Colin Mills: Searching for RCA’s 2013 Citizen of the Year

Colin Mills/File photoWhere has this year gone?  I look at the calendar and see that it’s November, and yet it feels like 2013 just got started.  The sands have been flowing through the hourglass faster than usual this year.

One reason for that, I know, is that we’ve been dealing with so many major issues in Reston this year.  The coming of the Silver Line and the associated revision of our Comprehensive Plan has been the biggest one, but looking back, it’s amazing how much we’ve taken on this year: The battle over the Reston National golf course.  The proposed new RCC rec center. The Beta Plan and the future of our County libraries.  The Lake Anne redevelopment. And those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my head.  No wonder 2013 hss seemed to pass in the blink of an eye.

One advantage to the way we’ve been flying through the calendar is that it’s now time for one of my favorite events: RCA’s Citizen of the Year award. We’re now accepting nominations for the 2013 award.

John Lovaas and I revived the Citizen of the Year award in 2008, restoring an RCA tradition that began in 1976, as a truly positive event for RCA and for Reston. And it’s become an entrenched tradition because we enjoy spotlighting the work of dedicated citizen volunteers and civic activists who work tirelessly behind the scenes, and providing them the recognition and appreciation they’ve earned. I love honoring those citizens who are making Reston a better place, regardless of what issue or field they do their work in.

Over the years, we’ve honored Restonians who have served the community in a wide variety of ways. Some of them are big names (like Embry Rucker and Janet Howell).  Many of them, though, aren’t famous for their work, but have done just as much for the community as their better-known colleagues.  Our award winners have worked on a wide range of issues, from the environment (like 2000 winner Claudia Thompson-Deahl) to social justice (2008 winner Hank Blakely) to the arts (2009 winner Sue Pinkman) to transportation and public policy (2010 winner Dave Edwards). Some of our awardees have been active in so many areas that it would be impossible to list them all, like 2011’s winner, Nick Brown.

Last year, we celebrated Cate Fulkerson, a Reston native and longtime Reston Association employee. Cate’s positive personality, can-do attitude and generous spirit have won her admirers both within Reston and outside of it.  That was in evidence at the ceremony, as Congressman Gerry Connolly showed up at the ceremony to present Cate with a commendation, and the national organization Character Counts gave Cate an award for her work in setting up South Lakes High’s annual Ethics Day. Speakers from ARCH president Jerry Volloy to RA president Ken Knueven to outgoing RA CEO Milt Matthews all testified to their appreciation of Cate and her work.

During the ceremony, we highlighted Cate’s many good works on behalf of the community, from Ethics Day to her key role in Reston’s MLK Day celebrations to her work with Leadership Fairfax to train new community leaders.  There’s no question that Cate is a hard-working and community-minded person who makes Reston a better place every day. Needless to say, we were delighted last month when Cate was tabbed as RA’s new CEO.

As you can see from the list of past winners, this year’s awardee has a lot to live up to.  The great thing about Reston, though, is that there’s never a shortage of hard-working, selfless volunteers to pick from, so I know we’ll find a worthy choice.

The nomination process is open to anyone.  So if you know someone who would qualify, please submit a nomination!  The selection criteria are the same as ever, but as a reminder, here they are:

1. The nominee has been a Reston resident for at least 5 years.

2. The nominee’s actions are consistent with the goals of Reston, and of RCA.

3. The nominee’s actions have contributed to the quality of life in Reston.

4. People in need of help have benefited from the nominee’s actions.

5. The nominee’s deeds were done without thought of personal benefit or recognition.

6. The nominee is not currently serving as an elected public official or a member of the Board of a major community organization (RA, RCA, or RCC).

If you know someone who meets these criteria, we would love to hear about him or her. You can download the nomination form right from the RCA website; if you have trouble getting it, contact me and I’ll send you the form directly. Act quickly, though; the deadline for submission is Dec. 15.

This year is going by in a flash. But amid all the hubbub and the issues facing our community, I’m glad that we can take a few moments and honor a Restonian who may not get all the headlines, but is doing good work in the community.  I hope that you can take a few moments of your own to write up a nomination for someone deserving.  Here’s hoping your nominee will be RCA’s 2013 Citizen of the Year!

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