Guest List: Today’s Newsmakers

The Washingtonians in headlines today we’d like to have dinner with tonight

By: Alyssa Rosenberg

• Zal Batmanglij. This Potomac School and Georgetown University grad is one of three former Georgetown students who are screening movies at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Batmanglij’s effort, Sound of My Voice, takes on cults and secrets. We’d love to talk with him about making it big in the arts outside of Washington. It’s a subject in which Batmanglij has extra expertise—his brother Rostam is one of the founding members of the band Vampire Weekend.

• Ambassador Sameh Shoukry. Protestors are planning a demonstration outside the Egyptian Embassy on Saturday, but that’s likely the least of Shoukry’s concerns. The Egyptian diplomat, who has represented his country in Washington since 2008, will have to balance his attention between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton—who spoke today on the deteriorating situation in his home country, where hundreds of thousands of protestors have taken to the streets in defiance of Hosni Mubarak’s rule—and Mubarak himself. It may be better to be in Washington than in Cairo or Suez right now, but there are no easy answers for diplomats in the Middle East, whose countries have been convulsed by popular uprisings in recent weeks.

• DeRionne Pollard. The president of Montgomery College is suddenly in the crosshairs of the debate over illegal immigration. The community college allows undocumented immigrants to enroll as Maryland residents, thus qualifying for lower tuition rates—and Republican Delegate Patrick McDonough is suing the school to stop that policy. Pollard has been at Montgomery College only since August, but as the battle gears up, it sounds like other Maryland educators, including University System chancellor William Kirwan, will have her back.

• Pat DiBari. The president of the Virginia Autism Project won a significant victory for the families of people with autism when a Republican-backed bill requiring health insurers to cover certain treatments for the condition moved out of committee in the Virginia House yesterday. A Democratic senator has a similar bill pending, suggesting bipartisan support if the measure gets a full vote in both houses.

• Jim Zorn. Now that he’s been fired by both the Redskins and the Ravens—who let him go yesterday after deciding he hadn’t done enough to improve quarterback Joe Flacco’s performance—we imagine Zorn has a few things he’d like to get off his chest about Washington’s sports culture.

• Thomas Elder. The Chicago-based chef is following Michel Richard’s lead and joining the push to open up great restaurants in Tysons Corner hotels. Harth, his regionally sourced restaurant, will open in the McLean Tysons Corner Hilton in March. We’d be curious to know if he’s learned anything from Richard’s experiences—and to celebrate the latest chef to decide that Washington’s a destination city, not a culinary backwater.

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