Patti Stevens, the director for Fairfax County Office of Public Private Partnerships (OP3)  (pictured far right) leads expert panelists Sarah Newman, Executive Director of Connections for Hope, Brian Monday, Regional President for TD Bank and Shirley Ginwright, Chair of the Fairfax County Communities of Trust Committee ( pictured from left to right)  in an enlightening discussion at the April ELI program day.
A Conversation with Deb Cohen, LFI '15

Twenty four pounds of butter. Five dozen eggs. Sixteen ounces of vanilla. These are just a few ingredients covering the table tops of Frontier Kitchen in Haymarket, Virginia. Frontier Kitchen is a community industrial kitchen for bakers, caterers and food truck operators across northern Virginia and is the epicenter of Little Sugars, Deb Cohen's (LFI '15) childhood culinary dream come to life.

Cohen's life journey is an intricate one, as a mother, a psychologist of twenty years-turned-baker, and an active member of the Vale United Methodist Church in Oakton.

"I was going (to LFI), not to further my career as a psychologist, but really to enhance my skills as a leader in my church," Cohen says. She was recruited to the program by Justin Paulson (LFI '09), who also serves in a leadership capacity at Vale. Cohen serves as a co-chair on the missions committee and has led several teams on short term mission trips to Guatemala over the years.  

(Continued after the jump.)

Class of 2018 slots are filling up fast!


Have you nominated your friend or colleague for one of our programs? It's not too late to pass on the next big name in community leadership to

Incoming Class, 

The June 16 deadline is fast approaching! Applications can be accessed at If you have any questions, feel free to reach out or attend an information session. Information session details can be found by clicking  here .

Don't miss out on being part of our next class of leaders! 

Commencement Tickets 

Have you purchased your tickets for the the Class of 2017 Commencement ceremony?

We are excited to celebrate the hard work of our ELI & LFI classes & look forward to seeing you there:

June 14, 2017
6:00-9:30 pm 
at the
Reston Town Center Pavilion 

Sponsor the whole gang or purchase tickets individually on our registration page. 

Special thanks to our commencement sponsors:

Host sponsor:

Dessert sponsor:

Silver sponsor:

Bronze sponsor:
Sky Com

ELI Program Day Presentations

Please Register & Join Us for the
ELI Class of 2017
Project Presentations

From Here to the Community

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

9:00am - 12:00 noon


Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

1133 Reston Avenue

Herdon, VA 20170

Join us for an exciting morning when our Emerging

 Leaders Institute Class of 2017 presents the final

 reports on their community service projects. During this

class year, ELI participants have worked on projects

for these local nonprofits:

Langley Residential

Good Shepherd Housi ng

Training Futures (NVFS)

Let's Help Kids

Phillips Programs


Each of the six teams will discuss the team process, the 

scope of the project, the nonprofit they selected to 

work with, the results of their work and the challenges 

they successfully faced. 

Join LFI Board members, community leaders, corporate

 leaders, nonprofit executives, government human 

service directors and others to hear the impact these

emerging leaders have made on our community!

Honors College Connects Wrap Up

On April 7, students from George Mason University's Honors College Connects program presented the final culmination of their community projects and we couldn't be more proud of their hard work and creativity!

One group was tasked with creating a year long calendar to build excitement for OAR (Opportunities Alternatives Resources) Fairfax's month long "30 Jobs in 30 Days" campaign, complete with logo and other promotional materials. 

" This was a project important to me because it is something that I am passionate about. I am a criminology major, so to hear that there are groups out there making post-incarceration life easier for ex-offenders was refreshing. It was nice to learn first-hand about the work I may be involved in later in my career. It reaffirmed my passion for my major and solidified an idea as to what I should do after my time here at Mason ," Katrina, a student from the group, said.
Another student, Ikram, had this to say about his time spent on the project, " This project made me aware of a different side of society I would not have been aware of otherwise. Learning to create an employment campaign will be useful in my future as a business student."
Leadership Fairfax Alums serve as advisors to the HCC teams.  Interested in working with these talented young folks, contact  
Information Sessions
Please join us for an upcoming information session to learn more about how you can become a stronger community leader by participating in our:

  Emerging Leaders Institute      (ELI) 
Leadership Fairfax Institute (LFI) 
& Lifetime Leaders Program
programs this fall!

Click below to register.

Donation Opportunity
Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program

Executive Director Kelsey Gallagher is  thrilled to share that Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program has received a $500,000 gift to their Build to Thrive Campaign from Jacque Trefry, one of NVTRP's founders, and her husband, LtGen (R) Richard Trefry.
NVTRP is now working to raise $400,000 in cash and pledges and $400,000 in donated services-site work in particular-to fully reach their $3.46 million goal. To help build on the current momentum, Jean and Ric Edelman have offered to match any gift of $1,000 or more to the campaign, up to a total of $200,000.  

If you or someone you know may want to help us reach our goal, please contact Development Director Wendy Baird at  or 
(703) 764-0269.

Congrats to our Alumni!
Lanita Thweatt (LFI '04) was appointed by Supervisor Dan Storck, Mt Vernon District, to serve on the Fairfax County Community Action Advisory Board (CAAB). The CAAB advises the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on the needs, concerns and aspirations of limited-income persons; and recommends policies that promote meaningful change. 

Eileen Elsworth (LFI '07) will receive the NOVA Forward Award, given each year by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce to an individual for "outstanding contributions in leading the Northern Virginia business and nonprofit community forward."

We love hearing your news! Please keep us informed of new opportunities, promotions and other professional happenings so we can shine a spotlight on your success. Marketing Communications Manager Laura Lyon is keeping her eyes open for your emails at 
Thank You to our Annual Sponsors

Contact Us

Karen Cleveland, CEO

Lauri Swift, Director Leadership Advancement

David Bean, Programs Manager

Laura Lyon, Manager, Marketing & Communications


Deb Cohen (LFI '15) continued...
While in the program, Cohen began pondering a career change. In the winter of 2014, she and her sister, who grew up baking together, took a cookie decorating class while home for Christmas in Plymouth, Vermont. Their enjoyment of the class rekindled their childhood dream of having their own café.

"We were having a lot of success with it and it was so much fun. We left that class...we were flying, saying 'This is awesome! This is our business! This is what we have to do...decorating cookies.'"  

By the end of the week, the two had whipped up the name Little Sugars, based on the endearing name their paternal grandmother had given them growing up. They parted ways after the holiday with newfound momentum.

Weeks later, the family was struck by a horrific tragedy when Cohen's father was killed in a hit-and-run accident while crossing the street in Savannah, Georgia, where he had stopped for the night en route to Florida.

"It was shocking and terrible and we completely forgot about Little Sugars," she said.

Cohen was thrust into the spotlight as the PR spokesperson for the family in an attempt to find the person responsible.

In the weeks following her father's funeral, Cohen's mother approached her daughters with the tagline, "Bake. Love. Give." This encouraged the pair to pursue their dream once again, now as a tribute to their father's legacy.
Meanwhile, LFI was in the latter half of their program.

"In that year of going through LFI, I felt like I was hearing from a lot of people in my group as well as the speakers. People were creating a vision...a vision for their organization, for the community, for a certain population. They were setting that vision and they were marching toward it." Cohen said. "The LFI experience gave me the confidence to say 'I can figure this out.'"

Since graduating in 2015, Cohen has pursued Little Sugars full time and recounts her experience with LFI in the midst of several life changes fondly.

"Going through the program, holding my own with other leaders in the community, realizing I'm a leader and I can get things done and I've got people to call on, I've got contributions that people find valuable- it was empowering."

Part of celebrating Leadership Fairfax's 30th anniversary involves spotlighting some of our many noteworthy alumni. Would you like to have a conversation with us? Do you have a recommendation of who should be next? Contact
Recapping the Women's Center Leadership Conference

Leadership Fairfax was proud to be a supporting sponsor of the 2017 Women's Leadership Conference held at the McLean Hilton on April 22nd. Over 800 women and a dozen men spent the day learning from incredible women trailblazers and leaders who shared their perspectives and life journeys. 

Leadership Fairfax CEO Karen Cleveland moderated a panel of three unique business executives who provided a lively and inspiring conversation. The panel was comprised of Brittany Perkins, CEO of Ashbritt Environmental, Ann Ratner, Co-Founder, Stylist and President of Upscale Brands and Ratner companies (which include Hair Cuttery, BUBBLES, Salon Cielo, Salon Plaza ad Cibu), and Krista Woods, Inventor of Glovestix.

Addionally, several LFI alums participated in the World Café in order to foster new ideas about how to engage young women in STEM fields.

March Program Day Went into the Shadows of Fairfax County

New faculty members Barbara Beizer, Zenia Raudseep and Nancy Reller led the LFI class on an experiential journey to resiliency, an important competency considering the topic for the day:The Opioid Epidemic in Fairfax County. 

The Diamond Team completed their research project and presented their findings along with participation from panelists Daryl Washington (LFI'16), of the Community Service Board, Mary Ann Panarelli from Fairfax County Public Schools and Wu Chow, an advocate for those seeking to recover from drug use.  

Supervisor Pat Herrity delivered some bone chilling statistics and details, as did the Fairfax County detectives that deal with heroin users and overdoses regularly. Class participants learned how to tell if someone is overdosing or dead, how to administer Narcan, the antidote to heroin and the terminology associated with the drug issue.  One of the highlights of the day was a visit from Wally, the drug sniffing dog who did not disappoint the class and found a marijuana stash hidden by the officers immediately.  

Upcoming Partner Events



May 17, 2017: Join fellow ELI alums 
and The Future Fund  as they host the  
annual Northern Virginia
Young Professionals  Mixer!
 Register early to receive a discounted

Learn more here.  

 June 23, 2017:  SPARC is    
  offering Leadership Fairfax    
  members $30 off their charity
      golf tournament for our 30th      
anniversary! Make sure to
use  discount code: lfi for
individual registration and
lfigroup for packages of 
four  at check out!           

Learn more here.


June 27, 2017:Get your team
registered for the Corporate 
      Fun Run & support the Leukemia
& Lymphoma Society.   
Learn more here