The September issue of Washington Life magazine features the return of its celebrated “100 Most Invited” list of capital luminaries whose presence can make or break any event.
“Whether it’s the glamorous Washington National Opera Ball, a National Gallery opening, or a party celebrating a book on the latest hot topic, all hosts know that a top-notch guest list is an absolutely must, says author and Washington Life Senior Editor Kevin Chaffee. “Competition is always fierce to secure attendance of the right boldfaced names.” This being a world capital, many of the names included are political in nature. President and Mrs. Obama and Vice President and Mrs. Biden lead the list, which also numbers many important members of the administration and their spouses.
1. Barack & Michelle Obama
The President and First Lady haven’t exactly been emulating the Kennedys and Reagans on the Washington social scene, preferring discreet dinners with Valerie Jarrett and other Chicago pals and the occasional foray to Ben’s Chili Bowl or Ray’s Hell Burger with the likes of Nicolas Sarkozy and Dimitri Medvedev. Maybe a crasher-free state dinner triumph will get the ball rolling.
2. Joe & Jill Biden
The Veep is glad-handing and gregarious, but also gaffe-prone – which adds a certain frisson whenever he is present. Our “Second Lady” teaches English and gets high marks for opening their home to breast cancer benefits and other worthy causes.
3. Robert & Elena Albritton
The Riggs banking heir and his wife are much in demand now that the family’s ever-expanding media empire includes the multimedia Politico news source, WJLA-ABC7, News Channel 8, and the recently-launched TBD.com website.
4. Mike Allen
The never-ending up-to-the-minute e-mail missives from Politico’s reporter who never sleeps are “the first thing the White House wakes up to” and clued-in Washington follows suit. If you’re lucky, his blog about your party might turn up before the fish course and be twice as delicious.
5. Yousef & Abeer Al-Oitaba
The United Arab Emirates’ handsome young envoy was a major social catch even before he married his exquisite bride. Let’s hope they keep the ball rolling after a spring wedding that featured fireworks and entertainment by Patti Austin and Tony Bennett.
6. Salem & Rima Al-Sabah
The charming, brainy Kuwaiti ambassador and his ever-chic sheikha host parties to die for, featuring exotic blooms, top flight entertainment, and a guest list ranging from presidents, first ladies, and current administration bigwigs to congressional and media heavyweights and sexy Hollywood stars like Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio.
7. Adrienne Arsht
After moving here from Florida, this banking whiz is upping the ante for arts philanthropy and exclusive Sunday brunches that get high marks for a jaunty mix of artists, financiers, writers, socialites, and even a Supreme Court justice or two.
8. David & Susan Axelrod
Obama’s most senior political advisor does dominate a room. ’Tis a pity he’s seldom seen outside the White House.
9. Jeffrey Bader & Rohini Talalla
The buzz factor rises along with the conversation level when the National Security Council senior director for Asian affairs and his wife, an exotic indie documentary filmmaker, enter a room.
10. Melody Barnes
A passion for politics eventually landed this feisty 5-foot-2 lawyer in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s office, where she was known as the “bankruptcy goddess” for battling credit card companies. Now she’s focusing on education and health care as director of the House Domestic Policy Council.
11. Bob Barnett & Rita Braver
Washington u?ber-agent/lawyer Barnett gets mega-bucks advances for clients that include Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Tony Blair. Braver is a respected CBS correspondent with multiple Emmys and a talent for covering spy stories and political scandals.
12. James & Marjorie Billington
The Librarian of Congress is a relentless acquisitor, novelist, and Russian scholar who adds intellectual gravitas to any occasion.
13. Tony Blinken & Evan Ryan
This attractive and accomplished pair worked for the Clintons before they tied the knot; their teamwork continues in Vice President Biden’s office, where he handles national security matters and she lobbies Congress on health care, the environment, and other domestic issues. A razzle-dazzle dynamic duo.
This nationally-known duo are a tad under wraps of late due to family matters and book projects, but they still turn up at A-list fêtes where they mostly mingle with power players or longtime friends.
15. David & Katharine Bradley
He’s a cerebral and somewhat reserved publishing mogul (The Atlantic, National Journal); she’s as beautiful as she is kind. Together they quietly support the arts and educational causes, mostly through their CityBridge Foundation.
16. Stephen & Joanna Bryer
The witty and cultivated Supreme Court justice is often sighted at theater and art gallery openings. His wife, the daughter of a British peer, seems to prefer the comforts of home.
17. Scott Brown & Gail Huff
Heads turn and jaws drop when the handsome Massachusetts legislator and his anchorwoman wife (WJLA/ABC7) enter a room. It’s been that way ever since he blew onto the scene after winning the late Ted Kennedy’s senate seat. A couple to watch.
18. Carol Browner & Tom Downey
Bill Clinton’s two-term Environmental Protection Agency administrator now serves as Obama’s energy czarina where her considerable savvy and savoir-faire came in handy while helping coordinate massive efforts to clean the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
19. Calvin & Jane Cafritz
Thank these generous patrons for their family foundation’s support of local arts causes at a level unmatched by other donors throughout the past 50 years. She adds much needed pizzazz to the opera board.
20. William & Buffy Cafritz
Their host of friends is both nationwide and bipartisan, the main reason why a stellar A-list crowd turns out for their quadrennial Inaugural bash.
21. Jay Carney & Claire Shipman
A double decade in journalism ended when this former Time veteran hung up his reporter’s hat to help keep Vice President Joe Biden on message with a minimum of slip-ups. His wife, a foxy ABC News “Good Morning America” correspondent, recently co-authored “Womenomics,” a book exploring the redefinition of women in the modern business world.
22. Steve & Jane Case
AOL’s co-founder and his wife quietly specialize in using social media to promote everyday philanthropy and engage citizens in public sector efforts. Much sought after but rarely seen.
23. The Infanta Christina & Inaki Udangarin, Duke of Palma De Majorca
Spain’s royal princess keeps a notably low profile, preferring to raise their four children quietly in the suburbs while her Olympian handball star spouse tends to his duties as chairman of Telefonica International USA.
24. Steve & Jean Chu
Don’t be surprised if there’s a burst of electricity when the secretary of energy enters. After all, he’s the first Cabinet member to have been awarded a Nobel Prize (for his work on cooling and trapping atoms). His wife is an Oxford-educated physicist who was Stanford’s admissions director for ten years.
25. Bill & Hillary Clinton
He’s hardly here, preferring no doubt to give Hillary a wide berth as she conducts affairs of state in Washington and around the world.
26. Esther Coopersmith
This former representative to the U.N. has long been a presence on the Embassy Row and arts scenes and regularly hosts heads of state and other international bigwigs at large-scale dinners in her palatial Kalorama home.
27. Jack & Kay Kendall
One of those glam couples whom lesser mortals strive to emulate. He’s a former president of AOL International with an interest in philanthropy. She’s the Washington Ballet’s ex-chairwoman and likes to dance up a storm. He’d better keep up.
28. John & Debbie Dingell
The longest-ever serving member of the House of Representatives (55 years!) is an institution in his own right. She tends to the flame while working as a consultant on automotive issues and helping numerous worthy causes.
29. Tom Donilon & Katharine Russel
Keep an eye on the deputy national security advisor to move up another notch at the White House. He knows a few things about transition after helping fill many of the top political appointments at the state department.
30. Richard & Loretta Durbin
The Senate majority whip is a skilled debater and partisan inquisitor credited with advancing strong consumer protection and environmental legislation. Don’t expect this noted anti-smoking advocate to follow suit if his old Illinois colleague lights one up in the Oval Office.
31. Robert Duvall & Lucianna Pedraza
Nearing 80 and still going strong in Movieland, Duvall has no trouble keeping up with a much younger (by 41 years) Argentinian wife who shares his love for tango and promoting causes like Pro Mujer, an organization that aids poor women in Latin America.
32. Susan Eisenhower
Ike’s brainy granddaughter switched parties to support Obama and still kept all her Republican friends. A primo diplomatic post would be a logical next step. Stay tuned.
33. Rahm Emanuel & Amy Rule
Top hosts no longer worry about Obama’s chief of staff disrupting their dinner with salty repartee. Truth is, he and his wife rarely go out, preferring to concentrate on raising a family and running their own charitable trust.
34. Jon Favreau
President Obama is famed for writing many of his own speeches, but he can’t do them all. That’s where Favs,” his 29-year-old “wunderkind” wordsmith, takes pen in hand to craft sentiments that may be enshrined forever. Hardly a regular on the party circuit, you might catch him out for a brew with friends near his Dupont Circle condo.
35. Adrian & Michelle Fenty
Even with a recent charm offensive, Hizzonor is all about politics, schools, and getting re-elected. Friendly and fashionable Michelle has pals in every precinct. His best asset by far.
36. Raul & Jean Fernandez
The congenial Fernandez made millions with Proxicom and is a co-owner of the Capitals, Wizards, anda Mystics sports teams. He and his attractive wife show up to support favored educational, medical, and other worthy causes.
37. Al & Frannie Franken
This former “Saturday Night Live” funnyman does liven things up, even when he’s trying to be senatorial. Someone please tell him to keep that Blackberry sheathed at the dinner table.
38. Timothy & Carol Geithner
Burdened with one of the planet’s hardest jobs, the treasury secretary is under withering fire from both sides of the political spectrum as he attempts to extricate the U.S. economy from one of its worst downturns in history.
39. Julius Genachowski & Rachel Goslins
The innovative FCC chairman and his documentary filmmaking wife are among the few top Obama-ites who let loose on the social scene.
40. Juleanna Glover
Dick Cheney’s former president-aide-turned-lobbyist was a premiere hostess during Bush II and she hasn’t slowed down a bit since the dawn of Obama. Her frequent fêtes are always jammed with young movers and shakers whom you simply must meet.
41. David Gregory & Beth Wilkinson
The “Meet the Press” moderator and his wife, a general counsel at Fannie Mae who once helped the U.S. Army prosecute Manuel Noriega, are among the District’s ranking power couples. So well connected it hurts.
42. Sidney & Jane Harman
The high-fi mogul recently made headlines when he bought Newsweek from the Washinton Post Company. Catch him and his equally hard-charging legislator wife strolling the aisles at the Harman Center for the Arts.
43. Robert Higdon
“Higgy” worked for the Reagans and Margaret Thatcher and is now Prince Charles’s Man in Washington. He knows where lots of bodies are buried but swears he will never tell. Really good value.
44. Christopher Hitchens & Carol Blue
“Hitch,” the quintessential Brit bad boy scribe, has been ailing of late. All Washington is hoping he and his witty, screenplay-writing wife will soon be back to ruffle feathers and keep us amused.
45. Eric Holder & Sharon Malone
Rarely-seen on the social circuit, this A-list duo learned early to balance high powered careers – he is the attorney general and she is a practicing OB/GYN – with raising three children.
46. Valerie Jarrett
The supremely connected Chicago businesswoman and lawyer took the Obamas under her wing and the rest is history. Spot the president’s senior advisor at upscale restaurants and the odd Conde Nast party.
47. Jim & Diane Jones
Although he now wears civvies as national security advisor, it’s still stomachs in and chests out when the former Marine Corps commandant enters a room. Not to worry. He and his wife are the most charming of guests.
48. Vernon & Ann Jordan
He’s a major flirt and totally upfront about it; she graciously lets him play the role.With so many corporate board meetings to attend, it’s a wonder this consummately connected couple finds time to attend eventfor the many causes they support. Democrat with the most clout. Will he run for president again or sail off on that controversial mega-yacht? She runs various gazillion-dollar Heinz foundations and is probably the only Washington woman for whom the title of first
49. Elena Kagan
The newest Supreme will be in high demand when the Court convenes in October with three female justices for the first time in history. We’re hoping she loves opera “dines out” as much as colleagues Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. The verdict is still out!
50. Katty Kay & Tim Carver
BBC’s gal in Washington, a multi-lingual diplobrat, lights up the screen with commentary on all things political in the former colonies. Carver, a step-grandson of Field Marshall Montgomery, is former journo who now directs a strategic consultant firm.Veddy charming and oh-so British.
Though she may yet fulfill her late husband Ted Kennedy’s supposed wish to fill his senate seat, this non-practicing attorney has lived up to clan standards nicely while passionately campaigning for political involvement and heading up the non-profit organization Common Sense about Kids and Guns.
52. John Kerry & Theresa Heinz
With Hillary and Ted both gone, Kerry is shaping up to be the Senate Democrat with the most clout. Will he run for president again or sail off on that controversial mega-yacht? She runs various gazillion-dollar Heinz foundations and is probably the only Washington woman for whom the title of first lady would be a demotion.
53. Jim Kimsey
The former Vietnam airborne ranger and AOL founding chairman now champions various causes while serving as chairman of his own philanthropic foundation. Scoring an invite to one of his McLean mansion pool parties is a major coup in certain bachelor circles.
54. Ron Klain & Monica Medina
The Veep’s lawyerly chief of staff and trusted confidant advises his boss on matters affecting all three branches of government. His wife is an environmental law specialist and high-ranking official at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
55. Ted & Lynn Leonsis
When he’s not producing issues-oriented “filmanthropy” flics, AOL’s vice chairman emeritus is busy cheering on his alma mater (Georgetown) or the Wizards and Capitols (which he co-owns). She sets an example with a quiet approach to supporting worthy causes.
56. Ed Markey & Susan Blumenthal
The Bay State’s loquacious 17-term congressman gets points of late for his hard line on BP’s Gulf oil spill. He and his wife, a professor of medicine and retired rear admiral, get invited everywhere. At least one of them always turns up.
57. David & Carrie Marriott
Word on the street is that the free spirit hotel heir used to be a Grateful Deadhead, but settled down to help run the family empire. His pretty wife is equally blond and pro-death penalty) and will certainly be in the limelight as the debate over immigration policy heats up.
58. Jaqueline Mars
Notably private like the rest of her clan, this good natured candy heiress with a $10 billion fortune is a generous supporter of the Washington National Opera.
59. Capricia & Robert Marshall
Taking a tumble down the White House steps in May hasn’t stopped the new chief of protocol from managing official functions without a hitch. Having a handsome physician husband close by is a major plus.
60. Chris & Kathleen Matthews
He may play “Hardball,” but some say he’s really a softie at heart. Who wouldn’t be, when his wife is one of the capital’s most charming women?
61. John, Cindy, & Roberta McCain
The 2008 GOP nominee and the ladies in his life make a splash wherever they go. Mama’s a major hoot when she speaks her mind – and it’s generally not off the record.
62. John & Kari McDonough
The National Security Council’s chief of staff is a Mideast expert who has advised the president on the expansion of ground forces in Afghanistan and other strategic foreign policy decisions. Suggested chat topics over dessert and coffee also include terrorism, greenhouse gasses, and health care.
63. Mike & Deborah Mullen
The Joint Chiefs chairman receives plaudits for his strategic thinking and rational assessments of complicated deployment and logistics problems in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s probably best not to ask about insubordinate generals or gays in the military just now.
64. Janet Napolitano
The low-profile homeland security secretary has bi-partisan cred (she is pro-choice and pro-death penalty) and will certainly be in the limelight as the debate over policy immigration heats up.
65. William Newman & Sheila Johnson
She co-founded BET and now runs the Washington Mystics, specialty grocery stores, and a chain of top-flight resorts. He presides as chief judge of the Arlington County Circuit Court during the day. They hold court together at night.
66. Bill & Ann Nitze
With all those family connections and a penchant for exquisite hospitality, it’s no wonder this cultivated couple get to meet everyone who’s fabulous first. The rest of us have to wait for an invitation – and it’s often from them.
67. Queen Noor
Stylish, regal, pushing 60 and still ravishing, King Hussein’s widow maintains a presence on the social scene despite spending more time elsewhere – perhaps in search of the right consort.
68. Norah O’Donnell & Goeff Tracy
Glamorous Norah talks the talk on NBC and MSNBC and it certainly doesn’t hurt that those big, blue Irish eyes are always smiling. Hubby “Chef Geoff” walks the walk, mostly in and out of his four metropolitan restaurants’ ever-bustling kitchens.
69. Leon & Sylvia Panetta
Heads tilt and bodies bend whenever the magnetic CIA director enters a room. No eavesdropping permitted!
70. Nancy & Paul Pelosi
The first female speaker of the House is plenty busy keeping her unruly colleagues in tow – and in the majority. She’s also a pretty good sport when it comes to adding luster to friends’ and colleagues’ events – even if it’s only a three-minute “power walk through.”
71. David Plouffe & Olivia Morgan
As head of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, he continues to advise the Obama administration on numerous matters. A-latter day Richelieu without the cardinal’s robes and hat.
72. John & Mary Podesta
Podesta helped plan the return of the Democrats in 2008 with years of deft masterstrokes but never accepted one of the plum positions he no doubt was offered. As head of the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, he continues to advise the Obama administration on numerous matters. A-latter day Richelieu without the cardinal’s robes and hat.
73. Colin & Alma Powell
Years after leaving public service, the former four-star general, Joint Chiefs chairman, and secretary of state still turns heads. He and his wife have been somewhat quiet of late, although they still turn out occasionally to support favorite arts and education causes.
74. Catherine & Wayne Reynolds
With loads of lolly from a successful student loan business, this self-made millionaire and her husband maintain a high profile at major events, especially at the Kennedy Center where they are major contributors. She gets points for laughing off a recent roman à clef portraying a somewhat similar character as a latter day Lucretia Borgia.
75. Joe Robert Jr.
An incomparably kind-hearted philanthropist, Robert hasn’t let his recent bout with brain cancer hinder his charity work one bit. Bless him.
76. John & Jane Roberts
The chief justice keps his own counsel when stepping out to enjoy the odd opera or National Gallery dinner. Hint: Talking about sports or the weather is always appropriate.
77. Roxanne Roberts & Amy Argetsinger
Who’s In. Who’s Out. The Washington Posts’ gossip gals take take the pulse of the capital 24/7/365 and they have all the major players’ names on speed dial to prove it. You simply haven’t arrived if they’ve never boldfaced your name.
78. John & Sharon Rockefeller
The fourth of the line to bear the world’s most plutocratic name may not be the richest member of the U.S. Senate, but he is one of the most compassionate and hard working. His wife, the daughter of former Illinois Sen. Charles Percy, never lets up in her crusade to foster public television.
79. Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt
The longest-serving chief of protocol in U.S. history (seven years, for Ronald Reagan) is a primo hostess, stalwart opera supporter, and a former journalist who pens erudite book reviews when the spirit moves.
80. David & Alice Rubenstein
Expect this Carlyle Group co-founder and his wife to set a record as they bestow a nice chunk of their $2.5 billion fortune on the Kennedy Center (where he now serves as chairman). Solid gold verging on platinum.
81. Roger & Vicki Sant
One of the capital’s most generous philanthropic couples and by all accounts the nicest. Their limitless generosity includes eight-figure gifts to the Smithsonian, National Symphony, World Wildlife Fund, and to protect the Mesoamerican Reef. Can we clone them?
82. Antonin & Maureen Scalia
The “intellectual anchor of the Supreme Court’s conservative wing” is impervious to backlash among liberals who blame him for every 5-4 defeat and seethe at reports of his sing-alongs and stand-up comedy routines on camping trips. Tra-la-la!
83. Sir Nigel & Lady (Julia) Sheinwald
The British ambassador and his wife, a physician and children’s medicine specialist, have a palatial residence, a great new chef, and the occasional royal or prime minister to meet over Champers and Dover sole. Who would dream of saying no?
84. Kathleen Sibelius
The secretary of health and human services is key player in the unprecedented overhaul of the nation’s massive health-care system and should be sticking around when the changes are implemented. Her fine-tuning skills – honed as a two-term Democratic governor of Republican Kansas – will definitely come in handy.
85. Jonathan Silver & Melissa Moss
He: a venture capitalist is now doles out grants and loans as the Energy Department’s “money man.” She: a consumer advocate who gets notice for entertaining beautifully in their grand Georgetown home.
86. Juliana Smoot
Don’t expect the personable new White House social secretary to swan around the White House in Jean-Paul Gautier gowns and Manolo Blahniks anytime soon – at least not until two or three state dinners go off without a hitch.
87. Dan & Tanya Snyder
The Washington Redskins owner holds court with blonde and beautiful Tanya in his Olympian skybox, apart from merely mortal fans who hope against hope, and keep on hoping, for a winning season. Keep those thumbs up, folks.
88. Sonia Sotomayor
All Washington awaits a reprise of that muy caliente mambo number the nation’s first Hispanic justice performed with
actor Esai Morales at a Latino arts benefit last September. If she brushes up her ballroom skills, she may soon be twirling with Mike Peabody and the Waltz Group gang at the Sulgrave Club.
89. James Steinberg & Sherburne Abbot
Hillary Clinton’s deputy secretary of state has notable credential in military affairs, national security, and foreign policy with the energy (and some say an “explosive temper”) to match. Talk to this globalization guru about U.S. humanitarian strategy in between the fish and meat courses.
90. Dan Steinhilber & Maggie Michael
Darlings of the D.C. arts scene, this “painterly sculptor” and “sculptural painter” dress downtown but often party uptown at select gallery soirées. We simply musn’t let them move to New York.
91. George & Liz Stevens
The force behind the Kennedy Center Honors recently penned and produced, “Thurgood,” a one-actor (Laurence Fishburne) play about the first African-American Supreme Court justice. His wife maintains Old Guard standards to a fault at their Georgetown home. Have you been invited?
92. Stuart & Ann Stock
The former White House social secretary and KenCen veep now directs the state department’s bureau of educational and cultural affairs (courtesy of her old boss, Hillary Clinton). She and her lawyer husband are just about the nicest – and the most down to earth – folks you’ll ever meet in this town.
93. Larry Summers & Elisa New
Considered by many to be America’s “top economic brain,” the head of the National Economic Council gets much of the credit – or blame – for restructuring the financial system to avoid the Next Great Depression. He’s still working to engineer his own recovery after controversial comments that women are inferior to men in math and science.
94. Guillo Terzi di Sant’agata & Antonella Cinque
Italy’s ambassador is of noble mien (a marquese, actually) and gentle disposition, especially when he’s smiling beside his simpatica partner (the former head of Italy’s FDA) and their two-year-old twins. Much more fun than their predecessors.
95. Melanne & Philip Verveer
A multi-lingual constitutional liberties activist and longtime Hillary Clinton confidante, Melanne Verveer’s special expertise is lobbying for the political, economic, and social advancement of women at the state department (where her husband serves as deputy assistant secretary for international communications). Dedicated public servants par excellence.
96. Chris & Lorraine Wallace
This Emmy- and Peabody-award-winning “Fox News Sunday” moderator first gave up Sunday brunching for Sunday politicking back when he did “Meet the Press” for NBC two decades ago. His droll humor lights up many an event, as does his exquisitely mannered wife.
97. Septime Webre
With artistic talent to spare, Webre has made the Washington Ballet a contender within the small galaxy of primo American dance companies. An it-boy partygoer who never fails to smoulder when it’s tango time and wealthy benefactresses are hot to trot.
98. Anthony Weiner
This Queens congressman sometimes goes ballistic when riled by rumbustious Republicans, but his sleek bride (a longtime Hillary Clinton aide) is said to have a calming effect. You must have heard that Bill Clinton officiated at their recent wedding.
99. Katharine Weymonth
She had no choice, it’s in her blood. Kay Graham’s lower profile granddaughter is on every list but is said to mostly chill with friends at home. Don’t even mention hosting dinners for Washington Post advertisers there.
100. Neil Wolin & Nicole Elkon
Treasury’s Number Two advises on financial regulatory reforms and other matters, including how to best deal with China and its mega-stash of dollars. Hot couple on the embassy dinner circuit – if envoys manage to snag them.