Town Council (click topics below to display)
The Town Council holds public hearings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, except during June, July, August, and December, during which only one meeting is held on the second Tuesday of the month. Work sessions are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each month with the exceptions of June, July, August, and December, during which only one session is held on the first Tuesday of the month. Alterations to this schedule are provided by and listed on the public meeting notice page.
All meetings begin at 7pm and are open to the public. Citizens are urged to attend. Meetings are held in the Herndon Council Chambers Building located at 765 Lynn Street. Agendas are available online and in the Town Clerk's office on Friday afternoon prior to each meeting.
The Mayor is the Chief Executive Officer of the Town. Her power and authority are derived from the Town Charter and the general laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia. She presides over Town Council and has the same right to speak and vote as the other members.
Biographies (click names below to display)
Lisa C. Merkel, a resident of Herndon since 2002 and a resident of Northern Virginia since 1996, was first elected Mayor of the Town of Herndon in 2012 and is currently serving her third term. She previously served as Herndon’s Vice Mayor during the 2010-2012 term.
As Mayor, Merkel serves as the chief executive officer of the town. She serves on the Inter-Jurisdictional Committee with Loudoun and Fairfax counties, as the second alternate representative for the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, and is a member of the Novaregion Foundation. In 2017, she was selected by the Virginia Municipal League (VML) President to serve on the VML Nominations Committee. She has served on the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority’s Planning Commission Advisory Committee and has worked closely with Fairfax County in planning for pedestrian and bicycle access to the Herndon Metro Station, serving on the Herndon Metro Station Access Management Study Group (HMSAMS).
Prior to her service on the Town Council, Merkel served on the Herndon Homes Tour Committee, and participated in the Citizen’s Planning Academy and the Downtown Master Plan Citizens Advisory Group. She was appointed by Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust to represent the Town of Herndon on the Dranesville District Area Plans Review Task Force, a group that reviewed the proposed development surrounding the Route 28 Metro Site and its future impact on the town.
Merkel is a member of Arts Herndon; the Herndon Historical Society; the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce and Sister Cities International.
Merkel worked for Fairfax County Public Schools as a classroom teacher, reading specialist and staff developer from 1996 until 2004. Her classroom strategies have been featured in two professional books, "Shared Reading for Today's Classroom" and "Catching Readers Before They Fall.”
Merkel holds a bachelor’s degree in Education from Auburn University and a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech. She and her husband, Dave, are raising their family in a circa 1895 farmhouse in Herndon’s historic downtown.
Jennifer Baker, a resident of Herndon since 2004, is serving her second term on the Herndon Town Council and is the town’s Vice Mayor.
As Vice Mayor, Baker serves as chair of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee and chair of the Interview Committee for Boards and Commissions. She is a member of the Inter-Jurisdictional Advisory Committee and is an alternate representative for the town on the Dulles Area Transportation Association and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. She is also active on the Virginia Municipal League’s Community and Economic Development Policy Committee, serving as Vice Chair.
Baker is a member of ArtsHerndon, Optimist Club of Herndon, the Herndon Historical Society and Sister Cities International of the Herndon Area, Inc. She is also a member of the Philanthropic Educational Organization, which promotes educational opportunities for women. She has been an active member and chair of the Holiday Homes Tour Committee and has previously served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer for abused and neglected children in Fairfax County.
In November of 2015, Baker met with the Mayor of Runnymede, England, Herndon’s sister city. The Borough was celebrating the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carter.
She volunteers with ArtsHerndon, Cultivating Community Initiative, Fairfax Alliance for Better Bicycling (FABB) and Friday Night Live.
Baker currently works as a Global Partner Manager at Tableau Software with a mission to help people see and understand their data. She has previously worked at Adobe, VMware and taught middle and high school math for the Fairfax County Public School System. She holds a BA in mathematics from the State University of New York at Geneseo and also studied at Schiller International University in Heidelberg, Germany.
Grace Wolf Cunningham, a resident of Herndon since 1999, is serving her fourth term on the Herndon Town Council. She is the first Korean American woman elected to office in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
During her prior terms on the Town Council, Cunningham chaired the town’s Economic Development Task Force, which provided recommendations for growing the town’s commercial base; served as the past representative to the Committee for Dulles; and currently represents the town as a member of the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission and the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission Subcommittee. She is a Certified Local Government Official, as designated by VML’s Virginia Elected Officials Leadership Academy.
She has served the Herndon community as president and board member of the Council for the Arts of Herndon (CAH) and receive its Platinum Achievement Award in 2014; as a member of the Herndon Festival Committee; and as a member of the Asian Business Committee of the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce.
In 2006, she was the recipient of the Town of Herndon’s prestigious Distinguished Service Award, recognizing her commitment to volunteerism in the town. She was a member of the Leadership Fairfax Class of 2007. She has received the Volunteer Fairfax Benchmark Service Award annually from 2007 - 2014, and in 2018, she received their Benchmark 250 Award. In 2012 she received the Public Service Award from the Asian American Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, Cunningham was recognized as one of “The Influential Women of Virginia” by Virginia Lawyers Media, an award that recognizes the outstanding efforts of women in all fields, including law, business, health care and education.
In 2014, Cunningham was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe as a commissioner to the Virginia Commission for the Arts. She previously served on the Board of Directors for the Arts Council of Fairfax as well as the Fairfax County Park Authority. She is an active member of the regional AAPI community and is one of the founding members of the Jade Philanthropy Society, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to encourage and facilitate local philanthropy by Asian Americans in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.
Cunningham currently works in philanthropy with the National Wildlife Federation. Recently a small business owner, she has also held positions in finance and accounting at IBM Consulting, Deloitte and Touche Management Consulting, Dun & Bradstreet and Bankers Trust. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics and an MBA in Finance and Strategy, both from Cornell University. She lives in Herndon with her husband and family.
Signe Friedrichs, a resident of Herndon since 1996, is serving her first term on the Herndon Town Council. She serves on the town’s Grant Oversight Committee, Interview Committee, and is the town’s alternate representative to the Committee for Dulles and the Phase II Dulles Rail Transportation Improvement District Commission Board. She was also appointed to the Virginia Municipal League’s Community and Economic Development Policy Committee.
Friedrichs served as the Executive Director of the Council for the Arts of Herndon from 2012-2016, and served as the Executive Director of ArtsHerndon from 2016-2017. Previously, she worked as member relations manager for the Dulles Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Friedrichs has been a member of the Herndon Rotary Club since 2013 and currently serves on the club’s Board of Directors as the Youth Services Chair. She previously served on the Board of Directors of the Council for the Arts of Herndon, and as co-Chair of the Herndon Chamber of Commerce committee. She also served on the town’s Economic Advisory committee, to which she had been appointed by the Town Council.
She is a member of the Herndon Fortnightly Club, Sweet Adelines International, and the Herndon Festival Committee.
Friedrichs holds a bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College in Art History and a Master’s Degree from the University of Connecticut, Storrs, in Early Modern European History. She has taken independent coursework in business administration through the University of Phoenix among other institutions while a military spouse.
She lives in Herndon with her husband, Paul, a former Naval officer.
- Richard B. Kaufman, a long-time resident of Herndon and formerly the town attorney, was appointed to the Herndon Town Council in July 2018, to fill a vacancy created following the death of Councilmember Jeff Davidson. Kaufman’s term expires on December 31, 2018.
Kaufman served as Herndon’s town attorney from 1994 until his retirement in 2015. During his tenure, Kaufman advised the Town Council on legislative issues; moved resolutions, ordinances, leases, franchise agreement and contracts through the town’s legislative process; and provided consultation on issues before the Virginia General Assembly that impacted the town. His legal counsel on topics ranging from town boundaries to economic development was invaluable to the Town Councils under which he served, and he earned tremendous respect throughout his career from his legal peers throughout the Commonwealth. He was active in several organizations, including the Local Government Attorneys of Virginia, Inc. and the Virginia Municipal League.
Kaufman holds a Bachelor’s degree from Washington and Jefferson College, a Master’s of Arts degree from the University of Virginia and a Juris Doctorate from Washington and Lee University.
Bill McKenna, a resident of Herndon since 2012, is serving his first term on the Herndon Town Council. He Chairs the Herndon Youth Advisory Council and was appointed to serve on the Virginia Municipal League’s General Laws Policy Committee.
McKenna is a volunteer and supporter of Herndon Community Television and is active in the Herndon Chamber of Commerce. He also serves on the board of directors for the Herndon Village Network and was appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to represent the Dranesville District for the Citizen’s Corp Council of Fairfax County.
McKenna is a former elected councilman in the Borough of Dunellen, New Jersey. At 24, he was the youngest elected official in NJ in 1998. He was chairman of the finance committee and appointed to several executive county and state committees including the NJ League of Municipalities, a bi-partisan, voluntary association created to help communities do a better job of self-government through pooling information resources and brain power.
He was selected as person of the month July 2000 in New Jersey by Cablevision and by The Courier News for his work before, during and after Hurricane Floyd, which left many towns without power and water for days.
McKenna volunteers with the Salvation Army, Children’s Hospitals in Washington, DC and Morgantown, WV, and the Massey Cancer Center at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.
McKenna has 20 years’ experience in the financial and IT sectors and currently works for Cygnacom as business development director. He holds a BA in Political Science from West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Sheila A. Olem, a resident of Herndon since 1990, is serving her fourth term on the Herndon Town Council.
In 2016 Olem was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to the Virginia State Executive Council for Children’s Services. She also served as chair to the Virginia Municipal League’s (VML) Environmental Quality Committee, served on the VML Legislative Committee, and currently serves on the VML General Laws Policy Committee. She serves as the town’s representative to the Committee for Dulles and the Northern Virginia Regional Commission. She has chaired the town’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Committee and its Interview Committee, and served on the Joint Communications Committee between the council and the Planning Commission. She has represented the town on the Phase II (Metro) District Commission and the Dulles Area Transportation Association (DATA).
Olem was appointed to Herndon’s Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) in 2000 and served through 2007, to include service as the board’s vice chairman. She has also served on Dranesville District land use committees, including the Dulles Toll Road Task Force (2000-01) and the Hunter Mill Task Force (2005).
For over 20 years Olem has volunteered in the Herndon community, to include participation in the Herndon High School Sports Boosters as well as community events such as Friday Night Live, Rotary – Green Lizard Bike-a-Thon, NatureFest, Herndon Festival, Herndon Garden Tour, Herndon Homes Tour, and Herndon Relay for Life, among other projects and events. She has also served as president of the Federal Water Quality Association (FWQA) and continues to serve on FWQA’s scholarship committee. She is a member of the 2011 Leadership Fairfax class. She has also served on numerous boards including Council for the Arts of Herndon and Friends of Runnymede Park.
Olem is an independent sales associate representing Aflac. She also owns and manages commercial real-estate. She holds a master’s degree in Health Administration from the University of Memphis and a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of North Alabama.
Olem was married to the late Harvey Olem and raised their two sons, Mike and Matt, in Herndon.