Barbara Fried

Germanna Community College President Janet Gullickson (left) chats with Barbara Fried at the recent dedication of the college’s Barbara J. Fried Center.

STAFFORD — Before introducing Barbara Fried, for whom Germanna Community College’s new center in Stafford County is named, Germanna President Janet Gullickson wanted to offer a personal thank you.

“Many of you know how hard it was — and is — to be a professional woman,” Gullickson said during a recent ceremony to officially dedicate the Barbara J. Fried Center.

Turning to address Fried, Gullickson continued, “I can only imagine how hard it was for you to do what you did and for that, I just want to thank you.”

The Fried family’s $1 million gift to Germanna in 2015 was the first step toward establishing a permanent campus in Stafford County.

Classes were first held at the Fried Center, which is located near Stafford Hospital, in June 2018. The center offers all Germanna programs, including cyber security, business administration and nursing, which started there in January 2018.

The center is located in a leased building, but a permanent Stafford campus will soon be built, and Barbara Fried’s name will follow it.

The Barbara J. Fried Center is the first building on a Germanna campus to be named for a woman, Gullickson said.

It represents the latest in a long line of groundbreaking achievements for Barbara Fried — from winning a scholarship to the University of Chicago at age 16, to being one of only five women in her class at the University of Chicago law school in the 1950s and passing the bar at age 21, to fiercely advocating for people with disabilities before the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed.

“She definitely was groundbreaking in so many ways,” said Fried’s son, Adam, who recalled how his mother, with her cropped blond hair, would stand out among all the other mothers on the bleachers at his high school sporting events in the 1970s.

“She has a formidable amount of energy,” the CEO of Atlantic Builders added. “She worked side-by-side with my father developing a law firm in the 1960s. She worked all the time, but she always had time for us.”

Fried and her husband, Mark, who met at the University of Chicago, founded the Northern Virginia law firm Fried and Fried in 1962, and then the real estate development company Fried Companies Inc. in the 1980s. Their firm developed many neighborhoods in Stafford and Spotsylvania counties.

But all the time, Fried and her husband were also giving back to their community.

As an attorney and a philanthropist, Fried fought for access to education for people with disabilities, inspired by her son, Jon, now 57. Fried’s advocacy for her son led to him being able to graduate from West Springfield High School in Fairfax County the same year as his brother Adam, and her pro bono work for other families helped them navigate the legalese of the ADA.

Barbara and Mark Fried also founded Innisfree Village, a residential community for adults with intellectual disabilities in Crozet, where Jon now lives.

The community is a “life-sharing model of living,” meaning that residents and volunteer caregivers live as families and work together at the village’s bakery, weaving and woodworking shops and farm.

The Frieds also helped to establish the Great Expectations program across the Virginia Community College system. The program helps youth who have aged out of the foster-care system by providing mentoring and support so they can successfully graduate from college.

Barbara Fried, who lives in Albemarle County near Innisfree Village and is a member of the University of Virginia Board of Visitors, said she has always been passionate about access to education for all people, calling it essential to a successful democracy.

“Democracy doesn’t work without an educated public,” she said.

Fried grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Neither of her parents attended college.

“But just because they didn’t have the opportunity, doesn’t mean they didn’t know education is important,” she said.

“They were readers. There were all kinds of books on our shelves, and I read them all — even those I probably shouldn’t have read,” she joked.

Fried read about the University of Chicago and said the school “intrigued” her. She graduated one year early from high school and received a scholarship to her school of choice when she was just 16.

Fried has never forgotten that she was given an opportunity to make a better life for herself through education, and she wants to extend that opportunity to others.

“[My husband and I] both felt we had been given a great gift, and you give back,” she said.

The dedication was attended by members of the Stafford County Board of Supervisors, the Germanna Community College Board and the board of the Germanna Educational Foundation; the Stafford Economic Development Authority; representatives of U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine; and Germanna staff and students, among others.

Gullickson said enrollment at Germanna is up, and noted that half of the nursing students who were accepted this year wanted to attend classes at the Fried Center in Stafford.

She said the college is hoping to raise $500,000 a year to expand into the second floor of the leased building to accommodate all the students.

Fried’s son Adam, who with his wife, Rhonda, was honored by the Germanna Educational Foundation in 2016 for philanthropy, said he is “just so proud of his mom.”

“She’s usually so humble and behind-the-scenes,” he said.

In a few remarks of her own before cutting the ribbon to the Barbara J. Fried Center, Fried said she was “overwhelmed by so much love.”

“I’m glad I had a little tissue,” she said during a reception after the official opening. “What’s being done here at Germanna is just terrific.”

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