Carrie Johnson: Creating a Lasting Community Legacy

Carrie Johnson’s name is synonymous with selflessness in Arlington. It is fitting, then, that she made provisions to support a number of charitable causes through her estate. The fund she established with Arlington Community Foundation was entirely consistent with the selfless way the longtime Arlington civic activist served her community.

“She wasn’t interested in credit,” says neighbor and Foundation board member John Andelin, who helped Carrie design her fund. “Her intention was to do something that mattered to the future of the community she loved.”

For years, Carrie served as the keeper of the voter lists on the Arlington County Democratic Committee, and she spent nearly two decades on the County’s Planning Commission. She also displayed a deep concern about preservation of her Ashton Heights neighborhood, and was instrumental in the creation of a style guide to help residents understand and protect the traditional homes and distinctive character of the neighborhood.

Carrie’s strong sense of preservation was reflected in the wording of her bequest, which stated that her gift’s purpose was to provide matching funds for projects that “preserve, protect, interpret or foster community understanding of historic, natural and/or recreational resources in Arlington.” According to Andelin, Carrie’s priority for the fund was to have it sustain modest but meaningful projects that the community also supported, ideally through volunteer efforts. To ensure the fund had longevity, she stipulated that it focus on smaller projects. In these ways, her philosophy was consistent with the Community Foundation’s own spending policy, which emphasizes preserving the purchasing power of gifts over the long-term and balancing the community’s short- and long-term needs for a perpetual stream of grantmaking dollars.

Carrie’s legacy gift through Arlington Community Foundation is a perfect reflection of an individual who cared more about lasting results than credit. Still, her impact in Arlington will be felt for generations through her generous investment in the community she called home.

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