Each of the personages I’m recalling deserves individual stories. Their services to Alexandria have meant a great deal to not only the government structure but to each and every citizen.
During the week past two fine public servants retired, each after more than three decades of active service. Both personages are distinguished women. I can say that proudly because I have known them and their achievements.
Michele Evans and Mondré Kornegay turned off their computers on July 31, packed away their professional mementoes. Michele left her post at City Hall as deputy city manager. Mondré completed her tour of duty as a Commander of the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office on Mill Road.
I’ve tried for years to get Ms. Evans’ OK to write about her achievements. Every request was met with “no, no, no. Please. There are too many other people to be featured.”
Well, on this occasion, I didn’t even ask permission. A crowd of well-wishers filled George Washington’s Masonic Memorial. The guest stream was awesome and she met everyone with a smile. I asked if she were to become a city manager somewhere else than her beloved Alexandria. “No,” she grinned. “I’m going to rest.”
The tributes she received were many. She was recognized for her leadership and guidance for 37 years, attending practically every City Council meeting during her tenure. Now that is an achievement in itself but she was invaluable to council members and mayors with vital advice and counsel.
Former mayor and retiring U.S. Rep. Jim Moran admitted, in his praise of Michele, that he had always had a “crush” on her. Agreeable laughter boomed throughout because, of course, so did everybody else in the room.
Among her longtime responsibilities was “overseeing” public safety – the Franklin P. Backus Courthouse, the Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department, Police department, the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter. She could have been an un-uniformed, but influential, Director of Public Safety. She played key roles over the years in construction of what is now the William Truesdale Adult Detention Center of the Sheriff’s Office, the new Wheeler Avenue Police Headquarters, several fire department facilities and the Beatley library.
Mondré Kornegay served the sheriff’s office with distinction. A native of Hampton, she was a leader in inmate counseling services, leading information services and guided the sheriff’s accreditation programs.
Since 2009 she has served Offender Aid and Restoration in Arlington and Alexandria and currently is chairman. This organization, as its name OAR implies, helps offenders return to their communities after serving jail sentences.
Mondré isn’t retiring though from her public service. She transitions from jail management to a Family Law Practice in Maryland. She is a member of the Maryland Bar and has been an effective attorney.
The commander’s chief joy is her daughter and two grandchildren. This experience leads her to assisting families in legal matters. I can say, without fear of contradiction, she is also a master kitchen aficionado and could easily have her own reality television program.
Her retirement fete obviously was in an Alexandria family restaurant, packed and jammed with colleagues. Stories were warm, fun and with happy remembrances of her service.
I like to think of Michele and Mondré as Alexandria’s “Divine Miss Ms.” They set high standards for public service, professionals of the highest order.