3 to Be Honored as 'Persons of Vision'


(Tuesday, March 20, 2007 6:22 AM EDT)

Deborah Simpson-Taylor, Susan Retz and Betsy Frantz this week will be honored with the Person of Vision Awards, sponsored by the Commission on the Status of Women.

“I consider it a great honor,” said Retz, who is being recognized at the 21st annual awards ceremony for her work on housing issues. “I was quite surprised, but I understand that I represent a limited number of women who work in the building industry.”

Retz is an architect and remembers the days at school, when she and one other woman were the only females pursuing an architecture degree.

She currently works at the Fairfax Redevelopment and Housing Authority, but has been deeply involved in the Affordable Housing Commission.

She chaired the commission from 2000-05, and helped make approximately 1,400 “committed-affordable” units available for Arlington residents.

“Most of the affordable housing is to house women,” Retz said.

Frantz, the president of Leadership Arlington, was selected for the award for her dedication to educating leaders in the county.

“I'm honored to be recognized - because I am completely passionate about the community,” Frantz said. “My work with Leadership Arlington, which I absolutely love, allows my passion to be used in a visionary capacity to transform the community.”

Leadership Arlington is an organization whose mission is to develop trained leaders who are committed to building and strengthening the community. Frantz has worked towards that mission since the organization's inception in 1998.

She has helped reach more than 300 community leaders and 250 organizations during her nearly 10 years at the helm of Leadership Arlington.

Simpson-Taylor, president of Vanguard Services Unlimited, also has changed lives for women in Arlington. Vanguard is a non-profit organization, offering treatment for drug and alcohol addiction in the community.

“I was absolutely surprised and flattered and grateful that the community would acknowledge what Vanguard and I have been able to accomplish,” Simpson-Taylor said.

Working with Vanguard since 1989, Simpson-Taylor's work has helped women receive more convenient treatment for their substance abuse.

“In the region, we probably had the first program for women that allowed them to bring their children with them,” she said. “Children were an obstacle to coming, and once they could bring their children, women were more able and willing to seek treatment.”

The Person of Vision Awards will be presented at the Commission on the Status of Women's annual Women's History Month Dinner on March 21 at 7 p.m. at the Clarendon Ballroom.

Throughout the award's history, men as well as women have been eligible for the award. To date, only one man - former Superintendent Art Gosling - has received the award.

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