Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church


It’s Celebrate Fairfax! time again, which means it’s also time to honor two special volunteers in our community as Mason District’s Lord and Lady Fairfax designees. The first Lords and Ladies were designated in 1984, as part of what was then known as the Fairfax Fair, held at George Mason University. Today, the event is hosted at the Fairfax County Government Center, which turns into a fairgrounds venue for three days this weekend with vendor booths, stage performances, and carnival rides. For more information about times and tickets, log on to www.celebratefairfax.com.

Mason District’s 2011 Lord Fairfax is Frank Vajda, who has public service in his blood. Whether in his military career as an Air Force officer or as a volunteer for his neighborhood, Frank’s middle name ought to be “service.” As Neighborhood Watch Coordinator in Camelot, Frank is responsible for recruiting, mentoring, and keeping track of the many volunteers in the oldest continuously serving Neighborhood Watch in Fairfax County and in the nation. In addition, Frank has represented Mason District on the Fairfax County Park Authority Board for the past 10 years. You can find Frank ushering at the free summer concerts at Mason District Park, helping children find prizes at the spring Egg Hunt, or handing out service pins for Neighborhood Watch. He also runs the annual Camelot candle/luminaria sale, which has raised thousands of dollars for Children’s Hospital over the years. Frank Vajda truly makes a difference in Mason District.

Betsy Washington is Mason District’s 2011 Lady Fairfax. Betsy’s passions are horticulture, conservation landscaping, and wildlife. She indulges in all three in the Lake Barcroft Community, where she designed an award-winning Resource Protection Area garden that serves as a model for environmentally sound landscaping for waterfront properties. More than 120 species of native plants replaced an invasive and overgrown area that now is a showpiece for residents. Betsy leads a Tree Replacement Program to regenerate Lake Barcroft’s aging forest, and writes an engaging and educational monthly environmental column in the Lake Barcroft newsletter. Professionally, Betsy is a faculty member in the Landscape and Sustainable Design programs at George Washington University, but her best students and classrooms are at Lake Barcroft, where her enthusiasm and expert guidance reap benefits now and into the future. Betsy’s focused and fervent approach preserves and improves our urban environment.

Frank and Betsy are the latest in a long line of Mason District Lords and Ladies who include Bo White (1984), Helen Winter (1993), Kim Oanh Cook (1997), Sami Kalifa (2003), Arthur Lopez (2006), Dave Conway (2008), and Mike Magill (2010). Some of our Lords and Ladies are no longer with us, but many of the 54 Mason District Lords and Ladies are still working their magic among us, and making a difference for Mason District residents as volunteers and involved citizens. Thank you!


Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be e-mailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov