See How National Journal President Runs Her Household

Poppy MacDonald tries to not take parenthood too seriously.

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“I wouldn’t worry too much about following every blog post and review—or getting the best-rated stroller and signing up for a bunch of toddler classes,” advises Poppy MacDonald to moms-to-be. “It’s so overwhelming to consume all of the information directed your way. Looking back, I would have just asked the advice of a few friends, and then turned off the list-serve.”

Good call.

A spunky and youthful 39, when you first meet her it’s hard to imagine MacDonald as president and publisher of an influential media outlet—National Journal—but she is indeed one of the most impressive women in publishing. And when she’s busy on the work front, her husband, Brian, has it covered at home.

“I literally can’t remember the last time I went to the grocery store, other than to grab a bottle of wine or flowers for a dinner party,” says MacDonald. “And I haven’t cooked a meal since last Easter. It’s Brian who gets the kids off to school in the morning, packs their lunches, brings me coffee—I feel very fortunate to have that support at home and in life.”

As do their two children: Gill, 9, a sports-lover, and Marley, 7, who is fond of dolls, cooking, art, and picking Mom’s outfits. “I think I’m a mom who balances firm expectations with an excess of kisses and hugs, unconditional love, and downright silliness.” MacDonald’s kids know she is prone to impromptu dance parties, and when she’s too strict and serious, it’s Gill’s job to poke fun at her firmness. “It’s then I realize I might be taking parenthood far too seriously; he snaps me out of it.”

MacDonald and her family like to take advantage of living in Arlington, they spent lots of time at local parks when the kids were little, or taking the Metro to Reagan National to watch the planes take off and land, even running through the underground tunnels in Crystal City. “When they were young, these were the most exciting experiences of their lives.” Not a whole lot has changed as her children enter the tween years, just MacDonald’s awareness of setting a solid example. “I encourage them to be brave thinkers, with lots of love and support.”

Mom Code

Date-night restaurant:

Tachibana, at the sushi bar.

Restaurant with the kids:

Liberty Tavern.

Local family activity:

Walking on the amazing trails in North Arlington parks.

My friends would say I’m:

Up for adventure, and a hell of a lot of fun.

Dream vacation:

A dude ranch.


“Baby Lips,” by Laura Mercier.


I’ve worked for some great people: Jim Clifton, Justin Smith, and David Bradley.

Family tradition:

Vacationing on the Oregon coast.

Last book you read:

The Outsiders: Eight Unconventional CEOs and Their Radically Rational Blueprint for Success.

Night on the town or quiet dinner at home:

Quiet dinner at home.