President and CEO of Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce to Leave After Nearly 10 Years

Mark Ingrao, a leader who diversified Reston’s business community and launched new collaborations and programs, plans to leave his position as president and CEO of the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce next month.

He plans to leave a few days before what would have been his 10-year anniversary with the chamber. Ingrao will serve as Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association. His last day is on June 27 — the chamber’s annual awards luncheon and member meeting.

Ingrao joined the chamber in July 2009 as the chamber struggled with nearly $150,000 in debt, declining membership, and the slowdown following the recession.

With Ingrao at the helm, the chamber’s financial position strengthened, membership increased and a new sponsorship strategy helped the organization position itself as a “collaborative organization and community steward,” according to Charlene Wheeless, the chamber’s chairman.

“Mark led the association to historic milestones, including growing the Chamber from the 13th largest in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area to the 7th largest,” Wheeless said.

She listed his accomplishments as the following:

  • Retired $150K in debt within his first year;
  • Reorganized the staff structure more focused on new members and membership benefits; 
  • Positioned the Chamber as a founding member of the Northern Virginia Chamber Partnership, successfully advocating for our members at the Virginia General Assembly; 
  • Led the Chamber’s Taste of Reston festival to being named the “Best Food Festival in Northern Virginia” by Virginia Living Magazine;
  • Launched the B2G Matchmaking and Expo, which has become the largest event of its kind for government contractors outside the Beltway; and
  • Created Northern Virginia Restaurant Week as a collaboration with other chambers in Northern Virginia

Ingrao says he’s been grateful and honored to serve Reston and its business community, which he has watched grow as the Silver Line comes to the the area.

“The development that has occurred in the last 10 years has been remarkable,” Ingrao said. “Reston is a planned community and it has everything that anyone would want: great housing, great work centers, great community. It doesn’t have to be built out and that’s what makes it unique.”

But that growth is not without challenge, Ingrao cautioned. Although he expects the completion of the Silver Line to reduce the number of Metro riders and commuters coming from Loudoun County, he anticipates managing traffic will be a major challenge for the community.

“I think there will be a lot of discussion about what the old Reston was and what the new Reston will be,” he said. “But the opportunities that are here will continue to grow and perpetuate.”

Ingrao’s successor has not yet been named. A search committee is leading the chamber’s recruitment efforts.

He hopes to continue to adopt a collaborative, transparent and inclusive leadership approach in his new position.

“I’ve been lucky to be here for 10 years,” Ingrao told Reston Now. “I’ve really enjoyed the people and the work that we’ve been able to accomplish. It’s been a great ride.”

 File photo

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Drones Added to Arsenal of Fairfax County’s Public Safety Agencies

Fairfax County’s public safety agencies will begin using drones — technically called Unmanned Aircraft Systems — by early September.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday (May 21) to approve the program, which the county says will “provide an enhanced level of operational capability, safety and situational awareness.”

The county plans to purchase between six to eight devices, which cost $3,500 each. Costs are expected to be absorbed in the county’s existing budget.

The equipment will be used by the Office of Emergency Management, Fire and Rescue, Police and Sheriff in order to deliver “high-quality imagery, data and customized geospatial solutions,” according to the county.

The program will also be used to complete search and rescue, pre- and post-disaster damage assessment, crash reconstruction, and fire management.

County officials say the program will not be used to conduct random surveillance, target individuals solely based on individual characteristics or for personal business and other unauthorized uses.

The next three months will be spent setting up the program, certifying pilots and completing training. Drones will begin flying between late August and early September.

All pilots in the program must obtain a remote pilot certificate issued by the Federal Aviation Commission. A steering committee will be set up to oversee the program.

The county will also notify the public through Fairfax Alerts about missions and training flights.

The program was approved following the creation of a working group in May 2017 and a task force last year.

More information about the program is available online.

Photo by Jared Brashier

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Herndon’s Planning Commission OKs Divine Healthtech Institute

The Town of Herndon’s Planning Commission unanimously approved plans to bring a vocational school for entry-level healthcare fields to the Crossroads (1037 Sterling Road) on Monday night.

Divine Healthtech Institute can operate on the property under specific conditions. No classes will be offered before 8 a.m. or after 10 p.m. and class sizes will be restricted to five students.

Commissioners said they worked through conditions on the project in order to alleviate parking concerns and limit traffic to the building, which already has a number of tenants.

“The parking situation at that location was the focus of considerable discussion at our work session and I’m personally satisfied in keeping with the staff conditions,” said Vice Chair George Burke.

The project heads to the town’s council for final approval.

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Pet of the Week: Lucky Lenny

Becky's Pet Care

Meet Lenny, a male Border Collie Labrador Retriever mix available for adoption locally.

Here is what his friends at Safe Haven Puppy Rescue have to say about him:

Lenny may be young but he packs a whole lot of personality in that body!

He’s a lab/border collie mix who you can just tell by his face is going to be one sweet puppy!

This little sweetie is just the right mix of sweetness and playfulness and is looking for that permanent home that has his favorite human to love!

Are you and Lenny a match? If so, let us know and our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, will send you some treats and prizes

Want your pet to be considered for the Reston Pet of the Week?

Email [email protected] with a 2-3 paragraph bio and at least 3-4 horizontally-oriented photos of your pet. Each week’s winner receives a sample of dog or cat treats from our sponsor, Becky’s Pet Care, along with $100 in Becky’s Bucks.

Becky’s Pet Care, the winner of three Angie’s List Super Service Awards and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters’ 2013 Business of the Year, provides professional dog walking and pet sitting services in Reston and Northern Virginia.

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Report: Facelift Planned for RTC’s Common Areas

Boston Properties plans to upgrade Reston Town Center’s common areas in an effort to modernize the 30-year-old, mixed-use center, according to a report.

Over the next 18 months, the company plans to spend up to $5 million to upgrade some of the areas, the Washington Business Journal reported today (Wednesday).

The project is still in the design phase.

Here’s more from the report:

The improvements will include the installation of artificial green turf on the area where the ice skating rink is set up in the winter. There’s the possibility for some kind of outdoor beer or wine garden setup there, said Lisa Stoddard of CBRE, who represents the property in lease deals. 

The project will aim to soften existing public spaces, and make them more modern and contemporary, so that people are more inclined to hang out. The plan includes creating more programs and events to engage people, so that there is always “interactive things going on on the green,” Stoddard added.

Stoddard also told the Washington Business Journal that more restaurants aren’t expected to fill several vacancies in the town center. North Italia and True Food Kitchen are slated to open later this year in former restaurant space.

The report states the company is seeking more entertainment use, clothing, and “on-trend brands.”

File photo

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Hunter Mill District Supervisor Election: Meet Laurie Dodd

Five Democrats are running for the seat of Hunter Mill District Supervisor after Cathy Hudgins, the current supervisor, announced plans to retire earlier this year. This week, Reston Now will publish candidate statements for each of the candidates.

Statements, which are in question-and-answer format, are published in the order in which they are received. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had the opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words. 

What inspired you to run for this seat? 

As a 23-year resident who has raised 2 children through our public schools, I know that Reston is a unique, inclusive community which has so much to offer. But Reston is at risk from poorly managed development that has threatened to take our open spaces and harm our quality of life. For years, I have been active with community groups who want to protect our planned community. That concern merged with my passion for the environment, and I decided that nothing I could do would have a greater impact than helping manage development in Fairfax County. As supervisor, I will foster smart growth and transit-oriented development while protecting our green spaces. And I will take action to reduce our carbon footprint and fight climate change.

My work as a child advocate attorney also inspired my candidacy. In that role, I have helped ensure that our most vulnerable children get the quality education they need in our public schools, along with mental health care. Both of these vital services provided through our county must be supported and improved.

What are the three biggest concerns you have for Reston? What do you plan to do address them? 

My top concern is uncontrolled development. We see this problem in the continuing battle to protect our open spaces (including two 18-hole golf courses) and the fight to avoid raising the density cap in our planned community. As supervisor, I would not approve more residential development without asking whether we have the schools, roads, parks, and public safety to serve them. We need transit-oriented development and expansion of affordable housing opportunities.  I will not give up one more inch of the district to unplanned growth.

Fairfax County should take the lead in addressing environmental issues through a public/private partnership, engaging the best minds of our region to find innovative solutions. We must move forward with a community-wide energy and climate action plan. Replacing our streetlights with efficient LED lighting is a good start that must be followed by bold action, including a focus on improving our transit system. Transit options must be expanded and buses upgraded to appeal to riders, reducing our reliance on cars.

Education is my third concern. We must fund universal pre-K. Teachers and other staff need pay raises, while class sizes are reduced. We must establish equity throughout the county by improving our lower-performing schools. When our county has more than 800 trailer classrooms, saying that our school system is “fully funded” rings hollow. We must accelerate our capital investment to eliminate trailer classrooms rapidly. I will work with the school board to ensure that we provide a world-class education to our children and future leaders.

How can the county improve how it manages growth and development in this growing community, especially as it relates to infrastructure needs, transportation, and affordable housing? 

Fairfax County residents thrive when growth is managed. The Reston area continues to benefit from the vison of Robert Simon, who believed that high-density housing combined with open space for recreational activities could create a lively and varied community. This philosophy merges easily with today’s transit-oriented development, which emphasizes compact walkable design focused on transit centers and allows decreasing dependence on cars. With expansion of the Silver Line, transit-oriented development should move forward in Fairfax County, while open spaces like golf courses and parks are protected. Bus service should be upgraded to be more convenient and appealing, allowing easy mobility from transit centers to retail and residential sites. Because elected officials should be able to make decisions about development without any possible conflict of interest, I have chosen not to accept any campaign funds from developers.

Affordable housing is a growing need in our area. The county should devote an additional penny on the real estate tax rate to create housing where our teachers, service workers, and young families can afford to live. As Supervisor, I will focus on protecting and increasing affordable housing in all parts of the county — not only in dense areas but also allowing duplex or triplex homes in lower density areas of the county. Affordable housing could be put into underused office buildings, if amenities like shopping and schools are nearby, or co-located in county projects that serve other purposes, like the Residences at the Government Center. Creative solutions must be explored.

What do you hope to accomplish in this position? 

Fairfax County should continue to be one of the best places to live in this country, with diverse neighborhoods, quality schools, and housing options for all. We should become leaders environmentally, bringing together the best minds of our high-tech region to solve energy issues and driving to zero carbon emissions by 2050. Our community-wide climate and energy action plan can become a model for others to emulate. Our transit system should evolve to decrease the amount of time and energy we spend getting from here to there. And all residents should share in a high quality of life that is sustaining and sustainable, with the equity and justice we all deserve. I believe I can lead Hunter Mill District towards this goal.

I am the only candidate in this race who has the breadth of experience in our district, who does not take a dime from corporations or developers — no matter where they have projects, who has advocacy skills to speak up for our residents, and who is beholden to no one but the citizens of Hunter Mill District. This is the leadership we need, now and for the future of Hunter Mill. I hope you agree.

Photo via Laurie Dodd

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Car Stolen from Garage in Home — Someone entered a garage on the 2700 block of Mansway Drive yesterday (May 21), took car keys and stole a 2017 Nissan Murano. The incident happened at around 7:15 a.m. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Reston-based Parabon Tracks Germantown Man Accused of Raping Elderly Women — DNA evidence submitted to the lab helped police track Marlon Alexander, who was sentenced to life in prison, on Tuesday. Alexander was linked to a series of unsolved rapes dating back over 10 years. [Fox 5]

A Recap of the 28th Annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival — Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE) held its acclaimed free-to-the-public, 28th annual Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival last weekend. The event featured more than 200 juried artists and offered “high-quality hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind artwork in the dynamic outdoor setting” at Reston Town Center according to GRACE. The Festival once again attracted an estimated crowd of 30,000. [The Connection]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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