Regional Elected Leaders Initiative

Connecting Regional Leaders

The Schar School's Regional Elected Leaders Initiative (RELI) was created in 2018 to enhance regionalism and support Northern Virginia’s regional elected leaders—General Assembly members, city and town mayors and council members, county supervisors and school board members.

As Northern Virginia grows and faces new challenges, RELI recognizes the value of working across jurisdictional boundaries and levels of government to identify and implement effective and sustainable solutions. RELI provides a variety of programs and events that connect and inform Northern Virginia’s regional leaders from both the public and private sectors. 

Through programs and events, RELI helps elected leaders to engage, learn and connect in order to effect positive change for their communities and the Northern Virginia region.

View Webinars and Materials

May 5, 2023 Best Practices in Executive Evaluation

Regional Elected Leaders Initiative photo
Regional Elected Leaders Initiative photo
Regional Elected Leaders Initiative photo

"The Regional Elected Leaders Initiative creates new opportunities for all Northern Virginia elected leaders to work together to meet our biggest challenges."

-Sharon Bulova, Former Chair, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors

"As a newly elected local elected official, I learned so much and left with a number of good policy ideas - particularly in the area of affordable housing. I will return."

-Andrea Bailey Prince William Board of Supervisors

"I would recommend these seminars to my colleagues. Having time to talk with local elected officials helped me understand their perspective and fine-tune my legislative proposals."

-Dan Helmer, Delegate 40th House District

See What We Did in 2022

Effectively Managing Council/Board Meetings: Handling Contentious Issues and Potential Disruptions, May 6 and 20, 2022

GMU’s Regional Elected Leaders Initiative
Overview of Spring 2022 Governance Webinars
Co-sponsored by the VML and VACO

Friday, May 6:  Noon –1:15 pm         

Webinar #1: NOVA
Effectively Managing Council/Board Meetings: Handling Contentious Issues and Potential Disruptions

Hon. Babur Lateef, Chair, Prince William School Board
Hon. Phyllis Randall, Chair, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors
Hon. David Tarter, Mayor, City of Falls Church
Roger Wiley Esq., Legal Counsel, Virginia Municipal League

Key questions:

  • How have political polarization and citizen activism appeared in Council/Board rooms?
  • What strategies have others used to effectively manage their meetings?
  • Is Roberts Rules or Order an obstacle to managing disruptions or a useful tool?
  • What are the powers of the presiding officer?
  • What are your options in setting the rules for public comment?
  • Are there Codes of Conduct or agreements that help member-to-member dynamics stay civil?
  • What role do professional staff play when meetings are contentious?


Friday, May 20:  Noon –1:15 pm

Effectively Managing Council/Board Meetings: Handling Contentious Issues and Potential Disruptions

Hon. D. Michael Barber, Mayor, Town of Christiansburg
Dr. James Coleman, Chair, Lynchburg City School Board
Hon. Katie Cristol, Chair, Arlington County Board
Walter Erwin, Esq., Former Attorney, City of  Lynchburg

Key Questions: same as above.


Video of May 6th Webinar


Video of May 20th Webinar


Resource links

Building Neighborhood Acceptance of New Affordable Housing: Busting the Myths, September 23, 2022

Regional Elected Leaders Initiative 
Initiative Sponsor: JBGSmith

Building Neighborhood Acceptance of New Affordable Housing: Busting the Myths
Webinar Sponsor: VaHousing

   Key Questions:

  • What tools and messaging are being used in NOVA to build support for affordable housing?
  • How are localities addressing neighborhood concerns like height, density, parking, traffic, stormwater, and tree canopy?
  • How does affordable housing impact students and schools?
  • Does affordable housing impact neighborhood property values and livability? What does the research say?


Dr. Daniel Domenech, ED, AASA-The School Superintendents Association

Michelle Krocker, ED, Northern Virginia Affordable Housing Alliance (NVAHA)

Erika Moore, Communications and Public Engagement Manager, Arlington County Government 

Christina Stacy, Principal Research Associate, Urban Institute

Moderated by Mary Hynes, Co-ordinator, Regional Elected Leaders Initiative, Schar School

Resource List 

COG’s 2019 work on housing goals and targets

COG’s 2020 work with Dr. Tiffany Manual - A New Narrative for Housing: Playbook for the Greater Washington Region

Community Foundation for Loudoun and northern Fauquier Counties program for workforce housing

Mary Hynes’ recommended resource on change management

Tina Stacy’s 2022 property values impact research

National Housing Conference database of affordability

Arlington Community Foundation Infographic/Data on salaries for essential workers in Arlington who make 30% AMI or less coupled with MIT living wage information for Arlington

MIT Living Wage Calculator

Erika Moore’s recommended tool for creating your own infographics

Building Subsidized Low-income Housing Actually Lifts Property Values in a Neighborhood, Contradicting NIMBY Concerns

Webinar recording:

Fleet Decarbonization: What’s Happening Across NOVA Counties, Cities and Schools, October 7, 2022

Regional Elected Leaders Initiative 
Initiative Sponsor: JBGSmith

Fleet Decarbonization: What’s Happening Across NOVA Counties, Cities and Schools

Webinar Sponsor: Dominion Energy

   Key Questions: 

  • What goals and plans are in place? What is the role of local elected officials?
  • What are the lessons learned re: charging infrastructure, range/reliability of EVs, maintenance, cost?
  • What are the greatest obstacles to fleet electrification?
  • What is Dominion doing, or what could they do, to assist?
  • Are hydrogen fuels cells a viable alternative to electrification?
  • Are there opportunities for regional collaboration to advance fleet decarbonization?
  • What are the funding opportunities: Fed? State? NVTA?


Josh Baker - General Manager/CEO, DASH - Alexandria Transit Company

Jennifer DeBruhl - Director, Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit

Francine Furby - Director of Transportation, Fairfax County Public Schools

Dennis Leach - Director of Transportation, Arlington County

Moderated by Jay Fisette, Co-ordinator, Regional Elected Leaders Initiative, Schar School

Resource List:

To assist with planning and implementation of charging infrastructure Contact:

To assess whether hydrogen fuel cells might be an option for fleets, contacts at Washington Gas:

What the Inflation Reduction Act will — and not do — for sustainable transportation

  • Last month, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, the nation’s first major investment in climate change mitigation. The law is expected to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by channeling funding through tax credits, loans, and grants—taking a major step to position the administration to meet its goal of reducing U.S. emissions by 50 percent by 2030 and fulfill Paris Agreement guidelines

The second conference on ‘Clean Buses in the US, which will be held on November 9-10 at InterContinental San Francisco.  LA Metro, SFMTA, AC Transit, CapMetro, OCTA, Napa VTA, SunLine Transit Agency, Utah Transit Authority, US DoE and many more have confirmed to speak.

  • Unofficial Summary of NOVA Electric Busses - from Sierra Club
    • NOVA electric transit buses:
      • City of Alexandria (DASH) has 14 in service, funding for 12 more through 202
      • Arlington County (ART) has none
      • Falls Church N/A
      • Fairfax County (Connector) has 8 on order expected in December
      • Loudoun County (Loudoun County Transit) has none
    • NOVA electric school buses:
      • City of Alexandria 15 (at least five are in service, grant for 10 awarded earlier this year)
      • Arlington County has none
      • Falls Church 2
      • Fairfax County 18 (at least 8 are in service, grant for 10 awarded earlier this year)
      • Loudoun County 21 (at least 5 are in service, grant for 6 more awarded last year, grant for 10 awarded earlier this year)

Loudoun applied for a grant for 25 more from the EPA.  

DASH: Interview:

 Climate Mayors EV Purchasing Collaborative:

Contact at Highland Electric, which has a turnkey contract to transition the Montgomery County Schools bus fleet to 100% electric

Northern Virginia Transportation Commission 1 Agenda Item #3 – June 2022 Meeting Materials

Northern Virginia Zero-Emission Bus (ZEB) Strategic Plan:

  • The purpose of this effort is to assist Northern Virginia transit providers in implementing zero-emission buses (ZEBs), associated technology and infrastructure. The goals of the Strategic Plan are to:
  1. Identify regional zero-emission strategic goals and objectives with a focus on realizing economies of scale, utilizing individual agency goals and plans and stakeholder input;
  2. Document strategies and priorities to achieve those zero-emission strategic goals and objectives, including how to implement ZEBs to align with regional and agency goals;
  3. Identify methods for NVTC to best coordinate its activities with regional partners to achieve the plan's strategic goals and objectives; and
  4. Detail methods and processes to utilize programs and partnerships, as well as local, state and federal funding to accomplish the goals laid out in the strategic plan and identify emerging opportunities or challenges for additional activities or investments. The process will include an implementation study with deployment guidance specific to each regional partner, including regionally aligned agency transition planning and coordination for Northern Virginia transit agencies.

Clean, efficient and sustainable transportation technologies are critical to Northern Virginia’s transit future. Regional coordination and investing in equitable, compatible infrastructure are key elements of ZEB planning. Realizing regional and agency goals requires careful preparation and a feasible long-term deployment strategy. Technical support and advanced tools are required for making planning and procurement decisions both at the regional and individual transit agency level. NVTC partner agencies have all expressed interest in ZEB deployment, and several have initiated ZEB planning studies, procurements or pilots. By employing strategic analysis at the regional level, transit agencies can achieve economies of scale and realize the benefits of ZEBs.

This effort is funded through an FY 2023 DRPT Technical Assistance grant for $480,000. This includes state assistance of 50% ($240,000) and local match of 50% ($240,000).

 Alexandria Transit Plan: 

Arlington Transportation Projects: 

Fairfax County Public Schools Information on Electric School Buses

Reducing Traffic Deaths and Injuries: Best Practices, October 21, 2022

Regional Elected Leaders Initiative 
Initiative Sponsor: JBGSmith

Reducing Traffic Deaths and Injuries: Best Practices

Key Questions: 

  • What goals and plans are in place?
  • How do Vision Zero, Safe Streets For All, and Safe Routes to Schools programs interact with these goals?
  • What are the top 2 tangible actions localities can take to reach their goals?
  • What are the most innovative actions taken or being planned in localities? In states?
  • Are there best practices to protect kids? The elderly?
  • What are the greatest obstacles? Leadership? Funding?
  • Do you see opportunities for regional collaboration to advance these goals?


Christine Baker, AICP, Principal Planner and Vision Zero Program Coordinator, Arlington County

Tom Biesiadny, Director of Transportation, Fairfax County

Jerry Roche, Team Leader, Safety Integration, Office of Safety - Federal Highway Administration

Dave Snyder, Council Member, City of Falls Church and Vice-Chair, NVTA

Nick Donohue, Panel Moderator, Principal, Capitol Transportation Consulting and Former VDOT Deputy Secretary

Resource List:

Vulnerable Road User Safety Assessment Guidance,

Systemic Analysis:

Three Approaches to Address Severe Roadway Crashes:

Proven Safety Countermeasures:

Safe System Approach:

The Street Project:

The Street Project PBS Special:

Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Roadway Safety:

See What We Did in 2021

2021 In-Person Annual Dinner & Awards: Attendees heard an excellent program with Dean Mark Rozell interviewing former Secretary of Education Anne Holton and former Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Finance Aubrey Lane. 2021 awardees were Senator Janet Howell, Council Member David Snyder, and School Board Chairs Barbara Kanninen and Babur Lateef. 

2021 Policy Webinars: Successful policy webinars were held on Housing, Police Reforms, Transportation, Marijuana Laws and Equity in Budgeting. A summary of the programs and speakers, as well as the tape of each program are linked below.

Police Reform: Qualified Immunity, Citizen Review Boards and School Resource Officers, October 1, 2021

Marijuana Laws: What Happened and What Local Governments Need to Know, Friday, October 29, 2021

Budgeting with an Equity Lens: The Washington Area Boards of Education (WABE) Annual Report and Beyond, Friday, November 12, 2021

See What We Did in 2020

2020 Policy Webinars: Successful policy seminars were held on Transportation, Housing, Economic Development and Climate Action. A summary of the programs and speakers is attached.

2020 Program’s Virtual Awards Dinner: Attendees heard a lively program with Dean Mark Rozell interviewing Senate Majority Leader Dick Saslaw and House Majority Leader Charniele Herring. Regional Leadership awards were presented to Delegate Vivian Watts and Loudoun County Supervisor Matt Letourneau.