Washington's Top Power Couples
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OUT AND ABOUT
Wesley Combs & Greg Albright
Wesley Combs and Greg Albright have devoted their lives to fostering positive change within the LGBT community (Wes was the brains behind the Human Rights Campaign's National Coming Out Project) and volunteerism in their own neighborhood. For both men, their passion to serve others is rooted in a deeply personal space. "There are two core values we live by: opportunity and equality," says Greg. "Wes and I, and other gay men, figured out that giving back matters because we were forced to; we were forced to create institutions to save the lives of our friends when the AIDS epidemic broke out."
In 1989, Wes became a Human Rights Campaign volunteer. Through his work at HRC, he met Bob Witeck, who would become his business partner in 1993 when the two cofounded Witeck and Combs Communications, a marketing communications and public relations firm. Wes continued to work with HRC as well: from 1993 to 1996 as the project director for the National Coming Out Project, lecturing to businesses about the profitability of diversity, and since 2000 on its Business Council. "Inclusion is all about ensuring everyone has a chance to offer their perspective, which may make the solution better, more effective, and more on target," says Wes. "We're all raised with a lens of what our parents taught us. The more we can understand people who are different, the more we'll change our perspective." In 2006 he coauthored Business Inside Out: Capturing the Millions of Brand Loyal Gay Consumers, one of the first books to dive into marketing to the LGBT market. And in 2012 he moved to Accenture Management Consulting, which promotes equality globally by helping clients leverage inclusion and diversity to attract and retain talent.
Greg's day job, as the principal of direct-mail fundraising firm Production Solutions, combines two of his loves: charity and the intersection of entrepreneurism and innovation. He has helped several notable nonprofits, such as Habitat for Humanity, African Wildlife Foundation, and HRC, get their message out to the public.
In 1998, when the couple moved to rapidly gentrifying Adams Morgan, the marked divide between the haves and have-nots prompted Greg to find ways to help their neighbors. "We wanted our community to be a place that's safe, and for everyone around us to be successful and happy," says Wes. To that end, Greg became involved with Sitar Arts Center, a multidisciplinary afterschool arts program located three blocks from their home. His first fundraiser raised $35,000 for the center in one night. Greg and Wes's further support and financial contributions have helped guarantee that the center can sustain its low-cost arts programming for local, low-income children. "What you give is what you get back," says Greg. "And often, it's better."
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIP DAWKINS
Celebrating the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner at Carnegie Library.