Potomac Day 2018: Honoring Community Service

Potomac Day 2018: Honoring Community Service

Annual Potomac Day Parade returns to Potomac Village on Oct. 20.

Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue  Squad at last year’s Potomac Day Parade.

Bethesda Chevy Chase Rescue Squad at last year’s Potomac Day Parade. Photo by Deb Stevens.

Three citizens and a Potomac nonprofit business have been selected by the Potomac Chamber of Commerce as its 2018 honorees. Not only do these honorees volunteer their time and talents to help the community, they give of themselves both professionally and personally in a multitude of ways. They will be featured in the Potomac Day parade and also recognized by the Potomac Chamber of Commerce in November at a dinner held at Normandy Farm Restaurant.

The honorees are: Grand Marshall of the Parade – Julia Perlman, Potomac Youth of the Year – Katelyn Foreman, Potomac Citizen of the Year – Susanne Lee and Potomac Non-Profit Business of the Year – Kindworks.


Julia Perlman – Grand Marshal of the Parade.

Julia Perlman, Grand Marshal of the Potomac Day Parade

Julia Perlman literally became a “mover and a shaker” in Potomac when she could no longer stand the deterioration of the grounds surrounding the Potomac Library. Working with Montgomery County Public Library representatives, the Friends of the Potomac Library and her own Potomac Village Garden Club, she personally moved and shook the earth — as well as people to improve the gardens. With shovel and pruning shears in hand, she tackled the task of turning the unkempt space into a beautiful arboretum setting on all four sides of the Potomac Library. She also wrote a brochure for library patrons, explaining which plants are in the garden. This garden serves as a teaching garden for the Girl Scouts and Brownies.

Perlman said, “I read a book called ‘Outside Lies Magic’ about how important it is to incorporate visual things into spaces. I lobbied to plant upscale plants around the library and to create an oasis for all to enjoy. The Potomac Library is one of the most used libraries in Montgomery County and should be lovely on the outside as well as on the inside. Our Potomac Village Garden Club maintains the plantings and the space. We try to make it a beautiful spot that everyone in our community will enjoy.”

Perlman grew up in Rochester, N.Y. and moved here in 1968. She was educated in chemistry at Mt. Holyoke and Yale. For the past 20 years she has volunteered as a Garden Docent at Hillwood. She also serves on the Board of the Chesapeake Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, volunteers as a member of the Canal Trust and at Real Foods for Kids Montgomery, lobbying for healthier foods to be served to school children.

“This award came as a complete surprise and I’m proud to serve as the Grand Marshal,” said Perlman. “I’m usually working behind the scenes so I feel completely honored to be out in front today. I am thrilled that Carol Jarvis and the Potomac Village Garden Club nominated me.”


Susanne Lee — Potomac Citizen of the Year.

Susanne Lee, Potomac Citizen of the Year

Susanne Lee is nominated for her leadership and service to the West Montgomery County Citizens Association (WMCCA) and, in turn to the Potomac community. She has spent countless hours ensuring that the Potomac Master Plan is adhered to, the streams are kept clean, and the environment is sustained with green spaces remaining green.

Originally from Eagles Mere, Pa., a Victorian summer resort on a pristine lake in north central Pennsylvania, Susanne was surrounded by thousands of acres of state game lands. She said, “I think love for the outdoors and everything green was hardwired in my DNA and this is one of the reasons I love living in the Potomac Subregion.” She left this area to attend Dickinson College, earned her Masters at the University of Pittsburgh and her JD from George Washington University.

Ginny Barnes, president of the WMCCA, said, “Susanne’s knowledge of the law, ability to dig into tough legal issues with water and sewer policy, Special Exception uses and issues before the Board of Appeals has helped the Association navigate our way with County, State and even the Federal Government. Her contributions are nothing short of remarkable. Though self-effacing and quiet, Susanne has spent untold hours working for our community. She is well-respected by the Montgomery County Council, Parks and Planning Department and other governmental agencies. Susanne currently serves as zoning chair and is the president-elect of the WMCCA for 2019/2020.”

Lee said, “I feel so honored to receive this award for work that I love to do for my incredible neighbors and the awesome West Montgomery County Citizens Association. I am pleased to follow in the footsteps of my heroes – former West Montgomery award winners Ginny and George Barnes and Lois Williams. In my professional and volunteer work, the goal has been to apply sound science, common sense, and the rule of law to ensure the very best outcome. Although the sound of chain saws still sends shivers down my back, the objective is not to stop development, but to ensure it is done intelligently.”

Retired from the EPA, Lee became environmental counsel for the Government of Palau, an island nation in the western Pacific. Her love of diving and snorkeling exploded there and she spends a lot of time on coral reefs throughout the world.


Katelyn Foreman — Potomac Youth of the Year.

Katelyn Foreman, Potomac Youth of the Year

Katelyn Foreman, a senior at The Bullis School, was nominated by her guidance counselor Lynn Kittel. She has attended Bullis since grade 6, and lived in Potomac her entire life. She is curious and kind – two features that allow her to achieve excellence in all aspects of her life. Her counselor wrote, “Katelyn must have some magical power that allows her to extend time! It just does not seem possible that she can accomplish as much in each day as she does. She appears to be superhuman in that regard, and yet, anyone who meets Katelyn will tell you she is as grounded, caring and as ‘real as they come.’ With her genuine kindness and gregarious nature, Katelyn puts everyone at ease and welcomes them into her sphere. She is the perfect example of someone who can be successful at all she attempts yet always be at ease and relatable.”

Not only does Katelyn carry the highest GPA in her class, she is an accomplished dancer at the CityDance Conservatory where she spends 15 hours each week in classes and rehearsals. She also dances and choreographs for the Bullis After-School Dance Program, represents her classmates in Student Government and is a leader in the Bullis Student Tutors Organization. She tutors many younger students and has served as head of marketing for the program. Additionally, she is involved in UNICEF and Booster Club and spent her summer teaching dance to senior citizens at the Hebrew Home. She wanted to share her love of dance with the residents of an assisted living facility and thoroughly enjoyed watching the seniors move and smile along with the music.

Katelyn said, “I am both humbled and honored to be named the Potomac Student of the Year. Throughout my many years in the Potomac area, I have always looked forward to the Parade as a celebration of this wonderful community. Dogs in tow and a Potomac Pizza slice in hand, the Potomac Day festivities have been surrounded by happy thoughts and joyous memories. I look forward to continuing this tradition with family and friends, adding a new special touch and an unforgettable memory.”

By the time she completes her senior year, Katelyn will have taken 18 Honors and Advanced Placement courses. She plans to attend a four-year university next year but is undecided about her major or long-term plans. Her interests are across the curriculum in science, global studies and the arts.


Salma Hasan Ali, chief inspiration officer; Deb Lang, executive director; and Denise Schleckser, board chair, of Kindworks – nonprofit business of the year for Potomac Day.

KindWorks – Nonprofit Business of the Year

KindWorks is a non-profit which brings people together to address some of the most urgent needs in the community, including poverty, hunger, environment, health, emergency relief, and promoting understanding. By making it easy for people to participate in volunteer projects, KindWorks makes service a part of everyone’s daily routine.

"We believe that by bringing people together as a group, not only can we provide much needed service and support, but we can also learn from and inspire one another, and therefore have a much more profound and long lasting impact," said Executive Director Deb Lang.

KindWorks focuses its efforts in three main areas: helping low income neighbors, for example by preparing meals using recovered foods and organizing social and health related activities such as Bingo and yoga for area shelters; supporting new legal refugee neighbors, by gathering donated furniture and setting up welcoming apartments, along with other projects; and supporting inmates who will soon re-enter the community, through job-readiness training, life coaching, weekly chess classes, and more.

"KindWorks is about understanding that each one of us can do something, however small or big, to impact the life of another person for the better," said Chief Inspiration Officer Salma Hasan Ali. "The world's problems can seem so overwhelming — it's easy to feel stuck. By helping our neighbors in need, at least we can take that first step in a positive direction."

For example, KindWorks just set up its 32nd apartment (in the past 18 months) for a refugee family of nine coming from Afghanistan. A group of more than 25 people, aged 10 to 60-plus, gathered on a Saturday morning to assemble furniture, stock the pantry, fill backpacks, sort toys and clothes, and decorate an apartment so it feels like a home. They even arranged for a home-cooked Afghani meal for the new neighbors upon their arrival. (Learn more about this KindWorks story on Salma’s website: http://www.salmahasanali.com/she-never-met-a-stranger/.)

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