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Trio tapped for 2023 Spirit of Community honors

John Foti, Dr. Tsehaye Teferra and Andres Tobar to receive salutations at Nov. 17 luncheon

A trio of Arlington civic leaders will be honored by the Arlington Community Foundation with its 2023 William T. Newman Jr. Spirit of Community Award.

John Foti, Dr. Tsehaye Teferra and Andres Tobar were selected for the honor, which will be presented at the 30th annual Spirit of Community luncheon on Nov. 17.

“Our review committee was blown away by the collective accomplishments, selflessness and care for community represented” by the nominations, Arlington Community Foundation president/CEO Jennifer Owens said. “We had an unprecedented number of unique nominees this year, and the decision was a difficult one.”

“Individually and collectively, these recipients represent the passion, commitment and community advocacy that define the award – and the absolute best vision of what Arlington can be,” the foundation said in announcing the recipients.

They will join a pantheon of past honorees representing a wide swath of Arlington civic engagement.

About each 2023 inductee:

• John Foti has coached Arlington youth baseball for decades, and his investment in youth does not end with athletics. Most recently, Foti helped establish the all-volunteer After School Enrichment Matters (ASEM), which supports students of Arlington’s eight Title 1 elementary schools in gaining access to free afterschool programming. Since its founding, ASEM has awarded more than $125,000 to Title 1 elementary schools in Arlington, providing 4,000 students access to theater, dance, soccer, robotics and field trips.

• Dr. Tsehaye Teferra is founder and president of the ECDC Enterprise Development Group (formerly Ethiopian Community Development Council). He has served as chair of the Resettlement Committee of Refugee Council USA the Virginia State Refugee Advisory Council. He was appointed by the Arlington County Board to serve as a founding member of the Multicultural Commission, and also has served on the county government’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Task Force for Arlington’s Future and the Diversity Dialogue Task Force.

• In addition to serving as executive director of the Shirlington Employment and Education Center for nearly two decades, Andres Tobar’s community leadership also has included many years as president of the Kiwanis Club of South Arlington, board member for the Arlington Food Assistance Center, co-chair of the African-American/Hispanic Coalition, state director of the Virginia League of United Latin American Citizens (including two years as national vice president) and co-chair of the Immigrant Educational Rights Coalition.

Established in 1991 as the Spirit of Community Award, the honor later was renamed to salute now-retired Circuit Court Chief Judge William Newman Jr., who conceived the idea of the Arlington Community Foundation.

Previous recipients since it first was bestowed have included (in chronological order starting in 1993) Joan Cooper, H. Paul Mount, Anna Barber, Elizabeth Campbell, Walter Tejada, John McCracken, Julia Connally, Charles Overby, Jennie Davis, Jean Berg, Eric Schaeffer, Ralph Johnson, the Woman’s Club of Arlington, Preston Caruthers, Rich Doud, Karen Darner, George Varoutsos, Mary Ann Nirschl, Meg Tuccillo, John Andelin and Ginger Geoffrey, Lola Reinsch, Mary Ann Moran, Jonathan Kinney, John Milliken, Emma Violand-Sánchez, Dr. Alfred Taylor, Arlington’s front-line public-health workers, Lucy Bowen, Portial Clark, Mark Riley and Dr. Mike Silverman.

For information on the awards and registration for the luncheon, see the Website at