Tipper Gore. Alice Roosevelt Longworth. Mary Chapin Carpenter. Helen Hayes. Katherine Graham. Tori Amos. Maureen Dowd. Eva Cassady. Katie Couric. Mama Cass Elliott. Cokie Roberts. Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Roberta Flack. Dominique Dawes. Shirley MacLaine.
Every hometown has its heroes, and Washington, D.C. has seen its fair share of celebrity and stardom over the years. Giants of the stage and film. Famous authors. Legends of print and broadcast news. Political powerbrokers. Technological, scientific and mathematical wunderkinds. Olympic hopefuls, top athletes, and winning coaches. People of enormous intellect, talent and skill who were D.C. born-and-raised, and went onto do big things with their lives.
But, some notables, stars and celebrities don’t have to leave town to make it big. Others find a home in the D.C. metropolitan area. Here are my picks for the Most Influential Women, who make a difference and top DC’s Hot List today:
Born and raised: Chicago, Illinois
Achievement(s): Advancing sustainability and goes green with addition of vegetable garden in the White House. Formerly vice president of community and external affairs for University of Chicago. Harvard Law School and Princeton alum. A wonderful addition to the Washington, D.C. community.
Quote: “All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do – that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.” (Speech to Democratic National Convention, Denver, Colorado, August 2008.)
Sports Columnist, Television Analyst and Best-selling Author
Born and raised: Toledo, Ohio
Achievements: Major influence in sports writing. Strong focus on girls and women in sports has really made a big difference. Writes on hot topics that appeal to DC’s sports-driven girls and women. DC Soccer Moms take note!
Quote: “When the athletes come to the Olympic Games, it is rarely about the muscles anymore. It is all about the muscles between the ears.” (About women’s Olympic Ice Skating.)
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Born and raised: Washington, D.C.
Achievement(s): Tenth term as Congresswoman for the District of Columbia. First woman to chair the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Civil rights leader. Yale law school alum. Tenured law professor of law, and distinguished board member for several Fortune 500 companies. Incredible woman, treasured member of the D.C. community.
Quote: “A legislative nightmare,” (On Washington, D.C.’s status in Congress, in Norton biography, Fire in My Soul by Joan Lester.)
On air host, commentator
Born and raised: Washington, D.C.
Achievement(s): NPR commentator, author, and DC treasure. Exceptional interviewer, invites all political perspectives and opinions. A wonderful public radio host who makes civil discourse happen in the nation’s capital. The ultimate D.C. insider and bridge-builder extraordinaire.
Quote: “I feel fortunate to have spent so many years in broadcasting under the aegis of this fine University. Our goals have been one and the same: to expand horizons, and to promote a deeper understanding of the world around us.” (Commencement Address, The American University, May 13, 2007.)
Sheila C. Johnson
Philanthropist, Co-Founder Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Born and raised: Maywood, Illinois
Achievement(s): Billionaire philanthropist and doting mom. Global ambassador for CARE. Founder of Youth Strings in Action. President/administrator of the Washington International Horse Show. Managing partner for DC Mystics. Owner, Salamander Farm, Middleburg, Virginia. Demonstrates how women of great vision can make a difference in so many areas, from culture and music to health care and philanthropy. DC’s ultimate “can do” woman.
Quote: “I realized that after I graduated from high school, I always had a drive in me that desired to be the best that I could be. But still, I believed you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (2002 speech at her Alma Mater, the State University of New York at Morrisville, as quoted by the New York Times.)
Patricia A. McGuire
University President, Trinity Washington University
Born and Raised: Philadelphia, PA
Achievement(s): Oversaw transformation of Trinity, doubling enrollment during her tenure at this Catholic institution. Spearheaded $20 million athletic complex, largest facility in nation focusing on “women and girls in sports.” Former Dean, adjunct professor, Street Law Project administrator for Georgetown University Law School. Legal affairs commentator for award-winning, children’s newsmagazine “30 Minutes” for CBS. Georgetown Law Center alum. Strong leader for the times. Has made an incredible contribution to educational and religious affairs in Washington, D.C.
Quote: “Acknowledging the differences of opinion, respecting the histories and traditions of the people affected, and encouraging continuing dialogue are all part of the exercise of wisdom that should be the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of a great nation.” (On Obama Administration’s early efforts to reach out, bridge differences, in “Wisdom Growing with Power,” President’s Blog, Trinity, Sunday, June 7, 2009.)
Political pundit, editor, columnist, award winning author
Born and raised: Queens, New York
Major Achievement(s): Contributing editor for Newsweek magazine. Has appeared in several films. Regular panelist, lone liberal ranger at times, on nationally-syndicated show, The McLaughlin Group. Terrific reporter, and wonderful asset to the Washington, D.C. community. Super smart, DC political correspondent.
Quote: “It’s a complicated set of opinions that women bring to the voting booth.” (Eleanor Clift.)
Cookbook author, Host of PBS series
Born and raised: Providence, Rhode Island
Major Achievement(s): “Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan”, PBS. guest curator of Food Culture USA at 2005 Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Regular contributor to the New York Times, other outlets, a tremendous addition to the Washington, D.C. cultural scene.
Quote: “She always looks at it for recipes, even though I’ve written nine cookbooks,” Nathan says. “She considers it her Bible.” (About her 95-year-old mother’s favorite cookbook, The Settlement Cookbook by Lizzie Black Kander, 1901)
Political correspondent, columnist, award-winning author
Born and raised: Winchester, Kentucky
Major Achievement(s): Too many to list. 57 years with UPI. White House Correspondent for 40 years. Glass ceilings didn’t have a chance with Mrs. Thomas. A Washington legend.
Quote: “Thank you, Mister President…” (Ritual ending of U.S. Presidential News Conferences from John F. Kennedy to William Jefferson Clinton.)
Editor-in-chief of Health Affairs
Born and raised: Philadelphia, PA
Major Achievement(s): On-air correspondent with PBS’ “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer” formerly economics correspondent with U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek. Award winning reporter. Dartmouth alum, and the very first woman to chair Da
rtmouth’s board. Member of Council on Foreign Relations. Fantastic addition to health care dialogue in Washington, D.C.
Channel 4 News Anchor and Washington, D.C. treasure
Born and raised: Washington, D.C./Arlington, Virginia
Major Achievement(s): Founder, co-chair, Washington 100, philanthropic organization of women who contribute $10,000 each to invest in local programs helping women and girls. Emmy award winning reporter, medical reporter. A real Washington tradition. Spearheads Channel 4’s Health Expo.
Quote: “Look what we’ve accomplished,” at the 2008 Washington Area Women’s Foundation banquet. (2008’s Washingtonians of the Year: Doreen Gentzler, by Leslie Milk , Ellen Ryan, Washingtonian, January 2009.)
Joan A. Kuriansky, Esq.
Executive Director, Wider Opportunities for Women (WOW)
Major Achievement(s): Strong advocate for economic independence for women. First president of My Sister’s Place, former Executive Director of Older Women’s League. Member of DC Workforce Investment Council that oversees the DC workforce system and Project Labor Agreement Task Force on Nationals Stadium, Washington, D.C. Leading the charge for a better economic future for girls and women in the nation’s capital, and changing the dialogue on the real cost of living for women and elders everywhere.
Quote: “Lincoln and Maxine Marty worked hard, played by the rules, and paid into the system all their lives. Now, retired in their 80s, they struggle daily to make basic ends meet. Yet, the Census Bureau, in its recent release of poverty data ignores their struggles. The Census Bureau could do better.” (See “New Poverty Data Offers Only a Glimpse of the Struggle Women and Elders Face to Make Ends Meet, ” Statement in support of McDermott bill that would require U.S. Census Bureau and National Academy of Sciences to adopt a new methods and data sources to measure impoverishment, August 26, 2008.)
Home Page – White House
Home Page – Christine Brennan
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton
WAMU – Diane Rehm
Home Page – Eleanor Clift
Home Page – Helen Thomas
NBC Channel 4 – Doreen Gentzler
Health Affairs Blog
Home Page – A Powerful Noise
PBS Jewish Cooking
Trinity Washington University