One of the best and most difficult parts of my job as RCA President is selecting RCA's Citizen of the Year. It's great because it's wonderful to have the opportunity to recognize a citizen who's doing great work in the community. It's difficult because we're only able to pick one!
Every year, we have a crop of wonderful nominees, any one of whom is entirely deserving of an award. This year was no exception. We had seven finalists, all of whom had done outstanding community service over the past year (and, in many cases, over the past several years or even decades).
I was amazed that not only was the Selection Committee able to pick a winner from this distinguished field, but that we made a unanimous selection. To win the unanimous approval of the Selection Committee requires an exceptional nominee, one whose record of contribution to the community is truly outstanding. And I am pleased to state that we did have a truly exceptional nominee, our 2011 RCA Citizen of the Year: Dr. Nick Brown.
The RCA Citizen of the Year award is a tradition that dates back to 1976, when it was called the Community Service Award. Dr. Brown's name will stand proudly beside such notable past winners as Embry Rucker, Janet Howell, Linda Singer, and our 2010 winner, Dave Edwards. The criteria for selection are as follows:
1. The nominee has been a Reston resident for at least 5 years.
2. The nominee’s actions are consistent with the goals of Reston, and of RCA.
3. The nominee’s actions have contributed to the quality of life in Reston.
4. People in need of help have benefited from the nominee’s actions.
5. The nominee’s deeds were done without thought of personal benefit or recognition.
6. The nominee is not currently serving as an elected public official or a member of the Board of a major community organization (RA, RCA, or RCC).
Nick Brown qualifies on all counts for this award. He has been a Reston resident since 1975, and ever since that time, he has dedicated himself to improving Reston's quality of life in all sort of ways.
One of Bob Simon's founding principles for Reston was that it should be a community that accommodates people of all income levels and stages of life. Nick has done a great deal to help those who are at the lower end of the income ladder, whether that entails repairing and donating old computers or delivering food and furniture to those in need.
He has worked with Restonians of all ages, from serving as a pack leader in the Cub Scouts to founding the South Lakes Band Boosters to working one-on-one with seniors at the Hunters Woods Fellowship House.
Nick is an environmental scientist in his day job, and he has done his best to nurture and assist future generations of scientists in Reston and beyond. For over 15 years, he has volunteered as a judge for local and regional science fairs. He has also worked closely with high school students to encourage their interest in scientific careers, developing a popular motivational environmental science program.
And despite all of this hard work and effort, Nick has never asked for or sought recognition for his efforts, often preferring to work behind the scenes. You may well have run across his efforts for Reston Interfaith, the Reston Swim Teams, the Lake Anne Elementary PTA, or in one of Reston's houses of worship without knowing who he was.
He was nominated by Mandy Guernsey, Reston Interfaith's volunteer manager, who has witnessed many of his good works firsthand and felt he deserved to be honored. As Mandy wrote in her nomination, "It is the selfless contributions of citizens like Nick Brown that make Reston the wonderful community that it is."
We at RCA agree with Mandy. And we believe that it's high time that a champion of community service like Nick Brown gets the recognition he so obviously deserves.
We will be having a ceremony to celebrate Nick's award next month at RCC Hunters Woods. I'll post the specific time and date once it is finalized. I hope that all of you will come out and pay tribute to a man who exemplifies what it means to be a citizen and a volunteer in Reston. Congratulations, Nick!