Washington's Top Power Couples
BY RACHEL STURTZ
KEEPING MEMORIES ALIVE
George & Trish Vradenburg
For George Vradenburg, the difficulty is not in finding causes to support, but rather in learning how to balance his work schedule with said charities. His Vradenburg Foundation gives $1.2 million in grants each year, and he is the chairman of the board for The Phillips Collection and the Geoffrey Beene Gives Back Alzheimer's Initiative, vice chairman of the Chesapeake Crescent Initiative, and a board member for the Greater Washington Board of Trade, DC Children First, and, last year, the University of the District of Columbia. "Each of the things I'm doing touches my life," says George, who, after a career that included senior positions at Fox, CBS, AOL, and AOL Time Warner, retired in 2003 to devote himself to civic activism. In 2004 he and Trish founded and began chairing the National Alzheimer's Gala, raising more than $9 million for the Alzheimer's Association; they also started the Alzheimer's Action PAC and, in 2010, USAgainstAlzheimer's, an independent nonprofit with a goal of curing the disease by 2020.
"We're determined to get rid of Alzheimer's," says Trish, an author and a TV writer who wrote two plays about her mother's struggle with the illness, one of which played at the Kennedy Center before moving into an off-Broadway run. Trish took a detour into politics before starting her writing career, crafting speeches for Senator Harrison Williams after graduating from Boston University. She went on to work for The Boston Globe and New York's Daily News, penned a novel about a woman who discovers her husband is cheating on her ("A steamy novel," she laughs, "to humiliate my children with its tawdriness"), and wrote for sitcoms such as Kate & Allie, Designing Women, and Family Ties.
When the couple first met, George's mother was not a big fan of feisty Trish, she says. In fact, their two mothers had plans to meet for lunch at The Plaza in New York with the express purpose of planning how to break them up. "George said to his mother, ‘You two generals can make all the plans you want, but in the end it'll be us privates who will decide the outcome of this war,'" Trish recalls. Flash-forward a few decades, and the Vradenburgs are still going strong. "We have the same values; it wouldn't work if we didn't," says Trish. "Our goal is to leave the world better than we found it. George's only failure so far is retirement."
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIP DAWKINS
We go behind the scenes with the SNL Weekend Update anchor.