Washingtonian Magazine Names Rhonda Mitchell, Lisa F. Smith Washingtonians of the Year for Food Insecurity Work

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Don Montuori December 17, 2020 202-465-7047 dmontuori@wcsmith.com

Rhonda Mitchell, Lisa F. Smith Named Washingtonians of the Year

Washingtonian Magazine recognizes them for their work with WC Smith’s Building Bridges to a Better Life program and efforts to combat food insecurity during the COVID-19 crisis

WASHINGTON, DC – December 17, 2020 – Rhonda Mitchell, community services director for WC Smith’s Villages of Parklands property, and Lisa F. Smith, wife of WC Smith Chairman and CEO Chris Smith, have been named 2020 Washingtonians of the Year for their volunteer work by Washingtonian magazine.

Mitchell and Smith were honored for their efforts behind Building Bridges to a Better Life (BBBL), a joint project of WC Smith and Building Bridges Across the River (Building Bridges) that provides housing and wrap-around services to more than 70 previously homeless families who were displaced when the District closed the DC General Hospital and several motel shelters in 2018. Families received assistance with household furnishings and supplies, and have access to the programming and services offered by Building Bridges and its partners at THEARC.

Additionally, Mitchell and Smith have organized multiple educational and entertainment events, including financial management and educational resources workshops for BBBL parents and outings to locations across the city for their children.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Mitchell and Smith have spearheaded an extensive weekly food distribution program at THEARC for people living east of the Anacostia River. Building Bridges coordinates the effort, which has included participation from World Central Kitchen, DC Central Kitchen, Martha’s Table, THRIVE and the Capital Area Food Bank

Each week since March, Mitchell and Smith have managed a multi-faceted operation that provides critical food supplies to area residents who have been among the hardest hit by the COVID virus. Working with Building Bridges staff and other volunteers, they ensure that items are readily available and distributed in an orderly fashion, rain or shine. The week before Thanksgiving more than 500 cars showed up at THEARC for supplies. The program will continue throughout the winter.

Rahsaan Bernard, president of Building Bridges, nominated them for the award.

As Washingtonian notes: “Much has become uncertain during the pandemic. But for the 72 previously homeless families who now have places to live thanks to Building Bridges to a Better Life, there’s one thing they can count on: Rhonda Mitchell and Lisa Smith.”

“I could not have nominated two more deserving people,” Bernard said. “Their tireless efforts, dedication, and courage to serve the community, being on the front lines since the beginning of this pandemic from our doorsteps here at THEARC, is awe-inspiring!”

More about Mitchell and Smith, and the other honorees, can be found here.


WC Smith (www.wcsmith.com) is a Washington, DC-based multidisciplinary real estate firm, providing integrated property development and property management services to the Washington metropolitan area for more than 50 years. Since our founding in 1968, we have built communities across all 8 wards of Washington that uniquely combine the city’s long-term vision for growth with our residents’ vision for how a neighborhood best serves their needs and desires.

ABOUT Building Bridges Across the River

Building Bridges Across the River (Building Bridges) provides residents East of the Anacostia River access to the best-in-class facilities, programs and partnerships in arts and culture, economic opportunity, education, recreation, health and well-being. Building Bridges Across the River was incorporated as a (501-c-3) nonprofit organization in 1997 to be the managing partner of THEARC, the state-of-the-art community center founded by WC Smith CEO Chris Smith. Building Bridges is the engine behind all of the facility’s services, programs and collaborations. Today, Building Bridges is expanding its footprint, leading programming and partnerships at THEARC, THEARC Theater, THEARC Farms, Skyland Workforce Center and the 11th Street Bridge Park.