As I’ve stated before, one of my favorite duties as RCA President is to select our Citizen of the Year. With so many selfless, dedicated citizens doing good work in the Reston community, it’s a pleasure to read the nominations we receive. I love reviewing the testimonials, and discovering all these examples of the spirit of service that makes Reston such a wonderful place.
Some years (as with last year’s winner, Nick Brown), we select a volunteer who many Restonian haven’t heard of, but who’s doing a lot of important low-profile work for the community. And some years, we honor someone you probably have heard of, but who’s done more for the community than you may realize. This year’s winner is an example of the latter. It gives me great pleasure to announce Cate Fulkerson as our 2012 Citizen of the Year.
Cate joins a proud tradition of RCA Citizen of the Year award dating back to 1976. Although she would be too modest to say so herself, she fits right in alongside past winners like Embry Rucker, Janet Howell, Jim Allred, Claudia Thompson-Deahl, and Dave Edwards. As you know if you’ve read my past blogs on this award, 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).
Most of you will know Cate as Reston Association’s Director of Administration, Member Services, and IT. That title’s a bit of a mouthful, but what it means is that Cate is an all-purpose problem-solver. If you’ve ever planned an event at RA, or had an issue with the website, or needed general information or assistance, you’ve probably worked with her. And if you have been lucky enough to interact with Cate, then you know that she’s a shining star. Everyone I know who’s worked with her (and that’s a lot of folks!) uses the same adjectives to describe her: professional, efficient, smart, friendly, compassionate, and dedicated. In short, she’s exactly the person you’d want (but so seldom find) when you need to get things done.
But if you only know Cate Fulkerson as RA administrator, then you don’t know many of the fine things she’s doing in the community. For instance, did you know that she led the effort to bring the “Character Counts” program and Ethics Day to South Lakes High? As a father myself, I know the importance of instilling character in our children from an early age. Cate has done the community a great service by working with community and business leaders to instruct Reston’s children in these values and (perhaps more importantly) taught them how to apply the values in the real world.
Also, did you know that Cate has been a key player in the planning efforts for Reston’s annual Martin Luther King Day celebration? The MLK celebration is a unique and special event that brings together Restonians of all races, ethnicities, and walks of life. There are a lot of people who give a lot of time and effort to planning that wonderful event, including Cate, and the celebration has become an event of which all Restonians should be proud.
Finally, did you know that Cate has served as Board President of Leadership Fairfax? For those who don’t know, Leadership Fairfax (LFI) is a program that trains potential community leaders, including young and emerging leaders, in important skills like strategic planning, conflict resolution, and community leadership. Graduates of the program commit themselves to serve in local nonprofit and community organizations. I’ve long been interested in encouraging more young people to serve their community, and LFI is doing exactly that. I’m very happy to know that Cate is doing her part to help shape the next generation of leaders in Reston.
I could go on, but if I tried to list all of Cate Fulkerson’s contributions to Reston, I’d be here all day. ARCH President Jerry Volloy, who nominated Cate, got to appreciate her skills first-hand as CEO of RA. But any of us who have worked with Cate know what a gem she is, and how lucky we are that she has chosen to serve Reston.
When I wrote Cate to inform her of the award, she replied that she was “greatly humbled” and said, “I love Reston and the citizens that comprise it and continuously work to make it a vibrant community.” That’s exactly the attitude I’d expect from our Citizen of the Year. And I’m glad to honor someone who works quietly, efficiently, and with great dedication to make Reston a better place to live, work, and play.
We will be honoring Cate in a ceremony at RCC Hunters Woods in the coming weeks. I’ll share the date and time as soon as it is finalized. In the meantime, if you’re one of the many Restonians whom Cate has helped, feel free to share your own tribute in the comments.