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LaTanja Snelling is Reston Community Center’s Equity Partnerships Director and has worked for Fairfax County government for the past 13 years. In her current role, LaTanja connects the community with resources for patrons of all ages and directs engagement experiences for underserved neighborhoods in Reston.

As a young child, LaTanja knew she would embark on a career in the recreation field. She frequently accompanied her mother to work for the City of Newport News Parks, Recreation and Tourism department where she was employed as a Customer Service Representative for Newport News Park. LaTanja would flip through the seasonal program guide of offerings and think how cool it would be to have a job creating leisure activities.

Fast forward to Virginia Commonwealth University’s Recreation, Parks and Sports Management Program, then to hands-on experience in the Recreation Departments of three local governments serving people of very different socioeconomic backgrounds. Her various teams have all agreed: Snelling is a risk taker. She is unafraid and adaptable. She is quick to learn, teachable and creative.

Snelling is especially proud of RCC programming that is delivered directly to Reston multi-family housing areas through Opportunity Neighborhoods (ON), an initiative of Fairfax County Government that brings together residents, service providers, schools, and other supporters in defined communities, including those in Reston, to create a shared vision to address needs and achieve equitable results for youth and their caregivers. RCC is a founding member of the RestON endeavor.

Snelling brings creativity and personal commitment to One Fairfax principles to her equity partnerships director role where collaborating with community partners catalyzes collective impact in achieving shared goals. Developing fruitful relationships requires face-to-face connection, active listening and building credibility through reliability as each party fulfills their obligation to meet needs in our community. Through the years, Snelling has fostered successful partnerships with Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax County government agencies, non-profit organizations, residential properties and commercial businesses.

Bringing content and resources directly to patrons provides them with an opportunity to participate in leisure activities where they live, without having to travel to an RCC location. Some popular programs scheduled at RestON sites are the Family Crafternoon series, Fun Around Town recreational activities, and Coffee & Origami classes. LaTanja is especially proud of the free after school programming opportunities for Title I elementary schools that RCC and its community partners have organized.

Snelling believes that Reston is a uniquely dynamic equity space because the opportunities for leisure programming are vast. The late Bob Simon, who founded Reston in the 1960s, was passionate about creating leisure-time and enrichment opportunities for youth in the community and RCC strives to continue his vision. From hosting summer music concerts to multicultural festivals, to in-person presentations launching our seasonal program guide, RCC’s equity partners in RestON engage patrons where they are most comfortable.

Beyond the RestON framework, LaTanja extends the RCC reach to newer residential areas of the community such as Reston Station, Reston Town Center, and Halley Rise. These new locations join Reston schools, Lake Anne Plaza, YMCA Fairfax County Reston and Hunters Woods Village Center as familiar spots for programs LaTanja has designed or organized. RCC operates like a “center without walls” and has been enriching lives and building community for more than 45 years – LaTanja Snelling has embraced that vision and has made it her own.

LaTanja holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation, Parks and Sport Management from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Master of Science degree from the VCU Center for Sport Leadership. She worked in various fields such as amateur sports, college athletics and special events before her present career in recreation. LaTanja is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP) through the National Recreation and Parks Association and is an active member of the Virginia Recreation & Park Society serving on statewide resource group boards.

She is also an avid artist and serves as a freelance illustrator in her spare time. Her art has been featured through the online portfolio website, Adobe Behance and social media accounts for the Emmy-winning TV sitcom “Abbott Elementary.” She currently resides in Alexandria with her husband and daughter.

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