Prince William Living Magazine’s Most Influential Women of 2022

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By Dawn Klavon

Former First Lady Michelle Obama once said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can
accomplish,” and the women of Prince William wholeheartedly prove her point. For the eighth year,
Prince William Living has endeavored to seek out and recognize influential women who are leading,
serving and improving our community. This is no small feat, as the number of nominations that poured
in illustrate the sheer impact women are having, whether professionally, philanthropically or personally.
The annual honor, judged in part by previous winners, displays talents and accomplishments seldom
recognized for the immense value they hold. Read on to discover Prince William’s most influential
women of 2022 and their selfless service and unwavering commitment to excellence.

Congratulations to these influential women!

Nancy Berlin

Nancy Berlin, influential women 2022

Nancy Berlin

Nancy Berlin has bloomed where she was planted.

Berlin has worked as Natural Resource Specialist, Volunteer Coordinator, and Education and Outreach Instructor for the Environment and Natural Resources program of Virginia Cooperative Extension in Prince William since 2007. But serving her community has been a lifelong endeavor; she has volunteered doing stream monitoring, documenting plant and animal species in the landfill buffer, as well as leading a 4-H group.

“Nancy is a dynamic person possessing skill in volunteer administration and a genuine heart for the people she works with and helps,” said Paige Thacker, Virginia Cooperative Extension Prince William, Education and Outreach Instructor. “She takes the time to get to know the volunteers personally, which has made significant positive impacts on volunteer retention in the Master Gardener program.”

Berlin also developed a mentoring program for volunteers that supports individuals as they go through the Master Gardener training and offers opportunities for veteran volunteers to share their expertise.

“Many of Nancy’s co-workers and volunteers call her a friend also,” Thacker said. “Her personal style of true caring, creativity, making learning fun, and volunteer management has helped the program grow, welcoming new community collaborators and volunteers.”

Berlin generously inspires more than 200 trained Extension Master Gardener volunteers, offering research-based education and outreach programs that benefit local water quality, the environment and the Prince William community. She plans and assigns volunteers to help with annual programs like Master Gardener Training, the Teaching Garden and Tours, Garden Center Plant Clinics, Saturday in the Garden classes, the Basics of Gardening Series, the Extension Horticulture Help Desk and Plant a Row for the Hungry produce collections at local Farmers Markets.

“In 2020, with COVID-19 complicating training plans, Berlin successfully moved the local Master Gardener training class online while finding innovative ways to continue to incorporate hands-on activities into the lectures and labs,” Thacker said. “This involved learning course management software, rebuilding the course and implementing the course in the space of a few months — all while continuing to recruit, liaise with community partners and manage new and on-going projects.”

But Berlin’s influence doesn’t stop there. She led efforts to provide Master Gardener mentors for over 70 school and community garden requests over the past decade. Recently, Berlin also supported efforts for City of Manassas Liberia Plantation landscape planning and replanting and designed and helped plant the Novant Prince William Hospital healing garden.

“I see the positive difference she makes in how volunteers continue to engage with her and have a loyalty to her and the program,” Thacker said. “There have been other people in the position Nancy holds that did the job but didn’t master the people aspect of the job; the volunteers who work with her know the difference.”

Mary Finnigan

Mary Finnigan, influential women 2022

Mary Finnigan

Mary Finnigan leads by serving, and she’s made a career out of using her organizational superpowers to help her community.

Professionally, Finnigan has held a variety of influential leadership positions, most currently as the Chief Operating Officer for the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia. She has revolutionized the business side of the corporation, and done so not only efficiently, but with genuine concern and compassion. Her knowledge, organizational and interpersonal skills and deep faith have enriched her colleagues and brought the Benedictine Sisters into a brighter future. Finnigan’s biggest challenge, financing and building a new monastery, is near completion and will stand as witness to her unwavering commitment to the Benedictine Sisters.

“I personally have never known a person with more integrity and honesty than Mary Finnigan,” said Joanna Burley, Benedictine Sisters prioress. “The Benedictine Sisters are honored to have Mary with us, and we treasure her dearly.”

The daughter of community influencers, Finnigan’s future was sealed when she embraced leadership opportunities early on. Maybe Finnigan’s can-do spirit was developed by her father’s Top 10 list as a child.

“I believe Mary takes his number 8 to a new level,” said colleague Debbie Jones from the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia. “When you’re getting ahead in life, make sure you reach out and give someone a hand up.”

Finnigan has helped numerous people find a new job or enter a new career by sharing her time and skills, being a mentor, reviewing their resumes or helping them make a powerful connection. Finnigan’s impact on her community has been evident for decades as she has set an example for all businesswomen, juggling a demanding executive career and serving as a vibrant community leader. Married, with two grown children and four grandchildren, Finnigan models how to incorporate our family and friends into volunteer activities — the foundation for a strong community.

Finnegan has supported and been active in numerous causes and organizations in Prince William throughout her lifetime. Her service includes serving as past president of the Metro Council Chambers, past chair of the Prince William County-Greater Manassas Chamber of Commerce, past chair of the Prince William United Way Campaign, past president of BARN, a transitional housing program for homeless Women and their children, past president of the Center for the Arts at the Candy Factory (ARTfactory) and past chair of Leadership Prince William.

“Her strength is in her ability to see a challenge or opportunity, then rally the appropriate individuals together with the right talents and skills,” Jones said. “She’s results oriented and gives her energy to the improvement of Prince William year after year.”

Kathie Johnson

Kathie Johnson, Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, influential women

Kathie Johnson

Oprah Winfrey said a mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself. Kathie Johnson possesses a gift for identifying potential in others and fostering professional growth and development in her teams. Her leadership as president of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center has expanded services,
allowing the community to receive high-quality care close to home.

“Kathie’s leadership and trust compels me to reach higher and take on new challenges,” said Julie Billingsley, Director, Patient Care Services at SNVMC. “With her guidance and encouragement, I have accepted increasingly elevated professional opportunities I never would have attempted on my own.”

Johnson holds herself to a high standard and has an innate ability to lift others to their highest potential. She earned multiple advanced degrees — PhD, MBA, RN — while pursuing her profession and raising two children, who are both physicians currently in residency training. She continues to inspire those around her, fostering cooperation and collaboration.

“Kathie is the type of leader we all hope to have as a mentor,” said Christy Grabus, Chief Nursing Officer, SNVMC. “In my career, I have had the privilege of working with Kathie in three different hospitals within two healthcare systems, and across two states spanning more than 21 years.”

Johnson is a visionary leader, colleagues said, who works with leadership teams to establish goals and allows those leaders to work with their teams to achieve those goals. She supported a research partnership between George Mason University and Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center during the pandemic.

“As a result, we completed our first study investigating a diagnostic breath study for COVID-19 with the local GMU research team,” said Heather Causseaux, Director, Patient Care Services at SNVMC. “Our team and community were happy to be a part of a possible solution during the pandemic.”

Johnson has used her downtime to serve the community on the boards of Prince William Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Prince William and Potomac Place. She has generously sponsored numerous events and programs, like LPW Health & Human Services Day, Summer Youth Academy for H&HS, Healthy Communities Vision and the annual Valor Awards, recognizing first responders in our community.

“My professional relationship with Kathie is captured in the words of Sir Isaac Newton: ‘If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants,’” said Grabus. “In terms of leadership and influence, Kathie is truly a giant.”

Sara Ordway

Sara Ordway, Ordway Conservatory of Classical Ballet, influential women 22

Sara Ordway

Sara Ordway has been a graceful powerhouse in Prince William since 2006, when she electrified the stage during her dance career with Manassas Ballet Theater. The magic did not end there.

Ordway founded the Manassas Youth Ballet, believing student dancers deserved performance opportunities, and she inspired them to find their own voice onstage. But, more importantly, her vision was to make ballet accessible for all. This idea truly came to life when she opened her own studio in 2018, where dancers perform at free, public events year-round. Her studio, Ordway Conservatory of Classical Ballet, is thriving.

“Miss Sara has been an inspiration to me for over 15 years,” said Elizabeth Sullivan, OCCB Artistic Director. “She never fails to amaze me in all the ways that she positively impacts everyone she meets.”

Ordway’s students have performed at Occoquan Day and Arts: Alive!, among many other events, and when the pandemic hit, she created her own performances at Locust Shade Park so the community still had an artistic outlet when everything else seemed to be closed. Her “An Interactive Nutcracker” has become a community staple during the holiday season, fulfilling the dreams of hundreds of aspiring ballerinas each year when they get to come up on stage and dance with Clara and her friends.

“Dancing with her lends itself to a certain level of reverence and respect because she creates art, and it feels like a privilege to be a piece of that,” Sullivan said.

At the very beginning of quarantine in March 2020, Ordway encouraged students to deliver care packages to essential workers, like local fire departments and schools, as well as the Prince William Animal Shelter. She succeeded in keeping OCCB open throughout the entire pandemic, first through virtual ballet
classes, and then a hybrid class schedule, maintaining social distancing. Ordway reached out to the community throughout the pandemic by hosting community events, like virtual craft nights, BINGO and ballet trivia. Colleagues report she has been incredibly passionate about helping dancers and their families
maintain a sense of normalcy amidst the pandemic uncertainty, and despite all odds, the studio has grown as a result. Ordway is the glue that holds her dance community together.

“You learn that the way you treat others matters,” Sullivan said. “That is the magic — it’s not perfect technique, or acting, or vapid politeness and empty niceties. It’s showing everyone around you that you care. And doing everything you can to make this community, this world better because of it. That’s her
impact: she makes us better, makes us truly, actually good; not just good dancers, but good people.”

Frances Robin

influential women 22, Carried to Full Term

Frances Robin

Fran Robin knows how to get things done, but not just little things.

“These are the things that make normal people shrug and say, ‘It’s horrible, but what can we do?’” said nominator Kristina Nohe. “When Fran sees a big problem, she simply increases her effort and comes up with an even bigger solution.”

Robin is the founder and director of Carried to Full Term, a Haymarket nonprofit providing long-term housing to pregnant and homeless women. More than a decade ago, she had a vision to help women in crisis pregnancy by providing them not only with shelter and safety, but with hope. Robin’s mission is to help women break cycles of poverty, abuse and struggle at the organization’s home, offering a safe space for healing and growth.

Women are welcomed into “the yellow house” located in Haymarket for up to 24 months, during which time they receive pre- and post-natal care, counseling, job skills and education. The goal is to help mothers gain the skills they need to be self-sufficient and successful as mothers and women. After years working with rape victims and trauma survivors, Robin understands that healing and change take time, which is why
Carried to Full Term is a long program and does not end with the birth of the woman’s child. In many ways, the birth of a child is just the beginning of the work.

“There is something about Fran that draws people in, and when she has an idea for a new project, you can’t help but sign on,” Nohe said. “There is an essence about her that helps people look beyond the problem and instead join her in becoming part of the solution.”

Robin’s perseverance and tenacity are noted by her colleagues as she has extended her reach of impact to her community. Carried to Full Term currently looks to add homes to provide shelter and hope to more women and even whole families, thanks to Robin’s passion.

“I have watched Fran dedicate herself to inspiring everyone around her to be the best version of themselves, whether that person is a homeless mother or a business leader,” Nohe said. “She never sees just who you are today, but who you can become.”

Robin also cohosts a podcast called A Different Truth, which grew out of her community efforts working toward racial reconciliation. A Different Truth discusses issues of race in the context of current events and historic relevance.

“Franie is bold and compassionate, never shying away from the hard work it takes to evolve and improve the lives of everyone in our community,” said Nicole Bland, Robin’s podcast cohost.

Robin’s nominators can’t state her qualifications strongly enough: “She is the definition of an Influential Woman,” Nohe said, “and we are all blessed that she is using those skills here in Prince William County.”

Dawn Klavon is a contributing writer for Prince William Living.
Reach her at




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