2021 Reston Association Board Election: Meet Sarah Selvaraj-Dsouza

Voting in the 2021 Reston Association Board of Directors election will run from March 1 through April 2. This week, we will begin posting profiles on each of the candidates. The complete election schedule is available online.

Featured here is Sarah Selvaraj-Dsouza who is running against three other people for one of two at-large seats. The profiles are in a Q-and-A format. With the exception of minor formatting edits, profiles are published in unedited form. Each candidate had an opportunity to answer the same questions in their own words.

How long have you lived in Reston? What brought you here?

I have been fortunate to call Reston my home for the past 13 years. What brought me here was fate, but what has kept me here is a love and appreciation for Reston and its many wonderful offerings, the nature, the amenities, the attractions, and most of all the people who make our community so vibrant and unique.

When I came to Reston, I brought with me a business degree, ideas, and dreams. In 2013, I launched a small business in Northern Virginia. The Reston community helped me realize this dream. Ceramic classes and studio offerings at the Reston Community Center were an intricate part of my growth. I spent countless hours with the amazing instructors there, playing with clay. And as a mom, I have thoroughly enjoyed all that Reston has to offer from museums, art galleries, trails, parks, lakes, even a zoo, kids classes, ice-skating, pools, tennis courts, shopping, and so much more.

Each of our stories on what brought us to Reston and what keeps us here is unique and what makes this area an amazing place to live work and play. I want to hear about your story. Visit me on SARAH4RESTON.com so we can get to know each other and chat, I would love to talk, text, email or simply good ol’fashioned meet for coffee.

What inspired you to run for the board? (Note: If you are currently on the board or have held a previous position on the board, emphasize why you are running again). 

This year on the board, I championed several initiatives including:

  • resisting substantial increases to our dues,
  • offering pool pass discounts and refunds to members whose enjoyment of our facilities had been impacted by COVID
  • encouraging RA to take a very public stance in support of our golf courses
  • insisting on greater transparency from the association, board, and staff
  • improving cluster communications
  • advocating for an IT committee to help RA staff with strategy and oversight to protect members’ data and address several technology concerns that have plagued us over the years.

But Reston we’ve got a lot more work to do.

I am committed to ensuring RA’s primary focus is our membership – YOU.

Please vote for me to represent you for a full 3-year term so together we can see Reston flourish. Please visit me at Sarah4Reston.com for more info.

What are three of the biggest concerns you have for Reston?

  • Affordability – From affordable housing to affordable RA assessments, affordability is KEY to all of us. We need to ensure our assessments are affordable. Being a mom and a small business owner I know every dollar spent towards an assessment is a dollar not spent on my family or my business.

  • Density and Redevelopment – RA must be an advocate for Restonians on Land Use issues. We need a strong board that can effectively represent us to the county on plans that conflict with our members’ best interests. New development must be part of RA. Many of these developments tout RA’s wonderful offerings like our amenities, lakes, and trails to entice new owners but are not members of RA and do not contribute to the upkeep.

  • Climate Change – The urgency of climate change cannot be ignored. Reston under the RA Environmental Advisory Committee(EAC)’s leadership is working towards being a leader on this front. We can and must do more. This year as liaison to the EAC I advocated for more visibility and input from this amazing group of volunteers on RA operations that impact the environment. I invite you to learn about and take the biophilic pledge with me and to visit Reston Today’s informative video.

These are big issues and need lots of conversations with the community and voices to find the right solutions for Reston. I want to start/continue these conversations. If you would like to join in, visit SARAH4RESTON.com

What do you hope to accomplish by being on the board?

I had the honor to serve as one of your At-Large Representatives on the board this year. I am asking for your vote again because I want to continue to advocate for fiscal responsibility, transparency, two-way communications, and action-oriented leadership.

  • Greater Fiscal Responsibility: I believe smart money management does not mean raising assessments or pay cuts for hard-working RA staff. Smart money management means the efficient and effective use of available resources, including the knowledge and experience of the RA Fiscal Committee. It also means exploring the possibility of public/private partnerships and other non-assessment revenue streams to meet membership needs.

  • Greater Transparency and Communication: The RA Board must be committed to transparency and empowering the membership through meaningful engagement. We can achieve this by disseminating necessary documents and reports sufficiently prior to board/committee meetings to allow member participation and comment.

  • Action-Oriented Leadership: I will use my skill set as a successful business owner for creative problem-solving, where consensus building, communication, and firm deadlines will be key. I will encourage implementing action items in a timely manner.

5. How will your personal or professional experience help you in your role with RA?

Making a small business grow and prosper over the last eight years has required the ability to adapt and innovate especially to survive 2020. Those skills would benefit the RA board and our community.

Diversity, innovation, and adaptation have been an integral part of my life. I grew up in India, completed my engineering degree in Singapore, obtained my MBA in Bristol, England, and moved to Reston 13 years ago to start my family.

I love that our Reston community is much more than shared zip codes. When COVID hit and the struggle for civil rights and justice came to the forefront, I founded RESTONSTRONG and organized more than 5000 neighbors for community action including a peaceful demonstration and no-contact donation pods. I serve on the GMU School of Music Board, foster for LostDogRescue.org, and now help my 5th grade Terraset Tiger with distance-learning.

Most importantly, as a homeowner, a business owner, and a mom, I know the value RA brings to our community and lives, and I am also keenly aware of the strain we can face when assessments are raised or prices for programs and amenities become more expensive. I will ensure our money is spent wisely, I will champion accountability and transparency, and I will use my experience and passion for our community to implement creative solutions.

Photo via Reston Association

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