Mixing Business with Helping

Mixing Business with Helping

Georgia Graves often works on more than one project at once.

This is the fifth in a series of articles about the Best of Reston Award winners.

She is respected in the community as an innovative business leader, a quality she willed to share with many local organizations. Georgia Graves has brought her business experience and leadership to virtually every chamber of commerce in the area. More than that, she is a proven musician and avid supporter of local arts.

"She is someone who has really boundless energy," said Tracey White, vice president for community and government relations for Hospital Corporation of America. White served as the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce president during the time Graves served as the chamber's chairman.

White added that Graves is a person who undertakes many projects simultaneously. "She is usually helping four organizations at a time," said White. Graves has done work with many local business organizations, as well as many non-profit organizations. "The list [of projects] goes on and on," said White. "I don't know how she does it, other than she doesn't require sleep." More than offering her knowledge to smaller businesses and organizations, White said Graves is always ready to help, and never stops smiling. "You can always ask Georgia to help, and if it's in her capacity she will not turn you away," said White.

During their time together at the Reston Chamber, White said Graves did a lot to promote the cause of smaller businesses. "She was always concerned about small businesses getting the services they needed," said White. This was especially popular with the Reston Chamber, since most of its members are small businesses.

MICHAEL CLARKE, PRESIDENT and CEO of Access National Bank — another Best of Reston Award winner this year — served on the Reston Chamber board together with Graves and White. He said Graves is a person of incredible energy. "It starts with her business, but she doesn't give up when it comes to the community," he said.

During the time they worked together at the Reston Chamber, Clarke said Graves presented a number of unique fund-raising initiatives, which supported some of the Chamber's smaller businesses. Aside from her energy, Clarke said Graves' ability to help people network was key in her positions with the Reston Chamber. He said Graves made sure the members of the Reston Chamber do business with each other through her member-to-member initiatives. "She helped instill the sense of community within the business community," said Clarke. He added that her networking efforts at the chamber were especially important during the middle and end of the last decade, when it seemed all business may soon be conducted via the internet.

While Graves gave much of her attention to smaller businesses and organizations, she also devoted a lot of personal attention to her own customers. Access National Bank is a client of Bridgman Communications, Inc., a company where Graves serves as president. "She is willing to go above and beyond for her customers," said Clarke. He said Graves was on site when Bridgman installed its phone system at Access National Bank. "She was there making sure the phone system was working and the personnel were trained," said Clarke.

BESIDES HER INVOLVEMENT with her own business, other local businesses, the many chambers she works with and other organizations, Graves is also a wife, a mother and a drum major for American Originals Fife and Drum Corps. White said that the fact Graves gets to all of her activities is miraculous in itself.

"She serves as an inspiration and mentor to many businesses within our region," said Jen Sterling, Best of Reston fund-raising co-chair, while she announced Graves as one of this year's Best of Reston winners on Jan. 11. "Take note: Georgia can show you how to be active in the community," said Sterling.