An American Girl in Washington

Catch Up

Posted in All about moi by AGinDC on 29 September 2011

I actually had to check my calendar to remember everything I’ve done since the last post. I’m a terrible blogger but there are only 36 hours in a day!

The Friday of CBC week was a blast. A couple of sessions, one with Al Sharpton and Rep. Fredericka Wilson that started 30 minutes late and then was so unprofessional and uninformed that my friend and I left in disgust. The second session wasn’t so bad, but it was run by teacher’s unions who insisted on screaming at the top of their lungs about one subject the entire time, which was unfortunate because the subject they were screaming about had nothing to do with what the panelists were discussing!

On Friday night I went to an NAACP reception welcoming everyone who flew in from around the country for our weekend training. There was absolutely delicious food, President Ben Jealous spoke, and I met the people I would be spending my weekend with. After the reception a few of us went to Rep. Elijah Cummings’ party at The Park but The Park is sooooo boring lately, I haven’t been there once this summer and actually had fun. Everyone just sits around, looking pretentious, while drunk 45-year-old men hit on 20-something-year-old girls who are waiting to pass their numbers to whatever third-rate artist is playing for free in the corner of the third floor. But, anyways, enough of a rant about that.

After The Park, a few girls and I went to DC Coast for dinner. We meant to go to a party at the Warner Theatre after but we stayed at DC Coast until almost midnight and then we were all exhausted.

Saturday was the beginning of my NAACP training. I was sure that I would be in for two days of long, boring lectures about teaching financial literacy to underserved communities but instead, the staff of the Financial Freedom Center put on an absolutely amazing training. It was never boring, I made two hilarious friends from Montclair, New Jersey and I received a stunning amount of information which I know is going to allow me to rebuild my committee and really do a lot of good work in DC. A special shout-out to Wells Fargo who, probably due to a guilty conscience, is seriously bankrolling the NAACP right now.

On Saturday night my two new friends from New Jersey and I shared a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label and talked movies, TV and politics all night. It was a blast.

Sunday meant more training and then The Greene Turtle for the Jaguars game with @evolvingelle. Then, finally, I went home and crashed. The 25th marked the last day of a long, long summer and I have never been so relieved to have a break in my schedule. I was supposed to leave for Turks & Caicos on Sunday but due to massive tropical storming I had to cancel. No matter. I’ve been working from home, I started getting the flu yesterday so I’ve been filling myself with Dayquil, OJ, tea, carbs, and sleep. Hopefully it will all clear up soon, I already feel better today than I did yesterday. Meanwhile, I’ve had a meeting for the Washington Area Lawyers for the Arts Fashion Law Committee (stay tuned, we have awesome events coming up) and last night a happy hour for the DC Social Innovation Project at Local 16, then Doctor Who and Potbellys with DeanBax, who has been stealth for a while.

And now you’re all caught up.

Happy Friday Eve!

AGinDC

CBC Week So Far

Posted in All about moi by AGinDC on 22 September 2011

This week Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Leadership Conference (insanely long title, I know). This is basically DC on crack (no pun intended). The forums, sessions, and speakers are extraordinary but only part of the picture. The real conference happens at night, at the dozens of parties, dinners, receptions, concerts and networking events that fill our iCals and keep us running from event to event.

Needless to say, I love it.

So far, on Tuesday night I went to the Minority Chiefs of Staffs reception, recognizing the minority COS’s in Congress and the Administration. The party was wonderful, on the roof of a building across the street from the Capitol so of course the view was amazing. Due to the wonders of corporate sponsorship, the open bar kept the top-shelf spirits flowing and the food was delicious. Even the band was great! And don’t even get me started on the many, many beautiful men and women (and men) attending the party. I loved it, I met a lot of people and I can’t wait for next year’s soiree.

On Wednesday night, Capital Cause was hosting an event at Muse, featuring 30 organizations that are fantastic on their own but would never have been able to throw an event as big as Capital Cause can provide. It was a ton of work, I spent hours and hours planning and arranging and making name tags and running around acting as videographer and holding parking spots in the rain. But, it was a great night and everyone had fun and found out about some new organizations so I’m glad to have done it.

Today was ca-razy, as Erin would say. As a Teach For American conference ambassador, I have a “cohort” (TFA word) of staff members (TFA paid for all 300 African American alums to attend the conference) to show around DC, attend certain sessions with, and generally make sure that they have someone to ask questions of or call when they’re lost, etc. My co-ambassador is ah-mah-zing and I already kind of love her. We all met at the Lincoln Memorial, which was great because some of them hadn’t been. Then we went to Vapiano for lunch and they all (all but one are from New York, the other is from Boston) LOVED it and said, “DC is so cool, I’d love to live here”. Thank you, thank you, my work here is done.

After lunch we attended a really depressing panel discussion on the dearth of Black male teachers in the classroom. I won’t get into it here but it’s my next emPower article so you’ll get to read it there. Then my co-ambassador and I went to the unveiling of Charlie Rangel’s official portrait in the Ways and Means committee room in the House. It was absolutely hi-larious and the cake absolutely made my life.

Post-Rangel we went to a TFA event which featured a few kick-ass speakers, including a woman from FedEx who made us all fall in love with the company. Not only have they given TFA millions specifically for diversity recruitment, they also have a LOT of African-Americans in their upper ranks. We were very impressed. We also heard Kaya Henderson, Chancellor of DCPS and a TFA alum, speak. She was absolutely remarkable and had us all on our feet at the end of the night.

Post-speaking we ate (Thank God) and then I was too late for the Sisterhood Reception back downtown (we were at Howard) so I took my tired self home. Which is where I am now.

We’re halfway through and I am sooo tired. More sessions and receptions tomorrow, and then Saturday the conference is having tons of sessions but I have to go to an NAACP training all weekend so I’ll have to miss them. =( But, I am super excited for the training, I’m going to meet a lot of the other Economic Empowerment Committee chairs and co-chairs from all over the country and I am super excited to find out what the rest of the country’s NAACP offices are doing and planning for the upcoming year.

So, that’s what’s on my schedule. I’ll keep you posted!

AGinDC

Big Block of Cheese Day

Posted in Politics- as I see it by AGinDC on 16 September 2011

Yesterday I had the privilege (?) of participating in a time-honored Washington tradition: lobbying. No, not the fun kind. There was no champagne, no hot girls in Herve Leger mini dresses, no boat rides or large stacks of untaxed cash. In fact, there was absolutely no wining or dining of any kind. This was the good old fashioned old school back in the day kind of lobbying. The, “Let’s get a group of people together to sit on a Senator’s couch and talk to a bored-looking 22-year-old staff member” kind of lobbying. Heaven help me.

One of the saddest and most surprising things about the current budget crisis is that it gives certain members of Congress an excuse to cut really kick ass programs that they happen not to like. For instance, the Corporation for National and Community Service. I have already ranted about the idiocy of trying to get rid of Americorps so I won’t bore you with it here. Besides, I assume that the 5 of you reading this blog are at least mildly rational beings and therefore can understand why cutting an infinitesimal amount of money that supports volunteerism, community service and hundreds of thousands of jobs in this country would be dumber than letting the post office fail. If you can’t, stop reading now and go HERE.

However, yesterday CNCS got a bunch of alums (Teach for America is an Americorps program) together to run around the Hill all day to encourage the staffers of Congresspeople to encourage their bosses to encourage the Super Committee to give us a damn budget this year. It was a fruitless exercise. For one thing, everyone is clearly voting with their party on this and everything. For another thing, only twelve people are actually voting on anything and we weren’t meeting with any of them. For a third thing, I was in the Louisiana group. Please, like Vitter is ever going to change his mind. Fourth, who are we kidding? Four oddly dressed hippies and a black girl in a blazer sitting in the waiting room of a random politician are not going to influence policy. The sole dude in the group even had a bushy red beard and a fedora. Books: feel judged. Your covers failed you.

Yesterday was yet another example of why Democrats and touchy-feely liberal organizations can’t get anything done. If you’re going to lobby, freaking lobby. Don’t send a lawn gnome to do a man’s work. This isn’t Expedia. Mostly, it felt like Big Block of Cheese Day. Except I didn’t get to meet CJ Cregg. Also, no UFOs.

Tragedy.

AGinDC

Two great launches

Posted in Cocktails, again by AGinDC on 16 September 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week I had the opportunity to attend the launches of not one, but two new projects created by two friends.

First, Austin aka Eric Taylor threw a fundraiser to launch his new org, We, the Readers. I’ve spoken before about how thrilled I am about WtR and what it means for reading skills for local students and increased community participation in local education. The business model is genius and you should totally sign up to be a mentor. The fundraiser was pretty genius too, it was held at Iron Man Tavern and for $15 you get enough pizza and beer to require some serious gym time the next morning. The crowd was fantastic, the pizza was yummy, and Austin was as Texas charming as ever. I have high hopes for this org, but then again, it is seriously unlikely that Austin can ever fail.

The next night (was it? The days run together.) I went to another fantastic happy hour, this time though, it had an educational twist. Justin Peters of Graham & Peters consulting is a great guy and a founding board member of my new org, the DC Young Entrepreneurs Network (shameless plug, Follow Me!). He is also, however, a partner in a new and fantastic small business consulting group that came up with what I think is one of the most innovative and totally-DC ideas that I’ve seen in a long time: Happy Hour University. The idea is to have a series of happy hours that aren’t just about the drinking and the networking on their own, but that also have fun educational components that teach you how to do the networking intelligently. This is so perfect for students, interns, people who are new in town, and people who have been here forever and still suck at the DC social scene. Genius, right?

This first HHU was at Tabaq and I really think they have all of the pieces in place for a fantastic and long-lasting series. I can’t wait to see where they take it!

Today is a double-header. Next I’m going to write about an experience just as DC as happy hour: Lobbying on the Hill.

Happy Friday!

AGinDC

My latest emPower article

Posted in emPower News Magazine by AGinDC on 14 September 2011

For your consideration.

My Date with the President

Posted in Just another day in DC, Politics- as I see it by AGinDC on 13 September 2011

Yesterday afternoon I had the great pleasure of sitting five feet away from our absolutely scrumptious (if infuriating) Commander-in-Chief. Dress in a black suit that made him look positively anorexic, a white shirt and a polka dot tie, he was even cuter up close and personal than he usually is. Valerie J. looked as lady-in-power as usual in her lavender sheath, oversized white jacket and nude pumps. And me? I was sitting right in front of POTUS in a bright blue DVF wrap dress that he couldn’t have missed if he tried. Mind you, I didn’t do that on purpose, but whenever I go to the White House I remember that Valerie is always wearing something girly and bright and professional and I try to follow her example. After all, as much as it pains me to say it, I’m so much more like her than FLOTUS.

Anyways, I was at the WH for the Interactive One forum on the American Jobs Act and how it affects the African-American population. There was a panel discussion with several people including Melody Barnes (who was on MSNBC when I got home that night, using the same talking points), Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk, Deputy Secretary of the SBA Marie Johns (the nicest, most grandma-like administrator ever), and a few other senior staffers. They talked about the AJA, the provisions in it that provide more funding for small businesses, that create jobs for construction workers and new schools and to prevent teacher layoffs, the foreclosure assistance, and everything else. Like many things the President presents, this is an absolutely remarkable bill. But, like most things the President has presented in the past, it is unlikely that even 1/3 of it will pass. Our only hope? Election year. Yep, gotta love it. The old PO is back and the Repubs need the middle classes to forget how much we hate Congress. Soooo… maybe there’s a chance? Idk.

One thing I do know? Now that the President has seen me in a DVF wrap, he’ll probably be calling soon. 😉

I love living in Washington.

AGinDC

I forgot to link to this

Posted in emPower News Magazine by AGinDC on 10 September 2011

Last week’s emPower article! Now I should probably write this week’s… What Have You Done For Me Lately?

A long absence

Posted in All about moi by AGinDC on 10 September 2011

OMG, life has been so crazy lately, I haven’t had time at all to write. Thursday was The Fashionable Life and I was so busy getting ready for it that I didn’t even think about writing! Between that and work and orgs and random stuff I am soooo ready for my vacation at the end of the month. I just have to get through CBC week and I’m off to the islands!

Speaking of TFL, OMG, what a learning experience. I have to take a second and rant here because I haven’t been able to do it anywhere else and I need the catharsis. And I seriously doubt that anyone but my mom and the Lombardis read this blog anyways. I have been working on TFL so so hard for months on end now. And not just me, but a lot of my friends too, because they’re amazing and probably feel sorry for me. And in the end? All of the problems were things that were totally out. of. my. control. For instance, two days before the event, the chef quit. QUIT! She’d been booked since June!! Ugh. Luckily, my wonderful friend and amazing chef Adam Williams swooped in like a knight in shining armor and saved me. And his food was extraordinary, of course. Then, the night before the event, all of the swag that we had been collecting for months flooded in my makeup consultant’s basement. Kill me. And then, THEN, the morning of the event YSL texted (TEXTED) and said she wasn’t coming. For seriously. So, here I am, wanting to die. But we get everything together in the torrential downpour and get to the venue late for setup because people in DC are even worse drivers in the rain and, oh yeah, did I mention that my brother, the DJ’s, harddrive crashed so he spent four hours at Apple and had to find his way to the gallery (he lives in Seattle) on his own after they made him wait for hours and then couldn’t fix it? So that was good.

Anyways, so then we get to the gallery and thank God for my friends because they helped me set up in a hurry, as people were pouring in (only in DC do attendees to events show up early. Thank God for free wine.). And the vendors start coming in and all is well until four out of the five (sans YSL) makeup artists call to say that they are “on their way”. One of them was flooded into Upper Marlboro (did anyone else see the picture of people in canoes in UM? WTF?), and the rest just said they were coming. So as the event started and my one amazing makeup artist worked her tail off they kept texting that they were coming and texting that they were coming but, like Godot, they failed to show up. I wanted to die. And they still might because they all signed contracts.

As a typical Type-A perfectionist lawyer, there is nothing I hate more than ceding control. I hated group projects as a kid because as long as I was handling everything, I knew that it would be done, and it would be done well. But give someone else a chance, and you’re getting a B. So imagine the tragedy of working so hard for so long on something and having it all go wrong because of forces beyond your control. I couldn’t replace three months’ worth of swag in 24 hours. I couldn’t call last minute makeup artists halfway through the event. All we could do was keep pouring the wine and thank our lucky stars that the vendors who were there were AMAZING and hope that the girls were happy. And, remarkably, they were. Even though everyone, of course, wished that the other makeup artists and swag had been there, everyone had fun, lots of people made new friends, and it was still a great chance to get out and spoil yourself like we all deserve.

And, after my very first event, I have learned two very valuable lessons: 1. Keep the swag out of basements. 2. Lock the vendors in a tower until after the event.

I have a lot of hope for the future of LilyPad. I want it to be the boutique lifestyle firm that works to make life a little more enjoyable for the women of DC. And I know for sure that every single event will be better than the next. I just hope the women of DC will be patient with me. =)

Ooh, Doctor Who is on! I’m off. Lots of thank you notes to walk and space and time to travel through.

Good night!

AGinDC

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