News & Politics

PHOTOS: 53rd Annual Meridian Ball

Dan About Town's photos from social Washington

Dinner at the White-Meyer House was but one of the 32 held around the city this year as part of the 53rd annual Meridian Ball, with all guests later convening at the Meridian House for dessert, drinks, and dancing.
Dan About Town

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Party photographer Dan Swartz’s diary of bashes, benefits, and galas.

After taking a brief hiatus last year due to the pandemic, the Meridian Ball returned more popular than ever on Friday night raising over $1.54 million for the Meridian International Center.

2021 Ball Co-Chairs André Pienaar (Founder and CEO of C5 Capital) and Teresa Carlson (President of Splunk).
Guests dance inside the black tie affair’s open air silent disco tent.
2021 Ball Congressional Co-Chairs Charles Kim, Representative Young Kim, Robin Hickenlooper, and Senator John Hickenlooper.
Afghan Ambassador Adela Raz, Ambassador Stuart Holliday (CEO of Meridian International Center), and Abdul Matin Bek.

Now in its 53rd year, the venerable gathering remains one of the city’s most sought after tickets for the fall social season.  It owes its popularity in part to its unique format, which consists of dozens of intimate Embassy dinners hosted by various Ambassadors around Washington followed by a lively late night reception on the grounds of the historic Meridian House proper.

John McCarthy (Senior Advisor to the Counselor to the President at The White House) and Steve Ricchetti (Counselor to the President at The White House).
The famed dessert room inside the Meridian House.
Clare Gallagher (Public & Diplomatic Affairs Manager at Netflix), Bela Bajaria (Head of Global TV at Netflix), and Rami Prochilo.
Gwen Holliday (Corporate Communications and External Relations, Optum) and Lee Satterfield (President and Chief Operating Officer at Meridian International Center).

Through changes in presidential administrations, societal upheaval, and times of national and global crisis, the Meridian Ball has persisted as one of the few events where government officials, diplomats, philanthropists, and business leaders across parties, borders, and backgrounds can set aside differences and come together for an evening of co-mingling and conversation. There are no VIP areas, no speeches, and no awards. It’s a unique format designed to facilitate discourse between Washington society and the diplomatic community and, dare we say it, allow people to have some actual fun!

Shawn Townsend (Principal at Dewey Square Group), Symone Sanders (Senior Advisor and Chief Spokesperson for Vice President Kamala Harris), Abby Phillip (CNN Senior Political Correspondent & Anchor), and Marcus Richardson.
Denise Grant, Carol Melton (CEO and founder of Adeft Capital), Timothy Lowery (General Manager of CityCenterDC), and Michael Zingali (Communications & Virtual Events Manager at Financial & Information Services Association).
Meridian House’s pebbled courtyard comes dotted by 40 linden trees, which were originally imported from Europe when the house was first built.
Anna Palmer (co-founder and CEO of Punchbowl News) and political consultant Patrick Mellody.

While the blueprint for the ball might not have changed, what did change this year were the precautions put in place to keep guests and staff safe.  Everyone in attendance, including vendors, were required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and also had to provide proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event.  Additionally, most of the after dinner reception was held outside and even the dance floor tent was open-air this year.

Steve Clemons (Editor at Large of The Hill), Dame Karen Pierce (British Ambassador to the United States), and United Kingdom Second Permanent Secretary Charles Roxburgh.
The entrance hall to Meridian House, which was designed by renowned architect John Russell Pope (who also designed the National Archives, the Jefferson Memorial, and the West Building of the National Gallery of Art).
Kim Sajet (Director of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery), Luke Frazier, Robert Pullen, philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, and Rt. Hon. Lord Gregory Barker of Battle.
Kate Bennett (CNN White House Correspondent), Jim Sciutto (CNN Anchor & Chief National Security Correspondent), and Gloria Riviera (ABC News Correspondent).

From the $25,000 raised in 1969 to this weekend’s record haul of more than $1,540,000, all funds raised go toward strengthening the nonprofit’s goal of  increasing “engagement between the United States and the world by developing and connecting global leaders through culture and collaboration.” Simply stated, sometimes a little (silent) disco goes a long way!

Ambassador Charles Rivkin (Chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association) and Susan Tolson.
Cecilia Vega (ABC News Chief White House Correspondent), Amanda McClements (Owner & Creative Director at Salt & Sundry), and Alexander Marquardt (CNN Senior National Security Correspondent).
Ball co-chairs Teresa Carlson and André Pienaar offer a toast to guests.
Artur Orkisz (Senior Congressional Affairs Advisor at the Norwegian Embassy), Lauren Culbertson Grieco (Head of U.S. Public Policy at Twitter), Norwegian Ambassador Anniken Krutnes, Heli Hautala, and Finnish Ambassador Mikko Hautala.
Jeremy and Robyn Bash and Yelberton Watkins (Chief of Staff for House Majority Whip James Clyburn).
Grace Bender and Marlene Malek.
The outdoor dessert fondue station.
Lesley Jackson, Ray Mahmood, Shaista Mahmood, Marcia Jackson, and Alphonso Jackson.
Al Williams (Chevron VP of Corporate Affairs) and Jay Thompson (Chevron Manager for International Government Affairs)
Lisa Jackson (Emerson Director of Federal Government Relations), Congressman Darrell Issa, Mike Train (Emerson SVP and Chief Sustainability Officer), Danielle Suber (Emerson Director of International Government Affairs)
The grilled cheese station was a particularly popular late night draw.
Nichole Francis Reynolds and Fred Reynolds III.
Stylist Joy Kingsley-Ibeh and celebrity makeup artist Erwin Gomez.
Whisky (and whiskey) tastings were available for sampling.