Living Legends of Alexandria announced this year’s nominees on Dec. 10 at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center at Northern Virginia Community College, Alexandria. Music by the NOVA Community Chorus, Alexandria Band and Jazz Ensemble set the stage for a tribute to the 2016 Living Legends of Alexandria nominees. Dr. Jimmie McClellan, Dean of Liberal Arts and 2012 Living Legend of Alexandria, introduced the 2016 nominees.
Every year, Living Legends of Alexandria invites the community to nominate neighbors they know or citizens they admire for recognition by the community as a whole. The projects, philanthropy and work these individuals do help move Alexandria forward. Living Legends of Alexandria is an on-going, not-for-profit photo-documentary project to identify, honor and chronicle people making current history in Alexandria. The Office of Historic Alexandria archives this documentation so it can be remembered for years to come.
In January, the board of directors of Living Legends will announce the Living Legends for 2016. A Meet the Legends reception will be held on March 15.
Elizabeth “Betsy” Anderson
Betsy Anderson was nominated by the Art League, Torpedo Factory Artists’ Association and Torpedo Factory Art Center Board for significant contributions to Alexandria arts. Simultaneously with demanding volunteer duties, Anderson has sustained an impressive career as a painter with works represented in private and corporate collections nationally and internationally. She lives her vision nurturing the arts and artists enriching Alexandria.
Janet Barnett is a powerhouse of commitment to our city’s senior population. As executive director of Senior Services of Alexandria she handled marketing, fundraising and community outreach, expanded the Meals on Wheels program and the Friendly Visitor program which provides in-home visits to seniors. Barnett also established the Senior Resource Center and implemented the popular Speaker Series.
Coach Herman Boone in 1970 built a cohesive and cooperative high school football team from two rival Alexandria teams, one predominately white and the other predominately black, joined by integration into a single high school. He also sought out and obtained college athletic scholarships for more than 50 black athletes. The film, “Remember the Titans,” commemorates the state championship team and Boone’s leadership.
For Keith Burner, it’s all about the kids. He’s been instrumental in many projects for the Dunbar Alexandria Boys & Girls Club and other civic organizations. “I think kids benefit from having positive role models in their lives. I just do my part.”
The mother of a child with autism, Yolie (Yolanda) Carrasco (left) saw a need to bring disability awareness into the classroom. In 2008 she joined with Mildred Rivera, mother of twin boys with autism, and together they led a “gang of moms” to create programs on inclusiveness during Disabilities Awareness Month and Autism Awareness month in Alexandria schools.
Diane Charles has lived and worked in Alexandria over 30 years. She has recognized community needs and found ways to make positive change. As director of Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN) for 11 years and currently leading ALIVE! she has grown and strengthened programs and staffing and leads by example as a citizen-volunteer.
Ruth and Bill Cleveland
Ruth and Bill Cleveland have been involved in community activities for years with Bill becoming the first black Republican on City Council where he served 15 years, six as vice mayor. They are actively involved with the nonprofit organization, The Untouchables, serving young men 5 to 18 years old. The Untouchables learn civic responsibility while giving back to the community.
Wanda Dowell began work at Fort Ward in 1965, rose through the ranks and served as site director for more than 20 years, attaining museum accreditation and a designation on the National Register of Historic Places. Dowell said, “Just because you are a small museum, there is no reason you can’t be a quality museum.”
“The Dream Dog story: See a Need, Create a Program!” So says, and does, Lorraine Friedman, attorney/mom/volunteer/songwriter/teacher whose creative programs reach broadly and deeply into Alexandria. Since 2002, the DreamDog Foundation has served thousands of children and adults with innovative literacy, creative writing, performing arts and empowerment programs and has put 250,000 books on shelves for children in their neighborhoods.
As music director of the Washington Metropolitan Association (WMPA), Ulysses S. James is a Legend to Alexandria’s classical music audiences. In his 31 years of leadership, presenting 28-30 annual events, James’ impact has been extraordinary. The City of Alexandria and the Arts community have been and will be for many years to come, the beneficiaries of his years of service.
Kim Allen Kluge
As music director of the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra for 28 years, Kim Allen Kluge contributes to the rich cultural fabric of Alexandria through his outstanding artistic leadership and a strong connection to the local community. Passionate about music education, in 2003 he founded the Children’s Arts Festival and spearheaded the 2012 ASOSympatico project with teachers at John Adams Elementary School.
H. Warden Foley and William McNamara
Because of their positions of leadership at American Legion Post 24 over many decades, it is recognized that the gift of historic Gadsby’s Tavern and adjacent City Hotel buildings to the citizens and City of Alexandria would never have happened without Warden Foley and Bill McNamara.
Steve Nearman couldn’t change things for every young person, but hoped to help one child to take the better fork in the road. Between 1999 and 2015 he volunteered and led the Child & Family Network Centers, which provides preschool for at-risk children. An avid runner, he created the Woodrow Wilson Bridge half-marathon and the Visually Impaired Half Marathon Championships to benefit area charities.
Roger Parks, founder/owner of American Advertising Distributors of Northern Virginia, has created marketing programs for the city’s tourism interests. His board service includes the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, the Alexandria Police Foundation, the American Heart Association, the Old Town Business Association and the Old Town Business and Professional Association. He served as president of the King Street Metro Enterprise Team.
Joan Daggy Singer, founder and director of the acclaimed Alexandria-based tango quintet, QuinTango, has created and performed an array of tango-related music programs for Alexandria elementary school children, immigrant communities and other community groups to help bridge cultural differences and to celebrate their heritage and their community of Alexandria.
Lisa Cole Smith
Lisa Cole Smith dreamed of being an actress as a child. As she grew up, her faith became a larger part of her life. Combining these two passions seemed impossible, but now, as pastor of Convergence in Alexandria, she’s living a dream of her own creation and serving a wide and growing community of artists, audiences, and the faithful.
Jodie Smolik came in 1997 to The Winkler Preserve, 45 acres of native plants and wildlife near I-395. She created innovative science education programs offered free to all Alexandria City Public School students, built the structures to sustain them, and defended the preserve when it was threatened by highway construction in 2010, an effort successful with support of parents, teachers and the children.
Jen Walker works behind the scenes, helps neighbors in need, rounds up volunteers to make sure an event will happen, and steps up every time to sponsor all those events that make a community a community. A successful Realtor, her heart, hands, and her love for her neighbors and Del Ray is endless. A vibrant community returns her love.