NCAC honors Julia Mae-Shen Lesko, she is the first woman to serve as Council Commissioner. Julia is an integral part of NCAC, specializing in youth and adult training. She has trained Scouts and Scouters from around the world. Volunteers like Julia are what help NCAC provide our Scouts with quality programs and experiences.
When asked about her inspiration to continue her scouting journey through volunteering she stated: “I was a tag-along little sister to an Eagle Scout brother. My late father has been my inspiration in Scouting. He believed in the values of Scouting. He lived the values of Scouting every day. He instilled the value of Scouting in his children and his grandson. When my brother started in Cub Scouts, mom, and dad were den leaders. They would always have a table for me so I could do everything the boys did. When I was growing up, the BSA was not open to me, but I was a Girl Scout and an Explorer. I am so excited that Scouting has evolved into Family Scouting, and today there is a place for everyone in Scouting. Scouting has always been an important part of our family for three generations. I see how Scouting has had a positive impact on the life of my Eagle Scout son, his friends, the local community, and the global community.”
As a youth, Julia enjoyed Scouting as a Brownie, Girl Scout (First Class), and BSA Explorer (Scout Band). A passionate trainer, Julia is grateful for her many opportunities in Scouting to develop and deliver training to youth and adult leaders. She has developed training on three BSA national task forces: as chair of the Commissioner College Curriculum Update Task Force, as a member of the Wood Badge Update Task Force-Leadership Team, and as a writer of original training materials for the Cub Scout Roundtable Planning Guide Task Force. She has trained Scouts and Scouters from around the world at Philmont Training Center, Summit Bechtel Reserve, Florida Sea Base, and National Order of the Arrow Conference. She is the immediate past National Wood Badge Coordinator and a former Regional Wood Badge Coordinator, Northeast Region area training chair, Order of the Arrow lodge training adviser, council training chair, and council Wood Badge coordinator.
While in college and law school, Julia served as a Girl Scout leader, Philmont Training Center summer staff, and BSA Explorer Post advisor. When her son joined Pack 1861 in Clifton, VA, as a Tiger Cub in 2003, Julia became the assistant Cubmaster and later Cubmaster. In response to requests to help start new packs, Julia helped start Pack 1136 at a new elementary school in Sully District and Pack 187 at Fairfax United Methodist Church in George Mason District, where she continues to serve as the unit commissioner. Julia served 12 years as an assistant Scoutmaster and Goshen summer camp coordinator for Troop 187, and later as assistant Crew Advisor for Crew 4. During this time, she also served at the district level as a district training chair, assistant roundtable commissioner, day camp coordinator, and district nominating chair; and at the council level as an assistant council commissioner (ACC) in various roles, which includes five years as the ACC- Commissioner College Dean
During her 23 years as a Scouter, Julia serves regularly as an instructor and/or midway coordinator for Cub Scout Leader Pow Wow, University of Scouting, and National Camp School-Day Camp Administration. She also has served as conference faculty and chair for the Northeast Region Wood Badge Course Director Conference and as course director for Wood Badge and for National Youth Leadership Training. As the Goshen Training Initiative coordinator (2009-2019) prior to the pandemic, Julia set up and delivered adult leader training every year at Goshen Summer Camp Week 1, and recruited volunteer trainers to fill the other weeks. She also served on SCUBA staff at three national scout jamborees and on Visitor Experience staff at the last world scout jamboree.
Julia also shared “I am proud to serve as the Council Commissioner and chief morale officer of the National Capital Area Council. I give my heartfelt thanks to all the dedicated volunteers and professionals committed to making sure our Scouts and Scouters have a great Scouting experience as we join together to be the heart, build relationships, and change lives through Scouting!”
Julia believes in resilience and that we can make a positive difference in the lives of all youth through Scouting. A Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, Julia is the recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, Silver Antelope Award, Silver Beaver Award, District Award of Merit, NCAC’s Andrew D. Grafton Exceptional Trainer Award, Philmont Training Center Masters Track Award (and device), and numerous other square knot training awards.
She is the proud mother of Timothy Farr, an Eagle Scout and Vigil Honor member of the Order of the Arrow, married to Bethany St. Thomas, who earned her silver award and served as a Girl Scout ambassador. Julia is a member of Fairfax United Methodist Church, where she served 18 years as a handbell director, and founded the children’s handbell choir in 1991. A past Fairfax County Civil Service Commissioner and certified mediator, she is retired from serving as the Deputy Director for Case Management and Attorney Development at the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, where she had been regulating our nation’s freight railroads for over 34 years. She is married to Lieutenant Colonel (retired) John Lesko, an executive coach/facilitator, BSA COPE facilitator, and Wood Badge Scouter, who proudly serves as her wonderfully supportive aide to camp.
Thank you, Julia, for sharing your knowledge through training and being an amazing asset to NCAC’s Executive Committee.