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George Mason Alumni Are Community Leaders

Michael Frey

By Emily Yaghmour
George Mason alumni are well represented among Fairfax County elected officials. Four of the supervisors serving on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors are George Mason graduates. Fairfax County has nine districts, each of which elects its own supervisor every four years.

Michael Frey, B.A. '83, is supervisor of Sully District, the westernmost district of the county. Catherine Martin Hudgins, M.P.A. '94, is supervisor of Hunter Mill District, which is north of George Mason. Dana Kauffman, B.S. '79, M.P.A. '82, is supervisor of Lee District, which is southeast of the university. And Stuart Mendelsohn, J.D. '84, is supervisor of the Dranesville District, the northernmost district of the county. As supervisors, their job is to establish county government policy, pass resolutions and ordinances, approve the budget, set tax rates, approve land use plans, and make appointments.

Elected as supervisor for the first time in 1991, Michael Frey has been re-elected twice. He paid his own way through school, working during the day and going to school at night. In 1983, he was named one of the Outstanding Young Men in America.

While Frey doesn't want to rule out the possibility of running for higher office later on, he loves working at the local level. Having worked on "The Hill" many years ago, he knows that changing things for the better at the national level is much more difficult. "You're closer to the big-time action, but from a personal standpoint, you don't do as much. You don't see the fruits of your labor." It's a lot easier to make a difference and to solve problems at the local level, he says. "If someone calls who is wanting a street light or a stop sign or is having problems with drainage next door, you can solve the problem." Although the job does provide the opportunity to work on some large projects, like planning highways and developments, the "bulk of the job is helping people through the process, and making government work for them and not against them," he says.
Cathy Hudgins

Frey moved several times during his college career and attended several universities before receiving his degree. He believes one of George Mason's greatest advantages is the quality of its faculty. Because he attended school in the evenings, he had many professors who were part time. They pursued their careers during the day and taught a course or two in their respective fields in the evenings. As a result of their real-world experience, "I didn't come out of college with some kind of idealistic, textbook-driven view of the world," Frey says. "You can argue that some campuses are not necessarily the real world. But Mason is. It's a part of the community."

In addition to his responsibilities to his district, Frey serves as chair of the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority. A self-described lifelong baseball junkie, he hopes to help attract a professional baseball team to Virginia. In his spare time (what little there is), Frey enjoys hanging out with his six-year-old German shepherd. He frequently returns to his alma mater for performances at the Center for the Arts. "I love live music," he says.

Elected last November, Cathy Hudgins assumed office in January 2000 as the Hunter Mill District supervisor. With a B.S. in Mathematics Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Hudgins taught mathematics for a while, and for 12 years she worked for AT&T as a telecommunications manager, technical consultant, and programmer/analyst.

In 1994, Hudgins went to work as chief aide to Kate Hanley, chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She held this position until 1999 when she decided to run for a supervisor seat herself. "I enjoy working with people," says Hudgins. "I enjoy trying to solve problems. And most important, I care a lot about my community."

Like Frey, Hudgins has been involved in politics most of her life. In 1988, she was the first woman to serve as chair of a Virginia delegation to the Democratic National Convention. Later, under her leadership of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, the party helped elect the first woman from Virginia's 11th congressional district to Congress.
Dana Kauffman

Her experience serves her well in her role as district supervisor, but she credits her education at George Mason for providing the foundational theory she needed to use her skills in a more professional way. "Policy making requires some trial and error, but there's also a theory component that is helpful to know."

Hudgins and her husband have two sons. Her idea of fun is dinner at home with her family. "I have a very busy and exciting district, and it keeps me going all the time."

Elected for the first time in 1995, Dana Kauffman was re-elected last November to his second term. He has two degrees from George Mason--a B.S. in Public Administration, which he received in 1979, and an M.P.A. he received three years later.

From 1982 to 1989, Kauffman served as chief of staff to Lee District supervisor Joseph Alexander. He later joined A.J. Dwoskin and Associates, a midsize property management firm, where he managed 17 shopping centers, 14 residential communities, and a staff of almost 100.

In 1995, his former boss Joe Alexander decided to retire from his position as Lee District supervisor, and he encouraged Kauffman to run for the position. "So I did," says Kauffman. "I didn't want to wonder years later what might have been."

As supervisor, Kauffman concentrates on three main issues: transportation, redevelopment, and housing. "Those are the big concerns in the areas I represent, so that's where I try to focus my energies." Lee District has several older commercial corridors, so Kauffman is working to "bring new businesses into the district and help old businesses expand." A member of the Virginia Railway Express board, he is a strong supporter of mass transportation.
Stuart Mendelson

For fun, Kauffman spends time with his three-and-a-half-year-old son Ethan Gabriel. He relaxes by doing woodwork. So far, he has made a cradle and a rocking horse for his son.

Like Kauffman, Stuart Mendelsohn was elected supervisor in 1995 and re-elected last year. Mendelsohn says his decision to run for public office was a natural progression of his life and career. "I've been a volunteer my whole life," he says. "When I was first appointed to the school board, I gave up 11 volunteer activities to do it."

The issue about which Mendelsohn is most passionate and knowledgeable is education. Before his election to the Board of Supervisors, he was vice chair of the Fairfax County School Board, and he has two daughters in elementary school.

In addition to a good education, George Mason provided Mendelsohn an unexpected benefit: valuable contacts. As a law school student in the early 1980s, "I got to know an awful lot of people. A significant number of the people I knew at George Mason are now in different leadership positions all over the county."

Not only does Mendelsohn serve as supervisor of his district, but he also practices law at Piper and Marbury, L.L.C., a Reston law firm. Needless to say, he keeps busy. Spending 40 to 60 hours a week on duties associated with his public office, he works another 30 to 40 hours at the law firm. He manages, he says, because he's organized. "I have two laptops and two cell phones, so I'm well wired to be able to do it. Ten years ago, it would have been harder.


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