Our 2023 Livable Communities and Community Hero Awardees

Tuesday, May 16, 2023 | 6-8pm | Old Ebbitt Grill | 1450 G Street NW | Buy your tickets!

We are honored to announce that this year’s Livable Communities Awardee is City of Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson! Mayor Wilson has been a dynamic and vocal champion for smart growth in Alexandria, working in close collaboration with his fellow council members and a creative, dedicated city staff on numerous major land use, housing, environmental, and transportation initiatives. He served eight years on Council before first being elected Mayor in 2018, and won reelection in 2021. Both elections centered on debates over land use and transportation issues in the city. He is also Senior Director of Supplier Management at Amtrak and holds a BS in Information Systems from Virginia Commonwealth University. Not surprisingly, Mayor Wilson is a systems thinker, who has worked with the Council and city staff to address complex issues facing the city.

Over Justin Wilson’s tenure, the historic 274-year-old City of Alexandria has become one of the DC region’s best examples of a walkable, transit-oriented community, while working hard to preserve and add affordable housing and ensure access to opportunity for all residents. Mayor Wilson has partnered with council members, City Managers, city staff, and engaged residents to implement significant plans, policies, and projects in line with smart growth principles, including:

Transit: Planning, permitting, and funding the Potomac Yard Metro station, only the second infill station on Metrorail; advancing the nationally recognized DASH Bus network redesign and city funding for zero-fare service, achieving record ridership growth; and planning for new bus rapid transit corridors.

Safe Streets: Adoption of Vision Zero; approving successful road diets with protected bike lanes, buffered sidewalks and safer crossings, including major projects for King Street and Seminary Road; automated speed enforcement and lower speed limits in school zones; and pedestrianizing lower King Street.

Land Use: Updating a high-density, transit-oriented plan for North Potomac Yard including a new Virginia Tech campus; the Oakville Triangle redevelopment west of Potomac Yard; implementation of the Waterfront Plan; the Landmark Mall redevelopment; planning for a sustainable mixed-use neighborhood and open space to replace the Potomac River Generating Station coal plant; and continued transit-oriented development in North Old Town, near the Braddock Road Metro station, and at the Eisenhower Metro station.

Housing Affordability: Mayor Wilson has strongly supported the COG regional housing goals, with the City being the first jurisdiction in Northern Virginia to incorporate those goals into its Housing Master Plan. The city has increased funding for affordable housing, reduced parking requirements that add to housing costs, and adopted Residential Multifamily Zoning (RMF) to enable use of significant density bonuses to convert market rate affordable housing to long-term committed affordable housing, while adding more affordable units in mixed-income developments. Approved projects using the award winning RMF zoning include the Heritage at Old Town and ParcView II, each approved in the face of vocal opposition, but with the support of a wide and diverse array of residents and advocates.

Environmental: Addressing the combined sewer overflow problem; accelerating stormwater improvements to better handle heavy rain events; adopting the comprehensive Environmental Action Plan 2040; creating a new city Office of Climate Action with significant funding; and setting strong city greenhouse gas reduction targets while also endorsing the COG target and Transportation Planning Board’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation to 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Sanders-Henn Community Hero Award:

Tina Slater, Montgomery County:

If anyone tells you that volunteer civic activism can’t make a difference, they haven’t met Tina Slater of Montgomery County. Serving in leadership roles with several groups – including Sierra Club, Action Committee for Transit, and Purple Line Now – she’s planned rallies, covered hundreds of meetings, met with decision makers, and even hosted meetups at her home, making activism a family affair with her husband Don and adult daughter Jessie. Tina played key roles in saving the Purple Line and bus rapid transit network, and advocating for bicycle and pedestrian safety, transit-oriented development, and housing. Tina proved you don’t need a fancy title to have an impact, just drive. Montgomery County has new bus lanes, safer streets, and a transit line thanks to Tina’s activism.

Bernard Holloway, Prince George’s County:

Bernard teamed with Cheryl at CSG to build the local advocacy group, RISE Prince George’s – a group of county residents and allies advocating for shared, sustainable prosperity by creating safe, walkable, inclusive and transit-oriented communities. Bernard partnered with CSG to conceptualize the group and helped shape its policy agenda and grassroots engagement strategies. Thanks to his dynamic energy, extensive outreach, and organizing skills, RISE now reaches a broad network of Prince George’s community activists, leaders and influencers. Today, the group is playing an essential role in sharing knowledge about safe streets, better buses, affordable housing, and equitable transit-oriented development, helping to shape county policies and planning.

Kyle O. Reeder, Prince George’s County:

If you’ve been to a RISE Prince George’s event recently, chances are you were guided by Kyle, who regularly serves as moderator. Kyle is a self-proclaimed “community alchemist,” committed to the value of walkable, transit-oriented communities, and a passion to share the vision. He finds purpose in his quest to revive the heart of the County and transform his underserved community of Capitol Heights. He has contributed his positive energy to many community-strengthening endeavors, including helping organize The Capital Market (TCM), a community-based farmers’ market that provides healthy, affordable food options to the Capitol Heights community, supports the growth of local-businesses and farms owned and operated by people of color, and advocates for equitable and culturally-aware food systems.

Kim Hosen, Prince William County:

Kim Hosen was a leader in conservation and sustainable land use in Prince William County for over three decades. A biologist and community organizer, Kim founded the influential Prince William Conservation Alliance in 2002,  educating and training sustainability advocates to engage in the complex land use, transportation, and conservation issues facing the county. She helped establish the county’s Rural Crescent and later served on the Planning Commission, speaking up for smarter growth. Kim’s greatest achievements included establishing the 300-acre Merrimac Farm Wildlife Management Area, creation of the popular annual Bluebell Festival, launch of a Virginia Master Naturalist Chapter, establishment of scenic byways, and training the next generation of conservation advocates. Sadly, Kim recently passed away after a long illness. We will present Kim’s award to her sons. 

Michelle Krocker, Northern Virginia:

Affordable housing is front and center in Northern Virginia in no small part because of Michelle Krocker’s leadership of the Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance over the past 18 years. NVAHA unites advocates, government leaders, and nonprofit and private sector developers of affordable housing to address the unmet housing needs of Northern Virginia’s low- and moderate-income workforce. A trusted and passionate leader, Michelle has successfully mobilized advocates across seven jurisdictions in support of public funding, inclusionary zoning, and mixed-income transit-oriented communities. The 2022 recipient of the Alliance for Housing Solutions’ Ellen M. Bozman Affordable-Housing Award, Michelle recently retired from NVAHA and now serves as the interim Executive Director for Good Shepherd Housing.