The Commission for Women identifies and addresses the needs of women in the City of Fairfax. This includes advising City of Fairfax officials on legislative and policy matters relating to women and advocating for programs to appropriately address their needs.
The Commission also promotes programs to increase the awareness of all city residents about the many issues affecting their lives and helps to identify resources to meet their needs.
The Commission for Women regularly meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Library, Room 316, at Fairfax City Hall.
The Commission often recesses during the month of August. In December, the Commission usually meets for dinner at an area restaurant.
Meetings are open to the public. Please join us if you are interested in learning more about us or if you would like to present items to the Commission for consideration. Advance notice is not required, but is encouraged. Please contact Lesley Abashian at Lesley.Abashian@fairfaxva.gov or (703) 385-7894 for details.
Commission for Women informational brochures:
City of Fairfax Commission for Women
Areas of Focus
- Advise the Mayor and City Council members regarding issues related to girls and women in the City of Fairfax.
- Collaborate with other agencies and organizations focused on addressing the needs of girls and women.
- Seek opportunities to support local charities during events sponsored by the Commission for Women.
- Sponsor and support initiatives that heighten public awareness of human trafficking, domestic violence and other illegal activities that especially impact girls and women.
- Recognize and celebrate the achievements of girls and women who make significant contributions to improving the lives of residents in the City of Fairfax.
- Advocate for policies and practices that particularly impact girls and women.
- Expand public awareness about the work of the Commission for Women to inform city residents and enable them to obtain information and support as needed.
- Foster the empowerment of women by facilitating and supporting educational and networking opportunities in our community.
- Access and analyze data to help inform the Commission for Women’s areas of focus, advocacy and decision making and regularly review commission practices and operational procedures to help ensure transparency, timeliness, relevance and consistency with the expectations of the Mayor, City Council and City of Fairfax residents.
- Promote an inclusive, diverse and equitable community in which women and girls of all backgrounds thrive.
Patricia “Pat” Addison, Ed.D., Chair of the Commission for Women, was appointed to the Commission in November 2014. She is a native of Washington, D.C. and has lived in the City of Fairfax with her husband, George Addison, since 2002. Pat retired from Fairfax County Public Schools as Director of Special Education and currently serves as an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. She is also an educational consultant and a published author with a focus on leadership development. Pat earned degrees in speech pathology from the District of Columbia Teachers College and George Washington University and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Virginia. As a member of the Commission, Pat’s special interests are helping to address the impact of poverty on women and helping all Fairfax City women to be knowledgeable about the resources and services that may help meet their specific needs.
Stacey Hardy-Chandler, PhD, JD, LCSW was appointed to the Commission for Women in May 2017. She combines her background in social work, clinical psychology and law to promote transformative learning, cultural humility, social justice/equity, leadership and organizational effectiveness. Prior to coming to Virginia, she served as the Director of Field Education and as Assistant Director of the School of Social Work for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. In 2011, she joined the faculty at George Mason University’s Social Work Department, later transitioned to Fairfax County Government and is now the Director of the Center for Children and Families for the City of Alexandria. She is also the president of a small woman-owned, minority owned human service consultancy practice in the City. Active in her professional community, she is past-president of the National Organization of Forensic Social Work and currently serves on the NOFSW Executive Board. She has also served on various other community and human service boards. A blended family, she and husband Mark Chandler live with their two shelter rescue dogs, Rusty and Justice.
Mary Baker was appointed to the Commission for Women in December 2019. A native of Fairfax County, she has lived in Fairfax City since 2016. Mary is a communications professional with nearly 15 years of extensive experience working with Fortune 500 companies. She earned her BA from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. She loves spending time with her family (her wife, two sons and dog), she enjoys reading, traveling and baking.
Brenda Kuhlman was appointed to the Commission for Women in February 2013. She has worked for the Virginia Department of Social Services since 1999. Previous community involvement includes twelve years as director of Main Street Child Development Center, a child care center serving low- moderate income families in the City of Fairfax; and as a board member on the Northern Virginia Association for the Education of Young Children. She is additionally a member of the Writers of Chantilly and a regular contributor to the Country Register newspapers. She’s also an avid organic gardener; a self-proclaimed expert on road food; and forever working on the Great American Novel.
Huilan Larson has degrees in education and Spanish Literature, having studied for a doctorate at the University of North Carolina. She is able to use her educational background in her job with the federal prison system. She likes the outdoors and books. Huilan and Steve have been married since 1981. Both Huilan and Steve like to travel and see the world. Huilan is very interested in conservation efforts. She was appointed to the Commission in 2001.
Lara Nayar was appointed to the Commission as a student representative in June 2019. She is currently a senior at Fairfax High School. She has been a City of Fairfax resident since 2002. She has been active in the community through Girl Scouts, FPYC youth field hockey coaching, and miscellaneous community service. She is especially passionate about combating economic injustice and informing the public about women's issues. Her area of focus is educating teens on healthy and abusive relationships, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. Lara plans to major in economics in order to formulate new and innovative solutions addressing poverty.
Teresa Presson was appointed to the Commission for Women in October 2016. She earned a B.S. in Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Arts and Teaching from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut. She is currently employed as a substitute teacher for Fairfax County Public Schools and has enjoyed volunteering for various Fairfax City community events as well as doing local community outreach with her church. Teresa relocated to Fairfax City in 2013 after living in New England for many years. While living there, she was a very active school volunteer where she served on various committees and on the PTA Board. She loves spending time with her family and friends and enjoys exploring new interests and places.
Roxann Morgan Rowley was appointed to the Commission for Women beginning July 2017. She has lived in Fairfax City with her husband since 2002 and is raising two really awesome boys here now. She earned her BA from George Washington University and her MFA in dance from George Mason University. A dance artist and educator in the Northern VA and DC area, she is Artistic Director for Next Reflex Dance Collective and teaches for George Mason University, University of Mary Washington and Northern VA Community College.
Beth Young, Ph.D., was appointed to the Commission for Women in May 2017. She owns an education consulting firm specializing in federal education data collection and use. Originally from Connecticut, Beth has been a resident of Fairfax City since 1996 where she has lived with her husband and daughter in the Fairchester neighborhood. She earned a BA in policy studies from Syracuse University, a Master of Public Administration from Arizona State University, and a PhD in education policy from George Mason University. She has volunteered for several different athletic organizations in Fairfax for both girls and women and spends her free time traveling with her family and playing women’s soccer.
Lisa Whetzel, was appointed to the Commission for Women in June 2019. Lisa has been with Britepaths (formerly Our Daily Bread) since 2005 and has been the Executive Director since 2007. Under her leadership, Britepaths has created impactful programs that stabilize families in financial crisis and help them achieve long term self-sufficiency. Britepaths was awarded Nonprofit of the Year 2019 by Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce Greater Washington Good Business Awards. She is President of the Board of Alliance for Human Services and on the advisory board for Virginia Nonprofit Leadership Council. Lisa has more than a decade of nonprofit leadership and management experience. She has a proven record of success in business management, including financial management, constituent relationship management, business development, fundraising, marketing, public speaking, technology and branding project management.
Lesley Abashian is the City's new Director of Human Services. She provides information and advocacy for city residents seeking human service assistance. She manages the city's contracts with county and regional agencies, staffs the Human Services Committee and Commission for Women, and is designated Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance Officer. Lesley is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Public Manager.
The Commission for Women is composed of a total of nine members appointed by the Mayor and City Council. Both men and women may apply for appointment.
One must be a registered voter and resident of the City of Fairfax for at least one year prior to application for membership, and remain a city resident during tenure on the Commission.
The term of membership is three (3) years. One may seek reappointment to additional terms. Some applicants are appointed to finish the term of another member who leaves the Commission prior to term's end.
Date and Time of Meetings
The Commission for Women regularly meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. in the Library, Room 316, at Fairfax City Hall. The Commission often recesses during the month of August. In December, the Commission usually meets for dinner at an area restaurant.
The officers of the Commission for Women include: Chair, Secretary, and Vice Chair/Historian who also serves as Public Relations Officer. The term of office is typically, though not necessarily, one year.
The Chair prepares the agenda for monthly meetings, chairs the meetings and represents the Commission in the community and before Council.
The Vice Chair chairs meetings in the absence of the Chair.
The Secretary records minutes of every meeting and drafts correspondence as needed.
City Staff Support
The Director of Human Services serves as the staff liaison for the Commission for Women. The Director of Human Services maintains the Commission roster and distributes the agenda and minutes of each meeting. The Director of Human Services maintains an office at City Hall and can be reached either by telephone at: (703) 385-7894 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
2020 Calendar of Events:
- CFW meeting on January 21, 2020
- February: American Heart Month - "wear red for Women's heart health" and Eating Disorder Awareness and Screening
- CFW meeting on February 18, 2020
- March: Women's History Month and International Women's Day
- CFW meeting on March 17, 2020
- April: Equal Pay Day, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Sexual Assault Awareness and National Infertility Awareness
- CFW meeting on April 21, 2020
- May: Celebrate Family Home Child Care Providers
- CFW meeting on May 19, 2020
- June: National Mental Health Awareness, Suicide Prevention and Depression Screening
- CFW meeting on June 16, 2020
- CFW meeting on July 21, 2020
- August: No Meeting
- September: Ovarian Cancer Awareness and Rape Abuse and Incest Awareness
- CFW meeting on September 15, 2020
- October: Domestic Violence Awareness and Breast Cancer Awareness
- CFW meeting on October 20, 2020
- CFW meeting on November 17, 2020
- December: World AIDS Day on December 1
- CFW meeting on December 15, 2020
The Commission for Women is responsible for a number of important initiatives that positively impact residents. We advocated to establish regulation of family home child care and helped bring School Age Child Care (SACC) programs to City of Fairfax Schools. We advocated for creation of the position of Human Services Coordinator to provide assistance to residents in accessing contracted health and human service programs.
We were the first City of Fairfax commission to send a member to Richmond to testify on legislative issues. And we were the first City of Fairfax commission to sponsor a legislative breakfast (which is where a lot of politics happen!) for members of the General Assembly. We were also the first City of Fairfax commission to develop a website filled with information, photos and resources and to offer our informational brochure in Spanish and Korean.
Projects reflect members’ interests and passions. A recent conference “Get the Facts & Take Action: Human Trafficking” was co-sponsored with commissions for women throughout the region in January 2016. Over 200 attendees participated in this eye-opening event at the Stacy Sherwood Center. Previous conferences included end of life issues, child care provider recognition and training, women seeking elected office and women-owned businesses. We also sponsor annual Community Day of Service with groups such as GIRL, Inc.; recognize volunteers; and advise City of Fairfax Officials on legislative and policy issues. An ongoing focus is domestic violence.
Commissioner at Display Table.
On the second Saturday of October each year, the Commission for Women hosts an information table at the widely attended Fall Festival. Informational brochures about domestic violence, sexual assault, child care, mental health, legal assistance and many other human service programs of interest to women are displayed.
On July 10, 2018 City of Fairfax Mayor David L. Meyer and the City Council presented The Quilt Patch owner, Leslie Pfeifer with a proclamation commending her for her long-term membership in the business community in the City of Fairfax and expressing the City’s gratitude for her dedication to supporting women and their families and for her generous contributions to those in need in the community.
The Quilt Patch opened in the City of Fairfax in 1974 making 2018 the 44th year of continuous operation. Ms. Pfeifer became the owner of the business in 1989. She is retiring later in the year. The Commission for Women supported the proclamation and hosted a reception for Ms. Pfeifer prior to the City Council meeting.
On March 13, 2018 City of Fairfax Mayor David L. Meyer proclaimed the month of March 2018 as Women’s History Month, celebrating the spirit, courage and contributions of women in the City of Fairfax toward enriching the quality of life for all members of this community.
On March 14, 2017 City of Fairfax Mayor David L. Meyer proclaimed the month of March 2017 as Women’s History Month, celebrating the remarkable achievements of women, their spirit, courage and contributions toward enriching the quality of life for all members of the community in the City of Fairfax.
On January 12, 2016, City of Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne in concert with the City Council proclaimed the month of January 2016 as Human Trafficking Awareness Month in the City of Fairfax to support the rights of human trafficking victims and to recognize the efforts to end human trafficking and its effects on our community.
The City of Fairfax Commission for Women partnered with Fairfax and Arlington Counties and the City of Alexandria to provide an educational opportunity for the residents of our community to learn how they can prevent and end human trafficking in our schools, medical services, youth services and law enforcement in a joint event in January 2016.
On October 14, 2014 City of Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne and the City Council presented a proclamation designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Members of the City of Fairfax Commission for Women received the proclamation and Sandra Bromley, Fairfax County-Wide Domestic Violence Coordinator, addressed the Council on the topic of domestic violence.
On March 26, 2013 City of Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne proclaimed the month of March 2013 as Women's History Month, celebrating the spirit, courage and contributions of women in the City of Fairfax toward enriching the quality of life for all members of this community and especially as caregivers to family as they approach end of life.
On March 13, 2012 City of Fairfax Mayor Robert F. Lederer proclaimed the month of March 2012 as Women's History Month in the City of Fairfax, celebrating the spirit, courage and contributions of women in the City of Fairfax toward enriching the quality of life for all members of this community.
On March 22, 2011 City of Fairfax Mayor Robert F. Lederer proclaimed the month of March 2011 as Women's History Month in the City of Fairfax, celebrating the spirit, courage and contributions of women in the City of Fairfax toward enriching the quality of life for all members of this community.