Tom Fairchild will be leaving Clarendon.
It will be a leisurely departure, as such things go, but a departure nonetheless. Fairchild told the Clarendon Alliance board in January he would be stepping down as the executive director of the community organization, a post he’s held since 1998.
The decision only came to public attention last weekend, though, at the County Board meeting. Sandwiched in amongst complaints about tax rates and the Pledge of Allegiance, Roni Freeman, an Alliance committee chair, used her three minutes before the board to thank Fairchild for the job he’d done in the last four years.
Freeman cited his accomplishments: the Tax Blues Night; Clarendon Day; the Mardi Gras Parade. As she reeled off the list of Fairchild’s accomplishments, she named most of the events central to Clarendon, and some of Arlington’s top draws.
Fairchild himself was a bit more modest. "Tax Blues Night was my first event when I came here," he said. He admits to starting the annual Mardi Gras Parade, and the weekly Flea Market.
Clarendon Day was already in place, he said. But Fairchild brought it to fruition, said Alliance board president Jon Kinney, turning it into a street fair that draws some 10,000 people each year, one of Arlington’s top two or three festivals.
<b>KINNEY UNDERSTANDS FAIRCHILD’S DESIRE</b> to move one. "This isn’t a job you’re in for 20 years. We don’t have a great retirement package," he said. But the Alliance would miss Fairchild’s guidance, Kinney added. "He’s been Mr. Clarendon for quite a while," he said.
The board was accepting applications until Saturday, with more than 35 already in hand. Kinney said he expected the final field to top 40, with applicants coming from across the Washington region: Bethesda, Washington, all over Virginia, Maryland and the District, he said.
"We’ll probably announce a new director on May 1," he said.
But it was easy to recruit candidates, he said, because of the work Fairchild and his predecessor, Eric Dobson, had done promoting Clarendon.
That was the fun part, Fairchild said. "It was great to be the director, you can be so biased," he said.
Where will he land next? Fairchild doesn’t know yet. He’s looking for a job, something that will let him flex the marketing muscles he developed in Clarendon. Fairchild and his partner, Leigh Skaggs, will still be living in south Arlington. But he didn’t want to work for any other community organizations, here or anywhere else.
"I’m not looking to trade for another community," Fairchild said. "I think already worked for the best. Anything else would be a step in the wrong direction."