Vice Chairman, Arlington County Board
The Honorable J. Walter Tejada was elected to the County Board on March 11, 2003, in a special election. Reelected in 2007 and 2011, he served as Chairman of the Board in 2008 and 2013 and Vice-Chairman in 2007, 2011 and 2015.
A community advocate, Mr. Tejada has distinguished himself as a leader committed to enhancing the diversity of Arlington and the region’s community voice. During his tenure, he has reached out to local communities and encouraged residents to be active participants throughout the County and the Washington Metropolitan region. He has been instrumental in convening community stakeholders to address a wide-range of issues such as affordable housing, civic engagement and volunteerism, community and economic development, education and employment, parks and recreation, tenant outreach and empowerment efforts, youth development programming, health and fitness, and nonprofit assistance.
Relentless in his commitment to promote and support civic participation and representation, Mr. Tejada has been instrumental in the establishment of various initiatives and programs. These include leading the way to the establishment of the Office of the Public Defender, the Arlington Non-Profit Assistance Center, and the Community Volunteer Network (formerly known as the Community Role Models) providing leadership development and service opportunities for young adults.
Mr. Tejada’s work has earned the respect of local, state, regional and national leadership, and he has joined many efforts shaping policies on multiple levels. Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner appointed Mr. Tejada to serve as the first Chairman of the Virginia Latino Advisory Commission. In 2006, Mr. Tejada was appointed by Governor Timothy Kaine to the Governor’s Urban Policy Task Force.
Regionally, in 2004 and 2005, he was elected to serve as chairman of the Human Services Policy Committee of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) and continues to represent Arlington in COG’s Human Services and Public Safety Policy Committee, to which he was again elected chairman in 2015.
He has been a member of the National Association of Counties’ Member Programs and Services Committee and the Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee, and currently serves on their Transportation and Healthy County Committees. He was appointed chairman of NACo’s 2009-2010 and 2012-2013 Immigration Task Force, and is the current vice chairman. In 2009, he was elected president of the National Association of Hispanic County Officials, a sub-division of NACo. He currently serves on the Virginia Association of Counties Board of Directors and the Administration of Government Steering Committee. In 2011, Mr. Tejada was elected to represent region III (DC, MD, VA) in the National Association of Regional Councils, an organization that advocates for cooperation among regional leaders.
In 2010 he began serving on the Board of Directors of the national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, National Council of La Raza. He also serves as a member of the Hispanics for a Fair Judiciary Advisory Committee, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History Latino Advisory Council, and DC United’s Hispanic Advisory Committee.
Mr. Tejada frequently participates as a panelist in conferences around the country, where he is invited to speak on diverse topics ranging from local government issues to immigration, education, and civic engagement.
A resident of Arlington for over 20 years, Mr. Tejada was a community leader prior to his election to the County Board. He served on a number of citizen advisory groups including the Fiscal Affairs Advisory Commission, the Affordable Housing Task Force, the Sports Commission, the Neighborhood Day Organizing Committee and the Bicentennial Celebration Task Force.
He is a former Virginia State Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the founding chairman of the state-wide Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations, the founding president of the American Salvadoran Association of Virginia and of the former Latino Democrats of Virginia.
He has also been an active member of the Immigrant Rights Coalition of Greater Washington, the United Salvadoran Communities, the Arlington Sister City Association, the Arlington Community Foundation Scholarship Review Committee, the United Way Grants Review Committee, and the Arlington Multicultural Institute.
Mr. Tejada has received many awards for his years of activism, including the “Spirit of Community Award” from the Arlington Community Foundation and “Outstanding Young Arlingtonian of the Year” from the Arlington Jaycees.
In 2007, Mr. Tejada was selected by the Center for Non-Profit Advancement to receive the prestigious Phyllis Campbell Newsome Public Policy Leadership Award for creating the non-profit assistance network in Arlington and supporting non-profits across the metropolitan region. That same year, Mr. Tejada was recognized by the Ethiopian Community Development Council with the “Distinguished Service Award” in recognition of his leadership in enhancing the diversity of Arlington County’s community voice and for demonstrating through his personal and professional life the contributions immigrants make to the nation.
In 2008, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials nominated Mr. Tejada, and he was awarded, the prestigious “Ohtli Award”, given by the Mexican government to distinguished Latinos for their service and support of the Mexican community living in the United States.
Mr. Tejada was also honored with the 2011 Immigrant Advocate of the Year Award by the Capital Area Immigrant Rights Coalition for his continued support of immigrants’ rights.
In 2014, Mr. Tejada received the prestigious Livable Communities Leadership Award from the Coalition for Smarter Growth for his efforts to craft transit policies while preserving affordable housing.
Additionally, the Greater Washington Ibero American Chamber of Commerce presented him with the “Appreciation Award” for his support of the Latino Business and Entrepreneurial Community in our region. The United Consuls of Latin America recognized him as a “Special Friend of the Community” for his tireless labor and support for the people of the Metropolitan Area. He was also honored by both the Youth Project “Community Leader Award” and the DC United “Community Hero Award”, and he has been recognized by both the American Soccer League of Arlington and the Arlington Bolivian Soccer League for his continued support.
Born in El Salvador, Mr. Tejada moved to the United States at the age of 13. He studied Government and Communication at George Mason University and has worked as an investigator, a business consultant and as an aide to Congressman Jim Moran.