Park Authority

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday - Friday
703-324-8700 TTY 711
12055 Government Center Pkwy.
Fairfax, Virginia 22035
Jai Cole
Executive Director

Department Resources

Women's History Month

women's history month

The Park Authority celebrates the extraordinary women who provided the inspiration, leadership or vision that contributed to the creation of many of our parks. The month of March provides an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and impact of these women on the Park Authority’s nationally recognized park and recreation system. The Park Authority continues to expand this list and share stories from our archives as well as related sources. To share additional information for potential inclusion on this page, please email

Notable Women from Fairfax County Park History

Elly Doyle

Parks’ advocate Ellamae “Elly” Doyle served on the Park Authority's Board from 1958 to 1974 and was Board Chairman from 1965 to 1968, becoming the first female chair of the Park Authority Board. During her tenure, Fairfax County’s park system expanded and thrived with the addition of significant open space, new recreational facilities and a commitment to preservation of local natural and cultural resources. In 1988, this dedication and passion was recognized with the preservation of the county's parkland, natural preserves and recreation areas was recognized with the establishment of the Elly Doyle Park Service Award. The prestigious award honors exceptional volunteer service to the Park Authority.

Beatrix Farrand

One of the pioneering women of the early 20th century, Beatrix Farrand was one of America's first female landscape architect and was the only female founder of the American Society of Landscape Architects. She designed more than 200 gardens from the 1890s to the 1950s at grand estates, public parks, botanic gardens, college campuses, and the White House. In 1942, she designed the garden behind the Historic House for Green Spring’s last private residents, Michael and Belinda Straight. Though modest in scope and scale, the garden is a pure expression of Farrand’s style and technique. It was one of the last projects of her celebrated career and is her only garden design in Virginia.

Photo courtesy of the Beatrix Farrand Society.

Norma Hoffman

Norma Hoffman was one of the most extraordinary volunteers in Fairfax County Park Authority's history. Her impact began in 1978, when a planned four-lane road would have cut through Huntley Meadows Park. She established the Citizen's Alliance to Save Huntley and enlisted scientific and legal help; the road was never built. Norma later established the Friends of Huntley Meadows and continued volunteering at the Alexandria park until her death in 2017. She taught thousands of children about nature and our responsibility to be environmental stewards. The park's visitor center is named in her honor.

Ellanor Campbell Lawrence

In 1935, Ellanor Campbell Lawrence was driving through the Fairfax countryside with a friend when she saw the Walney stone farmhouse within the surrounding woods. It is said she thought the quiet, restful setting would be good for her family. She and her husband David purchased the first section of what is now Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in July of that same year. In 1944, the couple bought adjacent property along Big Rocky Run that included Cabell’s Mill and the Middlegate House. They improved and expanded the house and complex and established a permanent residence at Middlegate in 1946. Ellanor loved the natural beauty of the property and wanted it to remain open and undeveloped for all to enjoy as she had. After her death in 1969, David followed his wife’s wishes and donated 639.84 acres of land and historic buildings to the public by gift to the Fairfax County Park Authority. Ellanor C. Lawrence Park displays a portrait of its namesake in the Visitor Center.

Adele Lebowitz

If you're one of the 200,000 people who visit Clemyjontri Park each year, you can thank Adele Lebowitz. Lebowitz was the widow of pioneering businessman and civic leader Mortimer C. Lebowitz, the founder of the Morton's Department Store chain in Washington, D.C. Mortimer and Adele's commitment to a vision of an all-inclusive world underscored their lives and work. In 1997, Ms. Lebowitz donated land to the county with the vision that it would become a fully accessible playground where children of all abilities could play with one another. Named for her four children, Clemyjontri Park opened in 2006 and quickly became a Fairfax County treasure. Mrs. Lebowitz passed away in 2014 but her legacy will be forever celebrated in the McLean park that now boasts a fully accessible playground, carousel, swings, trails and train designed to enable children of all abilities to play side-by-side.

Betsey Mason

Betsey Mason was described as a woman who took “all by storm.” She married Thomson Francis Mason, the mayor of Alexandria from 1827-30, who was a grandson of George Mason IV, author of the Virginia Declaration of Rights. After Thomson died in 1838, Betsey managed the Federal period villa and farm for more than 20 years. Thomson's will entrusted Betsey to manage the estate as she thought 'prudent.' He named one constraint, however, that Betsey could not remarry. The law of coverture prevented married women from making contracts, buying or selling property, and from suing or being sued. If Betsey remarried, her husband would control Thomson's estate, not Betsey. The site, now known as Historic Huntley, is located in Huntley Meadows Park.

Audrey Moore

Considered a political maverick in the 1970s, Annandale Supervisor Audrey Moore was a slow-growth proponent, battling developers and, sometimes, other supervisors. She said her involvement in the creation of Wakefield Park spurred her interest in the slow-growth movement. In 2002, that park's Rec Center was named in her honor. Though she passed away in late 2018, her legacy lives on at Annandale's Audrey Moore Rec Center.

Photo by Lucian Perkins/The Washington Post.

Barbara Naef

For more than 40 years, Barbara Naef has worked diligently to explore, preserve and share the history of Fairfax County and its parks. After completing her bachelor's and master's degrees in history, Barbara joined the Park Authority in 1979. She initially worked with museum collections at Dranesville Tavern before ultimately becoming the agency's first Resource Stewardship Manager. In this capacity, she provided oversight to both Natural and Cultural Resource Branches. Under her watch, the Park Authority used archaeological evidence to construct the representative quarters for the enslaved at Sully Historic Site and to expand programming to include Sully's enslaved community. Since her 2002 retirement, Barbara has continued to give back to parks. She has volunteered with Museum Collections, is a founding member of the Friends of Fairfax County Archaeology and Cultural Resources (FOFA), and currently serves on the Fairfax County History Commission. Barbara's contributions in retirement continue to inspire new generations of women in the Park Authority and in the fields of history and historic preservations.

Dr. Belinda (Crompton) Straight

On March 6, 1965, Dr. Belinda Crompton Straight - who lived on the Green Spring property at the time - joined a small team of doctors who traveled to Selma, Alabama to provide emergency aid and triage to civil rights marchers walking from Selma to Montgomery in support of voting rights for blacks. One of the injured marchers treated by Belinda was John Lewis, who had a fractured skull. In 2007, as a congressman from Georgia, he met with her for the first time since Selma. Green Spring Gardens owes its existence to Dr. Straight. In 1970, she and her husband Michael Straight gifted their small family estate to the Park Authority. The mother of five was a distinguished psychiatrist, a prominent expert in sex abuse cases, and a civil rights activist.

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