In a city known for its power lunches, the new DC Power Index tops them all. Building on the incredibly successful Power 100 Lunch created by legendary magazine editor Joanna Coles, on Wednesday, July 20th, Coles was joined by Microsoft corporate vice president and cloud pioneer Teresa Carlson, and media powerhouse DeDe Lea, Paramount Global’s executive vice president for global public policy and government affairs, as hosts of the DC Power Index Prize and awards lunch at Cafe Milano in Georgetown.
“Women from D.C. have been traveling to New York for the last decade for the Power 100 lunch, but there are so many extraordinary women here in Washington, we wanted to broaden the scope of those we honor,” Coles told The Hill.
“Washington is where women are running congressional committees, newsrooms, museums, embassies, and foundations. We’re breaking stories, creating public policy, interpreting the law, and enforcing it,” the former Cosmopolitan editor-in-chief said.
The DC Power Index celebrates women who exemplify resilience, foster innovation, exhibit flexibility in times of crisis and make a social and cultural impact. Recipients of the first DC Power Index Prize included: Ambassador Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Denyce Graves, the Emmy and Grammy award-winning mezzo-soprano, director, and alumna of DC’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts; Sheila Johnson, founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts and a partner in Monumental Sports & Entertainment; Melora Hardin, the Emmy-nominated actress, director, singer, and activist, known for her roles on The Office, The Bold Type, Monk and Transparent; Dr. Christine Grady, chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health and wife of Dr. Tony Fauci; and Officer Caroline Edwards of the United States Capitol Police, for her bravery and sacrifice in defending the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection of January 6, 2021.
The 120 powerful women gathered at the red-carpeted event to mingle over champagne before taking their seats for the lunch. Joanna kickstarted the event by first presenting the Power Index Prize to Dr. Christine Grady for her contributions to the field of bioethics, particularly surrounding ethical challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grady has been married to Dr. Anthony Fauci for the last 37 years, and in the wake of his recently announced retirement, we asked Dr. Grady what she and her husband’s plans were. Her response? “We have some plans, you know, going from a 16 to 18-hour workday to something else is going to be very different.” It certainly will be.
Dr. Grady’s award acceptance was followed by Melora Hardin, for her authenticity in Hollywood, and for her groundbreaking and empowering performances; and then Yaroslav Brisiuck, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Ukraine, who accepted the award for Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova for her tireless advocacy and representation of her country during this year of crisis and war in Ukraine.
Brisiuck made a powerful and moving speech on the tumultuous year that Ukraine has had, and the importance of the US’s allyship with the struggling nation. “This means a lot. It shows recognition of her 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” Brisiuck said.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) then introduced and honored U.S. Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards for her bravery and sacrifice in defending the U.S. Capitol during the insurrection of January 6, 2021.
Officer Edwards touched on the importance of women across all industries, especially within her experience with the January 6th Committee Hearings. “Women have also been an integral part of the hearings. I find myself in a sisterhood with Shaye Moss, Ruby Freeman, Cassidy Hutchinson and tomorrow, Sarah Matthews will take the stand. Among us are countless women in Congress like Sen. Klobuchar who are working tirelessly to make sure that justice will be served. It gives me hope and it gives me joy to see so many women finding their voice, so many women saying ‘I will not be silent in the face of injustice,’ so many women who have found the courage to continue despite threats, obstacles, and suffering. I don’t believe that the future is female. I believe the present is female.”
DeDe Lea awarded Sheila Johnson for leading the way for women entrepreneurs, championing women in sports, and her extensive philanthropic work. Finally, Teresa Carlson presented the prize to Denyce Graves 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.
The audience of 120 women collaborated and connected together, while listening to the awe-inspiring speeches made by the six dynamic women who were honored. Other guests included Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), Norah O’Donnell, Kristine Coratti Kelly, Kathleen Buhle, Karen Knutson, Ingrid Ciprian-Matthews, Rima Al-Sabah, Jordanian Ambassador Dina Kawar, Nigerian Ambassador Uzoma Emenike, Amna Nawaz, Deborah Rutter, Julie Kent, Sali Christeson, Aya Kanai, Sophia Narrett, Sally Quinn, Carol Melton, and Kimberley Fritts.