News & Politics

10 Notable Washingtonians Who Are Actually From Here

“Wait, you really grew up here?” It’s a question natives hear all the time—especially those who’ve thrived in the federal city. Here’s what they know that you don’t.

1. Susan Rice

National-security adviser under President Obama and former US ambassador to the United Nations

Grew up in: Shepherd Park.

High school: National Cathedral School.

What did you enjoy about growing up here? “I appreciate the opportunities the city offered. I had the chance to intern on the Hill, to go to school with kids from varied backgrounds. I remember watching [former Egyptian president] Anwar el-Sadat bound out of his motorcade and wave just after signing the Camp David Accords.”

2. George Pelecanos

Novelist whose books include the DC Quartet detective series

Grew up in: Mount Pleasant, Langley Park, then Silver Spring.

High school: Northwood.

How can you tell if someone was born and raised in Washington? “They root for two football teams: Washington and anyone who is playing the Dallas Cowboys.”

3. Pat Buchanan

Author, political columnist, and senior adviser to three Presidents

Grew up in: Chevy Chase DC.

High school: Gonzaga.

Tell us about growing up in Washington. “One thing we all knew in the 1940s and ’50s was where the neighborhood movie theaters were—the Avalon, Apex, Calvert, Uptown, Silver, and the big one downtown, RKO Keith’s. Most are long gone. The amusement parks were Glen Echo and Marshall Hall, across from Mount Vernon, down the Potomac by boat.”

4. Diane Rehm

Longtime host and executive producer of The Diane Rehm Show

Grew up in: Petworth.

High school: Roosevelt High.

What misconception about Washington drives you crazy? “The idea that we’re out of touch with the rest of the country. I know many people in this city who care deeply about what’s happening in other parts of the country and who participate, in various ways, in international activities. That’s part of why I love this city so much.”

5. David Bradley

Owner, Atlantic Media

Grew up in: Westmoreland Hills.

High school: Sidwell Friends.

What misconception about Washington drives you crazy? “That lobbyists are all corrupt, that government officials live like pashas at taxpayer expense. Do people know that some House members attend receptions for the cheese and crackers, that some senators bunk together in group houses no better than a college dorm? These are ambitious men and women, but no more evil and no less good than the rest of the human race.”

6. Gina Adams

Senior vice president for government affairs, FedEx

Grew up in: DC’s Ward 8.

High school: Ballou.

How can you tell if someone was born and raised in Washington? “They love go-go, Chuck Brown, Ben’s Chili Bowl (pre-Obamas), Horace and Dickies, the Shrimp Boat (in its glory days), concerts, baseball and football games at RFK, roller skating at Kalorama and roller derby at the Washington Coliseum. And they remember real house parties back in the day.”

7. Brett Kavanaugh

Federal judge, US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit

Grew up in: Bethesda’s Westgate.

High school: Georgetown Prep, after attending Mater Dei for grade school.

What did you enjoy about growing up here? “The sports teams were fantastic. The Redskins, Bullets, Orioles, University of Maryland, and Georgetown dominated the 1970s and ’80s. No exaggeration to say that DC was the sports capital of the country in the ’70s and ’80s, like Boston has been in the 2000s.”

8. Denise Turner Roth

Administrator, General Services Administration

Grew up in: Anacostia.

High school: Bishop O’Connell in Arlington.

What did you enjoy about growing up here? “This is an amazing city where people have an immense amount of passion and drive. Growing up, I would walk past the Frederick Douglass House every day and dream about making a difference. Having the opportunity to work for the Obama administration has been an incredible privilege.”

9. Vernon Davis

Redskins tight end

Grew up in: Petworth.

High school: Dunbar.

How can you tell if someone was born and raised in Washington? “Usually, I can tell by their accent. If someone says, instead of Maryland, ‘Muriland.’ Or anytime you hear the err sound—like ‘Erc’ instead of Eric.”

10. Raul Fernandez

Illustrations by Jason Schneider.

Chairman and CEO of ObjectVideo and co-owner of the Capitals, the Wizards, the Mystics, and the Verizon Center

Grew up in: Silver Spring.

High school: St. John’s in DC.

What’s one thing every native knows about this city? “Change happens here fast, and often. Politically, every two and four years, you have the potential for a shift in the balance of power, and that has a lot of business and social implications.”

Executive Editor

Sherri Dalphonse joined Washingtonian in 1986 as an editorial intern, and worked her way to the top of the masthead when she was named editor-in-chief in 2022. She oversees the magazine’s editorial staff, and guides the magazine’s stories and direction. She lives in DC.