The Washingtonian took the measure of area power brokers in a 1993 article titled “The New Establishment.” The clout of Washington’s ruling elite, the story said, was eroding as the suburbs grew and local businesses and banks were bought up by national companies.
No longer could a few establishment figures—say, the DC mayor, the head of a big local bank, the president of the Board of Trade—meet for lunch, kick around ideas, and set the region’s course.
In retrospect, the 1993 list seems a cozy group. The forces of change described in that article continued to remake Washington as a bigger, more complicated place. Farmland was transformed into exurbs, a tech industry rivaling Silicon Valley’s was born, and the population swelled by 2 million, many of them immigrants.
Today fewer individuals hold sway over the entire region—it’s now too large and diverse. But each jurisdiction has seen the rise of a new set of power players. Some who were tapped for the New Establishment in 1993 still call the shots, but they’re joined by a lot of fresh talent.
This year our list of Washington’s most influential features 150 men and women. To identify them, we started with a survey of 2,100 area leaders by OpinionWorks, an Annapolis firm. We supplemented those results by sounding out key figures in various walks of life.
We excluded the area’s elected officials. It goes without saying that each has clout that’s important to his or her constituency. Nor did we include individuals who have only recently ascended to positions of power—Jim Dinegar at the Washington Board of Trade and Daniel Mudd at Fannie Mae, for example.
We also weeded out some very powerful individuals—reporter Bob Woodward, trade-association heads, and executives at Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin, to name a few—because they exercise clout primarily on the national scene.
The list shows some real-estate bias. As the region has grown and become more balkanized, the real-estate powers are among the few who bring change to the entire area.
If you think key Washington players are missing from this list, send an email to email@example.com and tell us about them. We’ll feature the top nominees in a future issue.