Chairman’s Message

June 2020

Hello Members,

June, the traditional start of summer has finally arrived. I don’t know about you, but as a life-long Washingtonian, I have always loved the hot and humid summers, especially after our unpredictable winters and consistently rainy springs. Nevertheless, here we are.

Usually, around this time of the month, senior proms are wrapping up and high school graduations are about to begin. Although this year is different. The world has gone virtual. So now, we have virtual proms and individualized graduations. I kind of like the idea of getting a diploma one-on-one with the principal and the family. It’s a very personal Pomp and Circumstance and one that will be remembered for years to come. So Congratulations to the Class of 2020!!! The Chamber of Commerce and I wish nothing but good times and success in every endeavor undertaken by our graduates. Whether it’s on to work, the military, technical school, or college, we wish you the best in this next phase of your life.

Speaking of college, I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Mount Vernon-Lee Chamber of Commerce Scholars. The 2020 Distinguished Business Scholarship recipients are Michelle Basoah, Mount Vernon High School; Louise Byrne, Mount Vernon High School; Sophia Carr, Thomas A. Edison High School; Luke Dietrich, South County High School; Elijah Xavier Hernandez, West Potomac High School; Anne Hood, Mount Vernon High School; Benjamin Morin, South County High School; Amelie Murphy, Hayfield Secondary School; Ashley Pearson, Hayfield Secondary School. These high achieving students each received a $2,000 scholarship so they can begin their college studies in a business related field. 

Over the past 20 years, your Chamber has given out over $240,000 in scholarships to hundreds of deserving students. These funds come from your contributions and proceeds from the Chamber’s Annual Golf Classic, that will be held on September 23, 2020 at Laurel Hill Golf Club in Lorton, VA. We would love to have you as a sponsor to continue to fund this very worthy undertaking, so please sign up as we always sell out. 

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize Father’s Day, which falls on Sunday, June 21st. Father’s Day doesn’t seem to get the recognition that Mother’s Day does and I guess it goes without saying we don’t do that much to start the process anyway, but here we are. Gender roles have changed, and in many cases, women are now the primary breadwinners in the family. In fact, over 50% of all professional degrees awarded today go to women, so men still have a role to play in the family, thank goodness.

I been reading essays about fatherhood recently and although I won’t bore you with a warm and fuzzy story about some endearing lesson I taught my kids, I can tell you that is still warms my heart when my recently married daughter calls me Daddy and when my sometimes obnoxious 23 year old son asks for my advice. I think the most satisfying thing about being a Dad and a parent (because it would not have happened without my wife Wendy) is that we both know that our kids will be happy, successful, independent, loving, and family focused parents. After all, isn’t this what we all want for our kids? I wish the same for you and your families.  

Happy Father’s Day!!!
Stanley Koussis

Stan Koussis

Stan Koussis

Chairman

Andrews Federal Credit Union

May 2020

Dear Members,
I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirit, and handling your house arrest well. If you don’t remember, the lock-down of Virginia began on March 12, 2020 and was expanded on March 23rd and then again on April 1st (not an April Fools Prank) to effectively cease almost all commercial activities in the Commonwealth of Virginia in an attempt to stop the transmission of the Corona Virus.

As of today, May 5, 2020, the results seem to have had success. The curve appears have spread out, we are only using approximately 20% of the state’s inventory of ventilators, there is excess capacity in ICU’s throughout the state, the three regional field hospitals that were supposed to have been built were cancelled, there are so many open beds in area hospitals, that 400 lay-offs have been announced at Inova Hospital System, and the death rate in Virginia is approximately 38 per 1 million residents. So why is the Stay-At-Home Order still in place until June 10, 2020? The short answer is that it saves lives…but how many? No one really knows and at what cost? Here are some of the human costs and it is frightening.

As the politicians have set the village on fire to cure the disease, here are some statistics to ponder; jobless claims have hit close to 30 million and the Federal Reserve estimates the number will reach 47 million by time the economy fully re-opens. When we consider race, the picture is bleaker, in March alone Black male unemployment increased 1.2% to 7%, while unemployment increased 1.6% for Hispanics and Asians totaling 6% and 4.1% nationally. Whites faired a little better at 0.9% and 4% nationally. What explains this disparity; a recent Pew Research Center Report study shows that minorities are over represented in industries that are more vulnerable to lay-off and job disruptions than their white counterparts. These industries are Retail, Recreation, Hospitality, Food Service, and Manufacturing. Can you guess which industries took the biggest hit in Governor Northam’s lock-down?

Chairman McKay continues to tell us that home is the safest place to be. Where is his cost-benefit analysis? Our small business sector is dying. When a small business dies, so do the jobs and the tax base. The politicians making these decisions are staying at home and collecting paychecks while 386,000 Virginians are out of work. Where is the equity in this? The state and county budgets have not been cut; they have only postponed the increases that were due to go into effect on July 1, 2020. It is easy to tell someone else to stay home while you are getting a paycheck and they have been fired. If revenues from 2019 are down 20%, why hasn’t Fairfax County cut the budget 20%. It is shocking to learn that the County Executive fought to keep salaries and benefits the same for Fairfax County employees in the wake of this fiscal crisis.

It is time to open Virginia and Fairfax County in a safe and responsible manner:
1. Let Virginia businesses decide how to operate while adhering to federal and state safety guidelines
2. Establish a Task Force to focus on new business opportunities for Fairfax residents as we move into the digital frontier
3. Move to Risk Mitigation and let the public and business decide on their own how much risk they want to assume, while protecting our Senior Citizens and those most venerable
4. Refocus on Suicide Prevention, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Domestic Violence as an outgrowth of this shutdown
5. Reopen Fairfax County Schools in the fall
6. Reopen all Fairfax County park and recreational facilities now
7. Investigate why Virginia nursing homes are Corona Virus hotspots and take appropriate action.

I believe that there is dignity in work and that everyone that wants to work should have the opportunity to find a job that fulfills the needs of the employer and job seeker. We should not have to choose between the health of the public or the health of the economy.
It’s time for our leaders to lead…Let’s Open Virginia.

Until next month, be well.

Stan Koussis
Chairman

Stan Koussis

Stan Koussis

Chairman

Andrews Federal Credit Union

April 2020

Hello Members,
I hope this letter finds you and your families well and living your best life. As I was preparing to write this letter, my wife turned me on to a professional coach, mentor, and social observer – Andy Andrews and his thoughts help me prepare this message. You can check him out at andyandrews.com.

My theme this month is “Choosing…Hope or Fear.”
Andy defines fear as “an empty emotion, and a creative misuse of your imagination.” Why is this? If you think about it, fear is an emotion that creeps up on us before an event actually happens. Our mind and imagination is in overdrive thinking about a terrible outcome that my never come to pass. Think about this, imagination is what we use to problem solve, it is that creative “thinking outside the box” we all talk about and can create wonderful outcomes in business and our personal lives. Therefore, if we let fear dictate our daily activities, we are giving up the potentialities we have now and in the future.

As you know, I am not that big a fan of Facebook. I found myself drawn into the negativity of people and ideas on the site, so I have almost completely stopped viewing and posting, and guess what, I feel a lot better. In fact, I unfriended five people last week for negative posts about the current state of our country and economy and it was truly uplifting. Do this and you will feel better too. This brings me to Hope.

Andy defines hope as that part of our imagination that gives us the ability to see what can happen with a positive outlook on life. Again, who really wants to be consumed about the possibility of 100,000 to 250,000 Americans dying and our economy collapsing when we can be hopeful about finding a cure for the Corona Virus? This is what gives me hope, we are social distancing, research is happening throughout the world to develop a vaccine, our corporations are marshalling all of their resources to defeat the virus and the federal government has developed a sustainability plan that the world has never seen before to help carry our nation through this crisis. Yet, the media only focuses on the most dire and hopeless news they can find. It is no coincidence that viewer ratings go up as their reporting becomes more negative, so how about tuning them out for a while. My hope and one that I have chosen to embrace, is that we will defeat the virus and have a stronger economy that is more vibrant than before the virus attacked us.

So how will YOU choose? Fear and Negativity or Hope and Faith. It is all up to you.
See you in May!

Stanley Koussis
Stan Koussis

Stan Koussis

Chairman

Andrews Federal Credit Union

March 2020

 Have you seen my latest social media post? If not, I have included it for you to read.

Leadership Mount Vernon-Lee was in The House…The Virginia House of Delegates that is. Our February class meeting was held in Richmond during the hectic 60-day session. We met with Delegates Krizek and Sickles and Senators Barker, Ebbin, and Surovell. After our meetings, it was off to lunch and then a tour of the State Capitol. It is no wonder Virginia is called The Birthplace of American Democracy, going back to 1619 with the Virginia General Assembly and the House of Burgesses in Jamestown.”

If you are wondering why I am posting this, please read on. Leadership Mount Vernon-Lee, whose mission is to prepare and mobilize leaders to work for the good of the whole community, is currently accepting applications for the Class of 2020-2021, that begins in September of 2020.
Our program is unique from the start. Held at the magnificent facilities of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, our students have the perfect balance of elegance and historical context to study and learn from leading scholars and historians who have devoted their careers to the study of our pre-eminent Founding Father and Commander-in-Chief, George Washington.

The program is an immersive leadership learning experience; as we seek to challenge create opportunities to influence positive change and impact quality of life in the Mount Vernon and Lee districts. The purpose of our signature program is to transform a diverse and highly motivated group of individuals into a network of leaders who are equipped with knowledge and commitment to benefit Fairfax County. In addition to providing on-site, experiential learning, the program also strengthens leadership competencies in areas such as relationship building, servant leadership, integrity, innovation, and appreciation for diversity and inclusiveness.
So no matter what you are looking for, whether its personal enrichment, professional development, or impacting public policy, we have a seat at the table just for you.

Please click here to apply online or reach out to Holly Dougherty for an application To Be Part of History.

Until next month,

Sincerely,

Stanley Koussis

Stan Koussis

Stan Koussis

Chairman

Andrews Federal Credit Union

February 2020

This past Saturday, Holly Dougherty and I were able to represent the Chamber of Commerce at the Mount Vernon Town Hall Meeting that was held at Mount Vernon High School. I was struck by the large number of community groups that either are headquartered or do business in our part of Fairfax County. As I visited each of the display tables, I noticed that many of the exhibitors brought candy to entice people to stop and chat. Not to brag, but thanks to Jason Hunt and Roy Rogers Restaurants, we were able to pass out brownies to many of the attendees. They were the hit of the exhibit.

Seriously, what really stood out more to me than anything else at the Town Hall was the mission of all the organizations in attendance “To Serve the Community” and specifically our community.  I have since gone back and reviewed our mission statement, which is “To champion business and build community in partnership with our members.” This is what we strive to do for you, our members.  We advocate for you, to help make your business successful and in turn make this a better place to live, work, and raise a family. I believe that in order to have a vibrant community, a strong partnership between business, government, and community stakeholders must exist. One cannot exist without the other.

This is a generous, giving and caring community and like any volunteer organization, our success is based on the involvement of our members. Whether you are interested in economic development, improving our public schools, working for a more sustainable environment, or influencing public policy, we have a place for you. Our committees are always looking for new members and your contribution in any of our committees will help make a difference in what we accomplish throughout year.

I look forward to seeing you at the February Biz Breakfast on February 13th at Belle Haven Country Club.

All the best,

Stan Koussis

Stan Koussis

Stan Koussis

Chairman

Andrews Federal Credit Union

January 2020

Is it 2020 already? I don’t know about you, but it feels as though 2019 flew right by and the new year is upon us. As I begin my year as Chairman of the Board, I would like to review our results from last year and share with you my thoughts on what I hope to accomplish in the coming year.

First, I’d like to thank Sonja Caison (The Cleaning Authority) for her leadership during the past year. Our Chamber of Commerce is financially sound and membership has increased over previous years. We will miss Sonja’s commitment in supporting the community and our membership at-large. The Executive Committee says farewell to our Treasurer, Chris Reddick (The National Capital Bank). During his tenure, Chris introduced a structured approach to budgeting and planning for the future. We will miss Chris’ counsel, but welcome our new treasurer Ken Board (M&T Bank) who is excited about his new role in helping steer the Chamber financially in the coming years. Finally, our Secretary, Phyllis Sintay (McEnearney Associates Realtors) has agreed to stay on for another year. Phyllis is the unsung hero, keeping things orderly and providing a record of all meetings.

Second, 2019 was a great year for chamber events. We had a number of exciting and varied breakfast and after-work Drinks and Deals networking events. More importantly was our 21st Annual Chamber Golf Classic. An energized Golf Committee brought in new sponsors and new contests resulting in a $17,000 contribution to the Education Scholarship Fund to be distributed to deserving students in the Mount Vernon and Lee districts in 2020. The Economic Summit continues to be successful, as is the Police and Fire Fighter Tribute. Our newest signature program, Leadership Mount Vernon-Lee launched in 2019 with 17 class members and we are looking to increase the class size in 2020.

Third, it is said that the only thing that is constant is change, and this is true for us in the Chamber. Change in the Virginia Legislature, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and the Fairfax Economic Development Authority will provide challenge and opportunity for our membership. We do not live in a vacuum and realize that success requires partnership between business, community, and government. We will seek out and expand these partnerships to help our community grow.

Please know that we are committed to advocate on behalf of your interests because we know that your success is also a success for our community.

I and the Board look forward to serving you this year and are always open to hear from you and are committed to listening to your concerns, recommendations, and ideas.

Sincerely,

Stanley Koussis

Stan Koussis

Stan Koussis

Chairman

Andrews Federal Credit Union