McLean Community Center reveals long slate of candidates for board election

McLean Community Center governing board candidates (left to right) Tarek Atia, Jonathan Broom, Mike Drabyk, Michael Monroe, Peggy Richardson, Doug Jeffery, Matt Colsia, Lisa Mariam and Ron Keesing (courtesy MCC)

More than a dozen candidates will vie for six seats — four held by adults, two by teens — on the McLean Community Center’s governing board this spring.

The community center announced on Friday (March 22) that 10 adults and five teens have qualified to run in this year’s board election, which has one more open seat than usual with current board member Ari Ghasemian resigning at the end of March.

Ghasemian’s empty seat will be filled by the fourth-highest adult vote-getter, who will serve the remaining year in his term. The other adult seats are for three-year terms, while the two youth seats — one representing the McLean High School area and the other representing Langley High School — have one-year terms.

Two existing board members — Lisa Mariam and Matt Colsia — are seeking to retain their seats, but they will need to fend off eight newcomers: Tarek Atia, Jonathan “Slade” Broom, Mike Drabyk, Doug Jeffery, Ronald Keesing, Michael Monroe, Peter Pin and Peggy Richardson.

There are three candidates for the Langley seat — Anastasiia Dudnik-Dubiniak, Sonya Thott and Luke Understein — and two for the McLean High School seat — Aanya Jain and Aaron Stark.

Open to residents of MCC’s tax district, absentee voting will begin this Wednesday (March 27) and continue until 5 p.m. on Monday, May 13. Ballots can be requested in person at MCC (1234 Ingleside Avenue), online, by phone at 703-744-9348 or by email at [email protected].

The election will conclude with a day of in-person voting during McLean Day, which will take place from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, May 18 at Lewinsville Park (1659 Chain Bridge Road).

MCC’s 11-person volunteer governing board guides policy and oversees the organization’s budget and strategic planning.

Provided by MCC in a press release, statements from each of the candidates can be found below. The statements will be available on the community center’s website once absentee voting begins.

Adult Candidates

Tarek Atia

I am a longtime McLean resident seeking to use my passion for the arts to benefit my community. If elected, I will collaborate with fellow board members to advance MCC’s critical mission. Throughout my career, I have leveraged my diverse experience as a journalist, entrepreneur and teacher to drive cultural engagement at home and overseas, most recently as director of a major arts and culture center at the American University in Cairo. An alumnus of Churchill, Cooper, Langley and UVA, and father of two adult sons, I am currently writing a book called “Ten Days in America’s Next Great City.”

Jonathan “Slade” Broom

I moved to McLean in 2013 with my wife, Katie. Our three children perform at the Alden Theatre and enjoy the Old Firehouse and the MCC summer camps. I volunteer in our community, primarily coaching McLean Little League. I bring two decades of public service experience. I have honed skills in international negotiations, managing large federal budgets and delivering aid in emergency situations. At CFPB, I protect consumers from financial harm, improve processes and manage organizational change. As a board member, I will focus on expanding family-focused and sensory-friendly events, listening and finding collaborative solutions and providing responsible financial management.

Matt Colsia

As a dedicated member of the MCC Governing Board, I’ve championed accessibility, modernization, and fiscal responsibility. With 26 years of Army service and deep involvement in our schools and community organizations, I bring a unique perspective and unwavering commitment to service. My vision is to foster a thriving, inclusive community center that enriches the lives of residents. I’m excited to shape MCC’s 50th anniversary celebration and beyond, ensuring it remains a beacon of learning, growth, and unity. With your support, I will continue to lead with integrity, advocate for your needs, and tirelessly work towards a stronger, more vibrant community.

Mike Drabyk

My name is Mike Drabyk. As a McLean resident for more than 25 years, I have watched my family grow and thrive. The benefits of being here include the McLean Community Center, the Old Firehouse and events like McLean Day. My family and I have an annual tradition where I play the carnival games at McLean Day for prizes for my wife and family. I want to do my part so others can continue enjoying this local experience as well. I ask for your vote for the McLean Community Center Board. Thank you.

Doug Jeffery

I moved to Northern Virginia in 1997. I attended Chantilly High School and later the University of Virginia. In 2019, my wife and I decided to make McLean our home. Since then, we welcomed our first daughter, now nearly 2, and are expecting our second this spring. I have worked for a large financial services firm in Tysons Corner for 16 years and am a CFA Charterholder. As a father and finance professional, I will make sure that the MCC produces an inclusive and family-friendly environment and that it uses its resources prudently. I am excited to serve our community!

Ronald Keesing

As a 20-year resident, I feel fortunate to live in McLean. I’ve raised two daughters who received world-class educations here. Our family has spent countless hours enjoying local performances, events, classes, parks and the library. I believe the quality of life we’ve enjoyed is only possible through decades of responsible, non-partisan, inclusive leadership. Now, I’d like to give back, continuing that tradition while serving on the MCC Governing Board. I believe I have much to offer, particularly through my expertise in technology and ethics. I’m excited to continue MCC’s important work bringing arts, events and education to our diverse community.

Lisa Mariam

It has been an honor to serve on the McLean Community Center Board for the last three years. I helped guide MCC through strategic planning and chaired the 50th Anniversary Committee. I look forward to continuing to support McLean traditions and exploring new opportunities to engage residents of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. With over 20 years of experience in nonprofit programs and administration, I bring a broad community perspective to represent the residents of our special tax district. I’ll prioritize increasing awareness of MCC, being responsive to community needs and interests and bringing people together to strengthen our community.

Michael Monroe

It would be an honor to serve McLean and I was thrilled to be asked to do so. I live, work and raise my three children here in the Langley pyramid. My finance experience over the past 20 years and relationships in multiple industries, including Hollywood, can help drive amazing activity and efficiency at MCC. I’m a graduate of Leadership Fairfax and the Political Leaders Program through UVA Sorenson, have a master’s in real estate from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s from James Madison University. I’m a life member of Sharon Lodge #327. I’d appreciate your vote.

Peter Pin

It is my pleasure to submit my application for candidate for the MCC Governing Board. As a resident of McLean for 24 years and Northern Virginia for 40, I have a deep commitment to the wellbeing of our community. Having served for over 30 years as a leader in the business community, I hope to bring my spirit of innovation and collaboration along with my skills in leadership and communications to create and advance a wonderful agenda for the community. I thank those that have been here before me and look forward to serving you.

Peggy Richardson

My name is Peggy Richardson, and I would be honored to serve on McLean Community Center’s Governing Board. I’ve lived in the area for over 20 years and have always enjoyed being an active member of my community. Having served on several different volunteer boards such as the Women’s Civic Alliance and the Arlington Community Foundation, I’m confident that my 25-plus years of experience spearheading fundraising campaigns and coordinating philanthropic events would directly benefit MCC and its constituency. As a board member, I would ensure that the programs represent the needs and wants of all the McLean community.

Langley High School Boundary Area Candidates

Anastasiia Dudnik-Dubiniak

I am Anastasiia Dudnik-Dubiniak, a freshman at Langley High, and I am running for the MCC Board. My candidacy is rooted in genuine desire to enhance McLean’s liveliness, vibrance and responsiveness to the diverse needs of its residents. I aim to create a lively and welcoming community, uniting us all by organizing inclusive and engaging events, such as cultural festivals, movie nights, outdoor activities, parties, fundraising events and promoting teen nonprofit startups. With my fresh perspective and dedication, I intend to amplify the voices of teens, fostering a vibrant and welcoming atmosphere for McLean youths.

Sonya Thott

My name is Sonya Thott and I’m a junior at Langley High School. My ambition to incorporate cultural diversity and inclusivity within our community is the core of my campaign. I have showcased my culture via dance and music by performing at Capital One Hall and I am also very involved in my school by being an officer in Langley’s student government, where I help organize school events, learn how to be an efficient leader and listen to students’ opinions. With these experiences, I hope to enhance MCC’s inclusivity statement further and support the betterment of the community for all.

Luke Understein

I am running for board member because I want to make a difference in our community and promote MCC’s outreach, growth and innovation as a cultural resource for residents of McLean. I am familiar with the interests of young people in McLean, and I will bring the perspectives of my peers to aid the decisions of the board. I will also make strong contributions to the committees I serve, because I have good communication and organizational skills and I am very detail oriented. So, I am asking for your vote to represent the Langley district.

McLean High School Boundary Area Candidates

Aanya Jain

Hello, I’m Aanya Jain and I’m running for MCC Governing Board. I was born in McLean and MCC has played a pivotal role in my active involvement within my community. I was exposed to summer activities and plays sponsored by MCC (and let’s not forget McLean Day)! I realized the importance of community engagement and advocacy and am part of Raising Student Voices and Debate clubs, which strengthened my skills in diplomacy, advocacy and teamwork! By serving on MCC’s Board, I’ll strive to promote the magnificent programs MCC offers to those of all backgrounds and will represent my fellow Highlanders!

Aaron Stark

My name is Aaron Stark. I’m a junior and the president of the class of 2025 at McLean High School. I’ve had extensive experience working alongside the MCC and other McLean-based service programs, including the MCC’s Youth Ambassador Program and the Safe Community Coalition’s Youth Advisory Council. I’ve spent nearly all my life growing up in the area, so I figured it was about time to start giving back. As a member of the Governing Board, I would work to add resources and activities for older teens. Vote Aaron Stark for the MCC Governing Board!

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