Life of the Party: The Meridian Ball

From the Diplomatic Corps to members of Congress, Washington’s elite stepped out for the Meridian Ball.
By Allison Priebe Brooks

Amy Donnelly, Tripp Donnelly and Stacey Lubar. Photo by Alfredo Flores.

The Meridian Ball is known as one of the crown jewels of the DC social calendar and legendary for attracting the city’s most established, from the Diplomatic Corps to members of Congress, as well as a younger cadre of rising stars.

This year’s ball was a true show-stopper.

The highly anticipated 43rd annual ball at The Meridian International Center, sponsored by Washington Life magazine, managed to foster a glamorous but relaxed setting among the tree-strung lights and thumping dance tent where the 750 guests could socialize freely or dance to their heart’s delight.

“No other place in Washington, or maybe the world, offers the opportunity for leaders from so many sectors to gather for a night like tonight,” said Meridian’s President and CEO, Ambassador Stuart Holliday. “Functions like the Meridian Ball, along with the events we present throughout the year, are a crucial platform for building and strengthening relationships and international diplomacy.”

The night began with seated black tie dinners hosted by 22 ambassadors at their residences, or at the lavish private dinner at Meridian’s White Meyer House. By 10 pm, the guests came together at The Meridian House for a glamorous black-tie ball, convening at the historic home for dancing, dessert and lively conversation.

As in years past, there both a live band and a DJ to keep guests light on their feet, as well as fully-stocked bars  and dessert stations from 12 nations.

Since 1969, the Meridian Ball has come to be known as the city’s premier international social event.

“The evening embodies Meridian’s work and mission, having spent the past half-century building bridges between different ideas, people, and cultures,” Holliday added. “Through open exchange, leaders from around the world learn how to lead more effectively in today’s complex global environment.”

This year the Meridian Ball kept up with its reputation, with a ball that was widely attended by Cabinet members, Supreme Court Justices and members of Congress, as well as key members of the diplomatic corps and cultural communities.

Among the bold-faced names in attendance this year were Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), Representative Steny Hoyer (D-MD), former Fannie Mae Chair Franklin Raines, former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, NBC News producer Betsy Fischer, Fox News Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry, ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Jake Tapper, The Politico’s Karin Tanabe, CNN Senior Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash, Washingtonian Publisher Cathy Merrill Williams, CNN’s Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist and a sea of envoys and Obama administration officials.

The chairs of the event worked diligently to execute this year’s ball. The former U.S. Ambassador Mary Ourisman chaired the ball, and and served as Congressional Co-Chairs.  chaired the White-Meyer Dinner.

One need look no further than the ball’s dance tent for evidence of such inter-generational camaraderie, where both young and longtime guests alike could be found cavorting on the dance floor to the beats of DJ Pitch One. One of the highlights of the evening was seeing Ball Chair behind the DJ booth rolling out the tunes, dancing and laughing with the DJ.

Best of all, the evening was a big success, with nearly $2 million of the proceeds going to support Meridian’s mission to strengthen international understanding through the exchange of ideas, people, and culture.

Mary Ourisman, Gala Chair of the 43rd annual Meridian Center Gala. Photo by Alfredo Flores.

Susanna Quinn, White Meyer Dinner Chair, and of CNN. Photo by Alfredo Flores.

Shirley Henry and of Fox News Channel. Photo by Alfredo Flores.

Former Ambassador to Afghanistan Said Jawad and Jim Bell of Washington Fine Properties. Photo by Alfredo Flores.

Patty Skelton and Rep. Ike Skelton (R-MO.) Photo by Alfredo Flores.

Kristen Olson and Gwen Holliday. Photo by Alfredo Flores.

See more photos at our Smugmug Gallery.

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