Steve Adragna is a resident of the Crosspointe community, and a very active member of several local service organizations. He was recently named the West Springfield Rotary Club's 2004-05 Rotarian of the Year, and he is this week's People Profile.
Years in the community:
Sixteen in Fairfax County. My family and I moved from Burke to Fairfax Station in 2000.
My wife, Ellie, and I are blessed with three wonderful children — Anne, 6; Alex, 5; and Charlotte, seven weeks.
I graduated from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in 1985, and then went to The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University to complete my graduate work. I earned the M.A.L.D. degree in 1988, and was awarded a Ph.D. in international security studies in the fall of 1989.
I'm currently the director of intelligence programs for the HawkEye Systems Division of ManTech Gray Hawk Systems, a diversified, high-tech consulting and professional services firm that supports a broad range of clients in the national security realm. It affords me an opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time directly supporting my clients, in addition to handling business development and taking care of the 22 professionals on my team.
I'm most proud of having produced three wonderful children, and I try hard to remember that my most important job title will always be "Daddy." That said, I think my most rewarding professional achievement was rescuing a vital program when I worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency. Senior management asked me to be the program manager of an interagency program that was on a fast track to collapse. I quickly discovered that the program produced all the data to program virtually every piece of electronic warfare gear used by the armed services — the equipment that keeps pilots from getting shot down and ships from taking missile hits. Within two years we took the program from the brink of collapse to top of the defense intelligence community's priority list. My agency gave me the defense intelligence community's highest award for a special act or service, but the credit really goes to all the dedicated people who helped turn the program around. Since then, and especially during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, I like to think that we saved the lives of a lot of servicemembers who might otherwise not come back from their missions.
With two young children and a newborn, I'm afraid I don't have much time to indulge my interests, though I try to preserve some "me" time for reading, music and working out. On those rare occasions when opportunities arise, I enjoy skiing and snowmobiling, SCUBA diving, boating and exploring new places. I hold a private pilot's license, but haven't flown for several years. I'm hoping that next year I'll be able to get back into flying and mixed martial arts.
I stay active in community affairs. I'm currently president of the Crosspointe Homeowners Association, representing over 4,000 people in 1,350 homes. I was a co-founder and currently serve as vice president of the South Springfield Alliance, an umbrella organization comprised of about a dozen South County homeowner associations. I'm a director of the West Springfield Rotary Club, and the coordinator of my firm's partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools. I also stay actively involved in state and local politics.
Favorite local restaurant or place:
Like most people in the Washington area, apparently, we visit L'Auberge Chez Francois on special occasions or in those rare instances when we can arrange for a sitter for the kids. Our favorite local spot for good family dining is The Connaught Place, a charming Indian restaurant in Old Town Fairfax. For recreation, it's tough to top Burke Lake Park.
I think that people increasingly feel disconnected from and distrustful of their government and, conversely, that state and local government are increasingly detached from the concerns of the people who live and work and pay taxes and try to raise a family and build a brighter future for their children. Governmental bureaucracies at the state and local level have grown too large and often seem to have forgotten who works for whom. State and county government continue to grow, but no one seems to be able to demonstrate convincingly where the money is going, or how the average taxpayer is better off now than he or she was four or five years ago.
I believe that we can best improve our community through voluntarism and greater involvement in the affairs of the local area and of our region. In many ways, apathy is our biggest challenge — many people feel that they simply don't have a stake in the policymaking process. We need to help people understand that they have stake in the success and vitality of community and regional civic, charitable and service organizations, and in the political process, and therefore should participate in them actively.
What brought you here?
As far back as my college years, I knew that I wanted to live in this area and to find work that would allow me to support the national interest. By the time I was finishing up my graduate studies and had found a job with the Defense Department, I had fallen in love with Virginia's history, culture, traditions and scenic beauty. So, rather than moving into an apartment in D.C. or Arlington like a lot of other young professionals, I rented a townhouse in the Franconia area. I've lived in Fairfax County ever since. Virginia is our home, and I'm delighted that my children will grow up here.
Community hidden treasure:
The greatest hidden treasure we have is people — the unsung heroes who quietly go about making our community a better place. I wish people would find out more about Rotary. Our club alone sponsors a range of service and charitable programs that have a real impact on people's lives at the local, regional, national, and even international levels. I'm also continually amazed by the selfless and dedicated efforts made by my colleagues in the South Springfield Alliance, by the volunteers who help keep the sprawling Crosspointe community as attractive and family-friendly as it is, and by all the other people who support other area civic associations, our schools, our youth sports leagues, and the like. The sad, and frustrating, thing is that there are far too few of these people. If a great many people each did a just a little, I believe that our community would be very much the better for it.
I'm still enough of an idealist that I'd like to leave my small corner of the world a little bit better off than it was when I got here. In practical terms, I'd like to see a real sense of community take hold in South County, with people really making an effort to be involved and getting to know their neighbors throughout the area, rather than focusing solely within the bounds of their respective HOAs (or, worse, just their particular street). I'd like to help ensure that children in our area have a new middle school to attend sometime before 2017. I'd like to see the old Lorton prison site at Laurel Hill no longer used as a political football and instead turned into a well-planned complex, with a mix of abundant active and passive recreation areas, a "town center"-type, pedestrian-friendly area with upscale restaurants, shopping, and entertainment facilities, and perhaps some professional office space.
Do you know someone who should be featured in the Connection's People Profile? Send your nominations to Jon Whiten at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-917-6422.