More than a hundred women changemakers, including members of Congress, diplomats, journalists, and leaders in business, technology, and the arts, packed the first floor of Georgetown hotspot Cafe Milano on Wednesday afternoon for the inaugural DC Power Index Prize Luncheon.
Three industry leaders—acclaimed magazine editor Joanna Coles, Microsoft corporate vice president and cloud computing pioneer Teresa Carlson, and DeDe Lea, Paramount Global’s executive vice president for global public policy and government affairs—created the award series to celebrate “women who exemplify resilience, foster innovation, exhibit flexibility in times of crisis, and make a social and cultural impact.”
This year’s inaugural class of honorees included:
Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova for “her tireless advocacy and representation of her country during this year of crisis and war in Ukraine.”
Dr. Christine Grady, Chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, for “her contributions to the field of bioethics, particularly surrounding ethical challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
United States Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards for “her bravery and sacrifice in defending the US Capitol during the insurrection of January 6th, 2021.”
Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts and a partner in Monumental Sports & Entertainment, for “leading the way for women entrepreneurs, championing women in sports and her extensive philanthropic work.”
Denyce Graves, the Emmy and Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano, director, and alumna of the District’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts, for “her more than three decades of contributions to the musical arts, and for her leadership of the Denyce Graves Foundation, which shares the untold stories of underrepresented musicians who helped shape what American classical music is today.”
Melora Hardin, the Emmy-nominated actress, director, singer, and activist, known for her roles on The Office, The Bold Type, Monk, and Transparent, for “her authenticity in Hollywood, and for her groundbreaking and empowering performances.”
“DC is the most powerful city in the world, so you have to have the most powerful women congregating together, so it’s brilliant to bring this luncheon here,” said Lea.
Yaroslav Brisiuck, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Ukraine, accepted the award on behalf of Markarova, who was called away in support of Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenskyy’s trip to Washington this week. He stated: “This means a lot. It shows recognition of [Markarova]’s role as an advocate of Ukraine at these most challenging times in our history. We’re at war, we’re fighting, and she’s advocating for more support of the United States for Ukraine in this fight.”
“Every single one of these women has led by example and made an impact on our world,” concluded Coles. “They have not only inspired us, but collectively, they’ve touched the lives of millions of people in this country and around the globe. We are honored to showcase their accomplishments.”