “Welcome Home.”
Education – 1973 Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, Politics with minor in Economics, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA.