Judge William T. Newman and Wanda Pierce are local heroes without a spotlight. The charitable contributions made through their leadership over the Arlington Community Foundation have been making a difference in Virginia for over 20 years. Nu Xi Zeta, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority has named them the 2015 Woman and Man of the Year and honored them on June 24.
“The ACF has raised a lot of money and done a lot of great work, and unfortunately a lot of people don’t even know it exists,” said Krysta Jones, the fund development chair for the chapter and national director of social action for the sorority at large. “ had done a great job of using her corporate experience with building the community foundation. Judge Newman was the first African American elected to the Arlington county board. It’s kind of a coincidence that he was the impetus behind the community foundation.”
Newman, the founder of the foundation was inspired to start it in 1991 after seeing how The San Francisco Community Foundation supported those in need after a devastating earthquake in 1989. He is now the president emeritus of the nonprofit organization, which actively promotes, protects and improves the quality of life for those who live or work in Arlington.
“I grew up in a community in what we call the Arlington View area of Arlington where there were quite a few community leaders who inspired me and who were always giving back to the community,” Newman said while a guest on the Virginia Leadership Institute’s television show ‘A Seat at the Table.’ “Along with being around them, observing, watching them, and my parents encouraging me of course, I always felt that if I ever got in the position to be able to do something to give back to the community, that was something that was very important to me and was something I wanted to do as well.”
He is currently the chief judge for the Arlington Circuit Court of the 17th Judicial Court in Virginia, serving as the chief judge since 2003 and as a judge on the court since 1993. Newman received his undergraduate degree from Ohio University and law degree from Catholic University of America.
Pierce began working for the foundation as its executive director seven years ago after spending the majority of her career in the corporate sector. “It’s really quite an honor that I know so many people in our community would be worthy of,” Pierce said of being named the 2015 Woman of the Year. “Something I really want to put more emphasis on is raising as much awareness as I can to make sure people know who we are. I want to make sure I do everything I can to help the Arlington Community Foundation.”
She has lived and worked in Arlington for 25 years but is originally from Boston, Massachusetts where she earned her undergraduate degree in economics from Harvard University and a master’s of Business Administration from Columbia University. Pierce’s last job was with the African American Nonprofit Network before joining the foundation.
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority is a Black organization founded at Howard University in 1920 to meet the needs of underserved communities. The Nu Xi Zeta Chapter has been in the Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia area for almost 30 years. It has hosted a Woman of the Year program for several years and added Man of the Year more recently.
“They were both unsung heroes in their own right,” Jones said of the honorees. “This is a powerful organization in Arlington.”