Local Commentary

Editor’s Editorial: This Year’s Chamber Award Winners

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s awards given out by the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce at its annual gala last week at the State Theater. They are all representative of the hard work on a daily basis done to make their efforts succeed, and added to that the additional work put in to help out in the wider community, as well. One of the benefits of living and working in a smaller, close knit city like Falls Church are the myriad ways in which good efforts are more evident and recognizable, not only being of help but contributing to the sense of the Little City as a true community where many fewer people “fall through the cracks” of the social bonding that defines it.

This year’s recognitions went to the businesses Diener and Associates, long time generous contributors to organizations like the Tinner Hill Heritage Foundation and Creative Cauldron, and the local franchise of Jazzercise. In each case it was the hands-on local leadership of their principals, Michael Diener and Sandy Kiersz, who made the difference. Diener was not able to be present himself, as his noted scientist father of 102 years just passed away (see story, elsewhere this edition). The newly minted award for Company Culture Excellence went to Body Dynamics, one of whose leaders, Barbara Benson, who has served ably as chair of the Chamber board. The nonprofit of the year went to the Falls Church Education Foundation, led by Debbie Hiscott, and the top award of the night, the Chamber’s annual Pillar of the Community award, deservedly went to Marybeth Connelly, who is the community outreach coordinator for the Falls Church City Schools. In addition, both Hiscott and Connelly are citywide elected members of the Falls Church City Council, an extraordinary challenge for any community-minded person. The whole gala event was pulled together deftly by Chamber executive director Elise Neil Bengtson with volunteer help from Chamber leaders including the current board of directors chair, Emily Jenkins.

The gala was a hoot, with many dressed up in the Bootlegger Ball style of a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. If the Great Gatsby was there, he did not make himself known, nor was Zelda to our knowledge. Despite the plethora of local movers and shakers, there was very little in the way of contention over, for example, the City’s desperate need for more housing, especially affordable housing, something true for the entire nation. The only shaking done on this night was on the dance floor.

Indeed, it was heartening to see things returning to pre-pandemic ways, though caution was not tossed entirely to the wind. Ladies and gentlemen, lest we need to remind you, the Covid-19 crisis is not yet over.

Still, this year’s award recipients were reflective of the true Falls Church that we know and love, and trust will continue on its path to become a better, more inclusive and compassionate, if still growing, Little City.