Regional Elected Leaders Recognized with 2022 RELI Awards, Panel Discussion

A collage of photos featuring Ken Plum (far left), Justin Wilson to the right of him, Karen Corbett Sanders to the right of him, and Chuck Bean to the right of her.


The 2022 Regional Leadership Award winners have been announced by the Regional Elected Leaders Initiative (RELI) and the sponsoring Schar School of Policy and Government.

The award is recognition for political leadership and a track record of working across jurisdictional boundaries, across sectors, and across political party lines for the betterment of the region.

RELI was created in 2018 to enhance regionalism and support Northern Virginia’s regional elected leaders, including General Assembly members, city and town mayors and council members, county supervisors, and school board members, among others.

Through programs and events, RELI helps elected leaders to engage, learn, and connect in order to effect positive change for their communities and the Northern Virginia region.

The 2022 winners will be presented with awards at the annual RELI awards dinner in December. The dinner event includes regional policy leaders from all sectors.

The program will be highlighted by the annual Leadership Conversation moderated by Schar School dean Mark J. Rozell. This year’s guests sharing insights on effective governance during polarized times are U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and former lieutenant governor of Virginia William Bolling, an adjunct instructor at the Schar School.

The 2022 winners:

Ken Plum: Plum (D) has represented the 36th District of Virginia in the House of Delegates for more than 40 years (1982-2022), while at the same time being a champion for regional transportation, conservation/environment, culture/arts and human services. In many instances, he was on the leading edge of these policies.

Justin Wilson: The Democratic mayor of the City of Alexandria served eight years on the city council prior to his election as mayor first in 2018 and again in 2021His regional leadership is reflected in his work on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments Board of Directors, and as President of the Virginia Transit Association. He played an active and important role in the region’s COVID-19 response.

Karen Corbett Sanders: First elected in 2015 as a nonpartisan member of the Fairfax County School Board, Sanders has served twice as chair of the Fairfax County Public Schools. She has led Virginia School Boards Association’s Northeast Region where she has worked tirelessly to improve communication across school divisions in the region. In addition, she has brought the Northern Virginia region perspective to a variety of statewide task forces and workgroups on key issues including COVID response, collective bargaining, recycling, school infrastructure needs, and legislative priorities. 

Chuck Bean: Bean has served as the executive director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) since December 2012. COG is the region’s pre-eminent regional organization of local governments. He has dedicated himself to advance in Northern Virginia and the greater DMV region over the last decade. His fingerprints are on every regional plan and success, from Metro funding and housing to climate change and Amazon HQ2. Bean plans to retire in February 2023. 

Past RELI Regional Leadership Award recipients:


  • Sharon Bulova, chair, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
  • Cathy Hudgins, member, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors
  • Marty Nohe, member, Prince William County Board of Supervisors


  • Vivian Watts, delegate, Virginia General Assembly
  • Matt Letourneau, member, Loudoun County Board of Supervisors


  • Janet Howell, Virginia state senator
  • David Snyder, Falls Church Council member
  • Barbara Kanninen, chair, Arlington Public Schools
  • Babur Lateef, chair, Prince William County Public Schools