RCA is in the process of counting and verifying the results from our recent election. When the Board sits down to meet next Monday, someone else will be sworn in as president, and my three years in charge will officially come to an end.
Now that I’ve reached the end of the road with RCA, I have mixed emotions. On some level, I’m sorry to be stepping down; it’s still a very exciting time in Reston, between the Silver Line’s (finally scheduled) opening, the further revisions to the Master Plan, the question of how we’ll meet our community’s transportation, recreational, and environmental needs as we redevelop and grow in the future. I feel that RCA will have a key role to play in those community conversations, and I’m sorry I won’t be there to guide the organization on those issues.
On the other hand, I also feel more than a little relieved. The schedule of meetings, emails, and other ancillary duties is tough on someone with a family. I’m really excited about getting to spend more time with my wonderful wife Jennifer and my amazing daughter, Leslie. And I also look forward to having the chance to tackle something new. I’m the kind of guy who likes to look ahead to the next challenge, the next hill to climb, and now I’ll have a chance to do just that.
I’m proud of all that RCA has accomplished in the last 3 years under my leadership. When I took over as president, I wanted RCA to have a much stronger voice on Reston’s political and social issues. We succeeded. In the last three years, RCA has informed and advocated for our citizens on a wide variety of issues, from the funding of the Silver Line to the rewriting of our Master Plan to the funding and administration of County libraries to the re-planning of Baron Cameron Park. Our Reston 2020 Committee has become a widely-recognized authority on planning, development, and transportation issues. We held forums, wrote articles, performed analysis, and spoke up in hearings on behalf of Restonians.
Our actions and advocacy could be controversial sometimes, but you know what? I’m okay with that. As a community, we’re better off if we’re openly discussing and debating the issues that will shape our future. We may not always agree, but we’re much better off hashing these things out rather than having our leaders make decisions with no input from an apathetic public. Reston has long been famous for its active and engaged citizens. I’m glad RCA has helped perpetuate that tradition, even if it gets a little messy at times.
I’m also proud that RCA has strengthened its ties with other community organizations. Collaborating with RA and ARCH has helped RCA achieve its goals, but more importantly, it’s helped us all better serve our constituents. One of my proudest accomplishments with RCA is the joint forum we held about the Master Plan and Reston’s future. It was the best-attended community meeting I have ever seen, and we did a great job bringing our citizens up to speed and helping them understand how the changes to the Master Plan will affect us as a community. It was a fine example of what we can achieve by working together.
I’m also proud to have made the public aware of the fine work our citizen volunteers are doing, both by better publicizing the work of our Reston Accessibility Committee and through our annual Citizen of the Year Award. In this case, I can take no credit for the work; that’s being done by the volunteers themselves. But I have been very happy to celebrate and recognize the excellent work that they do on behalf of the community. If I have helped make Restonians aware of RAC’s tireless efforts to make Reston’s buildings and facilities more accessible for people with disabilities, or of the volunteer efforts of super citizens like Nick Brown, Cate Fulkerson, and Kathy Kaplan, that fills me with pleasure. It’s inspiring to volunteer in the community alongside people like them.
I’m also proud that I’m leaving RCA in excellent shape. When the Board sits down on Monday, we’ll have a diverse group of hard-working and dedicated Restonians with different strengths, all of whom are committed to building RCA and helping Reston move forward. The Board has several people who have the strength, capability, and vision to serve as President, and I’m sure the Board will choose one of them to lead the organization. I’m really looking forward to seeing what RCA will accomplish under its next leader.
As for me, I promise that I will stay involved in the community. Reston is in my blood; I love this place, and I am driven to keep serving. I haven’t decided where my next challenge lies, but you haven’t heard the last of me (decide for yourself if that’s a promise or a threat). I’ll be around and involved.
I’ll close out my farewell message with a lyric from one of my favorite artists, Warren Zevon:
We’ll go walkin’ hand in hand
Laughin’ fit to beat the band
With our backs turned, looking down the path
Some may have, and some may not
God, I’m thankful for what I got
With my back turned, looking down the path
I don’t know what paths I’ll be heading down in the years ahead. But it’s summertime, and right now, walking hand-in-hand with my family and watching the fireflies along Reston’s paths sounds like just the ticket. I’m thankful for my family, and I’m thankful to have had the privilege of serving Reston these last three years as RCA President. Also, I’m thankful to everyone who reads this column. If you see me out on the path, be sure to say hi.
Good news, Leslie: Dad’s coming home on time tonight.
Colin Mills is the president of the Reston Citizens Association