Coffee With Philomena Fitzgerald
A native Alexandrian combines a lifelong love of field hockey with an important role in the city's economic development public-private partnership
“I really love the city,” said native Alexandrian Philomena Fitzgerald about her home town.
Fitzgerald assists the city’s start-up and existing small businesses as the Small Business Program Manager for the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership (AEDP), a public-private partnership that promotes the city as a location for businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits.
An accomplished athlete at the then T.C. Williams High School and at the College of the Holy Cross, Fitzgerald keeps her passion for field hockey alive as a coach and co-founder of AVA Magic, the city’s first, and rapidly growing, field hockey club.
“I loved TC and I loved how diverse it is and how [there are] unique people from all walks of life. It really prepares you for the outside world. I really liked the sports world that TC had,” she said, “I definitely felt prepared [for college.] I feel like the AP classes that I took in high school…gave me a good foundation.”
Fitzgerald said, “When I look at the high school now, compared to when I went there, there are so many more options for types of classes. In my time there it would have been nice to know more about CTE (Career and Technical Education) classes.”
In high school Fitzgerald, the team captain, lead the Titans to a 2015 Patriot District field hockey championship as a senior. She was named Patriot District Player of the year and was first team all-conference, all-region, all-state and was named to The Washington Post All-Met first team. She was a member of the indoor track team and a captain of the soccer team during her senior year.
Fitzgerald graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, a minor in Dance, and a concentration in Africana Studies. She captained the Holy Cross field hockey team her senior year and was named to the Patriot League All-Tournament team.
She returned to Alexandria because, “My family’s here. And at the time I graduated [from college] it was 2020 so it was the pandemic. I came back and lived at home and I really wanted to find a job here to use my Economics degree.” She heard about a position at AEDP from a friend.
Fitzgerald confirms that the cost of housing is a challenge for young people in Alexandria. “I got really lucky there, too,” she said. She shares a condominium with a long-time friend.
Fitzgerald is a co-founder of AVA Magic, the city’s first field hockey club, where she is known as Coach Phil.
I love field hockey, my family loves field hockey—it gave me a lot of opportunities and it gave me a lot of confidence growing up. So, I wanted to provide the same space for my younger girls. It really started with my sisters.
When Fitzgerald was growing up she had to travel more than 45 minutes to play club field hockey. She found that 10 years later the same thing was true for her younger sisters.
We found a niche” where players could progress from an introductory level. “There wasn’t really a set-up where there were games constantly and practices constantly to build up field hockey as a sport in Alexandria. I saw a gap and my family and I came together [to create] a family business.
AVA Magic went from 20 players and two teams last fall to its current roster of 70 girls on six teams. AVA Magic plays in the Northern Virginia Alliance League which includes teams from Herndon, Great Falls, McLean and Chantilly. Fitzgerald coaches two teams with four other coaches who played field hockey in high school and college.
More information about AVA Magic, including sponsorship opportunities, is available
Fitzgerald is also one of the varsity coaches at Alexandria High School. “Fall is my busy season,” she said, “My weekdays are spent with the high school team.”
Fitzgerald said her role as AEDP’s Small Business Program Manager is to, “meet one-on-one with either start-up or existing small businesses in the city to help them get connected with our free resources. We have consultants in marketing, nonprofit start-up, HR [human resources].” AEDP’s services are free. More information about AEDP is available
Fitzgerald helps new business founders, many of whom seek to organize consulting businesses, select an appropriate legal entity or structure for their business. AEDP is funded by the City of Alexandria and issues quarterly reports in the Council Priorities newsletter.
AEDP reports quarterly reports about its activities, including the number of consultations with start-up or existing businesses and the programs it sponsors, in the City Council Priorities newsletter. The newsletter can be viewed
AEDP also analyzes real estate development and commercial leasing trends in its Market Report.
In May, Fitzgerald was named one of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce’s 2023 40 Under 40 honorees who are recognized for their “professional accomplishments, scholastic achievement, community impact and personal story.”
“It was really an honor,” she said, “It kind of gave me a push to do what I’m doing.”
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