As his two-year tenure heading the Arlington County Civic Federation approaches its dénouement, Duke Banks hopes one of his legacies will be a commitment to bringing in a younger and more diverse group of leaders.
“It’s a goal we should all strive for,” Banks said at the organization’s Feb. 5 meeting. He has four more monthly meetings to preside over before departing office after having served two one-year terms.
Efforts to bring in new faces at the venerable organization have seen successes, but took a recent step backward with the resignation of two members of the board’s leadership:
• Nicole Merlene, who had served as vice president over the past year and would have been seen as a logical successor to Banks, left to launch a challenge to state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st) in the June Democratic primary.
• Maureen Coffey, who had served as secretary during the same period, resigned to oversee the re-election campaign of County Board member Katie Cristol.
Merlene’s post is being left open, and Coffey’s is being filled by former secretary Dennis Gerrity, until a new slate of officers is approved by the Civic Federation membership in the spring.
But even getting to that point is not without challenges; an effort by Banks on Feb. 5 to fill the five slots on the nominating committee fell short. The organization’s board of directors will have to make some calls and perhaps gently twist some arms to round out the roster.
Banks urged those tapped for the nominating committee to ensure that “diversity in our leadership [is] passed on to a younger generation” in making its selection of a slate to be presented to the membership.
The Civic Federation, comprising of delegates from both neighborhood civic groups and countywide advocacy organizations, had reason to celebrate in January, when a meeting devoted to the decidedly unsexy but quite contentious topic of open-space and field allocation drew 93 delegates from 50 member organizations – the highest representation in years. February’s meeting had less attendance but still ran higher than the average in recent years.