Mac and Sandra Foster Birdsong: A combined legacy of dedication in Suffolk

Published 5:53 pm Monday, August 7, 2023

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By Eileen Gizara and Jackie Cherry

with Mac and Sandra Birdsong

Rotary Clubs of Suffolk

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In the vibrant city of Suffolk, two exceptional individuals have left an indelible mark through their unwavering commitment to community service and leadership — Mac and Sandra Foster Birdsong.

Mac, a leader in the peanut business, and Sandra, a devoted educator, have dedicated their lives to making a difference in the lives of the city’s residents.

The couple is being recognized remarkable achievements and contributions as Suffolk’s First Citizen for 2023.

With nearly 50 years of service in the peanut industry, Mac has been a driving force in shaping the business landscape. His influential role as chairman of the American Peanut Council and continued board membership at Birdsong Peanuts have contributed to the company’s remarkable success. Additionally, his presence on the BB&T Bank board underscores his significant contributions to the business community.

Beyond his business achievements, Mac’s most profound impact lies in his unwavering dedication to community service. Together with his wife, Sandra, Mac generously supports numerous charities, making a positive impact on the lives of many in Suffolk and beyond. However, his involvement goes beyond financial contributions, as he actively serves on the boards of various organizations, including Paul D. Camp Community College and the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

Mac’s leadership was instrumental in the success of the Suffolk Center’s capital campaign, raising an impressive $4.5 million for renovations. His tenacity, persuasiveness, and practical approach have earned him widespread respect and admiration, leading to accolades such as the J. Paul Council Community Service Award and the Community Champion Award.

Sandra ‘s passion for education began early in life. After obtaining her education degrees, she embarked on a teaching career, enriching the lives of students in various schools. In 1981, Sandra joined Nansemond-Suffolk Academy as a teacher, later becoming the director of instruction. Her dedication and commitment to the school and its students made her an invaluable member of the administrative team. Even after retiring in 1994, Sandra continued to serve NSA and the community, supporting the school’s growth and development.

Beyond her work in education, Sandra’s contributions extended to various community organizations. Her involvement in the NSA Capital Campaign “Our Saints. Our Future.” raised an impressive $8.4 million for the school. Additionally, she co-chaired NSA’s “Forging the Future” capital campaign, further supporting the institution. Sandra’s commitment to community service has made her a role model for all, inspiring others to make a difference in their communities.

Over the years, much of Sandra’s community service has been directed toward the local and regional YMCA. She served on the corporate board of the YMCA of South Hampton Roads for more than 20 years. In recognition of her service, she was selected as the recipient of “The Order of the Red Triangle,” the highest volunteer honor the YMCA awards. She also served as the chairman of the Suffolk Family YMCA Board of Management and was given the “Friend of Youth” award. She continues to enjoy soliciting donations for the Suffolk YMCA’s annual scholarship campaign.

In addition to her YMCA service, Sandra has served on the Riddick’s Folly Board of Directors, Nansemond Suffolk Academy Board of Trustees, Community Action Coalition of Virginia, Nansemond River Garden Club and as the public member of the American Board of Pain Management. Sandra is also a past chairman of the Louise Obici Hospital Auxiliary.

Sandra is an active member of Main Street United Methodist and currently serves on multiple church committees.

The combined legacy of the Birdsongs in Suffolk is a testament to the transformative power of dedication, community service, and leadership. Mac’s leadership in the peanut business and tireless community involvement, alongside Sandra’s unwavering commitment to education and community service, have enriched the lives of Suffolk’s residents. Their legacies will continue to serve as a beacon of inspiration, shaping the city’s trajectory for generations to come. Through their collective efforts, the couple has left an enduring mark on the city, making them both deserving candidates for the esteemed Suffolk First Citizen Award.

Suffolk’s 2023 First Citizen award presentation will be held September 21, 2023, at Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts (110 Finney Ave, Suffolk, VA 23434) September 21, 2023, beginning at 6 pm. Tickets for the event are $35 for Earlybird tickets (available until August 31) and $50 starting September 1. Tickets will be available online at