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Curtis Named Executive of the Year

Eileen Curtis, president and CEO Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce, was recently named the Executive of the Year by the Virginia Association of Chamber Commerce Executives.

Nominated by Scott Gessay, CEO FGM Inc. and former chairman of the board of directors for the Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce, Curtis began her work with the chamber more than 10 years ago.

Gessay said he nominated Curtis because of her role as leader to transform Herndon's chamber, a once quiet organization, into a "major impact player in the community and a catalyst for economic development."

When Curtis first took over the chamber in 1994, it was only the Herndon Chamber of Commerce, said Pat Williams, current chair of the chamber.

Since her involvement with the chamber, Curtis has increased the chamber's revenues by almost four times the amount brought in 10 years ago. She is also credited with having tackled many emergent issues in Herndon and the greater Dulles-area communities.

Curtis has implemented initiatives including a financing package for Phase II of the Metrorail to Dulles Airport that is more receptive to area businesses and established a program to train volunteer teachers of English for Speakers of Other Languages. Curtis has also helped to establish a Hispanic Business Committee to reach out to local business owners, helped set up a Herndon Dulles Visitors Center and companion tourism Web sites and worked on projects to help with the revitalization of downtown Herndon such as the creation of a downtown cultural arts center.

In 1999 Curtis expanded the chamber's geographic reach by incorporating the Dulles Chamber which led to the opening of a Chantilly office earlier this year. She also helped initiate a collaboration with several area schools to enhance the development of youth, earning an award and comment from Fairfax County Public Schools.

Another reach out effort started by Curtis was the establishment of a committee to assist charitable nonprofit organizations. An effort to reach out to the community was done through the chamber's Friday Night Live outdoor summer concert series, which Curtis helped launch 11 years ago. A portion of the proceeds raised through the concerts goes to the chamber while other money is given to help some of the area schools.

Curtis currently serves on the boards of Vecinos Unidos/Neighbors United, Committee for Dulles, Council for the Arts of Herndon, Herndon Foundation for the Cultural Arts, the Virginia Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives and Washington Concert Opera. She has served as the president of the Coalition of Chambers in Northern Virginia and the Metropolitan Council of Chambers of Greater Washington. Curtis is past president of Amadeus Concerts Inc.