1. Virginia Ali
The cofounder of Ben’s Chili Bowl has stood by her friend Bill Cosby—the only person besides President Obama who eats there for free. As accusations against Cosby mount, Ali also controls the fate of the comedian’s portrait on the restaurant’s exterior.
2. Ari Roth
The artistic director of Theater J stood up to pressure from donors displeased with criticism of Israel in his company’s annual Voices From a Changing Middle East Festival.
Last year, Arlington introduced anti-DUI caped crusader Soberman. Now the county has deployed his “better half,” SoberWoman, to cruise Clarendon bars on weekends and warn carousers away from drunk driving.
4. Bjarke Ingels
The Danish architect’s recently released plan to reshape the Mall wowed us, but we really want to know how he convinced the keepers of what he calls “the most heavily regulated piece of real estate on Earth.”
5. Stephanie Santoso
The White House’s first senior policy adviser for “making”—using new technologies to invent and fabricate products—fitted out the mansion’s holiday display with a robot simulacrum of the Obamas’ dog Bo.
6. Karl Racine
We want to know how DC’s first elected attorney general is going to define the duties and reach of the office with the people’s vote behind him.
Disinvited: Chris Browne
After earning praise for his management of Reagan National Airport, he’s been unable to turn around Dulles, which ranks third-worst of 36 US airports on Bloomberg’s Airport Frustration Index.
This article appears in the January 2015 issue of Washingtonian.
1. Eric Betzig
We’d toast the local Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher, whose work on new microscope technology led to a share in this year’s Nobel Prize in chemistry.
2. Brianna Keilar
With midterms over, CNN’s senior political correspondent turns to the Hillary 2016 beat. Keilar needs a decent meal before she hits the corn-dog circuit.
3. Robert Swedroe
The Lauren, his new “boutique” condo building in Bethesda, boasts a $10.5-million penthouse. We’d ask this architect for a virtual tour.
4. Abezash Tamerat
The Ethiopian-born founder of Artists for Charity, which benefits HIV-positive orphans, expands her auctions of artist-donated artwork from DC to New York.
5. Michael Dimock
The new Pew Research Center president can tell us whether the long-arc demographic changes still favor the Democrats.
6. Maki Onuki
The dancer whose “shining energy,” says the Washington Post, keyed the Washington Ballet’s fall performances celebrates her tenth season with the company by dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy in its tenth-anniversary Nutcracker.
Disinvited: Andy Harris
Saying no to drugs is admirable, but the congressman from Maryland, who vows to use “all resources” to block DC’s legal-weed measure, seems addicted to meddling in democratic processes, which is less admirable.
This article appears in our December 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
1. Martina Hingis
Seven years after her last appearance in a Grand Slam singles event, the Washington Kastles tennis star makes it to the final in women’s doubles at the US Open.
2. Richard Craig Smith
The Norton Rose Fulbright lawyer and former prosecutor has been retained by the NFL play-ers’ union to investigate Ray Rice’s spousal-abuse allegations and the league’s handling of the case.
3. Cynthia Hogan
A former Joe Biden aide who helped write the 1994 Violence Against Women act, she’s been hired by the NFL to head its DC lobbying operation. We’ll seat her next to Smith and eavesdrop.
4. Barry Trotz
The Washington Capitals’ new coach assigned lockers to the players based on what he expects from them. Fine—as long as he stays on the right side of Alex Ovechkin.
5. Britt McHenry
The former WJLA sports reporter, stolen by ESPN earlier this year, is helping give the network’s NFL pre-game show a feminine voice.
6. Erwin Andres
The Gorove/Slade civil engineer oversaw a report calling a proposed DC United soccer stadium “an excellent starting point” for revitalizing Buzzard Point.
Disinvited: Paul Pierce
For wearing a Celtics jacket at Derek Jeter’s last game at Fenway. We know he’s going into the Hall of Fame as a Celtic, but is it too much to ask to represent the Wizards while taking their money?
This article appears in our November 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
1. Richard Reyes-Gavilan
The DC Public Library’s new chief has a mandate to turn the decrepit but historic Mies van der Rohe-designed Martin Luther King Jr. library into a bustling flagship for the new-media era.
2. Megan Smith
We want to ask the Google executive named to replace Todd Park as the nation’s chief technology officer how she’ll balance privacy issues with the industry’s know-all, see-all impulses.
3. William Kennedy Smith
With his 1991 rape acquittal a distant memory (he hopes), the Kennedy scion and Foggy Bottom physician is running for an Advisory Neighborhood Commission seat in DC.
4. Esther Foer
The executive director of Sixth & I, a historic synagogue rededicated ten years ago, has created a multigenerational, multidenominational cultural hub that has revived a landmark.
5. Alan Kolick
An offensive star for Washington’s Ultimate Frisbee team, DC Current, the Arlington native was named Eastern Conference MVP on the Current’s way to the league national championship.
6. Rosalind Helderman
The Washington Post correspondent broke the story of Governor Bob McDonnell’s relationship with Jonnie Williams, always seeing the bigger issue in every sordid turn.
Disinvited: Henry Asbill
His risky "she was a witch" defense turned Bob and Maureen McDonnell's marriage into tabloid fodder without explaining the guv's "can I get another $20,000?" texts.
This article appears in the October 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
President Obama is expected to announce Thursday that he’ll nominate General David Petraeus, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency. With that move, the CIA will have completed its decade-long conversion into a paramilitary organization, focused primarily on hunting and killing terrorists and insurgents and less on trying to make sense of the world for decision-makers in government.
The CIA has long been divided between its two main cultures: clandestine operations and analysis. The stock of the latter fell in the wake of disastrous intelligence judgments, mainly those preceding the 9/11 attacks and the invasion of Iraq. But it was already in decline in the aftermath of the Cold War, as Washington’s power structure came to rely less on secret intelligence and more on public information in the press.
• Shaka Smart: The coach of Virginia Commonwealth University’s men’s basketball team has used national media criticism to motivate his players after they came to the NCAA tournament as an at-large selection. The way they’re playing has quieted some doubters, but can they ride their momentum to the Final Four and beyond?
• Amit Natanzon: Washingtonians love their pets, and Natanzon is at the forefront of a new movement in the local pet-care business. His Silver Spring store, Club Wags, is one of a number of shops that provide organic and health-oriented pet products. While it might seem like a luxe option, apparently he and his competitors are all thriving.
• Anita Josey-Herring: As the latest census reveals that the District is on the verge of losing its status as a majority-black city (the African-American population is down to 50 percent), we’d like to check in with the president of the city’s Jack and Jill chapter. We’d love to know what the region’s changing demographics mean for the group, which provides social and service opportunities for African-American youth.
• Tom Weschler. Weschler has an inside perspective on the difficult economic climate—his family has been running auctions in the District for 120 years. As a result, he’s seen what hard times are forcing Washingtonians to give up and what counts as a small treat during the recession.
• Mamie Locke. The chair of Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus wants a say in how the state’s congressional redistricts are reorganized next month. She and other lawmakers want to make sure Virginia lives up to the directives of the Justice Department, which says the Voting Rights Act means that when states have the opportunity, they should create districts where more than half the potential voters are members of racial minority groups and that they should try not to dilute the power of minority voters. It’ll be interesting to see how her push influences the final maps.
• Timothy Donner. The head of Great Falls-based Horizons Television may not have a lot of political experience, but as he weighs whether to jump into the Republican Senate primary in Virginia, knowing what it’s like to be on camera could be a real advantage.
• Marc Barnes. Washington may not be known for its nightlife, but Barnes has done his best to amp up the city’s club scene. After a high-profile bankruptcy and a higher-profile stabbing outside one of his clubs, the Park, can Barnes still set trends and act as a draw for parties far outside Washington?
• Catherine Pugh. The Democratic state senator from Baltimore is taking on what she says is a barrier to people getting the jobs they need in a tough economy: the fact that employers are allowed to check potential employees’ credit scores, even though those numbers may reflect hard times or a string of bad luck rather than a worker’s character or habits. If she’s successful, Maryland would become the fourth state to put limits on credit checks as part of employment applications.
• Rick Allen. The CEO of Ted Leonsis’s documentary-streaming Web site, SnagFilms, gets described as a “filmanthropist.” SnagFilms is providing an alternative distribution mechanism for movies that might never find national audiences otherwise. Right now, the site has 2,000 movies, but it’s hoping to double that number this summer. Leonsis and Allen are proving that Washington may not be the center of the movie business, but you don’t need to be in Hollywood to come up with good entertainment ideas.
• Judy Ford Wasson. As a member of Virginia governor Bob McDonnell’s Independent Bipartisan Advisory Commission on Redistricting, Wasson is one of the commissioners charged with shedding light on the back-room process of drawing political districts. Their decisions will play an important role in the upcoming state Senate and House of Delegates elections this year.
• Ben and Daniel Miller. Washington’s booming restaurant scene has no shortage of chefs with good ideas. The Miller brothers are helping their dreams come true with a $10-million fund dedicated to providing start-up support for Washington restaurateurs and retailers. We can think of a few vacant storefronts that could be great homes for new food and shopping outlets.
• Charles Meng. Washington might have survived the recession in better shape than the rest of the country, but the executive director of the Arlington Food Assistance Center sees another side of the economy. As the construction boom in the suburbs has faded, jobs for the working poor have vanished, creating a strain on the area’s food banks—one that will only get worse if gas prices go up, straining already-thin incomes.
• Trish Mayhugh. The Towson mother of three is one of the neighborhood advocates who have pushed Baltimore to think more carefully about the relationships among its colleges and universities and longtime residents. A new coalition, the Greater Towson Residential Task Force, is bringing together students and university and city officials to try to ease the friction between college students and the communities they live in. If it works, we’d love to see what solutions the task force might have for Washington universities and their neighbors.
• Bill Atkins. Who knew there was a museum dedicated to John Wayne in Bowie? Atkins, a commercial-real-estate agent, was a Marine at Camp Pendelton when Wayne shot Flying Leathernecks there, and he’s emerged as one of the country’s biggest Wayne fans, running the museum out of his office. So if the remake of True Grit didn’t do it for you, there’s a shrine for you to pay your respects within driving distance.