A committed neighborhood, community, and business leader, Dak Hardwick has been a proud member of the Alexandria community for almost 15 years. As a candidate for the Alexandria City Council, Dak is prepared to tackle the tough challenges facing our city. He is dedicated to investing in education, upgrading our infrastructure, and revitalizing our local economy, and has the vision to offer long-term solutions to empower Alexandria and set the direction for our city for generations to come.
Dak’s long-time civic leadership has been focused on strengthening the community and achieving results through innovative, yet practical, solutions. He has held numerous leadership positions, including serving as chair or president of over half a dozen civic and political organizations in the last 10 years. He has the right experience and will provide the bold leadership necessary for our city.
Serving Alexandria and Virginia
Like many committed residents, Dak is dedicated to the City of Alexandria and the Commonwealth of Virginia. His service on key boards and commissions, including the city’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee, gives Dak both the experience and leadership on economic, transportation, and land use issues needed to empower our community to be strong, successful, and vibrant.
For nearly seven years, including two years as chair, Dak was a member of the city’s Budget and Fiscal Affairs Advisory Committee (BFAAC), a committee that provides advice and recommendations to the City Council on the annual operating and capital improvement program. During Dak’s tenure, he worked to improve the city’s budget, including the process for the how the committee delivered advice to Councilmembers.
Dak has also served on a number of land use and transportation advisory groups, giving him first-hand experience on how to empower Alexandria’s local economy for the future. Dak currently serves on the Eisenhower West Small Area Plan Implementation Group, which is focused on bringing new, transit-oriented development to the city’s Van Dorn and Eisenhower West neighborhoods. Dak has also been a key member in the planning for the city’s West End Transitway, a critical transportation project that will ease congestion in the Van Dorn and Beauregard corridors in the West End and bring important infrastructure investments to an underserved part of Alexandria.
Dak’s service extends beyond Alexandria to the entire Commonwealth of Virginia. In 2014, he was appointed by Governor Terry McAuliffe to the Virginia Aviation Board and currently serves as its Vice Chair. Through his work on the Board, Dak has seen the power of state investment in local communities and will bring that same focus to serving the residents of Alexandria.
Building Vibrant Neighborhoods
As a resident of the city’s Cameron Station neighborhood, Dak has worked tirelessly to seek improvements to the West End. He understands the importance of preserving and strengthening neighborhood vitality through common sense development, so all residents of Alexandria have access to safe, high-quality public facilities, and comprehensive transit to jobs, shops, and restaurants.
Dak served two terms as president of the Cameron Station Civic Association in 2011 and 2012. During his tenure as president, he successfully guided the first major redevelopment project in the Landmark/Van Dorn Small Area Plan, supported improvements at Armistead Boothe Park, and worked with city land use planners on new, mixed-use redevelopment adjacent to his neighborhood. For his efforts in Cameron Station and service to his community, Dak was awarded the Mark Pillow Award by the Cameron Station homeowners association in 2016.
Dak is committed to securing additional investments for the city’s West End. Dak played an important role in the planning of significant transit and transportation improvements in the Van Dorn and Beauregard neighborhoods. These transit improvements will provide significant infrastructure investment in West Alexandria, benefiting and empowering the next generation of residents.
Dak has also been focused on the redevelopment of the Landmark Mall site, a critical part of securing the future of the West End for all of Alexandria. As a member of City Council, Dak will prioritize the redevelopment of Landmark to a new, active destination.
Strengthening Alexandria’s Economy
Dak has worked to support Alexandria’s small business community through key roles in the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, including serving as its Chairman. Through his work with the Chamber, he has seen firsthand the importance of empowering a local economy with a long-term vision and plan for economic development in Alexandria, including attracting business investment into the local economy benefitting all Alexandrians, and supporting locally owned businesses.
Dak joined the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce in 2014. As chair of the Chamber’s Government Relations Committee, Dak refocused the Chamber’s efforts to strengthen Alexandria’s economy through business expansion. As a result of those efforts, Dak was selected to serve as the Chairman of the Board in 2017.
Under Dak’s leadership, the Chamber expanded its membership, grew its finances, renewed its community relationships, and broadened its outreach to attract new business owners. Dak created a plan of action in 2017, called Tomorrow’s Alexandria, and focused the Chamber’s efforts on empowering Alexandria for the next 30 years. He initiated a series of programs challenging the business and civic community to consider new alternatives to solve some of the city’s long-standing issues.
Beyond his position as Chamber Chair, Dak was the leading architect in developing the Chamber’s 40 Under 40 awards program, an effort to promote the next generation of Alexandria leaders in business, government, and non-profit organizations. In two short years, the 40 Under 40 program has become a community-wide celebration of the up-and-coming leaders in Alexandria and the region, harnessing a leadership energy that will benefit Alexandria for years to come.
Dak knows businesses and entrepreneurs are an important part of civic life in Alexandria. As the Chamber of Commerce representative to the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership Board, he also knows that growing Alexandria’s economy is critical to finding solutions to our long-term investment challenges. Dak will continue his economic sustainability work as a member of City Council to strengthen Alexandria’s local businesses, secure the city’s financial future, and expand core services to all residents.
Empowering Our Community
Dak’s involvement in the community extends to helping to lift up those in need. As a past president of the New Hope Housing Board of Directors, Dak worked to end veteran homelessness. Dak understands that for a community to be truly strong, every single person must be empowered to succeed.
Drawing on the example set by his mother Roberta, a teacher, and father Bob, a local banker, Dak has always sought the opportunity to help those who may need an extra lift. In Alexandria, he found that outlet through New Hope Housing, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending homelessness in Northern Virginia. Dak served on the New Hope Housing Board of Directors for six years, including a term as president of the Board.
During his Board tenure, Dak supported an initiative by the New Hope Housing staff to effectively end veteran homelessness in Alexandria. Through his leadership and by advocating for veterans experiencing homelessness in Alexandria before the City Council, the Alexandria community was able to bring an end to veteran homelessness. Dak continues to support the New Hope Housing mission and the fight to end homelessness in Northern Virginia.
Supporting Democrats in Virginia
Dak has been committed to electing Democrats in Virginia and been active in Democratic politics for over 30 years. As chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee in 2012 and 2013, he worked to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, from President Barack Obama and Governor Terry McAuliffe to members of the Alexandria City Council. As president of the Democratic Business Council of Northern Virginia, he has worked to find business solutions for Virginia that embrace Democratic values.
Dak has been active in Democratic politics for over 30 years and has been a leader in Alexandria Democratic politics for the past 10 years, including serving as chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee (ADC). During Dak’s tenure, the ADC achieved an impressive 18-0 record in supporting the election of Democratic candidates, including the reelection of President Barack Obama and the election of Tim Kaine in 2012, as well as the election of Terry McAuliffe as Governor of Virginia in 2013. The ADC made strides to modernize its ability to conduct outreach to voters during Dak’s tenure, including hosting Democratic debates for the first-ever City Council primary, drawing hundreds of Alexandria residents to hear from the candidates.
In 2013, Dak was also elected to the 8th Congressional District Democratic Committee and served as a member of the Democratic Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee.
Since completing his term as chair of the ADC, Dak has continued his political activism by serving as president of the Democratic Business Council of Northern Virginia (DemBiz), a business-focused organization dedicated to finding Democratic-centered business solutions for Virginia. In this role, Dak has guided the organization as it connects business-minded Democrats working to grow business and expand Virginia’s economy.
More About Dak
Dak is the Assistant Vice President for International Affairs at the Aerospace Industries Association where he specializes in trade and export policy for the aerospace and defense sector. A former Presidential Management Fellow, Dak is a member of the Truman National Security Project, an organization dedicated to cultivating progressive national security leadership. He also serves as the Vice Chair of the Industry Trade Advisory Committee for Aerospace Equipment, a federal advisory group jointly appointed by the Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative.
He is a 2011 graduate of the Sorensen Institute’s Political Leaders Program at the University of Virginia, and holds a bachelor’s degree in public affairs from Indiana University-Bloomington and a master’s degree in public administration from West Virginia University.
Married for over 10 years, Dak and his wife Mary Beth live in the Cameron Station community in Alexandria’s West End. In his free time, Dak is an avid collector of original vintage posters from the 1920-1940s, with a particular focus on posters from World War I and World War II. When he’s not working in the community, you can find Dak spending as many summer nights as possible at Nationals Park, cheering on his beloved Washington Nationals.