A non-profit and community leader is on track to becoming the new director of the Mid-County Regional Services Center, after being nominated by County Executive Ike Leggett.
Ana Lopez van Balen is the current director of Community Bridges, a non-profit that provides empowerment programs for young girls in the area. She is also the co-chair of Nonprofit Montgomery, and has worked with the Gilchrist Center in the past.
Van Balen said that while it will be a difficult transition from her work with Community Bridges for the past five years, she is looking forward to continuing her work with the community on a "macro-level".
"I saw this as an extension, in a community that has so many strengths," she said.
Van Balen, who was named a 2009 Washingtonian of the Year and received a master's in social work from Columbia University, had been speaking to the County Executive's office for several weeks about the position, but said she was surprised to hear that they had chosen her.
With Natalie Cantor's departure from her long-time position at the Mid-County Regional Services Center, the directorship became a political appointment.
Pending her confirmation by the County Council, Van Balen will come into a very different Mid-County Services Center, with no direct support staff (administrative support will be organized at the County level for all the regional service centers). An AmeriCorps employee will start in September to work on community outreach.
For her first priority, Van Balen said she's going to meet with as many people as possible.
"It's going to be meeting with everyone, from the Urban District to the Citizens Advisory Board and local neighborhood groups and different offices playing a role in the redevelopment, " she said. "One of my hopes is to get to know a lot of the community that hasn't been at the table as much."