Northern Virginia Family Service’s Mary Agee Set to Retire in 2015
(Oakton, Va., July 28, 2014) Mary Agee, president and CEO of Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS), announced today that she plans to step down in June 2015 after leading the agency for 27 years.
“This is the right time to retire from my leadership role at NVFS,” said Agee. “We recently concluded the most successful awards gala in our history and have built an exceptional leadership team that can take us to the next phase of our development and outreach. It is time for me to explore other ways I might invest my time and talents, from spending time with my new grandson to volunteering for organizations whose missions I support. We’re making this announcement nearly a year ahead of time to ensure both transparency with all our constituents and to thoughtfully prepare for a smooth transition.”
The origins of NVFS date back to 1924 in Alexandria, when the organization was run by one volunteer with no budget. Agee joined the staff in 1972 as a family counselor. By the time she was named deputy director in 1978, NVFS had 11 staff, five of whom were full-time, operated with a budget of $187,000. Today, the nonprofit organization has 350 employees and 3,600 volunteers, and its operating budget is $32 million. The agency offers a full range of human service programs including Head Start, foster care, health care access, job training and a family shelter. Its offices reach across Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun Counties, as well as Alexandria, Manassas and Manassas Park.
Northern Virginia Family Service has earned a reputation as a leader in the community, by supporting community partnerships, taking a leadership role in multi-agency service delivery for clients, and working collaboratively with other human services agencies on advocacy issues. Under Agee’s direction, NVFS built a reputation for helping stabilize families in crisis.
Among her accomplishments, Agee wrote the agency’s first federal grant in 1978 to provide Indo-Chinese refugee services, ushering in a new era of government partnerships to serve families and building a greater understanding of the needs of diverse families. Under her guidance, NVFS expanded its reach into the community through housing programs, medical access, early childhood and prevention programs, and workforce development, resulting in a comprehensive continuum of services to help families. She expanded the footprint of the agency with expansion into Prince William County and, in 2009, oversaw the merger with the SERVE Family Shelter and Food Distribution Center in Manassas.
Agee considers the agency’s selection by the Community Foundation of the National Capital Area to manage the 9/11 Survivors’ Fund her proudest moment. Families directly affected by the Pentagon tragedy needed direct assistance and long-term case management, including mental health care. Later, that experience would help position the agency to assist the Hurricane Katrina evacuees coming to Northern Virginia.
Misti Mukherjee, shareholder at Jackson Lewis P.C., and chair of the board of NVFS, noted, “Mary has devoted the past four decades of her life to Northern Virginia Family Service, and she has held the position of president and CEO for 26 of those years. Her influence and transformational impact on Northern Virginia families has been immense and profound. On behalf of the NVFS board and the residents of Northern Virginia, I thank Mary, and we have been the beneficiaries of her vision, her innovation, her leadership and her passion.”
“When you make the investment in families, our entire community benefits,” said Agee. “Consider the foster child who found a permanent home, the Head Start student who is ready to start kindergarten on par with their peers, the trauma victim who is granted asylum, or the Training Futures graduate who can now earn a living wage in our community. We’re privileged to offer this support, and we’re inspired to have the opportunity to change the trajectory of people’s lives.”
“I am grateful, but not surprised, at her consideration for all of NVFS’ stakeholders as she provided the Board with a long notice period,” added Mukherjee, “which will allow the time necessary for this important transition.” The board of directors of Northern Virginia Family Service will lead the search for Agee’s successor, and plans to name a new leader in the spring of 2015.