The 2008 Power 100

by Editorial

Dan Snyder

Dan Snyder


Lyles Carr and Nels Olson
Headhunters, The McCormick Group and Korn Ferry
Who needs Craiglist when you have these top D.C. headhunters to find your next job? Known for being key players in the K Street business scene, Carr and Olsen have each skillfully landed major private sector jobs for former government officials and top legal professionals around the city. In this market, their phone systems have to be blowing up. Just hope you aren’t put on terminal hold.

Steve and Jean Case
Chairman, Revolution & Chairwoman, The Case Foundation
Case may have left the helm of AOL, but he’s still been quietly working to revolutionize the health and wellness industry with his aptly named Revolution Health, as well as Exclusive Resorts and Miraval. His star power helped attract Carly Fiorina and others to his latest projects. In 2007, Case and Ted Leonsis joined in a $5.5-million investment in widget syndication specialist Clearspring Technologies. Together with his wife Jean, this power couple has leveraged two decades of business experience to make their mark in philanthropic circles. Case is also developing an $800 million, 650-acre luxury resort in Costa Rica.

Thomas Donohue
President and CEO, US Chamber of Commerce
Since Donohue took over in 1997, the Chamber has tripled its annual revenues to $160 million. That’s equated to helping lower trade barriers, winning new free trade agreements on the international stage and positioning the Chamber to become more of a political leader. Through it’s grassroots organization,, the Chamber has become highly influential in electing pro-business candidates.

Richard D. Fairbank & Nigel Morris
CEO & Co-founder, Capital One
Americans are buying more on credit than ever before, thanks in part to Fairbank and Morris, the grand viziers of credit lines. Fairbank has been CEO of Capital One Financial (COF) for 11 years and ranks #2 within diversified financials. Co-founder Morris grew the company’s customer base to 45 million, managed loans increased to more than $70 billion, and the company emerged as one of the top seven issuers of credit cards in the world. When one can happily waive an annual salary and live on stock options, as Fairbank reportedly does, one has it made — especially if that stock is in the 11th largest bank in the world, Capital One. Fairbank is also partner in Lincoln Holdings LLC, and the co-owner of the Capitals pro-hockey team as well as the Washington Mystics.

Michael Harreld
Regional President, PNC Bank
This regional president of PNC Bank enjoyed a banner year in 2007 due to a merger with Riggs Bank which increased business by 30 percent. Harreld spent 16 years at the helm in Louisville, Ky. prior to a 2005 move to the Washington area to run PNC’s operations here. Wife Susan is highly involved in civic organizations; the Harrelds chaired the 2007 Wolf Trap Gala, among others.

Sheila Johnson
Founding Partner of BET, CEO of Salamander Hospitality
Managing Partner of the Mystics

This beloved former violin teacher and BET co-founder has made herself a power presence in Washington, where she’s the first woman to be an owner or partner in professional sports franchises: she’s co-owner of the Wizards, the Mystics, and the Capitals. Johnson is also CEO of Salamander Hospitality, which encompasses the new 168 room Salamander Resort and Spa, Market Salamander, both located in Middleburg, as well as the Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club in Florida, which features four 18-hole courses, including “Copperhead,” a regular stop on the PGA-tour. Johnson is also the chair of the board of governors of Parsons The New School for Design, and she sits on the board of VH1’s “Save the Music” and Americans for the Arts. In 2007, Johnson added Hollywood credits to her resume when she executive produced two films: Kicking It, which premiered at Sundance, and A Powerful Noise, which is opening at the Tribeca Film Festival. Johnson’s strong backing of Barack Obama (she serves on the Women for Obama steering committee) will likely only increase her influence.

Robert Kogod & Robert and Clarice Smith
You don’t even have to live in Washington to know these two names (their donations include $45 million to the University of Maryland and $25 million to the Smithsonian). The city has numerous sites and buildings named after Smith and Kogod who made their fortune in the family real estate business (Charles E. Smith) and they’re not about to take a break anytime soon. The newest edition is a $5 million donation by the Smith’s to sponsor the Newseum’s Big Screen Theater.

Ted Leonsis
Majority Owner, Washington Capitals
After a serious car crash in the ’80s, Leonsis sat down and made a list of 101 things to accomplish, including owning a sports team, producing a movie, creating a net worth of over $100 million, owning a Ferrari, meeting Bill Gates, and even taking care of his in-laws. There’s little left for this vice chairman emeritus of AOL to do, since he achieved many of these things by 2007. To name one, he had an incredibly successful run at the Sundance Film Festival with his movie Nanking (which also made the Oscar nominee short list) and then followed up by getting his next film, Kicking It, into the Sundance, Tribeca and Silverdocs film festivals.

John Lee
Chairman, Northern Virginia Tech Council & CEO, Lee Technologies
Boasting 1,100 companies and over 200,000 employees, Lee ‘s technology company is the largest. Its annual networking events which connect area leaders are considered to be a “hot ticket.” The council and Lee’s influence will only continue to grow.

Tony Lewis
President, Verizon Washington, D.C.
Since the lifelong jazz drummer took over operations for Verizon in 2005, Lewis hasn’t missed a beat. He’s been instrumental in helping engage his 1,400 employees from the region to give back not only through monetary donations but by volunteering their time while staying on the clock.

Fred Malek
Founder, Thayer Capital
Baseball teams (Texas Rangers), hotel chains (Ritz-Carlton), airlines (Northwest): Malek has handled the acquisitions of all the above. He’s a frequent flier in the black-tie charity circle, close to the presidential family (George W. Bush was once a co-owner of the Rangers with him) and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is a determined political player whose moniker during the Nixon administration was “Hatchet Man.” His baby, Thayer Capital, has given birth to seven institutional private equity funds, including three corporate acquisition funds with approximately $1.5 billion in committed capital and four funds that target hotel investments with over $500 million in committed capital. Today, you can find Malek (who wisely invested early in McCain’s presidential bid, even holding signs for him in South Carolina) co-chairing McCain’s campaign finance committee and regularly blogging on his website,

J.W. Marriott
Chairman, Marriott International
He’s the hotel chain’s chairman and the face behind $four billion and growing hotel chain. Having acquired the Ritz Carlton, among other brands,
Marriott continues to grow and look for other opportunities add to their holdings.

Tony Nicely
Chairman, GEICO
Nicely shaped GEICO into the $21.9 billion insurance behemoth that it is today and helped expand its brand with the Gecko advertising icon, raising its policyholder count to a near 8 million and counting.

Doug Poretz and Michael Petruzello
Founding Partners, Qorvis Communications
As their public relations firm – the second fastest growing in the country – continues to add such clients as Saudi Arabia and Halliburton, Poretz and Petruzello have become the P.R. mavens of Northern Virginia and D.C. and the guys to talk to about strategic developments and business communications in the national capital region. Qorvis also picked up two 2008 Advertising Club of Metropolitan Washington “ADDYs” for their work with the Virginia Lottery as creators and producers of two TV advertising spots entitled “Neighbors” and “Still at Home” and received a Citation of Excellence for its interactive work with the Kennedy Krieger Institute.

David Rubenstein
Chairman, The Caryle Group
When the National Archives needed someone to buy the last privately owned copy of the Magna Carta for $21 million, it’s no surprise they called the economic powerhouse Rubenstein to put in the winning bid at the December Sotheby’s auction. Though his firm took some heat for the collapse of two of its outside-managed funds, experts say the losses are “minimal from a financial standpoint.” The Group quickly raised $1.35 billion to invest in debt and equity issued by distressed companies and pushed their assets to $81.1 billion in a total of 60 funds.

Roger & Vicki Sant
Chairman and Founder, the AES Corporation

Through their Summit Foundation, these philanthropists have made grants of $9 million to the National Symphony Orchestra, $10 million to the Smithsonian Museum of National History, and millions more to the Phillips Collection. They carry this out with great discretion and tact and have a sterling reputation in A-List circles.

Gary Shapiro
CEO of Consumer Electronics Association
Under Shapiro’s leadership, CEA, the uniting force for nearly 2,200 consumer technology companies in the U.S., led a profitable transition to HDTV and oversaw the introduction of the everpresent iPhone, bluetooth and Nintendo’s Wii. As technology continues to play an increasing role in our lives, Shapiro’s power will only grow.

Dan Snyder
Chairman, Washington Redskins
He’s got the second-highest grossing team in the NFL. Under his ownership, the Redskins were named the second most valuable team by Forbes Magazine. With draft hype at an all time high, we’re on the edge of our seats waiting to see who new head coach Jim Zorn will bring in for this season’s kickoff.

Michael Sonnenreich
CEO, Pharmatrak
The Chief Executive Officer of Pharmatrak and former president of the Washington National Opera is highly cultured and extensively traveled, his education having taken place on two continents (Harvard Law School, The University of Wisconsin and the University of Madrid), which may have helped to provide this pedigree. He continues to be active in multiple professional and philanthropic capacities, including his roles as advisor at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and as an Overseer of Tufts University Medical School. Last year, this former Reagan aide used his extensive Rolodex (and uncanny political abilities) to help free a group of jailed workers employed in an American factory in Asia, thereby averting the shut-down of that company’s operations and prompting a reconciliation with the host government.

Carol Cole Thompson
President and CEO, Venture Philanthropy Partners
Thompson heads up Venture Philanthropy Partners, founded by former governor Mark Warner, Mario Marino, and Raul Fernandez and funded by a who’s who of power investors such as Jack Davies, Ted Leonsis, Jim Kimsey, Steve Case, and Peter Barris, amongst others. She’s served as Special Advisor to President Clinton for the District of Columbia and spent twelve years in local government holding major management and staff positions, most notably as the first woman to be appointed City Administrator. Under Thompson’s leadership, these investors have joined forces, creating a $31 million non-profit fund that invests in D.C.-area organizations and is revolutionizing philanthropic giving.

Related Articles