Meet New SFDC Executive Director

Meet New SFDC Executive Director

Edythe Frankel Kelleher appointed last month.


  • Elected in 2012 as councilmember, Vienna Town Council. Has served continuously since 2002

  • 6 years on the staff of Mason District Supervisor Penelope Gross

  • Member of the Executive Committee, Virginia Municipal League

  • Former economist/statistician, Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics


  • Bachelor’s degree in economics and social sciences, Johns Hopkins University

  • Master’s degree in business administration, George Washington University

Edythe Frankel Kelleher, recently appointed executive director of the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation,

may be the first true “homegrown” executive director in a long line of staff director’s appointed in the past several years by the SFDC. Previous executive directors lived outside of Fairfax County. Not so with Kelleher who served six years on Mason District Supervisor Penelope Gross’ staff specializing in land use and budget issues. In addition, she continues to serve on the Vienna Town Council as an elected official. During the interview she referred to her ties in the Mount Vernon–Lee area by pointing out that her husband grew up in the Marlan Forest community off of Fort Hunt Road.

Q. What is the biggest challenge you face as the executive director?

A. Revitalization of the Route 1 Corridor in areas already developed. Small parcels developed using older outdated standards can only be redeveloped using different land use standards. For example: different standards for parking, screening, green setback, and conformance to new commercial ordinance requirements. The county has identified six distinct revitalization districts amounting to approximately 75 percent of the land parcels adjacent to Route 1 from Fort Belvoir north to the City of Alexandria property line. That is a huge area that will, when revitalized, positively transform the area. The Fairfax County Office of Community Revitalization has been studying these six districts and will complete a report with recommendations in approximately four months that will be submitted to the Board of Supervisors for their consideration and action.

SFDC, the community at large, special interests, and community associations will all have an opportunity to review and comment on the report and make their views known to the Board of Supervisors. The outcome of this revitalization process will help to determine the long term uses of a large portion of the Route 1 corridor in the Fairfax county region. It is a most important undertaking and will be the subject of much debate as we take action to revitalize the Route 1 corridor.

Q. As you contemplate your new position, what are the positives as you see them?

A. I am excited that I was offered and accepted this position. The timing couldn’t be better. The most influential people in the revitalization debate rank the Route 1 corridor as a priority focus along with other priority revitalization areas in the county.

Q. There has been a lot of turnover of staff leadership of SFDC in the past several years. Why?

A. I can only speak for myself. I only know that I have a two-year contract as executive director and I am looking at a potential long-term commitment if I do my job and provide the staff leadership that the board hired me to provide.

Q. For the immediate future you will be monitoring and commenting on the county revitalization report as they study the options for the six revitalization districts. What other priority SFDC projects are coming up?

A. We just completed a very successful economic summit that was well attended. In addition, we have planned a mixed-use summit for May 1, and an information and outreach reception 4-7 p.m., May 21 at the Beacon of Groveton building. Our goal is for Groveton residents, businesses, and anyone interested in what is happening with the rentals and plans in the Groveton area to attend. Everyone is very excited about the changing face of the Groveton area and the positive progress being made by the developers of the Beacon of Groveton building.

Q. In closing, what message would you like to send to the residents, businesses, and community and other groups about SFDC?

A. Simply, our door is open. Anyone can come in and ask questions, get copies of our literature, become familiar with our website and the calendar of upcoming events, and we welcome opportunities to speak at civic associations meetings. I am very excited about being here. This is an exciting transformational time for the Mount Vernon and Lee communities and the businesses that support them. I care about the communities’ concerns and questions.