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Martha McClees, Executive Director, Virginia Beach Vision

Updated: December 7, 2012 - 4:03 pm

Posted: December 7, 2012

Martha McClees grew up in Virginia Beach and now, as executive director of Virginia Beach Vision, she gets to help grow the city.

Though McClees said she has had people call to get their eyes checked, Virginia Beach Vision is really a non-partisan, issue-oriented group made up of 120 private-sector business and civic leaders who work together to help determine the future direction of Virginia Beach and the Hampton Roads region in terms of development.

"Our focus is on things that have an impact on the city of Virginia Beach in the future like the light rail campaign," she said. "Our group took a position supporting light rail as a viable addition to our transportation system. Once we take a position, we advocate for it."

Being executive director is her full-time paid job, but member Michael Barrett said McClees always goes above what is expected to create new and dynamic positive change within the organization.

Prior to coming to work for Virginia Beach Vision in 2007, McClees was the intergovernmental affairs coordinator for the city of Suffolk.

She is currently chair of the Virginia Beach Social Services Advisory Board and director of Future of Hampton Roads, a nonpartisan, apolitical organization made up of community members committed to improving the area's quality of life.

A current or past member of numerous boards and organizations including the Virginia Musical Theater Board and the Together We Can Foundation, McClees said she is involved with things that touch her heart. She served the maximum nine years allowed by state law on the Virginia Beach Community Services Board, ultimately becoming the chairwoman. She joined after volunteering at the YMCA teaching parenting classes and came across people struggling with their children either in foster care or in the court system.

"I was overwhelmed with my inability to help them and touched by the difficulties they were dealing with," she said. "I wanted to learn more to make a small difference."

McClees has also been actively involved with the annual Neptune Festival for the last 35 years. Her mother, Nancy Creech, is the festival president.

"She tells my sister and me if we're not there to work there will be no Christmas," she said, with a laugh.

In the future, McClees she said she will continue working to build the city and can't wait to see how it will turn out.

"The city is still maturing and becoming what it's going to be and I think that's pretty exciting to be in a community where you can help shape the future," she said. "It's fascinating and rewarding to have a little bit of impact on that." nib

- Lydia Wheeler