2023 Vision 2050 Celebration













Our Awardees


Rob Swennes
Field to Table

Rob Swennes

We are delighted to be honoring Rob Swennes, Director of Field to Table with our Placemaking Award. Langston’s residents have Rob and his incredible team to thank for our lovely Cherrydale Farmers Market! Field to table is an Arlington-based, non-profit organization dedicated to building communities throughout Northern Virginia through the encouragement of healthy eating. The organization is part of the nationwide “locavore” movement, which encourages people to reestablish their relationship with the land and purchase from local farmers and food preparers. The emphasis is on nutrition, taste, quality, and freshness in what we buy, not on the misguided values of mass production, long shelf life, and long-distance transportation that drives so much of what is sold as food in the United States. We strive to bring residents a convenient, varied blend of local producers of fruits and vegetables, baked goods, dairy products, flowers, and specialty foods that focus on improving the nutritional experience and overall health of the community.


Peter Bota
Metro 29 Diner

PETER BOTA is co proprietor of the Metro 29 Diner Restaurant in Arlington, Virginia. He is involved in the daily operation of this very well known, high volume eating establishment. In addition to being a successful entrepreneur, he also enjoys investing in real estate. Mr. Bota received his undergraduate degree from Hofstra University in 1987. He believes in the importance of giving back to the community, supporting many charities, schools and worthy causes. Mr. Bota resides in Arlington, VA with his wife Marta an entrepreneur and former Ms. Virginia 2016. Together they have a grown son Christopher.


Sandi Chesrown
Co-Founder of LBA

Sandi Chesrown is a North Dakota native, who migrated to Washington as a Congressional intern and then became a Press Aide to the Chair of the House Banking Committee.  She holds a Master of Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia, School of Architecture.

After working for 15 years in politics and Fairfax County planning and private land development, Sandi joined Global Volunteers and moved to Tanzania to renovate housing for teachers.  That visit coincided with Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.  Hearing him speak changed the trajectory of her life.   Over the past 30 years, Sandi has worked in dozens of countries throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe, as an international consultant to advocate for sustainable community development.

Along with Ginger Brown, she co-founded the Lee Highway Alliance, when both were members of the Waverly Hills Neighborhood Conservation Planning effort.   She is currently the President of the Waverly Hills Civic Association.  With regard to her work in community organization and advocacy,  she is most grateful for all of the volunteers and advisors whom she has met over the past decade during Plan Langston Boulevard-including Ginger, Jim, Paul, and Natasha, and she is most proud of her participation in renaming Lee Highway to Langston Boulevard.

Our Speakers

Tara Palacios, Director of BizLaunch

Tara Palacios is the Director of BizLaunch, an award-winning division within AED that assists small businesses and entrepreneurs in Arlington County.

Tara joined Arlington County in 2001 and founded the BizLaunch program in 2002 to help diverse entrepreneurs successfully launch, grow and expand their businesses in the County. Since its inception, BizLaunch has reached over 75,000 entrepreneurs through sponsored workshops, seminars and one-on-one counseling sessions.

Tara has over 30 years of experience in Marketing and Business Development at various for-profit firms, including a health maintenance organization, an IT software developer, a financial institution and a uranium enricher.

She has received numerous awards for her work and dedication to small businesses from organizations such as the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity.

Tara received her undergraduate degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) and her graduate degree from Johns Hopkins University. She also is a certified Public Manager from George Washington University.

Susan Cunningham

Susan Cunningham is Member-elect of the Arlington County Board. She first lived along Langston Boulevard in 1996 and has been active in the Langston Boulevard Alliance efforts since 2015, including serving on the Community Advisory Committee.

As CEO and founder of C2 Change Solutions, Susan provides interim executive leadership to help organizations navigate change and deliver social impact. She served as CEO of regional affordable housing nonprofit AHC, Inc.and executive director of emergency financial assistance provider Arlington Thrive. Susan has also held senior leadership roles at the Department of the U.S. Treasury, McKinsey, and Gensler’s Global Sustainable Design division. She was a leader in Washington, DC’s public school reform and renovation efforts, including adaptive reuse of office, museum and public buildings.

An active community volunteer, Susan was a founding member of Arlington’s Joint Facilities Advisory Commission (JFAC), chaired the Dorothy Hamm Middle School building committee, and co-chaired the Stratford Historic Site Historic Interpretation Committee. Today she co-chairs St. Mary’s Episcopal outreach, leads a local teen Girl Scout troop, and helps refugee families settle and thrive in the region. She has also served on the boards of ChildTrends, the Donaldson Run Civic Association, the Fishing School, GreenHOME, Little Beginnings, the SEED Foundation, and the See Forever Foundation/Maya Angelou School.

Susan holds a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering and is a Fulbright Scholar. She and her husband Philip have lived near Langston Boulevard for over 25 years and have two teenage daughters in Arlington Public Schools.

Matt de Ferranti

County Board Member Matt de Ferranti’s career, first as a teacher in a low-income community in Houston and later as a lawyer, has been dedicated to helping people build better lives for themselves and their children. As an attorney, Matt worked on land use and economic development issues for local governments. He subsequently served as an advocate for economic and educational equity at Feeding America, Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together, the Education Trust, and the National Indian Education Association.

First elected to the Arlington County Board in November 2018, Matt was unanimously elected as Chair of the County Board by his colleagues on January 4, 2021. In addition, Matt was elected in January 2023 to serve as the Vice Chair of the Northern Virginia Transportation Commission.

Matt began serving on Arlington County’s Housing Commission in 2013. In 2014, he was appointed to the Arlington Public Schools Budget Advisory Council, where he served as Chair in 2017-2018. Matt also has served on the Joint Facilities Advisory Commission, which brings Arlington County, Arlington Public Schools, and the community together to plan for our future.

A 2015 Leadership Arlington graduate, 2016 graduate of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, and 2017 graduate of Arlington Neighborhood College, Matt grew up in neighboring McLean and lives in the Rock Spring neighborhood with his wife, Brooke.

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