Census 2020 Diversity Index by State (courtesy United States Census Bureau)

Fairfax County is now the second most racially diverse county in Virginia, according to 2020 Census data released yesterday afternoon (Aug. 12).

The data confirms recent demographic reports conducted by Fairfax County that showed the share of white residents shrinking and communities of color, particularly Asians and Hispanics, growing since 2010, when the county was the fifth-most diverse county.

Now, only Prince William County is more diverse.

Compared to the rest of the United States, Fairfax County ranked 42nd out of 3,143 counties in the country on the Census’ racial and ethnic diversity index.

While white residents remain the largest racial or ethnic group in the county, they are no longer the majority, making up 47.1% of the overall population with 542,001 residents — a drop of nearly 50,000 people from 2010, when the county’s 590,622 white residents constituted 54.6% of its population.

In other words, Fairfax is now a majority-minority county, due in part to the growth of the county’s Asian and Hispanic/Latino populations, which are the second and third largest racial and ethnic groups, respectively.

According to the 2020 Census data, 20.3% of the county’s population is Asian, an increase of about 55,000 residents from 17.4% in 2010. Hispanic or Latino individuals now constitute 17.3% of the populace, up from 15.6% a decade ago.

The diffusion score — the percentage of the population that isn’t in the top three racial and ethnic groups — is also higher than it was in 2010. At 15.2%, that number is also higher than Virginia and the country as a whole.

The county’s increasing diversity reflects national trends revealed in the new data, which shows the first-ever decline in the country’s white, non-Hispanic population with Latino residents fueling 51% of the population growth.

In total, about 1.15 million people now live in Fairfax County. The population grew by about 68,500 people or 6.3% since 2010, a lower rate of growth than both Virginia as a whole (7.9%) and the U.S. (7.4%).

Fairfax County’s population increase is also significantly lower in terms of percentage than its neighboring localities in Northern Virginia: Arlington County’s population rose by nearly 15%, Alexandria City by nearly 14%, Prince William County by about 20%, and Loudoun County by a staggering 35%.

However, Fairfax remains the largest county in Virginia, as it was in 2010, with more than double the population of Prince William County, which is the second most populous county. Fairfax County residents make up about 13% of the Commonwealth’s total population.

In general, Northern Virginia continues to grow at a much higher rate than the rest of the state.

The new Census data will be used to redraw voting districts locally and nationwide, a process that carries major political implications. Electoral districts are redrawn every 10 years to ensure each one has about the same number of people. The data could also change how many electoral votes are allocated to each state.

This is the 24th official Census count in U.S. history.

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The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority will soon add two new seats to its seven-member commission, which has remained the same size since it was created in 1964.

Virginia legislators and the governor approved a measure earlier this year allowing the change, which takes effect July 1 and will help meet diversity needs, officials say.

Charged with helping the county attract, retain, and support businesses, the FCEDA commission consists of local business and community leaders appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

FCEDA Chair Cathy Lange says the expanded board will help the authority bring different viewpoints to the table after the county has changed and grown over the past 57 years.

“We need a richness of perspectives to help the FCEDA understand why companies start here, grow here and stay here,” Lange said by email. “This diversity of needs also is directly tied to our understanding and support of talent attraction and retention. The companies want and need a broad and diverse talent pool, and we have to connect the talent to the companies.”

According to Lange, the EDA board hopes to further diversify representation of emerging and growing business sectors, such as financial services, cyber, cloud, and data analytics, as well as entrepreneurs and small business leaders “building the next base” of companies.

“At the same time, we can identify leaders who are reflective of the growing diversity in our county and its business community,” Lange wrote.

In its legislative agenda for the General Assembly’s 2021 session, Fairfax County noted the authority was created by state law in 1964, allowing the county to appoint seven board members.

“That number has not changed in the 50 years since the FCEDA was created, though Fairfax County has changed substantially during that time,” Fairfax County officials said in the report, which was adopted on Dec. 1.

In the legislative agenda, officials noted that the county’s increasing diversity extends to its economy:

The County has experienced tremendous growth, as has the local economy — the number and size of companies has increased, and businesses have expanded into new and diverse industry sectors. Increasing the size of the FCEDA board could further diversify participation from the County’s business community, while maintaining focus on the County’s traditional business base (including government contracting and IT services).

Among its services, the authority helps businesses find office space in the county, assists with special tax-exempt bonds for companies and nonprofits, and aids international firms seeking office space in Fairfax County.

While headquartered in Tysons, the authority has offices around the country and the world, including in Germany, India, Israel, South Korea, and the U.K. as well as Los Angeles.

Lange said in the email that Fairfax County is an amazing success story, and expanding the commission will help to ensure that continues.

“Understanding what different companies need to succeed here helps us to inform county leaders on what policies and programs need to be implemented to continue our success,” Lange wrote. “This also will help us understand how to market the county to businesses that want opportunities to grow and success, and how to market the region to talent.”

FCEDA vice president of communications Alan Fogg said by email that he expects there will be movement around appointments starting next month.

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Morning Notes

Inlet Court townhouses (via vantagehill/Flickr)

General Assembly to Hold Special Session in August — “Governor Ralph Northam today [Wednesday] issued a proclamation calling the members of the General Assembly into special session on Monday, August 2. A special session is necessary to fill judicial vacancies and allocate more than $4.3 billion in federal relief funding.” [Office of the Governor]

TJ Admissions Changes Result in Increased Diversity — The Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology Class of 2025 will include more Black and Hispanic students, more girls, and more economically disadvantaged students than past years, according to Fairfax County Public Schools data. This is the first cohort to be admitted under a new admissions system that ditched the magnet school’s usual admissions test and $100 application fee. [The Washington Post]

Herndon Office Building Sold — The investment company Boyd Watterson Asset Management has purchased a 160,000 square-foot office building at 13651 McLearen Road for $48 million. The McLearen Center is in the same complex as the Transportation Security Administration’s Freedom Center and Nysmith School, and it counts Boeing as a long-term tenant, though the lease is set to expire in May 2022. [Washington Business Journal]

Reston Contractor Reports Medicaid Data Breach — Maximus Corp., a government health data services provider based in Reston, says a data breach that occurred between May 17 and 19 exposed the personal information of more than 334,000 Medicaid healthcare providers nationwide. The incident did not affect information about patients or Medicaid beneficiaries, according to the company. [Information Security Media Group]

Irish Rock Band Joins Arrowbrook Concert Lineup — The D.C.-based Irish rock band Scythian will perform at Arrowbrooke Centre Park in Herndon on July 17 as part of Fairfax County’s Music at Arrowbrook Centre concert series, one of several free summer concert series organized by the county park authority. [Fairfax County Park Authority]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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A controversy at the library level led to a heated exchanged at Fairfax County Board of Supervisors today (Tuesday) as the Board’s lone Republican pushed back against a motion to ensure the various boards and commissions consider the county’s standards of diversity.

Board of Supervisors Chair Jeff McKay started the meeting with a motion for staff to circulate the One Fairfax policy and training to all boards and commissions and that members sign acknowledgement to confirm they have received and reviewed the policy. The One Fairfax policy adopted in 2017 creates a standard of social and racial equity that the Board of Supervisors committed to considering when making decisions or developing programs and services.

The fight centered around what Supervisor Pat Herrity lambasted as an attack on Phillip Rosenthal, a Fairfax County Library Board of Trustees member who faces calls for resignation from Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay and others.

At a July 29 meeting, Rosenthal decried highlighting material about Black Lives Matter and by Muslim authors, Patch first reported.

Backlash to Rosenthal’s comments was swift, but Herrity has vocally defended Rosenthal, who he appointed to the Library Board of Trustees in 2018. At the Board of Supervisors meeting, Herrity defended Rosenthal again and said the motion was a move towards silencing dissent.

“When we try to silence the other side we enter a slippery slope,” Herrity said. “To take someone out because they don’t agree with our political agenda… I think that’s a slippery slope.”

While McKay protested that the board matter wasn’t about an individual person, the text of the item did say “comments made at a recent Library Board of Trustees meeting highlight that we still have a long was to go before we truly become One Fairfax.”

“Things appointee said were hurtful,” McKay said. “I called for his resignation for a lot of reasons.”

Herrity found little support from the other members of the Board of Supervisors, receiving particular rebuke from Dranesville Supervisor John Foust.

“[Herrity] totally misstakes and mischaracterizes the statements Mr. Rosenthal has made,” Foust said. “Everything I hear about Rosenthal is that he’s a decent man who makes many contributions to our community, but his comments at the library board need to be read to understand why so many people were so hurt and why we’re being so misled by Supervisor’s Herrity comments about this.”

Foust ran through a list of Rosenthal’s controversial statements at the library board, which included calling Black Lives Matter activists Marxists and expressing frustration about a reading program aimed at supporting LGBTQ youth.

“To characterize them as Herrity does about the statement for the need for more diverse views in the catalog of books is ridiculous, outrageous, and totally misleading,” Foust said.

Supervisor Dalia Palchik, representing the Providence district, argued that while Herrity had appointed Rosenthal, what Rosenthal said and did reflects on the Board of Supervisors as a whole.

McKay’s motion was passed, with only Herrity voting against it.

Image via Fairfax County

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Lake Anne Plaza will become a melting pot of culture this Saturday as the Reston Multicultural Festival kicks off on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Attendees for this free event can enjoy arts, crafts, food, entertainment, shopping and other family-friendly activities. The program is available online.

Reston Farm Market is also celebrating it’s one-year anniversary under new ownership on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the market. The celebration features a fall festival with games, moon bounces, train rides and pumpkin pies. Admission is $10 per person and admission for kids under ages two and under are free.

(Editor’s Note: This is just a limited list of all the events taking place in the Reston area this weekend. If you have an event you would like to ensure is listed on the website, be sure to submit it to our Events Calendar.)

  • Enjoy free Zumba at Life Time Athletic (1757 Business Center Drive) today from 7-8:30 p.m. at the Zumba Pool Blacklight Party.
  • The Herndon Homecoming Parade is on Saturday from 9:30 a.m to 2 pm. on Elden Street. This year’s theme is Big Top. Bring a chair and support the Hornets in downtown Herndon.
  • On Saturday, you can also help remove what Reston Association calls an “English ivy overload” on RA’s open space by participating in the organization’s Habitat Heroes event. Volunteers will work in various areas near the Wiehle overpass from 10 a.m. to noon.
  • A green screen photo booth will be on-site at Reston Regional Library from 2-4 p.m. You can take your picture by placing yourself directly in a story.
  • The Northern Virginia Senior Olympics will hold a Twilight 5K on Saturday at 6 p.m. at South Lakes High School. Residents of Northern Virginia who are 50 years or older are eligible to sign up.
  • On Sunday, channel the seven chakras or energy centers within your body with this mindful painting workshop at Rise Well-Being Center from 2-5 p.m.
  • If you’d rather be out and about on Sunday, you can take part in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at Reston Town Center from 2:30-4 p.m. Registration is free and there’s no minimum fundraising requirement.
  • And the annual Reston Runner tradition is back on Sunday. Participants will run from Reagan National Airport back to Reston beginning at 7 a.m.
  • Lake Anne Brewhouse’s Saturday morning beer run is on at 9:45 a.m. The taproom opens at 10 a.m. for pretzels, coffee and beer.

File photo via Reston Community Center

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Lake Anne Plaza is the place to be on Saturday (Sept. 22) at for the annual Reston Multicultural Festival.

The festival, which is organized by Reston Community Center, hosted by Lake Anne Plaza and cosponsored by Reston Association, aims to celebrate culture and honor diversity as one of Reston’s “greatest strengths,” according to organizers. Attendees are encouraged to wear attire representative of their cultural roots.

The event kicks off at 11 a.m. with remarks by local and state leaders, including state Sen. Janet Howell and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. Remarks will be followed by a naturalization ceremony for the area’s newest citizens. The festival also features National Heritage Award fellows, arts and crafts activities, an “Art Mirrors Culture” 3D exhibit and family activities from around the world. The festival ends at 6 p.m. and will take place rain or shine.

Entertainment will be offered in three areas: the world stage, the global stage, and RCC Lake Anne. Other activities include a global cafe and a global market. The complete program and a map are available online.

Photo via Reston Community Center

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Del. Ken Plum/File photo

This is a commentary from Del. Ken Plum (D-Fairfax), who represents Reston in Virginia’s House of Delegates. It does not reflect the opinion of Reston Now.

On a recent early morning walk from my home in the South Lakes area of Reston I met a new neighbor that I learned lately moved into the area weeks ago. I would not call the new neighbor friendly; he seemed to be more disinterested in me although his family acted a bit jittery with me being around. While he may not have been interested in me, hundreds have been interested in and curious about him. A photo I took of him that I posted on social media has elicited nearly 400 reactions. I continue to use the male pronoun, but truthfully I am not sure of the neighbor’s gender.

I introduced the new member of our community on social media as being an albino deer, but I was quickly corrected. The almost white deer did not have the pink eyes, pink nose, and pinkish hooves of an albino deer. One neighbor suggested that he was probably a piebald deer. Although I grew up in rural Virginia where there is a lot of wildlife, I had never heard of a piebald deer. That sent me to the internet where I learned that contrary to popular belief, a piebald deer is not a cross between a normal whitetail deer and an albino. The origin of the word “piebald” comes from “pie” meaning “mixed up” and “bald” meaning “having a white spot.”

Piebalds have various amounts of white and brown patches similar to a pinto pony, and they have normal brown eyes and nose with black hooves like a normal whitetail deer. Their coloration is due to a rare inherited genetic defect that fortunately affects less than one percent of the white-tailed deer population because it also may result in the deer having short legs, scoliosis of the spine, internal organ deformities and other health conditions.

At the risk of turning this story into another diatribe on my part about the importance of diversity in our community and the need to welcome all, I will end with an acknowledgement that some people do not want another someone in the community who may eat their flowers. It does make me appreciate our trails and natural areas where we can see our animal neighbors. When you see our pielbald deer near Snakeden Branch Trail or wherever else in Reston, take a photo if you can and share it on my Facebook page, Kenneth R. Plum. We want him to feel welcome. You might want to call him by the name I understand Terraset Elementary students have given him: Blanca.

By the time you are reading this column I will be back in Richmond for the serious work of the legislature of passing a budget for the next biennium. The outstanding issue to be resolved is the expansion of Medicaid to nearly 400,000 Virginians who do not have health care even though taxes are being collected in Virginia to pay for the program. I support the Governor in his insistence that we approve the expansion. Thanks to all the citizens who have been calling and writing supporting the program. I will be back with details on the budget issue as soon as it is resolved.

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The Reston Historic Trust and Museum will host a panel tonight exploring whether Reston is living up to founder Bob Simon’s goal of being a diverse place.

The panel of speakers will include residents who have lived in Reston for different periods of time. Panelists are Beverly Cosham, Victoria Cosham-Rivera, Omer Gorashi, Gerald Zavala and Anthony Zavala.

The event is free and will run from 7-9 p.m. at the JoAnn Rose Gallery at the Reston Community Center Lake Anne.

One of Simon’s goals was to ensure individual dignity was the focal point of all planning.

“We are interested in not only the experiences of the early pioneers, but also the experiences of those who grew up in Reston, those who came later and their children’s experiences, and the impressions and experiences of those who are the more recent members of our community,” organizers said in an Facebook event page.

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Adopts Social and Racial Equity Policy — The county’s Board of Supervisors and the school board have instituted the policy, called One Fairfax in order to consider equity in decision-making and in the development of future policies, programs, and services. [Fairfax County Government]

Cops and Kids Coat Drive Seeks New or Gently Used Coats and Warm Clothes — Bring the items to Herndon’s station at 397 Herndon Parkway through Sunday. The drive is made possible through a partnership between the Herndon Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #64 and the Loudoun-Dulles FOP Charitable Foundation Lodge #69. [Herndon Police Department]

Company in the Spotlight: Serco — The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority recently featured the Reston-based technology company Serco on its website. [Fairfax County EDA]

Police Body Cameras Coming to Fairfax County Early Next Year — Patrol officers from district stations in Mount Vernon and Mason will be equipped with the body cameras as part of a three month pilot approved by the county’s Board of Supervisors this week. [Fairfax County Police Department]

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