Bouweiri, Cook Celebrated for Community Contributions

The Loudoun Laurels Foundation on Friday celebrated the contributions of two community leaders during a gala ceremony that raised money to provide college scholarships.

            Reston Limousine founder and CEO Kristinan Bouweiri and longtime community volunteer Di Cook were inducted as the newest Loudoun Laurels during the program.

            While growing Reston Limo into a nationally-awarded transportation company over the past 28 years, Bouweiri is credited with helping improve the county through her networking and philanthropic efforts. Through Reston Limousine alone, she has overseen the donation of more than $1.5 million in in-kind services to charitable organizations. She founded the Sterling Women networking group and co-founded the Virginia Women’s Business Conference to empower fellow businesswomen in the area. She also is a charter member of 100WomenStrong, which provides grants to support nonprofits in the county. She has personally helped raise more than $500,000 for charities in Loudoun County, nationally, and even internationally. Other notable efforts are the donation of over $200,000 to Loudoun County charities through Sterling Women and more than $800,000 donated through the “Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate” and “Partini” events.

            She also is a founding member of the Loudoun CEO Cabinet and has served on the boards of the Inova Loudoun Hospital Foundation, Loudoun Education Foundation, Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, Visit Loudoun and Leadership Loudoun. 

            Bouweiri highlighted the influence of her parents, whose work in the foreign service included tours in South America and Africa. “My father was an adventurer, so he always picked the hardship posts,” she said, adding that he also insisted that the family live in the community rather than a U.S. compound. “We saw a lot of poverty and we saw a lot of hardship. My parents lived by example by always helping other people.”

Reston Limousine President and CEO Kristina Bouweiri addresses the audience at the 2019 Loudoun Laurels Foundation gala following her induction. [Norman K. Styer/Loudoun Now]

            She attended boarding school in Swaziland as a minority—a white Christian—with classmates who included the children of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. “When you live as a minority, it is a life-long lesson of what that feels like. It really shaped who I am today.”

             After college and a stint with a nonprofit in Somalia and Kenya, she returned stateside, took a job selling advertising and met her future husband, William, when selling him an ad for his company, Reston Limousine. She joined the company and soon they were married. 

            Early on, she focused her charitable outreach on helping sick children, such as providing limo rides for the Make A Wish Foundation—in part because the now-mother-of-five was having difficulty conceiving. “I’m very proud of this,” she said of the $1.5 million in donated services the company has provided. “Not only were we giving, but often our chauffeurs would say they didn’t want to get paid. We have a corporate culture of caring at Reston Limousine.”

            “When you start giving and you see how it makes you feel, you just want to give more,” she said.

            After a childhood that featured moves to new communities every three years, Bouweiri said it was important to put down roots in Loudoun County. “This is where I’ve lived for 20 years and we have amazing strengths in this county and one of the best ones is how much giving everyone does,” she said.

            Through her service to Loudoun’s nonprofit community, Di Cook is credited with impacting the lives of countless children, veterans and their families, as well as supporters of the arts. With her family foundation, she supports organizations that provide food, health care and training to Loudoun County residents with the greatest need for life sustaining services.

            For more than 20 years, she has played leadership roles in organizations that support local artists and artistic projects, garden clubs and flower shows locally and throughout Virginia.

            As a member of the George C. Marshall International Center board, Cook led the effort to engage the Garden Club of Virginia to create a plan for the restoration of Dodona Manor’s garden and grounds to their appearance during the years in which the Marshalls lived in Leesburg. As a member of the Morven Park board, she worked to expand educational programs and events that increased tourism and enhanced visitors’ knowledge of the county’s rich history. She also was instrumental in involving the Garden Club of Virginia in the design and implementation of the plans for Morven Park’s gardens and grounds. She has also served as president of the Loudoun Arts Council, and in leadership positions in the Leesburg Garden Club and the Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club.

Longtime Loudoun County civic volunteer Di Cook addresses the audience at the 2019 Loudoun Laurels Foundation gala following her induction. [Norman K. Styer/Loudoun Now]

            She was born at Rock Spring Farm in Leesburg, which has been in her family for more than 120 years. After growing up in the same house where her mother was born at a time when Leesburg had a population of 1,500 people, Cook said, “I thought it was a great place to leave.”

            She found that adventure while on a blind date, hosting a Naval Academy cadet during a crew competition at her college in Boston. She married John H. Cook III the day after he graduated and began the life of a Navy wife in which they lived at 19 residences around the world over the next 16 years. 

            After they completed military service, Jack went to medical school at Yale and served a residency at the University of Virginia. When deciding where they would establish their permanent home and Jack’s medical practice, they both made lists of the things that would be important to them. 

            She described that life-changing moment to the audience: Jack said, “These are very much the same. You know where this is, don’t you?” I said, “Yes, Napa Valley, California.”

He said, “No, it’s Leesburg, Virginia.”

            “Well, it was a good decision,” she acknowledged, to laugher from the crowd.

            “All of the volunteer work I have done, I felt in many ways they gave me more than I gave to them. They enriched my life. They made friends for me. They taught me something I hadn’t known before, perhaps. And I was back in my hometown and I felt like I had reestablished myself and grown here and I’m happy to be here,” she said.

            Dr. Cook was inducted as a Loudoun Laurel in 2014, making the couple the third husband and wife to be honored through the program. Judy and Land Washburn were inducted in 2010 and Karen and Fred Schaufeld were inducted last year. 

            In its 12th year, the Loudoun Laurels program recognizes community leaders for their service through its annual awards program and seeks to support the next generation of community leaders through mentorship and scholarships. Since 2013, the Trust has awarded 18 scholarships of up to $10,000 per year for each student to pay tuition and fees for each of the recipients during their four-year term in college or university. The Trust seeks out students who demonstrate an early understanding of the importance of commitment to their community with the goal of engendering in them a greater understanding of stewardship as the keystone of their sense of civic responsibility.

            This year, the Loudoun Laurels Stewardship Trust awarded three scholarships to graduating seniors who participated in the CAMPUS and AVID programs, which are designed to help students overcome challenges in the pursuit of a college education.

This year’s scholarships were presented to:

• Maria-Paula Proano, a graduate of Riverside High School who participated in the CAMPUS program. She will attend George Mason University to major in psychology and plans to continue in graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in special education.

• Luis Gamboa Roble, a graduate of Park View High School who participated in the AVID program. He will attend George Mason University to study environmental sustainability.

• Eduardo Trujillo, a graduate of Tuscarora High School who participated in the AVID program. He will attend George Mason University to study biomedical engineering.

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