Leaving Fairfax With Something to Remember

Leaving Fairfax With Something to Remember

Tawny Hammond led shelter to place 95 percent of animals in adoptive homes.

Tawny Hammond will depart for Austin after leading the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.

Tawny Hammond will depart for Austin after leading the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. Photo contributed

At some point in life, every person should hear gratitude the way the members of the Board of Supervisors expressed theirs to Tawny Hammond.

“I’m all shaky and rubbery inside,” said Hammond, who heard 15 minutes of appreciation Tuesday, June 23 from the Board of Supervisors.

“I believe every day is a gift. I’ve been given the gift of life and I believe we’re supposed to make the world a better place,” said Hammond, who is moving to Austin, Texas, and leaving her position as director of Fairfax County’s animal shelter. “I think of the movie, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ I think I’ve had a wonderful life and I thank you very very much. This is quite an honor.”

THE BOARD of Supervisors honored Hammond, the director of the animal shelter since 2012 and Supervisor Jeff McKay’s 2014 Lady Fairfax, for 26 years of service to the county, to her neighborhood and to the people and animals of the Fairfax community.

“Tawny, more than anything, you have shown the impact that one person can have on the community,” said Supervisor Pat Herrity.

“Tawny, for those who want to know what public service is about, you exemplify the best,” said Supervisor Gerald Hyland.

“Anytime we ran into something that looked impossible, Tawny was able to pull it off,” said Chairman Sharon Bulova. “I used to say her title was, ‘The Person Who Can Pull A Rabbit Out of a Hat.’”

“You leave us with a lot, you’ve given us a lot,” said Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. “Tawny has been amazing every place that she’s gone.”

“When Tawny went home at night, she lived the community, she cared about every aspect of the community,” said Supervisor Jeff McKay “There’s only one Tawny Hammond in this world, and she’s been amazing.”

U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly came back from the Hill to return to the familiar Fairfax County Government Center auditorium.

“When I think of Tawny Hammond, my image is a big heart. Everything she threw herself into, she made a difference,” Connolly said.

“Our community has benefitted from Tawny Hammond. She came here from Chicago with a sense of community and a sense of how to get things done. Not Chicago style, Fairfax style,” he said. “She has immeasurably added to the quality of life for thousands of our fellow citizens.

“I wish we had an Ordinance that made it illegal for Tawny Hammond to even consider moving away,” Connolly said. “Soon, I expect to be reading articles and thinking, ‘How is Texas changing so fast?’”

“Tawny, our hearts are broken. We are going to miss you,” he said.

Hammond helped Fairfax County become the largest jurisdiction in the United States that found homes for 90 percent of animals, according to Board documents.

She increased the rate to 95 percent in 2014.

She directed the renovation, construction and opening of the new animal shelter, helped double the amount of volunteer hours donated to the shelter, and helped more than 1,000 dogs receive new adoptive families in 2014.

Frey thanked her for the groundwork she paved for future efforts Fairfax County will make with the animal shelter.

“The Board unanimously approved a motion several weeks ago to look at reconstruction and to elevate the animal services division to a stand alone independent department that I think will give it the flexibility and visibility and resources to truly take the next steps” towards making it one of the most outstanding programs in the country. “That is in large part because of the work you did and the people that you brought in,” he said.

Connolly discussed Hammond’s efforts to make his family proud owners of shelter graduates.

“I know I have two,” said Connolly. “My dog, a Bichon poodle mix, she came from the animal shelter. Abigail Adams,” he said. “Then, I don’t know how Tawny did it, but she persuaded my wife and daughter, without me, to visit the animal shelter where the largest cat you’ll ever see lived.

“We adopted him,” said Connolly. “His name is William Howard Taft.”

Connolly listed numerous awards Hammond has been given by Fairfax County entities, including Lady Fairfax, Supervisor of the Year when she was with the Park Authority, Volunteer of the Year for the Lee District, Citizen of the Year, and awards for public service, compassion and numerous others.

HAMMOND also received the A. Heath Onthank Award from the Board on June 23. Under Hammond’s leadership, the animal shelter was recognized by the Humane Society of America’s President Wayne Pacelle for being in the top 1 percent of municipal shelters in the United States.

“I know you’ll say it’s the team, all good leaders say it’s the team, but great teams have great leaders and you clearly are one,” said Herrity.

As Herrity predicted, Hammond delivered.

“I think some of the things that were said were incredible,” she said. “But I have to hold a mirror up to you all and to the rest of the people behind me.”

“The only thing that I can really take credit for is finding good people, and getting out of people’s way, not being insecure and being okay with not being the smartest person in the room but surrounding myself with really good people who do really good things.”

“We will definitely miss you,” said Herrity.