The woman who oversaw ArtsFairfax’s transformation from an events programmer into the top advocate for Fairfax County’s arts and culture community will soon step down as leader of the nonprofit.
Linda Sullivan announced her plan to retire after 14 years as president and CEO on Oct. 26 at the 2023 ArtsFairfax Awards, an annual celebration and fundraiser that she established to honor notable local artists, arts and cultural organizations and their supporters.
At the awards ceremony, which was held at Capital One Hall in Tysons and raised $175,000, Sullivan said she was “very proud” of her tenure leading the county’s official arts agency.
“It has been a privilege to work with all the elected officials, community leaders, board members, and staff members as we met our strategic goals and grew both the organization and the strength of its services,” Sullivan said. “Serving and supporting the arts in Fairfax County has been a labor of love and joy.”
When Sullivan first joined as a consultant in 2009, ArtsFairfax was still named the Arts Council of Fairfax County and most known for producing the annual International Children’s Festival hosted by Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts from 1971 to 2011, according to the organization.
Even as the county government made deep budget cuts in the wake of the 2008 recession that included eliminating the children’s festival, ArtsFairfax sought to pivot and expand its mission from programming events to actively working with the county and providing support services to local artists and arts organizations.
John Mason, a former Fairfax City mayor who chaired the arts council’s board of directors at the time, says hiring Sullivan in 2010 to lead the organization through that transition as its president and CEO is “the best thing that I did as chairman.”
“Her term led to a more dynamic, engaged board and staff,” Mason said. “Commendable initiatives included engaging Fairfax County and contributing to its Comprehensive Plan with a strong arts program and, importantly, a comprehensive arts facilities plan for the next decade or so. Additionally, she initiated the challenge of engaging arts organizations and helping to ‘market’ them.”
An arts management consultant with prior experience leading museums and art centers, Sullivan told FFXnow in an interview that she remains proud of the council’s rebranding as ArtsFairfax. Since then, the nonprofit raised its profile and doubled both its budget and the amount of grants it offers to arts organizations.
Recipients of the most recent round of operating support grants, for instance, ranged from theater companies and dance troupes to orchestras and George Mason University’s Fall for the Book Festival. Read More
A senior at Langley High School, a county planner who helped craft an environmental plan for Reston, and a local business dedicated to reducing waste are among the recipients of this year’s Fairfax County Environmental Excellence Awards.
Handed out annually since 2000, the awards recognize residents, county staff, businesses and other organizations “who demonstrate extraordinary leadership within the community and exceptional dedication to the preservation and enhancement of the county’s natural resources,” according to the Office of Environmental and Energy Coordination.
Announced at the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday (Sept. 12), the winners were selected by the Environmental Quality Advisory Council, an advisory group appointed by the board. The council administers the awards with OEEC’s support.
“By giving their time, passion and expertise for the betterment of our environment, these awardees are true climate champions,” said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Dan Storck, who chairs the board’s Environmental Committee. “We applaud them for leading by example and helping to ensure that our county residents and visitors can enjoy a healthy and beautiful Fairfax County for decades to come.”
The lone winner in the individual county resident category was Mei Torrey, a rising senior at Langley High School who “promotes and actively seeks opportunities to increase awareness of, and take action on, local sustainability issues,” the OEEC says.
Now president of her school’s Saxons Go Green environmental club, Torrey has organized fundraisers and worked with the nonprofit Clean Fairfax to design and distribute reusable bags to local retailers and low-income communities, according to the county.
The 2023 award lineup features three winners in the “county employee” category:
Hugh Whitehead, an Urban Forester with the Urban Forest Management Division. In 2016, Mr. Whitehead initiated a tree planting program in partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools. Since 2016, a total of 494 trees have been planted at twenty-one different K through 12 schools including seven Title 1 schools. This program not only supports the Board’s Sustainability Initiatives, reforestation goals, and recommendations from the Joint Environmental Task Force, but furthers educational opportunities throughout the county.
Joe Gorney, a Planner with the Department of Planning and Development, Environment and Development Review Branch. Mr. Gorney works collaboratively with other county agencies on a diverse range of environmental review topics, working to create a sustainable future for residents and employees. He was the staff lead for the Environmental Plan guidance update for the Reston planning study, designating Reston as “biophilic” community.
Craig Carinci, Director of Department of Public Works and Environmental Services, Stormwater Planning Division. Mr. Carinci provides excellence in leadership through monitoring and improving stream health. During his tenure as Director, Fairfax County has restored over 100,000 linear feet of streams, facilitated by his open-minded leadership and business acumen that fearlessly encourages his team to push forward on initiatives and collaborate with partners to achieve cost savings.
The Environmental Excellence Awards for organizations and businesses went to Trace the Zero Waste Store, which can be found at 140 Church Street NW in Vienna, and the grounds committee of the Montebello Condominium Unit Owners Association. Read More
Chesterbrook Residences has a certified living legend residing in its halls.
Major Winifred Evans, a resident of the McLean assisted living community since 2018, was honored last Thursday (Aug. 17) with a “Living Legend” proclamation from the Military Women’s Memorial in Arlington.
At 105 years old, Evans devoted her life to public service as a nurse in the U.S. Air Force, the Peace Corps and her local community, Chesterbrook Residences said in an announcement of the award.
“Acknowledging her sweet demeanor and friendly interactions would only be scratching the surface, as Winifred Evans is one of the most accomplished women we’ve ever had the privilege of caring for,” Chesterbrook Residences Executive Director Bremda Riggs said. “She is the epitome of a true living legend, and we are proud to call her not only our resident but also our friend.”
Born in 1917 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Evans is the great-granddaughter of Horace Bennett, a sergeant who served in the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry during the Civil War.
Her interest in nursing was fueled by a desire “to make a positive impact on the world” after her younger sister, Betty, died from an illness, her niece Patricia Garrett told the Falls Church News-Press earlier this month.
Here’s more on Evans’s career from Chesterbrook Residences:
After receiving a B.S. in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s from Catholic University, Ms. Evans traveled to Oslo, Norway, and received a graduate certificate.
In 1955, Ms. Evans joined the U.S. Air Force, where she became Chief Nurse and eventually retired as a Major. After joining the Peace Corp in 1962, she traveled to Togo, West Africa and set up immunization centers vaccinating thousands of children. She continued to serve as a nurse in Thailand, Latin America, and the United States. She has traveled extensively, visiting every continent except for Australia and Antarctica.
Following her retirement from nursing, Ms. Evans continued to serve others and her community in roles at the Red Cross and Georgetown University, and as a clinical nurse in local homeless shelters. She is also supported the building of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial located in Arlington.
Opened in 1997, the Military Women’s Memorial has documented the stories of more than 300,000 female service members, though the memorial estimates that accounts for less than 10% of all the women who have served in the U.S. military since the American Revolution.
The Living Legend program recognizes female veterans who have reached the age of 100.
Evans credits her mother as the person who inspired her to attend college and pursue her dreams.
“I’ve learned that every challenge I had was experience for me and lesson for others,” Evans said in an emailed statement to FFXnow. “This award isn’t just mine; I believe it belongs to all those who supported me. I’ve been blessed my entire life!”
More than two dozen local businesses were honored last month for their commitment to “green commuting.”
Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn honored the 29 businesses for taking part in this year’s Bike to Work Day employer challenge, which rewarded companies that encouraged their employees to commute via bicycle.
Alcorn said the new Silver Line stations from Reston to Ashburn mean more employees than ever have the option for cycling to and from a bus or train stop.
“Employers who encourage a healthy and green commute, and employees who enjoy our scenic trails on the way to work all contribute to Fairfax County’s sustainability efforts and quality of life,” Alcorn said.
The challenge by the Dulles Area Transport Association (DATA) recognizes local medium and large companies with five or more employees for participating in Bike to Work Day. DATA is a nonprofit public-private partnership between businesses, government, and the community in the greater Dulles area.
The July 28 ceremony also recognized participating small businesses with two or more employees.
A list of this year’s participants is below.
Fairfax County residents don’t have to cross the Potomac to taste some of the best cuisine that the D.C. area has to offer, as decreed by the 2023 RAMMY awards.
Announced at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in D.C. on Sunday (July 9), the annual honors from the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) feted four restaurants with ties to the Fairfax area — including three in Merrifield’s Mosaic District.
Kirby Club owner Rose Previte was named Restaurateur of the Year by the association, which represents and advocates for the region’s food service industry.
Previte launched Kirby Club (2911 District Avenue) with co-founders Mike Schuster and Mayu Horie last December. Since then, the Mediterreanean restaurant has drawn praise for its atmosphere and flexible portions, landing a spot among the top newcomers in the Washington Post’s spring dining guide.
In addition to Kirby Club, Previte is a co-owner of D.C.’s Maydān, which also focuses on Mediterranean cuisine, and Compass Rose, which serves food from around the world. All three restaurants are part of No White Plates, a collective she co-founded that aims to showcase the culture and stories behind each meal.
“I’m still in shock about this incredible win,” Previte said. “It’s been nearly 10 years since I was working around the clock to open Compass Rose and as anyone in hospitality can tell you it takes a village to run a restaurant, let alone three. Opening Kirby Club was a new level of learning and every day I am grateful for the team that makes every day possible.”
This year’s RAMMY winners also include the fast-casual Indian chain RASA, which was chosen as the region’s Favorite Fast Bite in one of five categories determined by a public vote.
Started by two friends in D.C. who wanted to introduce the area to the diversity of flavors in Indian cuisine, Rasa opened its first Fairfax County location at the Mosaic District (2905 District Avenue, Suite 160) on July 30, 2022. Its menu includes salads and rice and noodle bowls, with chef-created and build-your-own options.
“We are absolutely humbled and thrilled to win the Favorite Fast Bites RAMMY this year,” Rasa co-founder Rahul Vinod said. “Our team works tirelessly day-in and day-out so it is amazing for them to be recognized by the community. We are excited to continue sharing our food and culture with more people!
In addition to the main awards, the RAMMYs bestowed honorary awards on several area restaurants that reached notable milestones, including Artie’s — which has been in Fairfax City for 45 years now — and Four Sisters.
For the latter, the recognition of its 30th anniversary was no doubt bittersweet. Started at Falls Church’s Eden Center in 1993, the family-run Vietnamese restaurant relocated to Merrifield in 2008, but it closed up shop at the Mosaic District in May.
Determined by the public or a panel of anonymous judges, depending on the specific category, the RAMMY awards are intended to celebrate the accomplishments of the D.C. area’s food service industry. Last year, the only winner with local ties was Annandale’s A&J Restaurant, which won the Best Brunch category.
Fifteen years after it emerged from the shell of the former Lorton prison, the Workhouse Arts Center will take the spotlight at Capital One Hall in Tysons as the top honoree of the 2023 ArtsFairfax Awards.
The center will receive the Jinx Hazel Award at the annual ceremony and fundraising event on Oct. 26, ArtsFairfax, the county’s official arts agency, announced earlier this month.
“The 2023 ArtsFairfax Awards honorees all demonstrate how the arts revitalize communities, improve our wellbeing, and spark creativity in unexpected places,” ArtsFairfax President and CEO Linda Sullivan said. “We’re thrilled to celebrate each of these awardees for enriching the lives of Fairfax County residents.”
Given to Capital One Hall last year, the Jinx Hazel Award recognizes “an individual or organization whose vision and commitment has helped shape the cultural life of Fairfax County,” ArtsFairfax says.
Opened to the public in September 2008, the Workhouse Arts Center is the only multi-disciplinary arts facility in the area of southern Fairfax County recently rebranded as Potomac Banks, according to ArtsFairfax.
The 55-acre campus hosts art studios, galleries, performing arts space, classrooms and the Lucy Burns Museum, drawing about 100,000 patrons annually with exhibits and special events like Fourth of July fireworks or the upcoming BrewWorks Festival.
The center is still being built out, with a new location for Bunnyman Brewing expected to open in a recently refurbished building this year. Future developments could include an amphitheater, more events and educational venues and even housing, depending on the master plan that the county is currently finalizing.
Reinsch is this year’s recipient of the ArtsFairfax Philanthropy Award, which goes to a person, corporation or foundation “that has provided leadership funding or long-term monetary support to the arts.”
As president, owner, and CEO of the Reinsch Companies, a residential and golf course developer, Reinsch has been a regular donor for numerous local arts nonprofits, including the McLean Project for the Arts (MPA), the Virginia Chamber Orchestra, 1st Stage theater in Tysons and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts.
Her contributions to MPA include a matching gift to support a future art and education center at Clemyjontri Park, according to ArtsFairfax.
Meanwhile, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute will be recognized with an Education Award for providing arts education classes, clubs and events to older residents of Northern Virginia.
The ArtsFairfax Impact Award will go to the Inova Schar Cancer Institute for its Arts and Healing program, which supports a permanent art collection, ongoing exhibitions, performing arts events and 20 artists-in-residence to help patients and their families going through treatment or recovery.
Tickets and sponsorships for the awards ceremony are now for sale. Reston Community Center is the visionary sponsor for the awards, which typically attract over 300 guests, according to ArtsFairfax.
“The arts are the heartbeat of all truly great communities, and we can’t envision any world in which the arts aren’t central to what makes us human,” RCC Board Chair Beverly Cosham said. “The arts play a central role in Reston’s neighborhoods and Fairfax County has embraced their vital importance to building vibrant places to live and learn. ArtsFairfax is the catalyst for these successful efforts.”
One of Vienna’s police officers recently got some kudos for giving the department a major staffing boost at a time when law enforcement is struggling with recruitment regionally and nationally.
Sgt. James Sheeran was named the Vienna Police Department’s “Employee of the Year” by the Rotary Club of Vienna, which presented its 2023 Rotarian M. Jane Seeman “Service Above Self” award to the sergeant at a banquet on April 19.
Bestowed annually to an officer who displays “motivation, commitment, and service to the community,” the award went to Sheeran this year after he hired 10 officers in two years — the equivalent of nearly a quarter of the VPD’s 41 sworn officer positions.
The department also employs 11 civilian staff members.
“Sgt. Sheeran’s hiring accomplishment is a feat that has not been achieved in the recent history of our police department,” the police department said in a press release on Friday (May 5).
According to the release, Sheeran was “managed to screen hundreds of applicants” during his two years working in the Criminal Investigations Section:
Sgt. Sheeran was assigned to the Vienna Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Section (CIS) for approximately 24 months. His duties included internal investigations, personnel hiring and investigator supervision. Sgt. Sheeran is described by his section commander as an exemplary employee. Always willing to lend a hand and never turns down a new assignment. Sgt. Sheeran approaches all his duties with enthusiasm, dedication, and professionalism.
The VPD now has just one vacancy, even though it has encountered the same hurdles with recruitment as other police departments, possibly “even more because we are a smaller police department,” Public Information Officer Juan Vasquez told FFXnow.
“Recruiting and hiring new officers is an extremely difficult and challenging task,” the department said. “The Vienna Police Department is located in the heart of a very large metropolitan area with numerous agencies actively and aggressively competing for law enforcement officers.”
Police departments actually reported an uptick in hiring during 2022 compared to 2019-2021, but those gains have been offset by increased retirements and resignations, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) found in a survey released April 1.
Among the agencies competing with Vienna is the Fairfax County Police Department, which has been in a “personnel emergency” since last summer. The FCPD welcomed 56 recruits to its academy last month — its largest class in over a decade — but as of early April, there were 206 vacant positions.
In a push to improve recruitment and retention, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is set to adopt a budget tomorrow (Tuesday) that will boost pay for police officers by an average of 12.8%.
The Town of Vienna’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, gives an additional $400,960 to the police. Though there aren’t any significant changes to compensation, anticipated initiatives include enhanced “recruiting efforts using social media.”
The town council will adopt the budget on May 15.
A pair of Vienna police officers won an award last week for helping turn the tables on a shooting suspect back in October 2021.
During a March 30 ceremony at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, officers Emily Lichtenberg and Alex Murray received a Silver Medal of Valor at the 45th annual Fairfax County Valor Awards, which recognize achievements by local first responders.
According to the Town of Vienna Police Department, Lichtenberg and Murray earned the medal for responding to a shooting outside the Navy Federal Credit Union at 820 Follin Lane on the morning of Oct. 7, 2021.
“Upon arrival, they determined that two individuals got into an argument while inside a vehicle, during which one produced a handgun and shot the other in the upper body,” the department said in a news release.
Assisted by a helicopter and K-9 units form the Fairfax County Police Department, the two officers began to search for the suspect, the VPD recounted.
During the search of the surrounding area, “Fairfax One” (helicopter) located a heat source that appeared to be a person hiding in the bushes near the W&OD trail. Almost simultaneously, the K-9 unit alerted on the same area. Coming from the direction of the heat source, officers heard the sound of a handgun being manipulated and the distinct sound of the slide of a gun being racked and slamming into battery. At that time, officers suspected that they had been spotted and the suspect was moving into a position to ambush them.
After taking cover and coordinating a plan, officers moved in and surprised the suspect causing him to lose balance and fall down a hill adjacent to the W&OD trail. During the fall, the suspect lost control of his handgun and was taken into custody. At the time of his arrest, the suspect was found to be in possession of a fully loaded Glock handgun.
Another Vienna police officer, Greg Hylinski, was recognized at last week’s ceremony with a Lifesaving Award for providing emergency medical aid, including CPR, to a Navy Federal Credit Union employee who had collapsed.
“As treatment continued, MPO Hylinski began coordinating the on-scene response, which included determining the patient’s identity and notifying the next of kin,” Vienna police said. “MPO Hylinski maintained a composed and professional bearing as he began the preliminary investigation. MPO Hylinski’s performance in this stressful situation was exemplary.”
A total of 193 individuals were honored by this year’s Valor Awards, according to The Connection. The highest honor — the Gold Medal of Valor — went to FCPD officers Lance Guckenberger and Matthew Grubb, who responded to a shooting and hostage situation in Pimmit Hills on Dec. 17, 2021.
A Vietnam War veteran who now lives in Fairfax County was awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House today (Friday) — a recognition that supporters believe is nearly six decades overdue.
Retired Army Col. Paris Davis learned last month that he would receive the U.S. military’s highest honor for his actions in a battle against North Vietnamese forces on June 17-18, 1965, when he led an assault and saved multiple fellow soldiers despite being wounded.
The call from President Joe Biden on Feb. 13 “prompted a wave of memories of the men and women I served with in Vietnam,” Davis said in a statement.
“I am so very grateful for my family and friends within the military and elsewhere who kept alive the story of A-team, A-321 at Camp Bong Son,” he said. “I think often of those fateful 19 hours on June 18, 1965 and what our team did to make sure we left no man behind on that battlefield.”
Recounting Davis’s heroic acts, the U.S. Army says his tactical leadership of American Special Forces and an inexperienced South Vietnamese company allowed them to surprise a large North Vietnamese force near Bong Son.
At the time, Davis was a detachment commander in the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 1st Special Forces — one of the first Black officers to lead a Special Forces team in combat.
In Bình Định province, Davis and his men were tasked with training a force of local volunteers. On June 18, 1965, he commanded a team of inexperienced South Vietnamese, along with Special Forces Soldiers, against a superior enemy force.
Over the course of two days, Davis selflessly led a charge to neutralize enemy emplacements, called for precision artillery fire, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the enemy, and prevented the capture of three American soldiers (Robert Brown, John Reinberg, and Billy Waugh) while saving their lives with a medical extraction.
Davis sustained multiple gunshot and grenade fragment wounds during the 19-hour battle and refused to leave the battlefield until his men were safely removed.
For that battle and other actions during his two tours in Vietnam, including one incident where he rescued a soldier stuck in an overturned, burning fuel truck, Davis has also received the Silver Star, the Soldier’s Medal for heroism, a Purple Heart and other military honors.
The Medal of Honor, however, took longer to arrive. Though Davis’s commanding officer nominated him for the award immediately after the battle of Bong Son, the paperwork allegedly got lost not once, but twice.
Seven restaurants in Fairfax County are part of this year’s Washingtonian’s 100 Very Best Restaurants list.
The restaurants that earned a coveted spot include:
- A&J Restaurant in Annandale
- Aracosia in McLean
- Elephant Jumps in Falls Church
- Honest Grill in Centreville
- L’Auberge Chez Francois in Great Falls
- Mama Chang in Fairfax
- Marib in Springfield
The highly anticipated list was published by the regional magazine for the first time since 2020. That year, nine local restaurants made the list, including several that reappeared this year: A&J, Elephant Jumps, Mama Chang, and Marib.
A&J Restaurant at 4316 Markham Street is no stranger to these types of accolades. The two-decade-old Annandale dim sum eatery was on the 2020 and 2019 lists as well, and last summer, it won a RAMMY for its brunch.
“We are excited to be included in the 100 Best again. Since we opened in the mid-90s, the Best Bargains issue featured us every year. 2019 marked the first time we were included in the 100 Best,” a restaurant spokesperson told FFXnow via email. “There are many outstanding restaurants in Fairfax County. It is great to see The Washingtonian highlight some hidden gems in the suburbs.”
Korean barbeque restaurant Honest Grill opened in 2021 in the Centreville Square Shopping Center and immediately got the attention of the magazine’s critics.
Restaurant manager Kevin Yoo told FFXnow that Honest Grill’s inclusion is “a testament to the hard work and dedication of the staff, and a reflection of the restaurant’s popularity among Washington DC foodies.”
Yoo also noted that the county has a “thriving food scene” that’s attracting a “growing local community of culinary innovators,” as evidenced by the restaurants that made this year’s list.
Aracosia, which opened about three years ago in McLean, serves Afghan cuisine and is owned by a Kabul native. Elephant Jumps on Arlington Blvd near Merrifield is regarded as one of the best Thai restaurants in the region.
The famed French establishment L’Auberge Chez Francois has been in Great Falls for close to 50 years. Springfield’s Marib is perhaps the centerpiece of a booming Yemeni food scene in Northern Virginia, while Mama Chang is one of several very popular area restaurants by former Chinese embassy chef Peter Chang.
Elsewhere, Arlington County placed four restaurants on the 2023 list. Plus, the magazine included a number of restaurants in Alexandria and Falls Church City included as well.