Getting to Know...

Getting to Know...

Nancy Perry

Nancy Perry is a 10-year resident of McLean and the current executive director of McLean Project for the Arts.


Number of years in the community. 25 years in the Washington D.C. area, 10 years in McLean.

Family. Husband Steve Perry, sons Stephen (16) and Michael (13).

Education. B.A. Duke University - double major in Public Policy and Fine Arts; J.D. Catholic University Columbus School of Law.

Current job/primary occupation. Executive director, McLean Project for the Arts.

Achievements. I am proud to say I am on my third career! I first was involved in public policy, working on the Hill as legislative counsel for a congressman on the House Ways and Means Committee, and then working as a lobbyist for different corporations and nonprofits. I changed careers after my kids were born, and devoted myself to my painting and life as an art consultant, selling artists' work to D.C. area companies. I volunteered at The Phillips Collection as a docent for the children's school tours and at Chesterbrook Elementary as the chair of Art Appreciation and after school art classes. I got involved with MPA as a volunteer, and that launched my third career as director of a nonprofit arts center.

Activities/interests/hobbies. Painting, reading, working out, yoga, attending my kids' sports games and walking our dog.

Favorite local restaurant or place in the community? Greek Taverna - wonderful food and you can't beat the beautiful outdoor seating under the grape vines!

What are your community concerns? What are some ideas you have on ways to improve your community? Working at MPA, which enjoys a public/private partnership with the McLean Community Center and Fairfax County, I have become much more aware of my local community. We are very fortunate to have the McLean Community Center, which offers the finest in cultural attractions — Alden Theater and McLean Project for the Arts. These programs rival those "inside the district" and don't have the hassle of commuting and parking. The MCC offers a diverse range of classes, from children's music to senior's bridge to exercise, cooking and computers. I would love to see the center truly become the "hub" of McLean.

What brought you here? Potomac Fever! As part of my public policy degree at Duke, we were required to come to Washington, D.C. for an internship the summer between junior and senior year. I came and interned at The Children's Foundation, a non-profit advocating for the welfare of children, and was hooked. I love this area — Washington D.C. is the most beautiful city in the nation and has so much culture to offer — art museums, theater and restaurants.

What community "hidden treasure" do you think more people should know about? I am biased, but I do honestly believe that McLean Project for the Arts is the best kept secret in McLean. Many residents still don't know who we are, what we do and where we are! When they visit our galleries at the McLean Community Center, they ask us in surprise, "How long have you been here?" and remark "I never knew you were here!" Hopefully our new entrance to the galleries on the first floor of the community center will help increase our visibility and entice more visitors to the galleries and studio. Many do not know of our reputation in the visual arts community in the mid-Atlantic region. We are one of the top galleries for contemporary art and our exhibitions are reviewed by "The Washington Post" art critics year after year — an honor not many galleries share.

When you were younger, what did you want to be when you "grew up?" First I wanted to be a doctor like my father. Then when I found out I didn't like science, I wanted to be a lawyer and "save the world." I always wanted to help people.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Still at McLean Project for the Arts! MPA is an exciting, thriving, growing organization. We are changing from a small, volunteer-run organization to a mid-level nonprofit with professional staff.  We've written our first strategic plan and have a fabulous board of directors, wonderful volunteers and committed staff. I am relishing every moment of this experience. Not to mention, my job, like all the jobs at MPA, is a part-time family friendly flexible job. It affords me the opportunity to spend most after school hours with my kids. As I have told many of my colleagues and friends, I have the best job in town!

Personal goals? I want to be active and fulfilled and be able to enjoy my family and friends at least until I'm 100 years old, if not older! I want to be one of those 90-year-old ladies kayaking and hiking with her grandchildren.