Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
E-mail this article
Leave a Comment
Print this Article


Jill’s House among top six in national challenge

Jill’s House, which provides respite for children with intellectual disabilities and their families, is one of six finalists in the first-ever “Ultimate Neighborhood Give Back Challenge,” sponsored by Chicago-based Guaranteed Rate, one of the largest retail mortgage lenders in the country.

Guaranteed Rate is conducting a nationwide search for people and organizations whose efforts already make a difference in their communities but who would like to do more. Candidates submitted ideas for projects that would enhance their ability to give back.

The grand prize winner will receive $50,000, plus a day of help from home improvement expert Ty Pennington.

“Narrowing the 50 semifinalists to six finalists was an incredibly difficult decision,” said Pennington. “All of the projects are amazingly worthy efforts to improve communities around the country, and it’s been inspiring to see how many organizations are doing great things for the cities and towns where they live.”

Jill’s House, at 9011 Leesburg Pike in Vienna, serves boys and girls ages 6 to 17 with intellectual disabilities in the greater Washington, D.C., area. Founders Lon Solomon, senior pastor at McLean Bible Church, and his wife, Brenda Solomon, named the facility for their daughter, who was born with Dravet syndrome, a rare seizure disorder.

The six finalists were chosen from 50 semifinalists, winnowed down from 320 entries. Jill’s House would use the winnings to build a fully accessible indoor playroom for children of all abilities.

A final round of voting is open through July 29. The finalists will be judged on three criteria: impact to the community; a plan in place to execute the idea; and the number of votes received.

The grand prize winner will be named Aug. 1. The five remaining finalists will receive $10,000 each to help make their projects a reality. As of Wednesday, Jill’s House was in the No. 3 spot. To vote, visit

Donation helps children entering foster care

Members of 100+ Women Who Care Northern Virginia have donated $4,200 to the Northern Virginia chapter of Comfort Cases, a nonprofit that provides suitcases and backpacks filled with personal care items for children to use as they move to foster homes.

The donation from the Falls Church-based group “will allow us to provide 195 packs for kids in the Northern Virginia area who are entering foster care,” said Emily Stevens, 17, founder of the Northern Virginia chapter of Comfort Cases.

Since foster care often happens unexpectedly, Comfort Cases gives children the basic essentials to help start a new life in an unfamiliar home. Tucked in the backpacks and suitcases are sleep-away necessities such as pajamas, slippers, soap, shampoo, other toiletries, coloring books, stuffed animals and blankets. For more, visit

FCPS students win National Merit Scholarships

The National Merit Scholarship Corp. has named eight recent graduates of Fairfax County public high schools winners of college-sponsored National Merit Scholarships.

Celia Islam, Marshall High School, National Merit George Washington University Scholarship.

Brian Clark, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, National Merit Case Western Reserve University Scholarship.

Adam Friedman, TJHSST, National Merit Emory University Scholarship.

Nicholas Jones, TJHSST, National Merit University of Central Florida Scholarship.

Thomas Lunn, TJHSST, National Merit Bowdoin College Scholarship.

Timothy Ruiter, TJHSST, National Merit University of Georgia Scholarship.

Vishal Talasani, TJHSST, National Merit University of Chicago Scholarship.

Tony Xiao, TJHSST, National Merit Vanderbilt University Scholarship.

Each award provides $500 to $2,000 annually for up to four years of undergraduate study at the institution financing the recipient’s scholarship.

This is the third, and final, group of merit scholarship winners to be announced this year. The first two groups were announced in May. Awardees were listed in the May 9 and 30 editions of this column.

Business briefs

Rhodeside & Harwell, a landscape architecture and planning practice headquartered in Alexandria, has promoted three of its senior staff.

Kurt Parker, an associate principal and landscape architect, has been promoted to shareholder. Parker joined the firm in 1994. He currently manages the landscape design for the new Health and Engineering Building at James Madison University, renovations to the Japanese Pavilion at the U.S. National Arboretum, and site and landscape development for new U.S. embassy campuses in North and West Central Africa, the Balkans and the Southwestern Pacific Region.

Meredith Judy, a planner with 13 years of experience, has been named an associate principal. She oversees planning and community outreach for the Route 1 Multimodal Alternatives Analysis for the Virginia Department of Rail & Public Transportation; planning for the Rosslyn Sector Plan update; and the Central West Focus Area planning study near the planned expansion of the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill campus.

Thomas Rainer has also been named an associate principal. A landscape architect with 12 years of experience, Rainer oversees development of the master plan for the Journey Through Hallowed Ground Living Legacy project from Gettysburg to Charlottesville.

• Town Manager Mercury Payton has announced the appointment of Ken Kroski as Vienna’s new public information officer. Kroski assumed his new duties July 14.

Kroski was selected from 121 candidates. He was most recently a public information officer with the City of Phoenix, Ariz., where he served for the past 13 years.

• Two attorneys with Constangy, Brooks & Smith LLP, a national labor and employment law firm with offices in Fairfax, have been included in the 2014 Virginia Super Lawyers publication.

Partner and office head James Coleman was selected in the Employment & Labor category. He has 31 years of experience in counseling employers on wage and hour matters, as well as defending employers in wage and hour litigation and administrative proceedings.

Jena Cottreau, partner, was selected as a Virginia Rising Star for Employment Litigation: Defense. She defends employers in employment litigation involving anti-discrimination laws, wage and hour compliance, whistleblower actions, trade secrets, restrictive covenants, traditional labor matters, and other employment torts and contract disputes.

• The Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants announced the winners of the Outstanding Member of the Year and the Top 5 Under 35 at an awards ceremony in Richmond.

Bob Baldassari of Fairfax received the Outstanding Member of the Year Award. He is a partner at Matthews, Carter & Boyce in Fairfax and a longtime VSCPA volunteer leader. He serves as chair of the Professional Development Committee and is a former member of the VSCPA Board of Directors and past president of the VSCPA’s Northern Chapter.

Dan George, senior auditor at Cotton & Company in Alexandria, received a Top 5 Under 35 Award. The award recognizes professionals under the age of 35 for their notable achievement. George works on a financial consulting engagement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. He is a member of the VSCPA’s Young Professionals Advisory Council.