Talk: Louise Waxler

This week in our new TALK series, McLeanToday.org interviews Louise Waxler, executive director  of McLean Youth Soccer [MYS]  —  MYS offers year-round programming for children aged 3-19 years old from the recreational level through the elite level in the form of teams, leagues, camps, clinics and more.  Waxler, above, surrounded by MYS boys:  Senior Day at Lewinsville Park.

Q. Were you a sporty kid?

I was a sport kid in my younger days. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania — Pittsburgh.  My brother Tony and I both played multiple sports. Tony played basketball, baseball, football and went on to be very successful in Major League Baseball. He retired six years ago as the director of scouting for the Atlanta Braves. Through high school, I played basketball, softball, field hockey, and volleyball.  

Q. I bet there wasn’t a girls soccer program for you to join back then?

No, you’re absolutely right.  There was no soccer program offered for female athletes during my era of growing up.

Q. You shared your brother’s incredible sports journey. Tell us yours.

In college, back in the ’60s, I pursued physical education/health at Slippery Rock [University in Slippery Rock, Pa.] but we came from a blue collar family — my dad was a steel worker — and it was difficult to pay for college for my brother and I. My brother had a baseball scholarship so he was taken care of but when it came to me it was a struggle to pay for college tuition. During my junior year of school my mom became ill and passed away. It was a financial burden for me to continue my degree.  It was a difficult time.  I had a year left and I just couldn’t complete it.

You know what?  Her passing didn’t stop me from pursuing what I loved at a later time in life — and that was sports. After I married and had kids, I became involved with sports once again, specifically soccer. I was recruited — as a volunteer — to assist with managing the Columbia Invitational Soccer Tournament in Maryland. I took over that in 1986 and stayed with that for 20 years. Along the pathway that led me to my career in the sport, I was approached by John Hendricks, who was the founder of the Discovery Channel. We were at a tournament in 1999 —  his daughter’s team was a finalist in the tournament playing —  and although I had never formally met him, I found him to be one of the most caring and passionate individuals who had a love for the women’s game.  I recall this man wearing a Discovery bomber jacket approaching me to introduce himself. He told me that he was going to start a women’s professional soccer league right after the Women’s World Cup and asked if I would be interested in joining the league, which left me speechless. Next thing I knew I was on the 24th floor in Bethesda at Discovery headquarters [which since moved to Silver Spring] and I was offered a position with the soon to be Women’s United Soccer Association and the Washington Freedom.

So it was John Hendricks who launched my professional career in soccer in October of 2000. I started with  the Washington Freedom as Director of Operations in grassroots outreach. My connection to the youth game was very strong.  I had also run the WAGS Soccer Tournament for three years so I had developed a reputation within management and operations, particularly in the women’s game. I worked for the Washington Freedom until that league suspended operations.  During the time period between the launch of the secone league in 2009, the WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer), current MYS Technical Director, Clyde Watson, former Washington Freedom coach, Jim Gabarra and I created the Washington Freedom soccer club. I stayed with the WPS and went on to be the general manager of the Philadelphia Independence. Unfortunately, sustaining a women’s professional soccer league in the USA struggled and so the WPS suspended operations at the conclusion of the 2011 season.

After 11 years in pro sports, I decided to return to the grass roots game. McLean Youth Soccer had decided to hire an executive director for the club and had advertised for the position. A few people called me from McLean and said, “Hey Wax, you should apply for this.” So I did and I was offered the position in April 2012 and have been rooted in the program since.

Q. What’s changed most with MYS in your ten years as executive director?

We’ve gone from a volunteer organization to a professionally managed operation. Prior to my position, the volunteer board of directors managed the operations of the club.  We transitioned from that to staff. That was a slow process. It took probably two, three years. For me it was important to learn the culture of the community, the membership and the coaching staff. To come in and learn about the people that you’re working with: who your members are:  what they prefer;  listening to people versus coming in and deciding everything is broken and we’re going to make change.  It was a gradual process for me to hire management staff. We professionalized it. We built from the bottom up.

The ribbon cutting opening ceremony on October 30, 2021, of the McLean Youth Soccer Holladay Field, located at 1311 Spring Hill Road. The project converted an existing grass field to synthetic turf. In addition to creating a full soccer field that can also be used for football, lacrosse, and field hockey, the project brought two underground stormwater management facilities, a bleacher pad, an access trail, and landscape improvements. Picture above includes Waxler; donors and notables:  Jai Cole, FCPA Director, John Foust, Dranesville Supervisor, Roger Krone, CEO of Leidos, UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba 

Q.  What’s your staffing size now? How many players?

Full time staff — you’ll probably be shocked at this —  is seven who work remotely. We’re still small.  We work from home. The overhead —  for us it’s like why spend the players money when we can put it back into the program. With technology such as Zoom and Google Meet, we can conduct weekly staff calls or “meet” on an as needed basis.     MYS membership is currently comprised of 1700 recreation players and 1150 travel players. The recreation number fluctuates as we offer fall and spring sessions.

Q.  What would surprise us to learn about MYS?

There’s so much that we do in the community that people are not even aware of —  we’ve partnered with FCPS to build eight synthetic turf fields. All those fields that the kids play on —  McLean Youth Soccer paid for most of them. The newest, the Holladay Field that opened in the fall of 2021 was funded partly by Leidos and the Ambassador from the United Arab Emirates. Leidos CEO Roger Krone and United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al Otaiba, wanted to contribute as soccer fans but more importantly to contribute to the youth of the community. Then I went to Fairfax County and said I had this money and we would like to convert that field to turf because we need another surface. The County contributed the remainder and the field opened last October. [Collectively, the private funding amounted to $725,000. The project also used public money from the county’s 2016 park bond.]

It’s not just about youth soccer. It’s about kids at all levels and all sports.    We believe that we can enhance recreational sports for both youth and adults by investing back into the community.   You can go to Lewinsville Park on any given afternoon and see football and McLean High School field hockey and McLean High School soccer. We are about to embark on a capital campaign to raise funds to build permanent restrooms at Lewinsville Park and hope the community will support our efforts.  The cost of the project is approximately $650,000 with a projected completion date of early 2025. In addition to the restrooms, a shelter and equipment storage facility for the club will be incorporated into the design. 

Q. What are McLean families looking for when they come to MYS?

A professionally managed organization that can offer their children a positive soccer experience. The procedures and policies that we have in place align with best business practices for non-profit organizations.  

Managing Stress seminar: Dr. Lauren Gregg (in blue jacket), former assistant coach of the U.S. Women’s National team; WWC champion and Olympic gold medalist with MYS coaches at McLean High School

Q. What’s the most challenging thing about being the executive director of MYS?

That’s a loaded question. The most challenging aspect is to continue to be innovative with new programming while providing customer satisfaction for our membership. I ask myself —  it’s not the how it’s the why.  Why are we creating new programming? What are the goals and the end results for the players? What are their aspirations?  There are 70 travel level teams that offer different pathways for players: players at the elite level; those players that are looking for us to help them with a college pathway; and those who simply love to play. It’s about providing opportunities for everyone.

Q. What’s the most fun part of the job for you?

Being able to watch our players on the field.  I love the camaraderie that is established on teams as well as players being proud to wear the McLean badge on their uniform. When I come to McLean, I try to go to all the fields, starting with the rec kids in the morning —  I’ll go to Springhill and then I ultimately wind up at Lewinsville because we have two fields and I can see a number of games and see and talk to some of the parents, coaches and players. Aside from watching these players, the support the players have from their families is quite special. The parents are proud of their kids and it’s enjoyable to go out and see them.

Q. Given your profession, is soccer a family — your husband and two daughters — affair for you?

I don’t think my family has had much of a choice. People used to tease my husband — we bought him  a t-shirt when I was running the Columbia Tournament. On the back it said simply “Louise’s husband.” He enjoys the game. He loves watching the Premier League.  My oldest daughter was not a soccer player, she pursued non-athletic interests. My younger daughter started  her “soccer career” when she was four and she continued through the college game as a member of the University of Arkansas women’s team. Playing was definitely her passion.  

Q. What are your goals still for McLean Youth Soccer?

To be the best soccer organization in the DMV area; continuing to be innovative by offering the best soccer experience for all ages — from ages 3 to 23 and beyond. I’m proud of the diversity and quality of our coaching staff —  many of whom have played at the highest levels representing their respective countries.  Obviously a field complex would be superb; an indoor facility for winter training would be wonderful and I just want us to remain a viable entity to provide a sport for those kids that choose to play. We’ve created a wonderful culture in McLean.

Ribbon cutting and MYS festival at the Holladay Field: Jessica Long, Paralympic gold medalist in swimming; Cindi Harkes, former pro player and Age Group Director for MYS; Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, Olympic gold medalist in 100 meter hurdles ; Andi Sullivan, U.S. Women’s National team member and former MYS player 


Gayle Jo Carter, the former entertainment editor at USA WEEKEND magazine, has interviewed newsmakers for AARP, USA WEEKEND, USA TODAY, Parade, Aspire, SurvivorNet and Washington Jewish Week.

Do you know someone in McLean who would make an interesting interview for TALK? Tap us at contact@mcleantoday.org.


Q & A: Sarah Schallern Treff

In the latest interview for McLean Today’s Talk series, we chat with Sarah Schallern Treff, The Alden Theatre’s Performing Arts Director — pictured above second from front right with her Alden colleagues.

Q & A: Tim Reed

This week in our new TALK series, McLeanToday.org interviews Tim Reed, the founder and Chairman of We Rock Cancer —   a McLean based non-profit working to provide free early detection skin cancer screenings and to increase skin cancer awareness. The charitable organization’s fourth annual fundraising Concert to Rock Cancer,  featuring Bruce In The USA and local D.C. artist Laura Tsaggaris — https://werockcancer.org/events — rocked Capital One Hall last week.

Q. Take us back to the beginning of We Rock Cancer.

I was diagnosed with skin cancer. I caught it early. I’m an Air Force vet so I had surgery at Walter Reed [National Military Medical Center] and they were fantastic. Everything was great but it opened my eyes to the importance of early detection. So I started looking in my network at ways I could combine my love of music and my radio background and the performing artists that I knew to try and come up with a way to make early detection screenings more available. [Reed lost his father to kidney cancer at a young age, making him even more aware of the difference that early detection and treatment can make.]

Luckily, we are blessed to live in an area with plenty of dermatologists but I think [screening] is sometimes a B or C priority to people. How can we get it moved up on the importance level? How can we make it accessible and right here? Something you don’t have to make an appointment for; something you don’t have to go the doctor for. It takes five minutes. The blaring point for me is that it’s the most common form of cancer in America and it’s the easiest to treat as long as you find it early. That seems like an easy thing for us all to get behind and make this not the number one form of cancer. If we just find it and treat it, we’re on our way.


Q.  Why choose McLean to set up your nonprofit?

I’ve lived in McLean since 2008. I know the area. I have a consulting business, I still do.  We Rock Cancer [started in 2019] is certainly a place I focus my passion for music and trying to increase cancer awareness. Since I was here, the infrastructure is here, it was a convenient place to start it. Fairfax County has been a fantastic supporter in multiple ways: the grant support; Arts Fairfax for their support to be the first organization that recognizes that we’re a hybrid. We’re not a ballet company or a symphony but they recognize the power that music can have in bringing these things together and they support us as well. 

Q. It must have been serendipity then that Capital One Hall opened here?

Arts Fairfax is a presenting partner with Capital One Hall so they were supportive in helping us get performance times there for our annual event as well. It’s perfect and right here in McLean, easier than hosting somewhere else and it’s world class. All the artists that have seen it are over the moon about playing there.

Q. What’s behind this thing you call “rock-and-roll entrepreneurship?”

That’s leftover from my doctoral dissertation. [Reed’s doctoral studies led him to create a symposium and graduate course on “Rock-and-Roll Entrepreneurship”  which serves as the foundation for bringing key music stakeholders together to do good.] Looking back you can see I was always trying to cram two things that weren’t necessarily thought of together,  together. I went to the University of Colorado and studied Strategy and Entrepreneurship.  One of the first things I wanted to do was approach entrepreneurship through a rock and roll perspective.

Q.  Do you play any instruments or better yet, play in a rock band?

I wish. I played clarinet growing up  and I play a little bit of piano. I’m still learning. We have to have goals. I was never in a band. I think it came from my early days in radio. I was always around music. I was a radio personality in Florida and in Syracuse, New York and things were going great. I loved that job but again, a part of my entrepreneurial strategic outlook kind of informed off me wisely that that’s something you want to do for a while but it’s not something you do for a long time, only a handful [can] if you want to have a satisfying financially productive career.  

Q. How has the transition been into working full time for We Rock Cancer?

It’s been eye opening. I was always the guy who would go out on stage and say “Will you please welcome Sammy Hagar” or do the interviews or do the radio bits. I was always involved with that part of the business. I was never involved with the promoting parts or the signing contracts with bands to perform, arranging for venue space or working through tech advance. That part of business is a whole other part of business that has been eye opening. I’m not sure that’s where my talents lie but you learn a lot.

Q. What do your events look like for We Rock Cancer?

We have at least two or three  different models for our awareness/screening events. One is we do a ride along where our artist partners are performing at an area venue. They might invite us down to screenings for the fans before their show. We have done that at City Winery and some other venues. We call that  “a ride along” where they do all the production and then we do “a self-produce,” such as September 16,  where all we have is the empty canvas of Capital One Hall and we have to fill it with our artists/partners and we have the risk of selling tickets. That’s a complete We Rock Cancer production.

Tim Reed —  Rock-and-Roll entrepreneur

Q. Tell me about the mobile screening vehicle that you use for screenings?

Early on at our first screening events we had pop up tents/privacy areas. We could only go to venues that could support that space so that was limiting in terms of what we could do outdoors. We wanted to go to construction sites and other sun intense occupations’ work locations. We quickly determined we needed a mobile screening vehicle to do that. It’s once one of the best decisions we ever made. It’s turn key. Now we can go anywhere there is a road and be ready in fifteen minutes.

Q. How many events will you have?

Our goal is to work up to one a month post Covid. Covid really slowed us down. We have outreach going on in underserved communities, especially to try and screen agricultural workers and day laborers. We’re going to screen construction workers at the Capital One Hall [on September 16]. There’s a lot of construction going on there. So we’re going to coordinate with those folks to come get screened. We’ll do bilingual screenings as well for everyone who needs that service. Our other outreach, in addition to the underserved community, is the outdoor running community. They’re very aware and of course they’re out in the sun all the time. They have been very supportive so we’ve done a couple events with them every year. And then of course, the music.

The staff of We Rock Cancer

Q. Did you turn to anyone for advice in starting a nonprofit?

A lot of self learning. We did talk to a couple of other organizations that do mobile skin cancer screening: the Sun Bus in Colorado; Polka Dot Mamma [Melanoma Foundation] were organizations that were really, really helpful to us. We found that the skin cancer community is very supportive too. One organization Helms Hope in Texas we talked early on to for ideas. They started an education program for barbers and hairdressers [who unlike ourselves can actually see anything suspicious on the tops of our heads]. They introduced us to a legal firm that helped us with the Trademark process.

Q. So you need one big donor to come along?

Every single event we have, we have met someone we didn’t expect to be there either as a fan or a runner at one of our race events. We’re still young. We have to make some decisions. Do we remain a local McLean organization and do our best? We would love to have more dermatologists be a part of the team too. The ones we have are awesome but it is difficult for someone to come out after they’ve worked a full week and do screenings for another couple hours. That’s certainly a need that is as important, honestly, as funding because I can do a lot of things —  I can dig ditches and set up tents and hand out information but what I can’t do is skin cancer screenings. If you are a dermatologist or PA that would like to help out with our screening mission, I’d love to talk to you!

Q. Is your primary goal to stay local with We Rock Cancer or do you want to expand?

I’ve answered this question [before] by saying “I don’t see why there is not one of these in every town in America.” There certainly should be a We Rock Cancer branch or at least a chapter in Nashville, in  Austin, in Los Angeles. Pick a place where live music is important to the people who live there. It’s just a function of money and support and people who recognize the importance and value of this. 

Reed with We Rock Cancer supporting musicians Jarod Clemons [center] and drummer Vini Lopez [right]. Jarod Clemons and The Late Nights are a classic rock/blues band, based out of the Jersey Shore.  Clemons is the youngest son of the late great saxophonist, well known in his own regard and for being part of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Lopez is a drummer who backed Springsteen in several bands, including Steel Mill and the E Street Band. He also played on Springsteen’s first two albums, Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle

Do you know someone in McLean who would make an interesting interview for TALK?

Tap us at contact@mcleantoday.org.

Seeking Star Students

Patch and T-Mobile are partnering to celebrate Star Students who make life better in their community

Look beyond report cards, although future problem solvers who excel academically fit the definition, too, and Patch love to hear about them. You’ll find Star Students not only in classrooms, science fairs and math olympiads, but also on theater and concert stages and before a palette of paint. They’re at debate lecterns, and out in the community doing good things to make life better for all of us.

Patch has partnered with T-Mobile to recognize these Star Students for their achievements and service to the community in big and small ways.

Shouting out a Star Student is simple. Just fill out this simple form — photos are appreciated — and Patch will do a story, so the whole neighborhood can celebrate what makes them special.

Cooking Class

Shipgarten, February 10, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET

Make Shrimp Tacos with Mojito Magic

Coastal flavors are just a bite away in this exciting hands-on cooking class from Chef Adrian. He’ll get you in the spirit with a kitchen session where sweet seafood and tangy citrus lead the menu.

Begin by creating your own homemade tortillas from scratch using fresh ingredients and a hearty helping of traditional magic. Then, transform shrimp into a sizzling taco filling sensation with a tantalizing lime-mojito tingle, topped with black bean and mango salad for a taste of the tropics you can enjoy without leaving home.

Cooking classes on Classpop! are designed to be social events that do not require any previous experience. Guests are welcome to purchase beer to enjoy during the class.

REGISTER HERE

MENU

Fresh Tortillas

With masa harina, water and salt

Taco Fillings

With shrimp, cilantro, mango, black beans and tomato

More Info

  • Minimum Guests 4
  • Maximum Guests 25
  • Event Duration 2 hours
  • Activity Level: A mix of chef demonstration and hands-on cooking
  • Restrictions Must be 21 years of age or older to attend

Northern Virginia Career Fair

Don’t just look for a job. Connect with the right employers. This career fair is a great recruitment event to connect with top employers in the areas of Government, Sales, Retail, Education, Information Technology, Engineering, Healthcare, Financial Services, Management, Manufacturing, Customer Service as well as other career paths.*

June 15, 9:30 a.m. ET at The McLean Hilton

Professional Dress and an updated resume are strongly recommended. Register here!

Advance applications and interview scheduling is available for some positions. Forward your resume to events@careerfairconnection.com today. Our recruitment team can match you to open positions that fit your background and salary requirements.

To inquiry about a specific employer or to research what employers and positions are participating please register on our website (A list is provided to registered attendees the week before the career fair) https://careerfairconnection.com/applicants/

Are you an employer looking to hire? Visit our employment page:http://careerfairconnection.com/employers/

Career Fair Connection encourages every job seeker to provide your resume prior to attending the career fair. This allows our recruitment team to review your experience and advise you on the best career path available for the attending employers. Thank you. We are looking forward to seeing you there.

Talk: Sue Christie

In this week’s TALK series, McLean Today sits down with Sue Christie, co-president, the McLean branch of the American Association of University Women [AAUW]. Founded in 1969, the McLean branch has a strong program in support of AAUW’s mission to advance equity for women and girls. In June 2022, the McLean branch achieved the distinction of being named a 5-Star Branch of AAUW. The recognition came in response to the success of their work in five areas: Programs; Advancement: Fundraising and Membership; Communications and External Relations; Public Policy and Research and Governance and Sustainability. Nationally, AAUW began in 1881. Nonpartisan, though not values-neutral, the group fights to remove the barriers and biases that stand in the way of gender equity. 

Q. Why and when did you first become a member of the McLean branch of AAUW?

I joined in June 2013 looking for both kindred souls and to level the playing field for women and girls.  It is easy to forget in a place like McLean that many girls and women in our community are hitting barriers every day and at every turn.

Q. What is your professional background?

 I have a BA from the University of Michigan.  My last position was Deputy Executive Director of the American Public Human Services Association where I ran the management and leadership consulting department.   Other jobs included Secretary of the Utah Department of Social Services and COO of the Colorado Department of Social Services.

Q. What are your goals as co-president of the McLean branch of AAUW?

My goal is the organization’s goal. My fifteen second sentence is that we at national and within the communities are trying to level the playing field for girls and women either in the classroom or the workplace. National has gotten very focused, and we have tried to follow suit, in doing things that speak directly to that mission.

Q. What are some of those “things” your organization is doing to speak to that mission?

We give grants, scholarships to two schools who have a lot of women returning who have had their education disrupted, who face more barriers than probably I or perhaps you faced, letting them start with a little more level playing field as they go back into the workplace. We recognize high school students in four schools. We’ve added two Title 1 schools [Title I is a federal education program that supports low income students throughout the nation.] in Northern Virginia, where those kids and those teachers have lots of resources but not equaling the ones sitting in the middle of McLean. We are looking for young women who are excelling in science and math and in computer sciences that’s offered in the school. We do an  essay contest for middle schoolers who are asked to identify and write about a woman scientist who we might not have heard about. I think we won’t see the end of that for quite a while given the number of women who have done good work that sit on the sidelines. We  try to be both in schools and with women in the workplace. We try and have programs that speak to that vision and we are now going fairly heavy into community involvement that is putting boots on the ground.

Q. Which colleges do you support?

The colleges are Trinity Washington University, Marymount University and Bennett College in North Carolina. We clearly are putting an emphasis not only on leveling the playing field in general but leveling that playing field for girls and women of color. They have an even bumpier road as it were.

Q. What does your membership look like here in McLean?

Our membership is sitting at just about 117. That is the largest in the state of Virginia. We have a a lot of women who care about these issues, very generous people who who care about these issues. As you would in most organizations, we also have a social component because that’s how people build relationships and learn to work together and find common cause. We have mostly retired women but not all. We are going heavy after the next generation because as all organizations know if we don’t pull in that next generation… .We welcome any individual who has earned an associate or academic equivalent, bachelor’s or higher degree from an accredited college or university. Undergraduate students who do not already hold a bachelor’s degree can join as student affiliates.

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From left to right: Juanita Cullen, liaison to Trinity Washington University; Anita Booth, branch co-president; Eva Salmeron, Marymount University; Saba Hashemi, Marymount University; Shandale Scott, Trinity Washington University; Katherine Healy, Trinity Washington University; and Sue Christie, branch co-president.

Q. What fields are the McLean AAUW members in?

We have women in journalism, psychology economics, mathematics, nursing, medicine, law, publishing… We have what I would call a pretty powerful set of women here. They care, they bring extraordinary  experience to the table. As we start to reinvest in the community and otherwise, we bring a lot of people who know how to make things happen. That’s basically about the best you can ask from an organization that’s volunteer.

Q. A lot of organizations find themselves changing, evolving — coming out of the pandemic. Did your organization shift in anyway?

One of the things we’ve done coming out  of the pandemic is sort of reorient ourselves, get a more rigorous strategic planning process and put the people in the right spots, branding. If anyone knew anything about AAUW, it was synonymous with book sales as our fundraiser. People know us as having done Stemtastic for high school kids but it spoke to the need for better branding. We’re in the process of upgrading our social media, piece by piece, we’re upgrading our look, making it  more dynamic as the need is clearly there in this area. We’ve tried to spend the last two years probably resetting; recalibrating; reenergizing.


Members of the McLean Area Branch have a long history of giving their time, energy, and voices to advocate for issues at the local, state, and national levels.

Q. What are some of the social events you mentioned earlier?

We have branch meetings; in December and May we do luncheons. We have a  potluck where we bring in the national fellows and grant recipients that we have endowed with national. So every year when they give those, we celebrate those women — who are really pretty heavy duty women coming in with their PhDs in some very esoteric areas —  that we all find very fascinating and they’re all going to take that back into the community generally to the benefit of women wherever they land. Then the various interest groups where small groups of people meet: book clubs; current events groups; things that keep us individually and collectively on top of  the issues; invested in issues; knowledgeable in issues.

Q. Besides, scholarships/grants, how does the local branch support national’s goals?

We do policy advocacy based on national and state of Virginia priorities We will  both inform our members; ask our members to act —  what we call 2 minute activists, like pick up the phone now. We are involved in Richmond’s Lobby Day and we can do that easier than national because we are physically located in the Washington, D.C area. We have been very very active — and again there  may be differences in different localities,  where are the pressure points in this area? Do we have  lot of companies giving maternity leave but nobody doing anything about child care? Do we have equal access to healthcare for women?  Although national doesn’t push on health care,  it clearly is a determinant for economic security. We used to — and are thinking about whether we continue— attend all the Fairfax County School Board meetings. We have in fact —  as National did —  put out a statement when the new educational requirements came out from the state of Virginia relative to teaching history and social studies. 

Gayle Jo Carter is the editor of McLean Today.

Do you know someone in McLean who would make an interesting interview for TALK? Tap us at contact@mcleantoday.org.

Diversity Hiring Fair

Saturday, February 4 at The Potomac School in McLean

The Potomac School, East Ed, and the Association of Independent Schools of Greater Washington (AISGW) are proud to host the eleventh annual Diversity Hiring Fair to support employee diversity in the independent school sector. 

This hiring fair is an opportunity for candidates to meet with representatives from over 30 independent schools in the DMV area. Everyone is welcome to attend the fair. Registration is free for all candidates and one-on-one interviews will be conducted on site. InterestedReply

MCC Board Seeks Candidates

2023 MCC Governing Board Elections: Nominating Petitions Now Available




Residents of Dranesville Small District 1A who are looking for ways to give back to their community are encouraged to consider running for a seat on the McLean Community Center (MCC) Governing Board. The 11-member, volunteer board establishes goals and aligns strategies for MCC programs and facilities, including the Robert Ames Alden Theatre (“The Alden”) and The Old Firehouse Center (OFC).  In 2023, three adult positions and two youth positions are open on the board. To run for election to the board, candidates must reside in Dranesville Small District 1A, a special tax district that supports the center. Candidates are required to obtain the signatures of 10 tax district residents in their respective categories (either adult or youth) to have their names placed on election ballots. 

Petition packets are available at MCC starting at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, January 18 and completed packets must be returned in person to MCC by 5 p.m. on Friday, March 3. Adult candidates must be at least 18 years of age as of Saturday, May 20, the date of the election, which is held at MCC’s annual community festival, McLean Day. Youth candidates must be 15-17 years of age on that date. One youth member will be elected from the McLean High School boundary area and one will be elected from the Langley High School boundary area. Youth candidates are not required to attend either school, but they must reside in the boundary areas served by those schools respectively, as defined by Fairfax County Public Schools. The three adult candidates who receive the highest vote counts will serve three-year terms. Youth members who receive the highest vote count will serve one-year terms

Key Election Dates: Wednesday, January 18: Candidate Petition Packets are available for pickup at MCC.Friday, March 3: Completed Petition Packets must be returned by candidates in person to MCC by 5 p.m. Saturday, March 11: Candidates’ Orientation will be held at MCC. Wednesday, March 15: Absentee Voting begins at MCC. Wednesday, May 17: Absentee Voting ends at 5 p.m. Saturday, May 20: In-Person Voting held at McLean Day at Lewinsville Park from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on the MCC Governing Board Elections, call the Center at 703-790-0123, TTY: 711, or visit the McLean Community Center Governing Board Candidate Information website.

American Red Cross Blood Drive 

February 22: The Boro

The Boro is partnering with the American Red Cross to host a blood drive. Blood donated from the last drive at The Boro helped save 72 lives and we have saved 219 lives through blood drives to date! Reserve your spot at the next one here.

When & Where:  Wednesday, February 22nd, 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m in the Boro Station Conference Room E/F, 1775 Greensboro Station Place, McLean, VA 22102

Collage Making Demo

Collage Making demonstration by Iranian-American Artist, Parinaz Bahadori




McLean Art Society will host a demonstration of collage-making by artist Parinaz Bahadori at McLean Community Center on Friday, January 27 at 11 a.m. Bahadori will show how to make a quick collage using magazines and newspapers that everyone has lying around the house. Plus, she’ll offer some tips on how to create other fun collage works. This event is free and open to the public.


Bahadori a has had a passion for art since her youth and although she practiced architecture for almost 30 years, she transitioned to becoming a full-time artist seven years ago. While she works in acrylics and mixed media focusing on still lifes, abstract paintings and modern Persian calligraphy, she enjoys exploring the shapes of things that go into collage making and offers workshops in her “barn studio.”


Her works have been exhibited at local venues in St. Louis and the D.C. area. She has been featured in Elan magazine and was invited to collaborate with In Series Opera in D.C. to create backdrop panels for their original opera, Handel’s The Tale of Serse, painting symbols of leaves on a tree in Persian calligraphic form. Her goal as an artist is “try to stay loose enough for happy accidents to happen on my canvas.”
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Talk: Saehee Perez

In this week’s TALK series, McLean Today sits down with Saehee Perez, a McLean High School senior recently selected as one of Virginia’s delegates in the United States Senate Youth Program. The U.S. Senate Youth Program is a week-long educational program for high school students interested in government related fields. Two delegates are selected from each state, including Washington, D.C .to represent in this event.

Q. Explain to us, what is the U.S. Senate Youth Program?

The United States Senate Youth Program is a scholarship program where each delegate receives $10,000 for college and gets to spend a week in DC fully funded. They’ll get to meet different people from [the] government and top journalists [who] might come in as well. This is supposed to give high schoolers an insight into different government officials. 

Q. Why did you decide to apply for the program?

I am very interested in politics. It’s something that I want to study and pursue once I graduate. This program also has an alumni network of people that have been involved in politics since they were in high school. The opportunity to get to sit down with senators and have a meeting is amazing. Beyond that, being able to meet different people within the government. That’s something that I really wanted to experience because I’ve never been 100% sure about pursuing politics. I think it’s an opportunity for me to learn if this is the right path for me.

Q. Do you have any experience in government as a student?

I ran for class of 2023 president for junior and senior year [and won both offices]. This past year, I also ran for a SGA [Student Government Association] position and the difference between this and class council is that SGA is school wide. So in addition to being senior class president, I’m also an SGA officer.

Q. What are you most looking forward to in the program?

I want to be able to explore different career paths within the government [because] there are so many different options. Things such as national security that require good information on technology and computer science. Just being [able to] hear from people of all fields, who had a big impact on the government, that’s something that I’m looking forward to the most.

Q. What are your plans after high school?

I will be attending the University of Virginia next fall through the Posse Scholars Program. Right now, I’m really torn between the different majors. I’ve narrowed it down to public policy which is under the Batten School [The Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy] which is under the College of Arts and Sciences, and then government or foreign affairs.

Q.  What is a Posse Scholar?

[The Posse Foundation] selects a posse of students for their partner campuses and they offer full tuition scholarships to those students. You have to apply and [then The Posse Foundation] will nominate students and interview them as finalists. I sent in my application and got nominated. It wasn’t really something that I was imagining for myself. It’s easy to get into your head about these things, especially when you see every single person who was interviewing there was great. Genuinely, I think everyone there has the potential to succeed in whatever they do. It gets a little hard to be like, “Yes, I’m going to be the one that ends up with the scholarship.” So that’s why when I found out about it, I was surprised. 

At a Model UN conference

Q. When you’re not studying or being class president, what else are you involved in?

As far as school clubs, I’ve done Model UN since seventh grade. This was really the first club that I ever got involved in. It is also how I got over my fear of public speaking. The community and friends I’ve made there [have] always been really supportive. It feels like a second family. I’m part of the Virginia High School Democrats, which I’ve chaired for the last two years. We focus a lot on getting other high school Democrats involved within Virginia state politics. Every year that I’ve been involved in, we’ve managed to introduce at least one bill in each legislative session in Virginia, which I think is really cool. Not just the fact that it happened, but also that it’s 15 to 17-year-olds that are able to do this. Another thing that takes up a bit of my time is called the Pride Liberation Project, which is a coalition of different queer student advocates in Virginia working for better LGBTQIA+ rights.

Q. What’s a fun fact about you?

I am a plant mom, and I have about six or seven plants at home. I also studied abroad last summer in Taiwan through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLIY) and that had been a goal of mine since eighth grade. I grew up in a Korean, English, Spanish and Japanese household so I was always very inclined towards learning different languages. I am studying Chinese and I’m hoping to get fluent in it. Later on, I also want to learn Japanese, Spanish and Arabic in that order.


In Taiwan last summer, on a study abroad program through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLIY). “That had been a goal of mine since eighth grade,” says Saehee Perez.

Q. What’s the best advice you can give someone interested in getting involved in causes that are important to them?

Literally just show up. People notice when you show up, especially when you’re young because when you get involved in different things in politics, you’ll notice that it’s often people over 50. Just by virtue of being a young person, you will already stick out. Keep coming to different events and keep offering to help. There’s also that tier of young people — but still older than us —  always very willing to be mentors and willing to connect you to different resources. Just come to events since there’s half the battle already. People show up one, two or three times and then never show up again. That’s really the expectation. The bar is very low. So as long as you’re above that threshold, you can make a difference.

Dania Reza is the social media content curator for McLean Today. She is a junior at McLean High school and is an assistant design editor-in-chief of her school news magazine, The Highlander. 


Do you know someone in McLean who would make an interesting interview for TALK? Tap us at contact@mcleantoday.org.

Stuff the Bus

Saturday, February 4 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Benefitting Share of McLean

McLean Giant

1454 Chain Bridge Road

McLean, VA 22101

For the full list of events, most requested items, and more information, visit the Stuff the Bus website.

Stuff the Bus began in 2011 in response to a critical need to help restock the shelves of local food pantries after the holidays. This collaborative program is a partnership between Fairfax County Government and local nonprofits. Now in its 12th year, Stuff the Bus continues to support food assistance efforts for families and households. Since inception, Stuff the Bus has collected more than 220 tons of food to feed people experiencing food insecurity in Fairfax County.