March 7, 2024: Celebrating Women’s History Month + Weekly Business News Digest

Celebrating Women’s History Month: USA Today Honors SAIC CEO Toni Townes-Whitley

Toni Townes-Whitley is breaking down barriers in the technology industry as a black female CEO of the Reston-based Fortune 500 company, SAIC. The trailblazing titan is raising the bar for women in tech as a USA Today Woman of the Year, a recognition of women who have made a significant impact in their communities and across the country.

SAIC is a $7 billion technology company that provides engineering, digital and artificial intelligence solutions for national defense and space agencies, like the Army, Navy and Space Force, as well as civilian agencies across the federal government.

“I feel the pressure every day to perform and speak to the fact that it’s not a bold move to have me in this role, that I’ve earned the role,” Townes-Whitley told USA TODAY. “But I want to move beyond how surprising it is. Let’s get to a place where this is part of the DNA, and the excitement is that I’m a CEO, not just that I’m a Black, female CEO – that’s what the future looks like.”

Click here to read USA TODAY’s interview with Townes-Whitley.

Image courtesy of Fairfax County’s Department of Neighborhood and Community Services

Spotlight Stories of Notable Women in Fairfax County History

In honor and recognition of Women’s History Month, celebrated annually in March, Fairfax County’s Department of Neighborhood and Community Services (NCS) is spotlighting some of the extraordinary women who provided the inspiration, leadership or vision that contributed to NCS and the Fairfax County community. Click here to learn more about the women featured for Women’s History Month this year:

  • Former Fairfax County Supervisor Cathy Hudgins

Catherine M. Hudgins, the first African American to sit on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, served as the Hunter Mill Supervisor from 2000 to her retirement in 2019. During her tenure, she was a passionate advocate for the county’s diversity and affordable housing. She served as a Chair of the Board’s Human Services and Housing Committee. Read More

  • Former Deputy County Executive Patricia (Franckewitz) Harrison

Former Deputy County Executive Harrison was a pathbreaker in Fairfax County Government. She worked her way from Recreation Specialist (1986) to her appointment as the county’s first woman director of Community and Recreation Services (1999), before serving eight years as the Deputy County Executive for Health and Human Services. Read More

  • Marguerite Mott

Marguerite Mott was instrumental in the integration of Fairfax County recreation facilities and the quest for equality in Northern Virginia. Marguerite and her husband James Mott began their activism after they were turned away from picnicking at Lake Fairfax Park in 1965. They subsequently sued in U.S. District Court in Alexandria and won equal access to county facilities for Black people. They later worked to establish the Braddock Community Center in Fairfax in 1969. In 1995, when the county rebuilt the center, which began in a log cabin and later a trailer, it renamed the facility at 12111 Braddock Road the James and Marguerite Mott Community Center. Read More

  • Martha Pennino

The building that houses some NCS offices, programs and services is named for Martha Pennino, who served 24 years on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. Her tenure (1968-1992) as the Centreville Supervisor and later the vice chair of the Board coincided with the county’s rapid growth. Pennino was instrumental in myriad areas, especially human services and transportation, earning her the nickname “Mother Fairfax.” Read More

  • Joyce A. White

Joyce A. White, affectionately known as “Ms. White,” served as the director of the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church for 41 years (1970-2011). She was a key figure in establishing the center as a place for the African American community to grow, gather and learn. In 2011, she was honored for her lengthy and noteworthy services. Later that year, then-Supervisor Chair Sharon Bulova declared Saturday, July 9 “Joyce White Day,” and NCS renamed the center’s gym the Joyce White Gymnasium in recognition of White’s years of support and dedication to the James Lee community. Read More.

  • Belle Layton Wyatt Willard

One of Belle Layton Wyatt Willard’s last wishes was that land from her estate be donated to build a school for special-needs children. That’s how the Belle Willard School, the first school constructed by Fairfax County Public Schools specifically for children receiving special education services, came to be more than 60 years ago. Read More

These stories are part of NCS Stories – an initiative to preserve and share stories of the persons, places and events that shaped the Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services. Click here to learn more.

Register Now for Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Workforce Summit

Today the U.S. Veteran and Military workforce are more skilled, educated, and diverse than ever before. In an increasingly competitive job market, how do companies create an inclusive workplace culture that not only attracts, but also retains the valuable skills and experience veterans bring?

Join us for the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Workforce Summit, as we unpack best practices for attracting top military talent, optimizing your hiring process, and establishing employment initiatives that encourage long-term retention.

Sharing their collective knowledge, our industry experts will provide key insights on marketing your job opportunities to veterans, and effective recruitment strategies that will make your workplace a preferred destination for military talent.

Whether you are a V3 certified company or interested in becoming one, this event is for you!

The summit will be held on Thursday, March 28 · 10am – 2pm EDT at the Inova Conference Center, 8100 Innovation Park Drive, Fairfax, Virginia 22031.

Click here for more information and to register. 

Seating is limited. Register today!

Weekly Business News Digest

Continued collaboration: Reston-based Leidos has entered into a multi-year Strategic Collaboration Agreement with Amazon Web Services (AWS), which has offices in Herndon. The agreement will leverage each company’s unique strengths to accelerate innovation for new and existing customers in both the public sector and select commercial markets, according to Yahoo Finance. “We’re excited to build on our existing work with AWS and create innovative solutions for our customers,” said Steve Hull, President of Leidos’ Digital Modernization Sector. “Through this agreement, Leidos will align our investments in federal mission solutions with AWS’s portfolio of cloud computing and enterprise data management services to enhance innovation and efficiency for our customers.”

Perfect application: Tysons-based Iridium, a provider of global voice and data satellite communications, entered into an agreement to acquire Reston-based Satelles, a provider of highly secure satellite-based time and location services that complement and protect GPS and other GNSS-reliant systems. “This market is growing; it’s a perfect application of our network, and this solution solves a problem for critical industries better than anything else,” said Iridium CEO, Matt Desch. The acquisition comes as Iridium seeks to hit $1 billion in annual sales before the decade’s end, derived mainly from the company’s voice, messaging, and data connectivity services. Iridium recorded $791 million in revenues for 2023, up 10 percent year-on-year. SpaceNews has more. Click here to read FCEDA’s recent interview with Desch.

Keeping the score: Tysons-based Tegna, owner of NBC-affiliate TV stations, reached a multiyear deal with Reston-based Comscore, which will continue providing media metrics and audience measurement services across the broadcaster’s local TV, major affiliate and digital businesses, reported Virginia Business in subscriber content. With this expansion, Comscore will cover all 51 of Tegna’s markets nationwide, up from the 22 markets it was previously serving for Tegna. Tegna and Comscore previously renewed the deal in 2020, when Comscore had been providing media metrics for Tegna in 18 markets. “Expanding our partnership with Comscore will offer us deeper insights through digital and qualitative data, enriching cross-platform solutions for our valued advertising partners,” said Lynn Beall, Tegna’s executive vice president and chief operating officer of media operations.

Ed connection: Reston-based Ellucian, a higher education technology company, has acquired Cupertino, California-based EduNav, a provider of academic planning software. EduNav’s software uses students’ academic history and university degree requirements to track student goals and degree status.”EduNav is a highly innovative and effective degree planning and student success platform with incredible talent and expertise,” said Andrew Brown, CEO of EduNav. “With Ellucian’s vast community of institutions and focus on data to transform the student experience, EduNav will now have an even bigger impact on global higher education.” Potomac Tech Wire picked up the release.

Pivotal step: Reston-based AdRem Systems Corporation, a provider of cybersecurity and managed IT services, announced its strategic acquisition of assets from Reston-based Sherpa, a compliance consulting firm. This acquisition of assets positions Sherpa as a fully owned subsidiary of AdRem Systems Corporation, enhancing the combined entities’ ability to offer comprehensive and expert compliance and cybersecurity solutions to businesses. “Sherpa’s record in delivering compliance solutions, coupled with their deep industry knowledge, makes them a perfect addition to the AdRem team,” said Patrick Birt, Owner of AdRem Systems Corporation. “This acquisition is a pivotal step in our mission to offer the most comprehensive cybersecurity solutions on the market.” WKLA picked up the release.

Gift for critically needed technology: Fairfax-based George Mason University has received a $4.85 million gift to further its research into developing new imaging tools for the detection of bruises and injuries on all skin tones, InsideNoVa reported. The funding will be used to expand the team’s bruise detection system, which uses artificial intelligence and other imaging and light technologies to help medical professionals in the identification of trauma. The technology is designed to be able to accurately detect bruises in people of all skin tones, which is critical for the diagnosis and treatment of victims of domestic violence and other serious injuries.

Selfless humanitarian: The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) selected James Schenck, president of Tysons-based PenFed Credit Union and CEO of PenFed Foundation, to receive the organization’s 2024 Bruce Whitman Memorial Trophy, Flying Magazine reported. The NAA called Schenck “a visionary leader and selfless humanitarian” who is dedicated to commemorating and celebrating the heritage of America’s military veterans and supporting the next generation of pilots. The NAA established the award in 2019 to honor outstanding individuals for their contributions to aviation or aerospace in the United States and efforts to promote public appreciation of the sacrifices made by members of the military.

Investing in Women Founders: A group of local executives and firms have come together to launch a new program – called The Agora Initiative – aimed at increasing the amount of venture capital funding being invested with female founders in the Greater Washington, D.C. area. The organization is backed by law firm Pillsbury, investment firm Brown Advisory, and accounting firm Tarsus. The Agora Initiative announced a venture competition for women founders that will be decided at a pitch event in early May. “DC’s unique blend of tech innovation, policy influence, and entrepreneurial spirit presents a fertile ground for female founders to thrive,” said Amelia DeSorrento, a founder of the organization and founder of Desoco. “Together, we are setting the stage for a more inclusive, equitable, and prosperous entrepreneurial ecosystem in DC and beyond.” Potomac Tech Wire carried the competition announcement.

Contract Wins

ICF (Reston) received from the Department of Health and Human Services extensions to a pair of contracts for the continuation of cloud migration and digital modernization work in support of Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services systems. ExecutiveBiz

BlackSky (Herndon) won a $2 million U.S. defense contract to provide data to train AI models. SpaceNews

FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events

March 14, 2024 — George Mason University Donald G. Costello College of Business Alumni Chapter Gala. Held at the George Mason University Fairfax campus, this annual gala celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit, distinguished successes, and generous engagement of Mason’s Costello College of Business community. The networking gala features interactive alumni-owned food and beverage businesses and student entrepreneurship innovations. Click here for more information and to register.

March 28, 20124 — Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Workforce Summit. Join us for the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Workforce Summit, as we unpack best practices for attracting top military talent, optimizing your hiring process, and establishing employment initiatives that encourage long-term retention. Sharing their collective knowledge, our industry experts will provide key insights on marketing your job opportunities to veterans, and effective recruitment strategies that will make your workplace a preferred destination for military talent. Whether you are a V3 certified company or interested in becoming one, this event is for you! The summit will be held at the Inova Conference Center, 8100 Innovation Park Drive, Fairfax. Click here for more information and to register.

FCEDA is Here to Help Your Business Thrive

Fairfax County EDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and information. For direct assistance, email the FCEDA at info@fceda.org, or call 703-790-0600.