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FEBRUARY 2021

GO RED FOR WOMEN

FEATURING VIP’S 2021 MOST INSPIRING WOMEN OF ALEXANDRIA

FEBRUARY 2021 • 1


DDS

1 0 6 N Q U A K E R L A N E | A L E X A N D R I A , VA 2 2 3 1 4 Nestled on a private, half acre wooded lot, this custom home was built in 2014 with the luxury buyer in mind with attention to the finest of details. This home offers space for all working and virtual learning from home in the heart of Alexandria. The craftsman style home features approximately 5,700SF of living space, 5 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms, an office on main level, an au-pair or in-law suite in the walk out lower level and two family rooms. Exclusively offered for $1,799,999.

KRISTEN JONES Alexandria Specialist | $33M+ Sales in 2020 RealTrends Top 1.5% agents in USA | #24 Individual Agent in VA Washingtonian’s Best Real Estate Agent 2018-2020 703.851.2556 | kristenjones.com kristen@kristenjones.com | Licensed in VA 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 | Equal Housing Opportunity

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S FAGD

DR. KATHLEEN MULLANEY DDS FAGD

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PUBLISHER'S LETTER Dear Alexandria, I have just three words for you: We made it! I can't believe I am writing my first publisher’s letter of 2021! We have so many exciting stories to share with you, so let's not waste any time! When we released our Gentlemen’s Issue back in August 2020, everyone wanted to know where the ladies were. Well, I am excited to tell you that the wait is now over! I am so proud to introduce you to Alexandria's Most Inspiring Women of 2021. Though the women of this class each have their own unique and powerful story to tell, they all have one thing in common: They want you to GO RED FOR WOMEN all February long! Go Red for Women is the American Heart Association's signature women's initiative. Heart disease continues to be the number one killer of women in America, claiming the lives of 1 in 3 of us. This month, we are using our voices to raise awareness because losing even one woman is not an option. How can you help? How can you join the movement? Of course, you can make a monetary donation on the VIP American Heart Association website at www2.heart.org/goto/vipalexandriamagazine, but this goes so far beyond swiping a credit card. Explore the stories ahead and share them. If you're holding this book in your hands, pass it off to a friend when you're done. If you're reading this online, share it on social media! One click could save a life. But most importantly, educate yourself and take charge of your heart health! Because like our 'Inspiring Women' you have a beautiful story to tell... and we want you to stick around long enough to share it! We're also proud to celebrate Black History Month in this issue, alongside John Chapman of Manumission Tours. Travel back in time to learn more about Alexandria's African American heritage. Because understanding our past will open the door to our future! Until next month, Alexandria! Keep sharing your stories, supporting one another and remember to GO RED all February!

VOLUME TWO | ISSUE THREE

OWNER / PUBLISHER Kellie Gunderman kellie@vipalexandriamag.com

OPERATIONS DIRECTOR Jeanette Wages jeanette@vipalexandriamag.com

SALES EXECUTIVE Andrew Gates andrew@vipalexandriamag.com

EDITOR Warren Gunderman CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Dr. Eleni Boosalis Liesel Schmidt Abigail Wolverton PHOTOGRAPHERS Jonathan Thorpe JD Watkins All inquiries:

Kellie Gunderman

Kellie

OWNER / PUBLISHER

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hello@vipalexandriamag.com

www.vipalxmag.com


FEBRUARY 2021 • 5


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WHAT’S INSIDE THE "RED LADIES"

FEATURES

Alexandria's Most Inspiring Women of 2021 30

Go Red for Women: Behind the Scenes at Landmark Mall (as seen in Wonder Woman 1985)

32

Michelle Millben

33

Betsy Weissman

34

Jessica Buchanan

35

Dr. Tammy Mann

36

Danielle Romanetti

37

Sarah Akram

41

Kelly Grant

42

Dr. Kathleen Mullaney

43

Nicole McGrew

44

Maurisa Turner Potts

45

Allison Priebe

46

Marilyn Patterson

47

Megan Podolsky

48

Kristen Jones

EVENTS

8

The Chamber ALX Spotlight: Rachel Lazarus

10 Salute to Service (DCUC): Synergy Helping Veterans Battle PTSD Using Float Therapy 14 Celebrating Black History Month with Manumission Tours 20 A Taste of France 24 Man Cave: 3 Parts Man | The Frank Mills Story 28 Winter Skincare Tips for a Radiant Glow 39 Drink to Your Health: How Red Wine Helps The Heart 50 Go Love Yourself: A Guide to Valentine's Day and Self-Compassion 54 Spring/Summer 2021 Fashion Trends 56 Date Night Is Not Dead: Subscription Boxes for Date Nights at Home

d go reart e ! for h h healt

52 Grand Opening: Ada's On The River Hosting an event? Email events@vipalexandriamag.com

ON THE COVER (From left to right) Maurisa Turner Potts, Jessica Buchanan, Michelle Millben, Sarah Akram & Marilyn Patterson Photographer: Jonathan Thorpe Special Thanks to Carolyn Martin, General Manager of The Howard Hughes Corporation for use of Landmark Mall and Marilyn Patterson and J Marcus for videography services.

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CHAMBER SPOTLIGHT

Story by Liesel Schmidt

As we age, our brains go through many changes. Neuropathways are built and re-built, memories are made and stored away, skills are learned. But all of that can be lost; and cognitive function becomes a concern in the later years of our lives. Studying those changes is part of the role of a neuroscientist; and since November of 2019, Rachel Lazarus has been bringing her knowledge in the field to AARP’s Staying Sharp product. “I was strongly drawn to AARP's mission to empower all of us to choose how to live as we age,” says Lazarus, who received her PhD in June 2015. “I was also deeply impressed by AARP's Staying Sharp product, which is a personalized digital platform dedicated to educating users how holistic, lifestylebased behaviors may influence cognitive changes as we age. They were looking for a neuroscientist to assess the effectiveness of the program— someone to characterize how Staying Sharp might affect cognitive health outcomes. I threw my hat in the ring and joined the team.” A passionate lover of science, Lazarus also strongly believes that it should be accessible and understandable to everyone. As such, she greatly supports AARP’s mission with Staying Sharp. “I believe that the program represents the future of brain health: Proactive, rather than reactive, approaches in taking personal agency or is this accountability for how we experience cognitive

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aging,” she explains. “Rather than promising a ‘magic bullet’ or pill to ‘fix’ the aging brain, Staying Sharp provides an integrated approach to help our users learn, practice and apply everyday behavioral changes that may impact cognition. We are empowering our users to take control of their brain health while simultaneously translating the most up-to-date advances in age-related cognitive neuroscience for the public. It is a very exciting and fulfilling opportunity, both professional and personally.” An active member of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, Lazarus was named one of Alexandria Chamber's 40 Under 40 for 2020. “It has been a pleasure getting to know the other members of the Alexandria Chamber, particularly the other members in the 2020 40 Under 40 cohort!” she says. “In addition to learning about the remarkable accomplishments of my ‘classmates,’ the program has allowed me to engage in some great networking opportunities. Joining the Chamber plugs you into some of the most exciting developments happening all around the city, and there are tons of events for local professionals—all of whom care deeply about the City of Alexandria and its residents.” For more information on the 40 Under 40 Awards Program and The Chamber ALX, contact LPATISH@thechamberalx.com


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work@vipalexandriamag.com FEBRUARY 2021 • 9


SALUTE TO SERVICE

ONE FLOAT AT A TIME The Chris Jones Story: Helping Veterans Battle PTSD using Float Therapy Story by Jeanette Wages | Brought to you by Defense Credit Union Council

Though he served for 26 years in the Military, Chris Jones never expected the Veterans Affairs Administration to give him an 80% disability rating for PTSD. “I’d never thought about what PTSD was. I’d heard of it, but I had never thought about the symptoms -- and that I definitely had it. My fight or flight response never truly turned off”. Chris originally enlisted in the Army, then decided to go to college through the Air Force ROTC program. He served as an Air Force officer for six years before laterally transferring to the Navy, where he spent the rest of his career until he retired in March 2016.

- his eyes were always scanning, brain always on alert. As he talked about this sensation with fellow hikers, one discussed with him the concept of floatation tanks as a way to reset and reconnect with oneself. Upon his return home, Chris decided to investigate the concept further.

Chris joined the military as a way to serve and give back to his country. Additionally, the military gave him the opportunity to travel the world and have a life he never thought he would experience. Upon retirement, Chris became a government contractor as the civilian version of his last assignment with the Navy. Rather than begin his new job immediately, his employer wanted him to use his terminal leave to take some personal time off. Though not his original plan, Chris is happy that he did.

One day, after a long day of work at the Pentagon, Chris took a detour on his way home to a Bethesda, MD floatation center — one of the only in the area. He noticed how tense he was sitting in traffic and thought there was no way he would be able to enjoy the float experience but he went anyway. With his very first float, he noticed a positive difference in his blood pressure and general outlook. He pursued the experience twice more at other flotations centers and noticed how his attitude was positively altered and his PTSD responses became less severe. Convinced of the therapeutic value of flotation, he bought a flotation tank for his home. Slowly, as his brain reset during his morning floats, he felt the universe push him to open his own center as a way to give back to his community.

During his time off, Chris decided to take a trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail. While in the Peruvian wilderness hiking and camping along the trail, Chris realized that he was not able to turn off his sense of hypervigilance

To expand on this new endeavor, Chris enrolled in an accelerated night MBA program. When the course work focused on building theoretical business plans, Chris used the knowledge to develop his own business

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"Come hitchhike through the galaxy, we provide the towel." -SYNERGY

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“I believe if everyone floated every three days the world would be a much nicer place. I’m just doing my small part to change the world.” CHRIS JONES

plan, taking the first step to making his dream a reality. Armed with his life savings and Thrift Savings Plan, he was halfway to raising the money he needed to open a center of his own. Chris’ dream was finally realized when he approached his personal credit unions for assistance.

“I had heard that both Pentagon and Navy Federal Credit Unions work with small businesses and I had been using them both in my personal banking for years.” Synergy Float Center opened in November 2017. Since then, Chris has left his job at the Pentagon to focus

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solely on his business. Synergy has become an oasis for a very loyal clientele who vary from people just looking for an escape to those struggling with serious PTSD, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. For both the center and their clients, March 2020 and the COVID 19 pandemic hit hard. Synergy was forced to close their doors for two months. During that time, Chris developed a plan to safely reopen. Chris reached out to the Department of Health with his plan to reopen the center while keeping the staff and clients safe and healthy. “The center is already perfect for social distancing and isolation. Each tank and treatment is in separate rooms which already had strict sanitation routines between clients. People walk in and they think they are the only ones in the building when we are in fact fully booked.”


Synergy Float Center was created to help change the world for the better, one float at a time. Chris’ mission to optimize humanity and change the way the western world approaches healthcare has not only changed Chris’ life, but the lives of so many others, allowing them to experience the healing and therapeutic affects of floating. In an effort to share his story, Chris founded the National Float It Forward Association (www.nfifa.org), a nationally recognized nonprofit, to help active military, veterans, first responders, and their immediate families experience floatation therapy free of charge across the United States at their local float center. The sales of Chris’ book, Floatosophy - an interactive, self guided journal on getting the most out of your float helped to fund the nonprofit. For Chris, Synergy has never been about making money, but helping others achieve true wellbeing and purpose.

SYNERGY FLOAT CENTER • 1240 N PITT ST, ALEXANDRIA, VA 22314 • WWW. SYNERGYFLOATCENTER.COM A NOTE FROM DEFENSE CREDIT UNION COUNCIL: This past year has shown the vital importance of small businesses to our overall economy and financial well-being. Access to loans to start up or sustain a business is crucial to keep our Country strong. Add in The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the U.S. Small Business Administration study from November 2018 that found that military veterans are struggling more than non-veterans to receive business funding from banks and other financial institutions, and you have an even bigger need to support those who served our country. Defense Credit Unions already have the mission of serving the U.S. Armed Forces through the entire military life cycle to include veterans. However, current caps on member business lending hinder Defense Credit Unions. Nonetheless, there is a solution in the works that would allow credit unions to exempt Veteran member business loans from this cap. Contact your representative today to show your support for veteran owned businesses by supporting the reintroduction of the Veterans Members Business Loan Act bill.”

“Defense Credit Unions are an integral part of their communities’ financial health and well-being. Working with Veterans to support their business dreams is a natural fit and one more way to thank them for their service to our Nation." - Tony Hernandez, President/CEO at Defense Credit Union Council

FEBRUARY 2021 • 13


Harriet Tubman Mural by Michael Rosato 14 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE


CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH W/

MANUMISSION TOURS FREEDOM'S FIGHT IN ALEXANDRIA Story by Jeanette Wages

History has never been the story of one person or group of people. It is the story of humankind. Yet for many years, the narrative has remained one-sided. History has been written by the winners of wars, the people in power or those with the ‘luxury’ of an education. Today, we are able to start piecing together the patchwork quilt of history through untold stories. When City Councilman and 3rd generation Alexandrian, John T. Chapman, was asked about the availability of tours depicting African and African-American history in Alexandria, he had to take pause. Nothing came to mind. Chapman, who grew up visiting museums in the area and participating in the city parades, couldn’t recall any African-American history before the Civil Rights movement. Beyond the obvious blind spot of a piece of history that helped create the city of Alexandria, he also realized our city was missing out on a major stream of revenue. In his search for information, he stumbled upon a pamphlet for The Courageous Journey, a walking tour that featured the African American history that shaped Alexandria and the United States. The tours, created by

the City of Alexandria, launched on September 10, 2011. But as we all know, the world shifted its focus on the very next day on 9/11 and the pamphlet was set aside and forgotten. That was until Chapman dusted it off and began making plans. "I took the framework of The Courageous Journey and spent weeks in the ‘Special Collections’ section of the Barrett Library. I searched for any story that could help bring life to the tour." In 2016, Manumission Tours took its first historical stroll. The company began with one walking tour, Freedom’s Fight in Alexandria, and has grown into three tours since then, including one bus tour. Chapman works tirelessly to ensure his tours are fun, educational and inclusive. “All history is important regardless of perspective,” he says. MANUMISSION man·u·mis·sion /ˌmanyəˈmiSH(ə)n/ noun HISTORICAL 1. release from slavery. "a leading advocate of manumission"

FEBRUARY 2021 • 15


The Robert Robinson Library • 902 Wythe Street, Alexandria • April 24, 1940

Underground Railroad Tour Edward Stabler, apothecary, founded the shop in 1792 at the corner of King and Fairfax Streets. In 1796, he moved his operation to 107 S. Fairfax. Stabler, a Quaker, was a known abolitionist and often used his own money to purchase slaves for the purpose of setting them free.

Freedom’s Fight in Alexandria Walking Tour

YMCA OF Milwaukee touring w/ Manumission 16 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE

Freedom’s Fight in Alexandria is a 90-minute, guided walking tour through the streets of Old Town. It provides participants with insight into Alexandria's pre-civil war history of urban slavery. The tour highlights the stories of runaway slaves, including step-brothers Oscar and George Ball, free African-Americans like Moses Hepburn and early abolitionists, such as pharmacist Edward Stabler, who pushed back against the "Peculiar Institution" of slavery.


“Duke Street Black History” Walking Tour This 90-minute guided walking tour along the Duke Street corridor in Old Town Alexandria visits sites connected to the early Alexandria slave trade, including the former site of Franklin & Armfield, the former Bruin Slave Jail site that held the Edmonson sisters, as well as sites that connect to early African American’s spirituality, including Shiloh Baptist Church and the Alexandria National Cemetery. Entry into the Freedom House Museum is separate from our tour and not covered by Manumission Tour Company.

African American Union soldiers at L’Ouverture Hospital, in Alexandria, Virginia, circa 1864-1865

Black History in Alexandria Bus Tour Manumission also provides offers bus tours, which include a guide to provide a 2-hour guided tour. Participants will have the opportunity to visit numerous local sites of historical significance for AfricanAmericans, including the Freedom House Museum, Alfred Street Baptist Church, the site of the 1939 Library Sit-In. Tourists will disembark the bus to walk the Contraband & Freedmen Cemetery, as well as walk inside the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church. A portion of the tour can also be conducted as a one-hour tour. Entry fees at Alexandria Black History Museum and Freedom House Museum are not covered by Manumission Tour Company.

FEBRUARY 2021 • 17


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Whether you are an avid fan of The French Chef who knows Julia Child's cookbooks from beginning to end or a casual diner who can almost pronounce ratatouille, you can most likely admit that French food has always been prepared with a little glamour and a hint of mystery. Let’s be honest, who wouldn't expect a higher level of cuisine from a classically trained French Chef? Here in Alexandria, I’ve noticed a huge intimidation factor when asking my local friends to sit down for a French meal with me. I’ve heard everything from, “I don’t need super fancy plates with tiny portions” to “There's no way I'm eating snails and frog legs for dinner!” (But you really should try them. They are quite delicious!) In all seriousness, French cuisine is as diverse as it comes with a few keynotes that will never change: freshness, quality ingredients, technique and (my personal favorite) butter. When I think of French cuisine, I think of indulgence and richness. Beautiful sauces, sumptuous meats and did I mention the butter? With February being all about romance, what better time than now to explore some of Alexandria’s best French offerings?

FONTAINE CAFFE & CREPERIE On South Royal Street in Old Town, not far from the main strip of King Street, is Fontaine Caffe & Creperie. With the easy feel of a French Cafe, the name still has the Italian spelling from the original owners. Fontaine

is an approachable option for diners of all levels that is known for its crepes. Typically a street food, crepes are a simple, thin ‘pancake’ filled with anything and everything! From market-fresh veggies to sweet and creamy

Nutella, this French favorite is the definition of diverse. But Fontaine’s menu has a variety of options as well as offering a traditional or buckwheat crepe as a gluten free option. But the menu doesn't end there. They offer an impressive selection of brunch, lunch and dinner items, all while keeping their ingredient list under 30 items to ensure they are only using the freshest ingredients. I personally enjoyed the Parisienne, which is roasted herb chicken, ratatouille & brie cheese. Everything was freshly prepared and perfectly cooked with just the right level of crunch to the vegetables. Fontaine is the perfect place to enjoy with the girls or on a date, sipping on coffee or cocktails and sharing a crepe or two!

LE REFUGE Wandering over to North Washington Street, there is a little gem that has been gracing the area for 38 years: Le Refuge. When entering this quaint restaurant, you are instantly transported to a family-owned bistro in the French countryside. The menu and recipes never change, offering their loyal customers the comfort of knowing that their favorite dishes will always be there, just the way they remembered them. Offering lunch, dinner and a pre-fixed menu, Le Refuge creates a relaxing atmosphere that allows you to sit back and enjoy, with each course served at your desired pace. The menu items are

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"FRENCH RESTAURANTS ARE SUPPOSED TO FEEL LIKE HOME."

Ann Fregnan LE REFUGE

approachable while remaining authentic to French roots. If you are ready to try escargot, theirs is cooked in diced tomatoes and garlic butter, bringing out the flavor of this delicacy. I also highly recommend the Escalope de veau Francaise, a veal cooked in a lemon, butter and parsley sauce and served with fresh vegetables that are cooked to perfection. Just make sure you save room for their desserts; they are all made from scratch! It's almost as if this local eatery was designed with special occasions and memory-making in mind.

potatoes and a kumquat sauce and finished with Baked Alaska for dessert. Every morsel was impeccable, leaving my taste buds yearning for more, each bite transporting me to France. The staff, the ambiance, and of course the food will make you want to spend every date night in this lovingly refurbished, 1925 Del Ray house turned casual eatery.

DEL RAY CAFE Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Old Town, located in the heart of Del Ray, is Del Ray Cafe. Though this French restaurant proudly its 'Best Brunch' award on the wall, I think that its dinner menu deserves a few accolades of its own. This inviting two-story restaurant puts you at ease from the moment you walk through the door. And if the atmosphere wasn't enough to keep you, the impressive quality of the food certainly will. Del Ray Cafe maintains their innovative French country cuisine with fresh, organic ingredients and the love of a phenomenal sauce. My recent visit included Foie Gras, perfectly seared and plated over a blueberry sauce, followed by Roasted Moulard Duck Breast with Salsify, roasted purple

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your heart with joy. There is no doubt that I'll be back! Not only is the food delicious, but the casual and kid-friendly atmosphere is top-notch! So, order some carry-out and watch Beauty and the Beast with the family or get fancy and have a romantic night out with your significant other or friends. Whether you’re single or taken, this French cuisine will elevate your date night to new levels.

TEMPO Down on Duke Street, there is a restaurant you won't want to miss! Tempo was opened 30 years ago by one of Alexandria’s first husband and wife chef duos. The brightly colored prints create a beautiful contrast to the contemporary white walls on which they hang. It's a space that will entice you to dress up, order a premium cocktail and enjoy the ambience. The menu is a collection of both French and Italian fine dining options. My meal began with the frog legs (you knew they'd be here somewhere) in a light sauce. They were flawlessly prepared and plated, as was the Medaillon De Boeuf Au Roquefort-Tenderloin with Roquefort cheese, mustard and cream and served with potato croquettes that will fill

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FIND THE PLACE YOU LOVE... AND THEN MOVE THERE.

Kristen JONES ALEXANDRIA SPECIALIST | $33M+ SALES IN 2020

703.851.2556 | www.kristenjones.com | kristen@kristenjones.com | Licensed in VA 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 | Equal Housing Opportunity

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CELEBRATING INSPIRING, LOCAL MEN IN ALL THEIR DIVERSITY.

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VIP MAN CAVE IS PRESENTED BY

3 parts man

THE FRANK MILLS STORY Story by E. Brocky McKnight of Whiskey & Kicks

I judge a restaurant by the quality of the cheeseburger they serve me. Yes, sometimes even the fancy places. What can I say? - show me the beef! I judge a bar by the quality of craft cocktails they can craft for me. No, ma’am, I do NOT want an orange slice in my Old Fashioned nor should anyone else. EVER! Most importantly to me, I judge a man’s character by his passion. With that said, I introduce to you Frank Mills: Master Bartender.

One Part Whiskey Just as you would nose a Whiskey to pick up certain scents before you even have a taste, in a similar fashion, most times you can hear Frank Mills before you actually begin the experience of soaking up the personality of this raging bull. He is the definition of perpetual motion and this started as a child. “...I got introduced to sports, getting hella dirty in the woods, fighting (I knocked a kid's tooth out his mouth before entering the first grade), and racing everything from bikes, sleds, rollerblades, r/c cars, and the school bus. That’s where I got the very first of my several nicknames, Mills on Wheels.”

Not much has changed with this gentleman who uses the catchphrase, “POWER UP” to get himself and those around him motivated to give their all in life. Do you remember the “hear him first” thing that I mentioned? Yeah, that same voice but up close. You have to experience it to believe it. And you have to experience a cocktail from Frank Mills aka “Drank Mills”. The experience begins from the moment he walks up to tend to you at the bar. Not sure what you want? Well, what do you like? Yeah? Well here are a few suggestions for those particular tastes. And here’s a joke with a hearty laugh to follow. Now, let me bang out this Prohibition Cocktail for you right quick that will have you calling me your favorite bartender.  “It takes a long time to make a name for yourself behind a bar, and part of it is because there are so many of us. Not all want to learn the craft more than take-home money, but for those that do this is an industry that spans back over six centuries so there is that much knowledge to retain to become somewhat quality at your job.”

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Feeding one’s own passions is mandatory. It’s called living life. And if we don’t live our lives to the fullest, then what are we really doing here?

One Part Campari

One Part Sweet Vermouth

I recall sitting in the coveted window seat of a particular bar in DC one night. Out of nowhere, I see this figure of a human gliding down the middle of the street. In between cars and such. It was Frank Mills on a Longboard. He stopped by, gave hugs, laughed loudly, and then off into the night he went. Believe me, longboarding in DC streets at night may seem risky for us regular folk but not this dude. “I’m an adrenaline junkie extremist as I mentioned earlier so with that mentality and proper precautions, nothing besides death scares me. Skydiving is a thrill I want to do one hundred more times because the G forces of nose-diving through the stratosphere gets your boy going something serious. One day I’ll probably BASE jump off a building to top that sh*t just to say I did it.”

Feeding one’s own passions is mandatory. It’s called living life. And if we don’t live our lives to the fullest, then what are we really doing here? However, serving others is a true testament of a man’s character. I’ve seen Frank Mills in action, speaking out on behalf of his contemporaries in regards to Initiative 77 in Washington, DC. I’ve interviewed him twice on the Whiskey & Kicks Show and I have heard him speak passionately about how the Service Industry served such a huge role in the success of the DMV yet, has taken an equal and avoidable hit during Covid-19. Frank says, “The Covid-19 pandemic was so unforeseen for everybody within every industry in the world, yet our officiating powers didn’t take it seriously enough initially to create any positive curving of the spread. All service industry was hit hard and is still getting rocked, not just

Bro, BASE jump off a what? I mean, the other day I climbed up on my counter and decided to jump down from it. My knee kinda hurts from that. I swear I’m a fun person, but enough about me. What other types of BRIGHT RED activities do you like to experience in this world that can be as grey as you let it? “Biking was the first thing I learned I was good at, and I just never stopped riding into adulthood hence the first nickname I’ve ever received. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu took the place, as my needed physical release, after my football years…” Mantra: “As long as you are not harming yourself or others, all bets are off... do as you please in this lifetime.”

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in the DMV. With each state being governed differently even within our tri-state region, the now general consensus is that the government doesn’t give a damn about the food/beverage/hospitality industry. Not the establishments, not the operators, and sure as hell not the employees.” You see, just like The Boulevardier Cocktail, a man is made up of multiple parts. No part serves a lesser role than the last or the next. Without them all, that man is incomplete. I couldn’t imagine Frank without the hearty laugh. Without being a master of a particular skill set. Or without being the gatekeeper, of sorts, for his service industry family and those that he loves. And dammit, the guy makes one hell of a cocktail! Especially the Boulevardier, which he states came BEFORE the Negroni! Not to mention, he has the cocktail ingredients tattooed on his body. “The Boulevardier, a cocktail you only drink and enjoy if you actually enjoy alcohol. Due to its ingredient components being spirit solely, though similar to the manhattans, old fashioneds, sazeracs, and vieux carres of the world, if you haven’t acquired the taste for whiskey, sweet vermouth, and especially bitter Campari it just simply ain’t for you!” Touche. Want to express that orange peel, sir? “Beyond growing into the positive man my family, loved ones, experiences, and the environment I was raised in helped produce, I am deeply a lifeist. I know there is no definition of the word yet, but everything started somewhere right? In that regard is exactly what a lifeist keeps in mind, the beginning and the end. I realized

by general definition I am an optimistic realist, and that life is a blessing, hence why I’m so scared of death. Taking every factor into consideration of maintaining the foundation of the world we live in, to establish further morality within humanity is the truest goal of a lifeist. In doing so, not only elongating your own life, but being an aid to do so for others is a lifelong mission. Within proper healthy lifestyles, the ability to recognize human strain and lessen the loss of us all through natural, current, and future medical advancements allows for us all to preserve the life we deserve to live simply for being born. Now we all have vices that steal from this ideology, but even so, the goal is to live the only life you have to the fullest. That is the message I’ll always relay to the world.” With that said brother, here’s your key to the Man Cave. Well deserved. You can follow Frank and Roy Boys DC on on Instagram at @drankmills and @royboysdc.

Brocky founded Whiskey & Kicks in 2017 in Washington, DC… over a glass of brown water. Whiskey & Kicks is a Show about Booze and Shoes! Brocky joined the VIP team in 2020 on a mission to bring stories of interesting and inspiring local men to readers, while celebrating the diversity of the DMV. Keep an eye out for Brocky's VIP Man Cave feature in every issue and check out The Whiskey & Kicks Show at www.whiskeyandkicks.com

FEBRUARY FEBRUARY2021 2021 • • 27 27


Story by Jeanette Wages | Sponsored by Your CBD Store Alexandria

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Winter skin. We all struggle with it. The air becomes colder and drier, the wind kicks up and suddenly our skin is chapped and flaking. Ironically enough, this is also when that pesky acne is most likely to reappear and, in many cases, current blemishes worsen and become more difficult to conceal. Combine all of these winter skin woes with mask face and we can’t help but find ourselves wishing we could go back to better days and reverse the damage that is being done. The good news is: we don’t have to simply sit back and take it. There are simple ways to fight back and keep our skin healthy all winter long!

DO N 'T F ORG ET TO HYDRAT E Keeping yourself hydrated seems like such a simple task, but did you know that seventy-five percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated? Let me say that one more time for those of you who were speed reading. Seventy-five percent of us do not drink enough water. And unfortunately, when we are dehydrated our skin is dehydrated. I know that it’s easy to forget to drink a glass of water here or there during the colder months, but the truth is, you need just as much water when it’s cold as you do when you’re sweating on a hot, summer day. So, start drinking that water and if you don't think you can remember, try downloading an app to your smart phone, watch or laptop such as Water Reminder. You can thank me later.

T R E AT YOUR AC N E W/ CB D When it comes to acne, we’ve all searched for that miracle treatment that will make our skin appear smooth and healthy. Acne amps up during the winter season because our skin produces extra sebum to help keep us hydrated, creating an endless challenge for those battling acne as well as winter dryness. Luckily, there are a few things we can do about this. First, give our mattifiers a break. Your skin may appear smoother after you use them, but those pore-filling products aren’t doing you any favors. Trust me. Then during that break, try using a topical CBD cream like this Full Spectrum 1000mg Topical Cream in Peppermint from SunMed twice per day. CBD oil is an allnatural topical solution. It’s sebum-inhibiting and ant-inflammatory properties fight acne at the source, while keeping your skin hydrated and feeling luxurious!

I N C R E A SE C OL L AGE N Collagen is naturally found in the body, but production slowly begins to decrease with age. We often think of using collagen products to fight the signs of aging, but it also has the wonderful benefit of fighting off dry winter skin, making it look soft and supple year round. Collagen products range from pill-based supplements and drink additives to topical applications. My personal favorite product is Sunmed’s Collagen Face Cream, but I can also never say no to a Blueberry Lavender Collagen Latte from local juice bar, Toastique.

A LWAYS E MB R AC E SPF It’s happened to us all. We’re outside all day making snowmen with the kids or hitting the slopes and suddenly, our skin is burned. We wonder how it happened. It’s winter — I shouldn’t have sunburn! But just like hydration, it’s easy to forget that our skin is a target year round and we have to be consistent in caring for it. So lather on that SPF, even when the sun isn’t beating down. Even when we can’t see the sun, she’s there and so are her UV rays. SPF will protect ourr skin during the dreary winter months and slow the aging process.

Your CBD Store - Alexandria • 301 S Washington St suite b, Alexandria, VA 22314 • www.cbdrx4u.com/find-us/virginia/alexandria

FEBRUARY 2021 • 29


Check out the behind the scenes footage, couresty of J Marcus Productions, from our photoshoot at Landmark Mall, as seen in Wonder Woman 1984!

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FEATURING VIP’S 2021 MOST INSPIRING WOMEN OF ALEXANDRIA Donate to the cause at www2.heart.org/goto/vipalexandriamagazine Photography by Jonathan Thorpe Special thanks to Carolyn Martin of Landmark Mall, Marilyn Patterson of Joyous Events and J Marcus Productions

FEBRUARY 2021 2021 •• 31 31 FEBRUARY


“Once the amazing surgeon Dr. Jerry Razook fixed my heart, maintaining good health stayed at the top of my list."

MICHELLE MILLBEN "Kids have greater exposure to information than ever, which means they have more questions about what is going on in the world,” says Michelle Millben. Michelle is the founder of Explanation Kids, a startup disrupting civic education. Dedicated to providing innovative fact-based, non-partisan lessons and conversation starters on tough subjects, Explanation Kids serves kids PreK-5th grade. Michelle is a former youth pastor and celebrated degreed musician. After answering a calling to serve, Michelle attended law school and began her career in Washington on Capitol Hill as an advisor and counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. She was recruited from Capitol Hill to work in President Obama’s White House as the Congressional director for the Presidential Personnel office, then to the U.S Department of Justice as an attorney advisor. She returned to the White House as Special Assistant to the President for the Office of Legislative Affairs in President Obama’s last year in the White House.

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Michelle has lived in Alexandria for 12 years and has demonstrated strong commitment to serving youth and working families since her arrival. She is a 2017 awardee of the Alexandria Chamber’s 40 under 40 award, former Commissioner for ARHA, she serves on the board for the Carpenter’s Shelter and the Alexandria Small Business Development Center, and she is a minister at National Community Church. In her spare time, she sings background vocals for luminaries such as Bruce Springsteen, Diana Ross, Heart, Garth Brooks, and Steven Tyler, just to name a few. As a survivor of open-heart surgery as a child, the Go Red for Women initiative is particularly meaningful for Michelle. “My surgeon, Dr. Jerry Razzok, was the best. Since he fixed my heart, maintaining great health and staying active has stayed at the top of my list,” which is why she spends a lot of time in Virginia’s outdoors. “For me, living my best, healthiest life is making an impact on young people. It’s an honor to be called to this work and to serve my community in this way.”


“I embrace health and wellness, always.”

BETSY WEISSMAN Betsy Weissman, owner of local pilates studio sculp'd, always wanted to offer online, at-home fitness solutions. However, she never anticipated that a global pandemic would lead her to transition to 100% online in just five days. sculp'd is now a hybrid fitness studio offering hardcore Pilates-based workouts that focus on strength, balance and core. “It’s been a really tough year. Balancing two jobs, all the kids online at home, supporting my husband who launched his own start-up in 2018, incredibly shrinking revenues and also finding ways to pivot through a pandemic hasn’t been easy.” Never one to shy from a challenge, Betsy found creative ways to sustain her business through the COVID-19 crisis. She now offers in-studio classes and more than 300 classes online. sculp'd has also expanded into retail, offering an at-home reformer, a product previously unavailable at the studio (sculp'd has unexpectedly become the #1 US distributor of these machines). The

support from the sculp’d community, she says, has been profound. “We’ve had over 100 clients who came to over 100 of our online classes from March 16 - December 31, 2020. It was so inspiring to see and also clearly demonstrated to us that the community needs us as much as we need them.” Betsy says her goal is to uplift and support women, which includes advocating for women's health. She is actively involved with the locally-based National Breast Center, holding fundraising events to assist uninsured and underrepresented women in finding access to care. Furthermore, the American Heart Association’s focus on promoting healthy lifestyles to prevent heart disease is something Betsy is passionate about. In 2001 when her daughter was only six months old, Betsy underwent a heart procedure and suffers from chronic heart issues to this day. “I embrace health and wellness, always.”

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“[Mom,] need you to go to God and tell Him that if he doesn’t get me out of here tonight, I’m not going to make it.”

JESSICA BUCHANAN It was all over 60 Minutes and the news. In 2011, Jessica Buchanan was held hostage by a group of Somali pirates for months after being captured during a humanitarian aid trip. “I am a teacher by profession. My portfolio included places like Somalia, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya. The nongovernmental organization that I worked for allowed me to travel quite a bit.” At a reunion with her SEAL Team Six rescuers Jessica began to rethink her role in the now-famous narrative. “I was the only woman in a room with around 40 of America’s toughest men. We rehashed everything, told stories and I left that room feeling ten feet tall. I spent so much time describing them as my heroes, which they certainly were, that I forgot that I was a hero, too. I walked away a new woman.” Long after the cameras faded and the news cycle moved on, Jessica finally realized surviving is a heroic act of its own. Jessica is a co-host of We Should Talk About That, a podcast that unpacks social taboos. She says that a key focus of the show is “surviving survival,” which Jessica describes as "finding ways to cope with life after trauma through open and honest conversation." As an educator and volunteer at heart, Jessica’s work has continued and expanded in the years since. She

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serves as a family liaison for the non-profit organization Hostage US., has published the best-selling book Impossible Odds, which details her ordeal, and is also a public speaker, having taken the stage at TEDx. “I want to get the message out that we always have hope, even when things feel impossible.” And if the idea of hope is something you don’t believe in, Jessica wants you to know how powerful hope can truly be. “My mom passed away one year before I was kidnapped. But while I was in captivity, the same two stars appeared to me in the same place in the sky every night.” Jessica knew that one of those stars was her mom watching over her, and she spoke to her often. One night, as she was ailing from a terrible kidney infection, Jessica felt herself slipping from our world. She shot up one final prayer to her mom. “I need you to go to God and tell Him that if he doesn’t get me out of here tonight, I’m not going to make it.” That night, her rescuers arrived to take Jessica home. “My mom was young. She died of a heart attack at only 57 years old. She and God saved me, but I would never wish any woman to navigate life without her mom. This is why the Go Red for Women campaign is something I stand behind with all of my heart.”


“Go Red for Women is an important opportunity to empower more women to embrace the challenge of demonstrating selflove by taking better care of themselves.”

D R . TA M M Y M A N N “Our work is all about bridging the gap to opportunity for children, youth and families, by providing a range of education and social support programs,” says Dr. Tammy Mann, President & CEO of the Campagna Center. “For more than 75 years, the center has been committed to ensuring that those Campagna serves [are able] to realize their full potential so they can contribute to our society. Our community is stronger when children and families thrive.” Tammy says the center offers a “full continuum of education programs,” including adult education English language classes and other support for immigrants and refugees new to our community. Under her leadership, and in partnership with AHC Inc., The Campagna Center recently expanded its early childhood learning programs. An early learning center was opened on the west side where there is a growing need for these services. The new center has a capacity to serve 50 children who would otherwise not have access to care. Tammy was named the 2020 Business Leader of the

Year by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and has worked exclusively in the non-profit sector for 30 years. She says that for her, leadership is an act of service. “I am passionate about work that contributes to the public good. When you’re fortunate enough to be in a leadership position, what matters most is how you show up and serve the people you work with.” Tammy has been married to her high school sweetheart for 32 years, and the couple has two adult children. Her commitment to the community and her family is what drives her focus on her heart health and she encourages others to do the same. "It took me many years to realize that heart health mattered. Thankfully, I did not have a health crisis jolt me into that reality. I decided that it was one thing to look healthy and quite another to actually feel healthy. At 52, I took on weight training, exercise and began tending to my eating habits. Go Red for Women is an important opportunity to empower more women to embrace the challenge of demonstrating self-love by taking better care of themselves. At 55, I have never felt better."

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"...knitting and crocheting can lower your blood pressure and heart rate and reduce anxiety."

DA N I E L L E R O M A N E T T I Got stress? Consider giving pro-knitter Danielle Romanetti a call. Owner of fibre space, a yarn store and community space located in Old Town, Danielle initially learned to knit as a child from her grandmother. She rediscovered the medium in graduate school as a form of coping with anxiety and panic attacks. From there, the craft developed into a full-fledged business. “When I moved to D.C., I would go to these community spaces to hang out and meet other knitters, but eventually started teaching knitting for one of the shops. It kind of morphed into something much bigger than I could do on the side,” says Danielle. Initially working in fundraising for non-profits, she eventually made the switch to fulltime brick-and-mortar entrepreneurship. She continues her work with non-profits, including Project Knitwell and Friends of Guest House, through sponsorships and knitting therapy programs. Danielle has made a mission of advocating for Alexandria businesses even before the pandemic. She has served

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on numerous committees including the Waterfront Commission, Ad Hoc Committee on A Frame Signs, Old Town Parking Study Workgroup and Government Relations Committee of Chamber of Commerce as well as serving on the boards of Old Town Business, Del Ray Business Association and Old Town Boutique District (former President). Through these and others Danielle has helped retail and restaurants achieve their joint goals with extending parking meter hours at a decreased rate, business signage, tax issues and more. She has spearheaded the creation of Plaid Friday, a shop local version of Black Friday. If you love Instagrammable murals, fibre space was one of the first in Alexandria to have two installed, leading the way for beautiful wall art across the city. fibre space was also voted ‘Business of the Year’ by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, and Danielle was named one of the Chamber’s 40 under 40. She lives in Old Town with her boyfriend, daughter, and Italian Greyhound rescues Remi and Riley.


SARAH AKRAM “I’m a big believer in non-invasive, highly customized skin care treatments. Our clients look and feel younger at the end of their session,” says celebrity skincare consultant Sarah Akram. Sarah has worked with some of Hollywood’s top A-listers including Catherine O’Hara, Zoey Deschanel and Angela Bassett. Through her Old Town boutique, Sarah Akram Skincare, she is bringing the same quality treatments received by film and TV starlets to the Alexandria community. “We offer a wide variety of customizable facials, as well as lash, brow and waxing services, and are the largest provider of Biologique Recherchè, Environ Skin Care and Vintner’s Daughter in the D.C. area.” Sarah, who has been featured in Vogue, The Los Angeles Times and Harper’s Bazaar, says her greatest satisfaction comes from converting non-believers who are apprehensive about what kind of results they can expect from her work. “I’ve built my career and reputation

on proven results, and it’s really gratifying knowing word of mouth has been the key to my team’s success.” A daughter of immigrants, Sarah seeks to assist other women from minority communities to develop their entrepreneurial ambitions. Through her work, she seeks to empower women to feel and look their best. “Skincare allows us to treat conditions like acne and fine lines, but it’s important to remember these conditions don’t define us. The goal is healthy skin, not perfect skin. The confidence of investing in ourselves allows us to have a greater sense of self-worth.”

Fun Fact: According to researchers, moisturized skin might prevent agerelated ailments including Alzheimer's, heart disease and diabetes. FEBRUARY 2021 • 37


LET YOUR WINE TASTING EXPERIENCE START WITH US!

Our seafood is wild caught & fair trade certified with 100% commitment to protecting our oceans & environment.

PATIO

CARRY-OUT 207 King St. Alexandria, VA 22314 | 703.566.9867 | www.mysonomacellar.com 38 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE


Drink to Your Health HOW RED WINE HELPS THE HEART Story by Liesel Schmidt | Featuring Sonoma Cellar

If you’re like millions of people around the world, you enjoy a glass of wine (or two) at the end of the day. If you reach for red over white, you’re hardly alone. In fact, you should congratulate yourself because—Yay!—you’re doing something healthy for yourself with that flavorful tipple. If fact, there are many studies that show just how good red wine is for you. So feel free to toddle off to the kitchen and grab yourself a bottle and a glass, then drink to your health. Sip on this: Red wine is made from crushed red or black grapes that are fermented over the course of weeks in oak barrels. Those grapes are the reason that wine is so healthful, packing it with tannins and antioxidants including resveratrol, epicatechin, catechin, and proanthocyanidins. Interestingly, resveratrol protects the blood vessels and prevents blood clots. It also helps regulate blood sugar and lower bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing the good cholesterol (HDL), which means that red wine may help regulate blood pressure. Convinced yet? Here’s something else that may interest you. Red wine is known to have polyphenols, which help combat premature aging and aid in keeping the blood vessels flexible. That nice glass of red you’re sipping even contains high levels

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"Wine crosses all boundaries." RICK MYLLENBECK

of silicon. This means that it increases bone density and reduces the chance of osteoporosis. Further studies show (and we’d love to know if part of these studies actually involved drinking the wine, because…sign us up!) that red wine also helps reduce the risk of certain cancers, aids in weight loss, improves dental hygiene, helps with digestion, gives your skin a healthy glow, relieves stress, battles age-related memory loss and lowers the risk of catching the common cold. All this time that you’ve been drinking red wine, you’ve really been doing something fabulously good for yourself.

“Wine crosses all boundaries,” says Rick. And over all that swirling, sipping and spitting, there’s also a great deal of laughter to be had. See? Good for the body, good for the heart... and good for the soul. Cheers to that!

As healthy as red wine is for your body (especially your heart), there’s also a great deal of pleasure to be gained from drinking it. After all, a good red can taste absolutely decadent, and finding your favorite can be like a treasure hunt. “A bottle of wine is an adventure from the first sip until the last,” says Elizabeth Myllenbeck, who owns Sonoma Cellar with her husband Rick. There’s also a bit of ceremony involved, and wine has proper handling to bring out its fullest flavor. In fact, the taste of wine changes as it breathes (i.e., opens up with oxygen) or changes in temperature. And as any wellversed oenophile will tell you, red wine should be chilled to between 60 and 68 degrees to provide optimal drinking pleasure and heighten the experience. Tempting as it may be to pull on your comfiest jammies and snuggle up in front of the television with a big glass of wine to start bingeing on whatever’s in your Netflix queue—and yes, we’ve all done this—wine drinking is a very social activity. As is wine tasting, which gives people of all ages, sexes, and economic status a chance to come together and learn about different wines.

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PHOTO BY SONOMA CELLAR


"... our communities are healthier and happier when we all do our part to uplift and support each other. Now more than ever before, community matters.”

K E L LY G R A N T Collaboration is at the forefront of ALX Community, the co-working space located in Old Town and founded by its CEO Kelly Grant. “Shared office space has been around for a while, but adding a community and collaboration aspect only began taking off in 2005. We’re proud to expand on the original coworking mission to not only cultivate community within Alexandria but also outside our membership, feeding into our social mission to serve the metro area that we love.” An added bonus, Kelly says, is affordability. Some members see a 50% decrease in rent and 70% decrease in nonrent related expenses, including internet connections and cleaning fees. The real goal, she says, was to offer members the opportunity to thrive in a beautifully designed work environment. “ALX Community members collaborate, work together, have the opportunity to learn through our TALX series and partnerships and also give back to the community and city.” As an active volunteer in the community, Kelly coordinated the Alexandria Drive-In, a family-friendly, socially distanced event with proceeds funding mammogram services, scholarships, and STEM programs for young girls. Through ALX Community, she is partnered with local women’s organizations, including Together We Bake, Jireh’s Place, and the National Breast Center Foundation. Kelly also organized the Ruth Bader Ginsburg memorial service and emphasizes the importance of the Justice’s legacy.

“She represented the best in us. Regardless of political affiliation, we all have a chance to be brave, have the opportunity to actively listen to others, even when we don’t agree, stand up for what we believe, and use our lives to serve those who are less fortunate.” Serving on the board of ACT for Alexandria, again, demonstrates giving back is a mission to which the busy entrepreneur is devoted. “I am so proud of the work we’ve done to support Alexandria non-profits with record-breaking Spring2Action giving days, as well as the ACT Now COVID-19 relief fundraised in 2020, and ACT’s work combating racism and promoting racial equity is so important.” Additionally, Kelly understands the importance of heart health awareness. “One of the hardest days I have ever experienced was when I received the call that my Mom had a heart attack and was in critical condition. Knowing that many generations of amazing women in my family have been lost to heart disease made this news even more frightening. I am blessed that my Mom not only survived but is thriving; this is not the case for so many others. I find that I live my best life when I am living true to my personal values. That is why focusing my talent and energies on helping our community is such a priority for me. Whether it is heart health, breast cancer awareness, or amplifying the quiet-but-important voices around me, our communities are healthier and happier when we all do our part to uplift and support each other. Now more than ever before, community matters.”

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"There are so many links between our physical health and oral health.”

D R . K AT H L E E N M U L L A N E Y

"We treat everyone here like they’re our family,” says Dr. Kathleen Mullaney, a private dental practitioner who has been named ‘Top Dentist’ by Washingtonian Magazine. Dr. Mullaney attended the Medical College of Virginia School of Dentistry, receiving her Doctorate of Dental Surgery (DDS). She then served six years in the United States Navy where her first assignment was a prestigious internship with the Naval Hospital in San Diego, CA. Offering a wide range of dental services, including cosmetic procedures, Dr. Mullaney says her practice includes families that span as many as four generations and emphasizes the importance of creating a sense of community and comfort for patients. “I’ve lived and worked in Old Town for 25 years. These are my people. Any cause that I support is in the interest of taking care of my community.”

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Dr. Mullaney—whose father served in the Navy for 42 years—says her practice has a special focus on veterans. “We had a program called ‘Freedom Day,’ where we offered free dental work to veterans who didn’t have access to care. We saw a number of homeless veterans, which was heartbreaking.” The doctor also stresses the importance of the relationship between dental health and overall health. “Study after study has shown that patients with periodontal or gum disease are at higher risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and diabetes. There are so many links between our physical health and oral health.” Dr. Mullaney lives in Old Town with her husband and is the proud mother of two daughters, who say that their mother’s hard work and success have served as an example of what a strong woman can achieve.


NICOLE MCGREW For Nicole McGrew, a former lawyer and Obama White House alum, fashion is anything but frivolous. Owner of Threadleaf in Old Town, a shop offering ethically sourced women’s apparel, Nicole studied design before attending law school, with dreams of opening her own shop. “I always had this idea in the back of my mind. Even as a lawyer, I kept a file folder with different storefronts and shop concepts.” The dream, she says, was put on hold as she climbed the ranks in her legal career, from private practice to the Department of Justice and eventually the White House. It was an administration change in 2017 that allowed her to pursue her first love, while still making a difference. “Fashion is such a polluting industry. I want to highlight the importance of the workforce, the supply chain and the

materials. I usually use the term ‘responsible,’ because the impact goes deeper than just the environment.” Nicole often refers to her shop as offering "good, clean fashion," clothing that’s sustainable for the planet and customers alike. “I want women to feel comfortable in what they’re wearing. I would say our style is easy, but polished—and also versatile. We sell clothes that are season-spanning and can be worn for a variety of occasions.” Nicole lives in Alexandria with her husband and son.

Fun Fact: Lowering exposure to toxic chemicals can keep your heart healthy by lowering levels in the blood stream. FEBRUARY 2021 • 43


"As women, we need to recognize that our health is our most important asset.”

M AU R I S A T U R N E R P OT T S “I strongly believe in getting to know someone personally before we do business,” says Maurisa Turner Potts. Maurisa is the owner of Spotted MP, a boutique strategic marketing & PR firm based in Alexandria, with clients that include some of the top names in local business and development. Relationship building, she says, is key to creating an impact. She maintains close connections with major media outlets that include The Today Show, The Washington Post, and People Magazine. “I pride myself in keeping my professional relationships very tight and long-term.” Maurisa started her own business during the recession in 2008. She left behind a career in corporate America in search of a more intimate approach to marketing. It was a decision that she says was not easy as a young, Black woman, but hopes it serves as an inspiration to others. “I often have conversations with women who don’t believe they can achieve a goal because of their skin color. I try to empower them by sharing my story of adversity and finding a way to push through. It is possible.” Especially rewarding, she says, is the opportunity to work with non-profits, in particular the Colorectal Cancer Alliance, the National Council on Aging and the Tigerlily Foundation, a breast cancer advocacy organization with a special focus on health disparities affecting the African-

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American community. “I think it’s important for these organizations to have a voice for their cause and it is personally rewarding to share their stories,” she says of her work. Maurisa’s personal philosophy is "prevention vs. correction'' in living a healthy lifestyle. “As a busy working mom, it is a must for me to put my health first so I can be my best self for my loved ones. Women so often take care of others that they may neglect their own health needs. I workout my heart first in the morning 5-6 times a week before I jump into my busy daily schedule. Scheduling this 'me time' is non-negotiable. Weekly I make a healthy meal plan, am regularly proactive in scheduling routine doctor appointments, and understand the power of getting enough sleep. The greatest gift we can give ourselves and our family all year long is our health. As women, we need to recognize that our health is our most important asset.” A style maven whose personal apparel leans towards "sophisticated and sassy," Maurisa studied fashion merchandising and marketing at Virginia Tech and is the long-time marketer for the Old Town Boutique District. She lives in Alexandria with her husband, 12-year-old son, and new pup Laine.


“I feel most empowered when I’m lifting up other women. I love helping others. It’s what I feel that we were put on this earth to do.”

ALLISON PRIEBE Allison Priebe wants her customers to feel like royalty. That’s the inspiration behind the name of her Old Town Boutique, Queen Bee, a jewelry store offering unique pieces at an affordable price. “One of the things I love most about my shop is that our products make a woman feel and look beautiful. Our products are really special, and I like to think about all the memories they’ve become a part of, like weddings, graduations or anniversary parties.” Allison, a journalism major who worked for NBC News in London, had the inspiration for Queen Bee while working on Capitol Hill for U.S. Senator Max Cleland. “I loved jewelry and accessories, but I couldn’t find anything affordable. I took some classes through the Smithsonian where I learned to make jewelry, and I started doing trunk shows on Capitol Hill where I got a really big following.” She was named one of the hottest up-and-coming designers by Washingtonian Magazine and invited by Second Lady Lynne Cheney to showcase her pieces at the Naval Observatory.

Allison, an Alexandria native, says she remains active in the community, volunteering at the Campagna Center and supporting charitable organizations that include Suited for Change and Friends of Guest House through fundraisers and clothing drives. She continues to dabble in journalism, working with local media outlets like Local Kicks and The District Dish. A healthy lifestyle advocate, Allison runs a Facebook group supporting women in reaching their fitness goals. “I feel most empowered when I’m lifting up other women. I love helping others. It’s what I feel that we were put on this earth to do.” One very special woman in Allison's life who she loves to empower is her mom, who suffered from congestive heart failure this past August. "We almost lost her. A pacemaker saved her life. This year she will be celebrating her 80th birthday and we are thrilled! Heart health has become so important to me. I know I have been inspired to keep working to lose weight to make my heart's job easier."

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M A R I LY N PAT T E R S O N “I love what I do. Smiling faces give me the greatest gratification." So says Marilyn Patterson, a 5th generation Alexandrian and founder & CEO of Joyous Events, a special events management company based in Old Town. The company started in 2004 doing destination weddings for cruise lines that included Royal Caribbean and Carnival. In addition to social events, their current work includes assisting small businesses and local nonprofits to elevate their brands. “Events are a tool that you can use in a number of ways. Advertising and marketing, as well as celebrating,” Marilyn says of her work. A particular point of pride, she says, are the many referrals she receives from satisfied

customers. “I can think of no better compliment than someone sending their trusted friend to us.” Marilyn also serves as Executive Director of First Night Alexandria, an organization promoting the performing arts in a family-friendly manner. Additionally, Marilyn is actively involved in the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women initiative. "I lost my best friend to complications related to heart disease. The American Heart Association holds a very special place in my heart." Marilyn is also an annual attendee of Arlington Link’s Red Dress event, a program dedicated to raising awareness of the impact of heart health on women of color.

“ I LO S T M Y B E S T F R I E N D TO C O M P L I C AT I O N S R E L AT E D TO H E A RT D I S E A S E . T H E A M E R I C A N H E A R T A S S O C I AT I O N H O L D S A V E RY S P E C I A L P L AC E I N M Y H E A R T.” 46 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE


"Being here for my children for as long as I possibly can is my ultimate goal.”

MEGAN PODOLSKY Building an empire is hard work, but Megan Podolsky’s effervescent attitude and boho chic style make it look effortless. When the busy entrepreneur isn’t spending time with her husband or picking up sushi for her three young boys, she can be spotted at one of her Old Town small business staples; resale shop Mint Condition, its companion retail store Mint Collective, or the one that started it all, 529 Kids Consign, an upscale children’s consignment shop. “I had the idea when I was a new mom. I liked to buy nice things for my baby boy, but he would grow out of them so quickly. It’s been over ten years and I have more than 3,000 consigners. It’s such a feel-good business,” Megan says of the shop. Before opening 529, Megan worked in fashion for a variety of iconic brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch and Calvin Klein. She returned to the industry in 2019 after purchasing Mint Condition with her sister-in-law Katie Coslov.

Speaking of motherhood, Megan is a huge advocate of the American Heart Society and the reason is simple: her children. “I work out and take time to make my health a priority because I want to stay strong for my boys. Being here for my children for as long as I possibly can is my ultimate goal.” A Pittsburgh native, Megan credits her success to her upbringing. “Growing up in a blue-collar town, I learned the value of a good work ethic. I left 20 years ago, but black and gold runs deep.” Megan also serves as the president of the Old Town Boutique District, a marketing collective that supports small, local businesses, many of which are female-owned. For Megan, the work is a labor of love. “It’s so empowering to be surrounded by such amazing women. I’ve made it my mission to build this community of women-owned businesses because I believe in this city. I love Alexandria.”

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KRISTEN JONES "After losing my father to heart disease... it has motivated me to be healthier and lead an active lifestyle." “My sense of fulfillment comes from making my clients happy,” says Kristen Jones, luxury Realtor at McEnearney Associates, Inc. It’s a philosophy that’s proven successful for Kristen throughout her career. In 2020 alone she sold $33M of real estate and has been named Top Agent by Washingtonian Magazine for two consecutive years in a row.

Kristen's family means everything to her and family is why she is so inspired to support heart health here in our community. "After losing my father to heart disease when he was 66 years young, it has motivated me to be healthier and lead an active lifestyle. I want to be able to watch my grandchildren play at Lee Street Park someday."

A Pittsburgh native, Kristen relocated to the Northern Virginia area 22 years ago to pursue a teaching position for Fairfax County Public Schools. However, she eventually transitioned to her career in real estate. “I always had an interest in decorating, renovating and homes and my flexible schedule allows me to be there for my family,” she says of the career swap.

When this Old Town resident isn’t spending time with her children, walking her pug, Daisy, or supporting local restaurants with her husband of 17 years, she is going above and beyond to satisfy her clients. “Finding balance is always a work in progress. I have an inner drive and motivation that constantly pushes me to stay active, and to do better in my career and for my family.”

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A GUIDE TO VALENTINE'S DAY & SELF-COMPASSION Story by Dr. Eleni Eleni Boosalis | Brought to you by Del Ray Psych

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Valentine’s Day began as a feast day to celebrate love and affection. This annual holiday is usually either spent directing your love toward another or pining over the love you don’t have. This year, Valentine’s Day amidst a pandemic seems a bit different. Some people are feeling held captive by the love they don’t want, some are longing for connection in this barren land of virtual dating, and others are truly in love. Regardless of the situation you are in, I propose changing Valentine’s Day this year and making it a day for nourishing not only others, but also yourself. In my observation, many people value and teach this concept to others but struggle to practice it themselves. While we often notice a feeling of warmth or a desire to nurture when seeing a loved one in pain, we are not as readily available to treat ourselves with the same attention and care. The word “compassion” comes from the Latin and Greek that means “suffer with”. How is it that we are able to “suffer with” others by offering words of encouragement, but are more inclined to offer ourselves words of judgement during difficult times? When we see others are in pain, it is likely more apparent to us that suffering and failure is part of the collective human experience. When we are in pain, it may feel more like we are the only one suffering and it may feel more difficult to see that our experience is universal. While the research has shown that expressing love towards others offers a wide range of health benefits such as decreased stress, decreased blood pressure, and improved immune functioning, it is also evident that being kind and gentle with yourself (especially during times of difficulty) presents its own health benefits. Self-compassion has been shown to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. Being kind to oneself, and offering support and encouragement to oneself is associated with increased happiness, improved feelings of self-worth, and increased resilience. Practicing self-compassion and kindness also provides the opportunity for children to learn how to positively

interact with themselves from an early age. Here are 3 elements of self compassion according to Dr. Kristin Neff of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion. Self-Kindness vs Self-Judgement: Be kind and understanding toward yourself when you are suffering or feeling inadequate. Don’t ignore your pain or criticize yourself. Recognize that everyone is imperfect, including you. Common Humanity vs Isolation: Realize you are not the only one going through this. Suffering and inadequacy is a very common human experience. Everyone experiences failure and feelings of inadequacy. You are not alone. Mindfulness vs. Over-identification: Be present in your feelings and experiences in this moment and honor them. Don’t suppress your feelings and don’t over identify with them. Feelings and experiences aren’t who you are (failure), they are what you are experiencing (transient failed experience). Observe your feelings without judging and labeling them. They are temporary. This Valentine’s Day and all of February, make an intention to express love and affection to yourself in addition to the ones you care about.

Have you ever asked yourself, why does this keep happening to me? Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Dr. B here to share with you some inspirational stories from survivors and thrivers that will motivate you to break unhealthy patterns so you can live your best life. Eleni Boosalis, PsyD Clinical Psychologist & Owner Del Ray Psych & Wellness, LLC (P) 571-281-0338 x501; (F) 703-563-3833 www.delraypsych.com https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/why-does-this-keephappening-to-me/id1530724500

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SS21: THE TRENDS Spring / Summer 2021 Fashion with Mint Collective Story by Kellie Gunderman | Photos Courtesy of Mint Collective If you are a fashion enthusiast then it should come as no surprise to you that many of our local boutiques take pride in bringing the latest runway trends to their shops each season. As we begin to think ahead to spring, and even summer, VIP spoke to local fashionistas Megan Podolsky and Katie Coslov of Mint Collective! We wanted to find out what our readers should begin making space for in their closets, and they were thrilled to share which trends are sure to make the cut this season! FLORAL PRINTS Flowers are like friends, they bring color into your life. This spring, they’ll be breathing more into your wardrobe than you could ever imagine! It looks like the only way to be fashion-forward for spring is to embrace bold, bright and impactful floral prints. From casual sun dresses to gala-worthy ball gowns, you’ll need a new pair of shades to protect your eyes from the brilliant prints that are coming your way!

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TIE-DYE They say we should be the energy we want to attract and as we charge into 2021, there is no better way to welcome good vibes than with tie-dye! Designers are having fun translating this infamous trend into a modern movement, full of statement pieces that are making us little girls from the 80’s and 90’s jump for joy. From muted pastel patterns to loud, jaw dropping pieces, there is one thing we know for sure: it’s time for us all to embrace the year of the rainbow.

Katie & I are so excited for spring fashion! After a long, dark winter, bright florals & crisp whites are just what the doc ordered! We can’t wait to show you all of the fabulous spring items at Mint Collective. As always, we had so much fun curating the perfect spring assortment! See you soon! - Megan Podolsky

SHOULDERS Ask not for a lighter burden, but for broader shoulders this spring! Standout shoulders began in late 2020 as a nod to the 80’s, but have become so much more than another glorified throwback. Powerful and structured silhouettes are 'it' this spring, and the fierce women of the fashion scene want you to know that your shoulders shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all. PASTELS When it comes to spring fashion, you should always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn. That’s right! Pastels have made their way back onto the runway and into our hearts, and we could not be more excited! Let the mood of the season inspire you as you lean into romantic shades of rose, baby blue, magic mint, peach and periwinkle. If spring is the season of new beginnings then pastels are the perfect way to say “hello, beautiful” to 2021! CINCHING This season, say it with your waist. Using a belt to cinch is nothing new, but designers are finding original and fearless ways to create shape this season. Using drawstrings, signature pieces are allowing us all to model a sporty style. We love this trend for the work-from-home professionals, who enjoy going from sporty-chic to Zoomready with ease! Visit Mint Collective on Facebook at www.fb.com/shopmintcollective to see the latest fashions coming to Alexandria each week!

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Story by Kellie Gunderman

As the one-year anniversary of the pandemic approaches, we are all continuing to pivot for the sake of survival, sanity and... our relationships. In these times of uncertainty and chaos, our stress levels have reached all time highs, and finding an outlet for moments of relief with our signigicant others has never been more important. But how can we keep the romance and passion alive while keeping ourselves and our families safe? These subscription boxes will provide you with at-home evenings of relaxation and fun, proving that date night is not dead. HUNT A KILLER If you and your partner hate predictability, this murder mystery box may be for you. Hunt A Killer is an immersive murder mystery game told over the course of six episodes or boxes. Each box contains different clues and physical items such as autopsy reports, witness statements, and more. You’ll use these clues to solve the ongoing murder mystery. In the final episode, will you be able to catch the killer together? Monthly Price: $30 www.huntakiller.com

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SHAKER & SPOON Learning a new skill is always a wonderful bonding experience, especially when that skill is mixology! The Shaker & Spoon subscription box will expose you to new flavors and combinations while showing a range of what each spirit can do. Each month you'll receive 3 recipes and everything you need to make 12 drinks (4 from each recipe) minus the alcohol. Monthly Price: $40-$50 www.shakerandspoon.com


CRATED WITH LOVE Crated with Love is on a mission to prove just how powerful date night can be. It will get you talking and interacting with ease. Each date is specifically designed to include games and activities that not only encourage laughter, but are built on techniques and strategies to help you build a stronger marriage or relationship. Monthly Price: $39.99 www.cratedwithlove.com THE MODERN LOVE This digital subscription box is gaining momentum and a fantastic reputation for reigniting the spark in couples everywhere. Curated by a relationship therapist, the fun tips and communication activities you will have access to via The Modern Love InBox are intended to inspire a deeper connection and more meantinful conversations. Monthly Price: $12 www.themodernlovebox.com DATE NIGHT IN BOX The Date Night In Box is a beautifully crafted, full experience brought to your home each month. From Island Oasis to Roaring 20s, each month comes with a uniquely designed and themed box that’s exciting to open. The activities vary from relationship building questions to dance lessons. No matter what, you’re in for a delightful surprise every month! Monthly Price: $41.99 www.datenightinbox.com

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VIP Alexandria Magazine | February 2021