After starting and operating a successful marketing business for 20 years, Marsha Senack decided to learn something new to add onto her business expertise. The longtime Burke resident and arts lover joined Leadership Fairfax, Inc.'s Signature Program and hopes to become even more involved with the community she calls “a fabulous location.” Recently, Senack sat down to an interview about herself and her experience with LFI.
How long have you lived in the community and what brought you here? I’ve lived in Burke since about '80. So about 25 years. I came to Washington as a management fellow for the National Endowment for the Arts. I had a friend who was living in Burke.
Family: I have a son who’s a sophomore at Lake Braddock.
Your first job: I guess my first job I worked in the box office at a public theater of the New York Shakespeare Festival. My very first job was probably working at an overnight camp in Pennsylvania, which I really loved.
Education: Bachelor’s from New York University in management and industrial relations. And I have an M.B.A. in arts management from UCLA. Coast to coast, I always say I went coast to coast.
Describe your current job: I own the business I started [Ad-centive Marketing] about 20 years ago. We provide promotional material for businesses, associations, nonprofits. Actually, sometimes, we get individuals. Our main thing is to help companies get their message across with really long-lasting kinds of media. I think I’ve always wanted my own business. Even when I was an undergraduate, I really tended toward business things: business courses, adding courses that would help me as a business owner rather than going on to very large businesses where you are trying to get into one particular area of business.
Hobbies: I like to travel. This summer I was in Germany with my son; he’s studying German and loves it. So we travel quite a bit, including car travel. I’ve done three round trips cross-country and driven down to Florida ... I love the theater and the arts; I just went to the opening of the American Portrait Gallery and the American museum of art downtown.
How did you become involved with Leadership Fairfax? I have some friends that have gone through the program, and I’ve been working more and more with nonprofits and smaller businesses and helping them either get started or enhance more their marketing informational areas. So it’s been on my mind for a couple years, and I’d been waiting for the appropriate time. It is a yearlong program, so you have to make sure your business and other family-related things are in sync. So it’s always interesting to me, because I work with a lot of organizations — especially arts organizations — that are looking to develop areas: mostly marketing kinds of areas, increase their management, organization areas. So it was a good way to bring in some of the knowledge that Fairfax County has made available and that they may need to know about operating in Fairfax.
What do you hope to accomplish through the program? Well some of those things, learning about Fairfax but also interestingly small business development in Fairfax. If you look around it’s really no sure the heart, but certainly helps to operate the county. I work with a lot of small businesses in their development, so I want to find out more about that, more about how the county interacts with the state, and the other big areas, the arts. It’s all the quality of life that’s available in Fairfax. Fairfax is a fabulous location, and that’s one of the reasons I stayed here. There’s always something going on. I have friends that come down and every time they come down we see something new: new to me, totally new to them, so there are just tremendous things in this area.
If you could show a community “hidden treasure” to a visiting friend, what would it be? I had friends down this weekend, so we did some of the Washington things. We also went to Origami Avenue in the Del Ray section, I love Old Town Alexandria. But in Fairfax, we went to Clifton Day this weekend, it was wonderful. It was a gorgeous day, a great day to be outside. It was so well done. But there are incredible places here: Center for the Arts, we have new arts venues coming out all the time. So there are just so many that it’s incredible to me ... So would I pick one gem if I had someone who was coming for the day? That’s really hard. We drove by Burke Lake and my friend looked at it and said, “This is your lake?” And I said “Yeah, Burke Lake.”
What are your community concerns? Some of the big ones you always know about, are transportation, education, going out and finding out that there’s a tremendous income gap — and I think we all knew that there are actually homeless people here — between the many people who live below the poverty line in Fairfax and the wealthy, and there’s a growing income gap there. For me, I’m very interested in being involved with a lot of the arts venues being brought to more people, or more people being brought to the venues. You know, education is really a big one. I’m more interested in things like small business development, how can we develop within the county: women getting into their own businesses, seniors getting into their own businesses and the arts.
What is the last book you read and the last movie you watched? I do a lot of books on tape. I’m doing a series of James Patterson right now … and mysteries, Patricia Caldwell. I do read a lot of periodicals and business-related things ... [I saw] "Little Miss Sunshine." It was great.
Personal goals: I’d like to develop more of my marketing, coaching small-business, consulting side of my business. That's certainly a goal. Watching my son develop his leadership skills through Scouts.
— Lea Mae Rice