Twenty years of directing aid and comfort to Fairfax County's less fortunate was honored by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Monday morning with a special "thank you" to Sharon Kelso, executive director, United Community Ministries.
She has announced her retirement and will leave on June 30. That will also mark an end to her 24-year career with Fairfax County government.
"This is truly a sad moment for Fairfax County," said Gerald E. Connolly, Board chairman, initiating the ceremony honoring Kelso. "There are only a handful of people that make the system truly work. Our loss is Las Vegas' gain."
Kelso and her husband Jack, who has served as a County Planning Commissioner, are relocating to Las Vegas. "We want to be closer to family who lives out west," she explained.
"I was privileged to serve on the search committee years ago when Sharon was selected. Out of that process came one of the most outstanding people we've ever had in public service," said Mount Vernon District Supervisor Gerald Hyland.
"Your record in human services is unmatched. You have taken UCM to a new level of service, including child care," Hyland added. "I'm going to miss you and your husband who has stood by you. We love you for what you have done."
Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman noted, "She set the standard for raising and leveraging funds for the needy in this county. And we are much better for that today." Kauffman officially made the motion recognizing Kelso's years of service which were acclaimed in a framed proclamation.
KELSO ASSURED the Board she was not leaving immediately. "I'll be here until the end of the fiscal year to carry out my responsibilities," she said. That was accentuated by her remaining at the Board meeting for the presentation of the Homeless Oversight Committee Annual Message. She also serves as a member of that body.
In accepting the special recognition, Kelso thanked the supervisors for their support "for all our programs." She also acknowledged the support of her husband, family and staff throughout the years.
"UCM is representative of a united community. It has 600 volunteers and thousands of donors as well as thousands of recipients of its services," she said.
Joining Kelso and her husband for the ceremony at the County Government Center were UCM staff members Cheri Zeman, deputy director; Elizabeth McNally, director, Bryant Early Learning Center; Adrian Vaughn, director, Work Force Development; and Herb Lea, director, Business operations.