McLean Community Center (MCC) officials have certified 13 Dranesville Small District 1A residents – five adults and eight teens – to run for seats on the center’s Governing Board.
The board sets policy and provides general oversight for all facilities and programs of the center, including the Robert Ames Alden Theatre and the Old Firehouse.
Dranesville Small District 1A residents can vote during the election. Open voting began March 17 and will end on May 15.
Three adult positions and two youth seats are open this year. Adult candidates who receive the three highest vote counts will serve three-year terms, while the youth candidates ñ one each from the McLean and Langley high school boundary areas – will serve one-year terms. Youth candidates need not attend those schools to serve on the board.
Here are the adult candidates’ personal statements:
• Sepehr Harandi: “I’m a McLean boy, I attended Churchill Road Elementary, Cooper Middle and Langley High schools, Longwood University where I played Division 1 soccer and obtained my master’s from Oklahoma University. Growing up in McLean was vital to my maturity and development and I ultimately returned. I’ve been involved in the community in a variety of ways – coaching McLean youth football and basketball, sponsoring McLean 5K and playing for McLean Youth Sports. I choose to run for the MCC board to be a vital part of the community and stay connected to my roots while helping in any way I can.”
•Lisa Mariam: “McLean Community Center was a big factor in our decision to move to McLean in 2002. Attending classes, performances and events, I appreciate MCC’s welcoming atmosphere and outstanding programs that connect me to the community. I’m interested in serving on the board to help guide MCC through this exciting period of transition to reopening with a new director. I offer extensive professional and volunteer experience with organizations including ArtsFairfax, the National Gallery of Art, Girl Scouts and school PTAs. I look forward to supporting strong McLean traditions and exploring new opportunities to engage residents of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.”
- Rasheq Rahman: “My name is Rasheq Rahman. As a 25-plus-year McLean resident with a small business proudly headquartered in downtown and kids attending McLean public schools, the McLean Community Center’s world-class activities from children’s learning to date nights at The Alden have enriched my family life for generations. I seek a seat on the MCC Governing Board with deep gratitude and the belief that my 20 years of diverse experience in finance (Goldman Sachs), strategy (IBM) and education (Yale, Virginia Tech) enable me to lead the MCC to be ever resilient, innovative and inclusive during this time of change.”
• Shivani Saboo: “My name is Shivani Saboo and I am running for MCC Governing Board. I have lived in McLean all my life and wear my hometown with a badge of pride! I graduated from McLean High School in 2016 and recently graduated from the University of Virginia in 2020. As our town welcomes increasingly more young professionals, I hope to represent those voices and help MCC integrate more with the young adult community. Additionally, as an Asian-American, I hope to represent immigrant communities and push for increased celebration of the diverse cultures represented in McLean.”
• Allison Stratton: “I’m excited to run for the board of the McLean Community Center because I believe in the difference a robust and well-functioning community can make in the lives of its residents. A former military spouse, I’ve volunteered for leadership positions in service organizations and seen firsthand how beneficial these groups can be. My background in higher education and passion for lifelong learning gives me a unique perspective on the types of activities that might be attractive to our stakeholders. Now that our family has settled in McLean permanently, I’m thrilled to have a chance to contribute to our community’s wellbeing.”
Here are the personal statements from youth candidates seeking to represent the Langley High School boundary area:
• Ivy Chen: “I want to run for the Governing Board because I am profoundly interested in setting policies for the community. I am very interested in matters that will affect our lives and I love to be able to give back to my society. Beyond my academic life, I enjoy participating in a multitude of extracurricular activities, ranging from politics to student government. I want to be involved in leading, making and creating change within our community to ensure that we all create the most positive and helpful environment possible for all.”
• Rowan Johns: “I’m Rowan Johns, a 15-year-old sophomore at Langley High. I will ensure youth in my community are informed, heard and encouraged, with particular focus on community engagement during COVID-19 restrictions. My interests include music, ranging from school band to playing drums in a rock band. I love sports and have played soccer for 10 years. I learned responsibility early taking care of Jake, my beagle. Academically, I love history and civics. I am enthusiastic, caring and always willing to help others. I believe the combination of my interests and personality make me a good candidate for this role.”
• Charlotte Loving: “I have been a ‘customer’ of the McLean Community Center my entire life. Whether watching a play, taking classes or enjoying the park, MCC has always been there for me! I know McLean well and have friends in both the McLean and Langley districts through softball, church and other extracurricular activities. I am the social-media manager and president-elect of the Langley Nice Cream Club, which has taught me how to communicate, lead, plan and achieve goals. Since the Community Center has been such an important part of my past, I would like to be part of its future.”
Here are the personal statements from youth candidates seeking to represent the McLean High School boundary area:
• Max Blacksten: “Hello, my name is Max Blacksten. I am honored to have the opportunity to be in candidacy to serve the community that has given me so much over the past 16 years. I am passionate about helping McLean be the best that it can be, by using my position to improve the lives of teens in McLean through engaging teen activities and advocating for increased teen involvement in the MCC decision-making process. I have significant leadership experience and an understanding of politics through my involvement and leadership in Boy Scouts, Venturing, DECA, Model United Nations and other clubs and organizations!”
• Tyler Jensen: “I’m running for the McLean Community Center Governing Board because I believe I can best represent the interests of my community and will offer potential to the board. I’m qualified for this position because I serve on the Youth Advisory Council, I was elected by my peers to serve on the Committee on Raising Student Voices at McLean High School, and I’m the current McLean Community Center Youth Board Member for McLean High School. I am deeply invested in leadership roles and I strive to give back to the community in any way I might. Thank you for your consideration.
• Cate Kanapathy: “I want to serve my community to the fullest extent, so I’m running for the Governing Board. I believe everyone can have positive impacts on not just the community, but the world, a world I strive to make a difference in. Therefore, I volunteer with various advocacy groups including the Uyghur Human Rights Project and Youth Climate Action Team. I’ve been accepted into the Youth Advisory Committee and several school clubs, giving me experience in responsibility, dedication and collaboration. I will improve McLean Community Center, but above all, I will improve your lives so I hope to represent you all!”
• Noor Lecanu: “I’ve grown up here and now that I’m 16 I see myself as not just benefiting from the community – I want to play a role in shaping MCC’s future just like it has shaped my youth. Board members should have an appreciation of what McLean and MCC have to offer and ensure their continuity. I’ve participated in events in our community, and I have a keen interest in the arts, which was not only sparked but nurtured throughout my youth by MCC. These have been positive experiences and I want to ensure it continues to provide these opportunities for youth.”
• Emma Saunders: “As a native of McLean, I’ve earned the trust and respect of my peers and am dedicated to representing their diverse viewpoints. I’ve demonstrated commitment and integrity through my leadership roles such as captain of the McLean travel soccer team, Safety Patrol captain and as a member of several national honor societies. Passionate about giving back and supporting my community, I am involved with Girls Leadership Club, Cancer Kids First and taking active volunteer roles in many community events. I am a creative thinker and find unique approaches to problem-solving. Thank you for this opportunity to represent your valued perspectives.”
Write-in candidates are allowed in the election and must receive at least 10 votes from 10 residents of the center’s tax district in order to have their votes counted. For youth write-in candidates, the 10 votes must come from teens who live within the same high-school boundary area as the candidate.
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For more information on the MCC Governing Board elections, call the center at (703) 744-9348or visit www.mcleancenter.org.