Technical Director, The Alden
After almost 30 years of serving as Technical Director of The Alden Theatre, Jennifer Garrett still cannot accurately predict what might happen when she shows up for work. “On any given day, I could be writing specifications for an upgrade or maintenance project, looking at technical riders for artists performing here in the future; advancing this year’s performances with artists or their agents; or designing staging and lighting for an event taking place that day—not to mention taking care of the basic administrative duties County employees have,” she said. “It never grows old.”
Despite the challenges, Garrett’s love for her job and her commitment to making The Alden exceptional are evident. The Alden’s tagline “Small Stage, Big Talent” rings true as the theater presents more than 75 shows each year, including such famous entertainers as Chita Rivera and Brian Stokes Mitchell.
Before joining the staff here, Garrett earned a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Maryland, College Park and was the technical director of the famed Duke Ellington School of the Arts from 1985 to 1990. “I love theater technology. Being able to contribute to making The Alden a first-class venue, while keeping its intimacy and friendly vibes gives me immense satisfaction,” she said. “And, yes, I am a geek.”
Garrett said she is “extremely fortunate” to have a great staff (Assistant Technical Director Justin King and Theatre Technician Cat Salisbury-Valerien). “Together we strive to ensure that artists and patrons experience the best the theater can offer,” she said. The excellence of the theater has been recognized regionally and in the national publication, Stage Directions, which featured an article on The Alden in September 2007.
In her spare time, Garrett studies her family’s history and has discovered ancestors from Germany and the Germanna Colony of Virginia. A self-proclaimed “cat lady” (she currently has seven), she also has an interest in alternative religions and herbalism.
You can contact Garrett at 703-744-9357 or email@example.com.
By Sabrina Anwah
Having played a major role in the Center’s recent renovation, McLean Community Center’s Facilities Manager Joe McGovern has learned a lot in the last two years. “Renovating a building like ours was a major undertaking that entailed literally millions of details and every one of them was important,” he said. As he, the MCC Governing Board, staff and MCC Executive Director George Sachs worked through those details, McGovern also had the responsibility of overseeing the care of the three temporary locations Center staff worked out of for 22 months. “You could say, my plate stayed pretty full,” he said.
A native of Northern Virginia, McGovern attended Potomac Senior High School. After graduating from Virginia Tech with a degree in Sports Management, McGovern began his career as an intern with the University of Michigan’s football and hockey teams. He left Michigan in 1996, when he was given the golden opportunity of working at the Summer Olympics, which were being held in Atlanta, Ga., that year. “It was an amazing experience that gave me a new appreciation for what goes into organizing and hosting large scale events.” After the job was over, he moved back to Virginia and was hired at MCC, where he has worked for the last 21 years.
As the facility manager, he oversees the facility’s physical plant and coordinates the scheduling of the activities held at the Center. He supervises the rentals booking manager and the six recreation aides that staff the building on evenings and weekends. “I like working here because we get to provide spaces and services to people in the surrounding communities,” he said. “Just about every day, I have an opportunity to see happy people enjoying classes or meetings or celebrating milestone events like birthday parties and weddings.”
In his free time, he enjoys getting together with his brother, sister and parents, who still live nearby. “I love attending live music concerts and watching the Hokies play football and basketball from my couch, with my dog at my side.”
You can contact Joe at 703-744-9341 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sabrina Anwah
Show me the money,” that memorable quote from the movie “Jerry McGuire,” is often quoted by MCC Comptroller Ashok Karra. As the person charged with supervising the accounting and financial reporting functions at MCC, he is daily asking staff to do just that.
A native of Madras (Chennai), India, Karra joined the MCC staff in 2012, after having worked 26 years in the hotel industry. He holds a master’s degree from Purdue University in Restaurant Hotel Industry Management and also worked for a chartered accountant auditing firm and a tea export company, prior to coming to this country.
At MCC, he provides management and oversight of the operating funds of the center. He also provides Dranesville Small District 1A residents, who pay a real estate surcharge that funds the center, information on the use of their taxes through financial stewardship. He recently completed work on the Center’s FY 2020 Proposed Budget. Another part of his job entails working with the center’s program staff to help them in their efforts to offer public events and activities in the most efficient and fiscally responsible manner possible.
He says the job can be challenging, as he is charged with ensuring that numerous Fairfax County Government financial policies and procedures are being adhered to in day-to-day transactions. “We want to make sure we are conducting business properly,” he said.
In his spare time, Ashok loves to spend time outdoors golfing, playing tennis and swimming. He also serves as a “foreman” for his wife Mihira, an artist who shows and sells her fabric portraits at art shows in the region. He has been delighted by a recent discovery. “Since growing my beard, I notice that people have started calling me “sir,” he said. “This was something totally unexpected and amuses me no end.”
You can contact Ashok at 703-744-9356 or email@example.com.
By Sabrina Anwah
Old Firehouse Manager
Old Firehouse Center (OFC) Manager Andrew Carter is a man on the move. During the summer, he directs Camp McLean, the center’s flagship summer camp program for 3- to 10-year-olds, as well as the Old Firehouse’s Summer Camp Trips Program for middle schoolers. During the school year, he assists with OFC’s After School Program, scheduling the Friday Night Trips program. He recently revamped the OFC’s old Friday Night Dances into the sleek new After 7 Dance Party for 7th through9th-graders.
“I attended Virginia Tech in hopes of becoming a sports journalist, but once I was able to work at a teen center, I suddenly knew the career path I wanted to take,” he said. After graduating, he worked at several County agencies before coming to MCC—in golf course maintenance at Jefferson District Park; as an After-School Counselor at James Lee Community Center; and at the front desk at Providence RECenter.
Originally hired as a part-time activity facilitator at OFC, he worked his way up to his current position. “The best part of my job is getting to provide for and interact with kids of various ages throughout the year,” he said. “The most challenging aspect is the trip planning. There are so many experiences that I want to provide.”
Still a huge sports fan, he said “When I’m not at work, I’m either playing or watching sports, at the movie theater or playing video games.” Carter and his wife, Kathy Akindemowo-Carter, recently celebrated their three-year anniversary.
In the last eight years at OFC, he has had the opportunity to see many of the teens who participated in his programs grow into adulthood. “It’s always incredible when I’m walking around the streets of McLean and a past participant stops me to have a conversation and reminisce about the fun times they’ve had at OFC.”
You can contact Carter at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-448-8336.
By Sabrina Anwah
Katie Mara Fedora
When you come to MCC’s Registration Office to sign up for a class or activity, the smiling face most likely to greet you will be that of Registrar Katie Fedora. Katie replaced Barbara Smoot in this high-profile position in September 2016, so you may think she is a relatively new employee. You would be wrong. “My MCC career began at the age of 16!” says Fedora. I started out as a Counselor in Training at Camp McLean and worked my way up to Assistant Director. In addition to my summer positions, I also worked in the Youth Activities department for about eight years.” In 2011, she became a Recreation Aide, working at the Center’s front desk in the evenings. “During my years at MCC, I have worked in almost all the departments,” she adds.
Fedora grew up in McLean and attended McLean High School, where she was a competitive cheerleader. She also cheered while enrolled as a student at Bridgewater College. When she returned to the area, she coached the JV and Varsity cheerleading team at McLean High School with her best friend, Sarah Krawchuk. In addition to her job, Katie is busy raising her two children, 16-year-old daughter, Madison, and 14-year-old son, Griffin. A third “child,” this one with four furry paws, named Moxie, also takes up some of her time.
In her current position, her biggest responsibility is to register customers for MCC-sponsored classes and activities, as well as entering, updating and maintaining the information in the Center’s online registration system, Active.net. If a class must be canceled, she is the person responsible for notifying patrons. “Ultimately, I am the one who will call with the bad news.”
Fedora says, “The best part of my job is getting to know our customers every day as they come and go. I love the interaction I have with the public, and the kids that come in for our children’s classes are the best! I enjoy the fact that I never know what the day will hold. Every day is different, and I never know what I am in store for from day to day.”
While MCC is in its temporary location, Fedora can be found at the front desk of the programming space in McLean Square Shopping Center, 6645 Old Dominion Dr.
She can be contacted at email@example.com or by calling 703-744-9365.
By Sabrina Anwah
Danielle Van Hook
Director, Youth Theatre Programs
Eighteen months ago, The Alden welcomed a new Director of its Youth Theatre Programs. Meet Danielle Van Hook. She was hired to fill the position after the retirement of longtime employee Kathy Herr. An experienced theater professional with a love of youth, Danielle has been busy refreshing the performing arts division’s offerings for the “under 18” crowd.
An Arts Management graduate of Juniata College, Danielle began her career at the Wolf Trap Foundation’s Institute for Early Learning through the Arts where she worked with teachers to bring artists to area classrooms. Before joining MCC, she worked in the programming and resource development department at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, the largest service organization for performing arts industry professionals. Her new job encompasses “everything and anything” that The Alden offers for youth and the performing arts, including the family performance series, Alden productions featuring McLean youth, (the) Unruly Theatre Project and other improv programs, the Macdonald Scholarship Competition, summer concerts and the music education program, as well as youth performing arts master classes and workshops.
“The best part of my job is getting to know the community! Between the professional artist series for families and our programs for young actors, I get to meet arts lovers of all ages,” she said. Parents have expressed to Van Hook that they are offered improv training at their workplaces and they are happy to see our improv programs being offered to youth. “I see how improv improves students’ confidence, leadership, quick thinking and many other abilities, but it’s even better when parents get excited about the impact.” she says. Working with young McLean actors on Alden-produced shows has also been a rewarding experience. “Participants are sometimes upset when the shows end. This always reminds me of the great impact the performing arts has on the lives of young people and it also speaks to the power theater has to unite us,” she said.
On a personal note, Danielle and her husband Travis married shortly before she began her new position. The couple recently added a new member to their family, a Goldendoodle puppy named JoJo. According to Van Hook, “She loves people and is the sweetest bundle of energy.” Look for JoJo (and Danielle) at The Alden’s summer concerts in McLean Central Park this July.
You can contact Van Hook at firstname.lastname@example.org or 703-744-9368.
By Sabrina Anwah
Sarah Schallern Treff
Performing Arts Director
When thinking of qualities that describe a great employee, being invested is one that comes to mind. That is exactly what Performing Arts Director Sarah Schallern Treff takes pride in as she finds herself in her 13th year with MCC and The Alden Theatre. “I’m in it for the long haul,” she said. But for Treff, it’s about more than just longevity: it’s about the work she does and the people she does it for. “I love our patrons. McLean residents are so intelligent, curious and discerning, and being part of a community center means that we get to develop personal relationships with them.”
Treff oversees The Alden’s staff and the budget for the performing arts department. She also books acts for adult audiences, liaises with community art groups that utilize The Alden, and assists in the theater’s marketing effort. “Something that’s exciting to me about my job is the variety,” says Treff. “Not just in my job duties, but in the variety of artistic disciplines we present.”
Treff holds a Bachelor of Music degree from DePaul University, and a Master of Music in Opera Stage Directing from Florida State University. She originally came to the area for apprenticeships with Wolf Trap Opera but stayed after her second summer to work in the development department of the national opera association. She led the music department at the JCC of Greater Washington for several years before coming to MCC. In between, she directed a show for MCC’s “sister” agency, Reston Community Center’s theater camp. “We really are like a family [at MCC],” noted Treff. “We learn from each other, and more than anything, we have fun. I think that’s what makes us successful professionally—enjoyment in what we do and in each other.”
As someone trained in the arts, it’s no surprise that you can find Treff unwinding with a little painting in her free time. “I haven’t painted since I was a kid,” she admits. “There’s something very relaxing about it. I’m no Bob Ross, but I enjoy it.” Additionally, she and her family—husband, Terje and stepdaughter, Lili—can often be found indulging in their “mild obsession” with their cat, Popo.
You can contact Treff at 703-744-9343 or email@example.com.
By Kyle Corwin