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Q and A: SFDC Executive Director Edythe Frankel Kelleher

New Executive Director wants to keep the lines of communication open.

Edythe Frankel Kelleher has been enjoying the beginning of her tenure as the new Executive Director of the Southeast Fairfax Development Corporation.

Kelleher lives in Vienna with her husband and has served on the Vienna Town Council for more than a decade. She has also served on the staff of Mason District Supervisor Penny Gross. Kelleher is a member of the Ladies Auxillary of the American Legion and serves on the executive committee of the Virginia Municipal League.

Patch caught up with Kelleher recently to see how her first few weeks on the Route 1 corridor are going.

Patch: How have your first few weeks been?

Kelleher: It’s been good, I have a lot to learn here so I’m just getting my feet wet. I'm in the process of meeting everybody. It's great that there are so many citizens and donors who are so willing to give their time at the organization.

Patch: How does your prior experience translate into your new position at SFDC?

Kelleher: I think (it translates) very well. First of all, there are certain government processes I’m very familiar with, and a lot of it translates from working with the community and working with community groups in Vienna. Vienna has Maple Avenue which is not nearly as long as Route 1 but very similar. It has some of the same kind of challenges as the Route 1 corridor. I am serving as a cheerleader for the community and working with citizens to see how they want the corridor to evolve.

Patch: What are some of the challenges you have faced in your first weeks at SFDC?

Kelleher: My first challenge is to learn all the parcels and all the players, and I want to go to a lot of different meetings...including the local civic associations. The challenges for me on an individual basis are just learning everything I can learn and being an information sponge.

Patch: What would you like to accomplish during your tenure at SFDC?

Kelleher: One thing I would like to accomplish in terms of communication among stakeholders, is to maintain it and improve it. I want to have the residential community brought into conversations. People are concerned about change…and we need to have that dialogue with all those different stakeholders. One of the things I observed is if there’s a proposed project, residents come right in and can make suggestions to actually improve the project. I think all that dialogue is very important. I want to keep that dialogue open.

Patch: What are some of your hobbies?

Kelleher: My husband and I enjoy ballroom dancing, but we don’t get to do it very often. I also enjoy reading and I'm a member of a book club. I'm a member of some other organizations, including the Vienna Lions Club. I still have my license for HAM Radio. I really enjoy my work as an instructor and city counselor for Virginia Girls State at Longwood University each summer.

It's a competition where each state selects two high-school age delegates. In Virginia each city will put up a candidate. That candidate will get up and give a speech, and they are judged on appearance, and public speakers. The winners of Girls State and Boys State will serve as senators at Girls Nation and Boys Nation. They all say this is the best experience they've ever had. They're full of energy and full of ideas. 

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