6 Innovators Who Are Transforming DC

By Michael M. Clements | October 1, 2018 | People Feature

Through impassioned progress and unwavering vision, these Washington men are transforming, breaking through and effecting change across DC and beyond.

André Wells, Owner, Events by André Wells

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Parties aren’t just parties anymore—they are big business. Galas, balls and fundraisers can mean life or death for an organization. That’s why they come calling to Wells. “Being influential comes with an enormous amount of pressure and weight,” he says. Wells is used to the high expectations and routinely delivers. “I find it interesting when I have to use a well-known venue but still mesmerize the audience,” he says. He’s using innovation to do that. “I often use 3D backdrops, imagery and props to make major ‘wow’ statements and engage our clients and their guests in more experiential ways,” he says.

Matt Dornic, Vice President of Communications, CNN Digital Worldwide

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Dornic began his ascent in the world of media as a blogger, columnist and writer and now sits at the tip of the spear of CNN’s battles against the Trump administration’s attacks on the media. His job is to constantly adjust to the White House’s missives as well as industrywide disruption. Dornic duly oversees global communications and marketing and is the conduit between CNN’s tech and digital partners. “We were the first media organization to deploy a rapid response social strategy to combat attacks from the White House. We don’t wait for a reporter to call or a story to publish. We fight misinformation at the source because lies travel just as fast as facts,” Dornic tells Capitol File.

John Roberts, Chief White House Correspondent, Fox News Channel

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Today’s constant 24-hour news cycle is demanding. No one knows that more than Emmy Award-winning journalist Roberts, who has been honing his craft for over 25 years. His influence on our culture is hard to dispute. “There’s an old saying in journalism: If both sides are upset with you, you’re probably doing your job,” he says. His team gets innovative to stay ahead. “We employ a blend of traditional and leading-edge reporting to cover a White House unlike anything we have seen. In past administrations, you might get two or three big stories a week. With the Trump White House, we regularly get four or five big stories every day,” he tells Capitol File.

Joshua Johnson, Radio Host, 1A, WA

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It’s been nearly two years since 1A—a show that dives deep into the topic of “a changing America”—launched. It now boasts 3.3 million listeners nationwide. “So much of our civic life would improve dramatically if we defaulted to listening. If there’s a not-so-secret secret to our success, that’s it,” he told NPR recently. He not only listens, he encourages participation. “We put out prompts and callouts; we check our voicemail inbox regularly,” Johnson said. Given our nation’s deep fissures, his work can get complicated. “A lot of journalists talk about being impartial or objective. While I don’t quarrel with that, lately I’ve come to think of my approach as more clinical,” Johnson says. His goal, he says, is to “build a truly national conversation.”

Tom Davidson, Founder & CEO, EVERFI

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Davidson is on a mission to build a “very large, international company that is in the business of alleviating big social issues.” Based on his current career trajectory, he is right on track. He has steered EVERFI from a startup to a business with over 4,300 corporate customers while raising over $250 million in venture capital. His interest in disrupting education began as a state legislator in Maine where he focused on how technology can change the classroom. Fast-forward to now, and EVERFI is the leading national education technology innovator empowering K-12, higher education and adult learners through software with the skills needed to succeed in life. “We go after the nation’s most intractable social problems,” he says. His stellar rating on Glassdoor, meanwhile, speaks volumes on his character.

Jason M. Levien, Managing General Owner & CEO, DC United

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If you haven’t noticed, a new football stadium opened near the Anacostia River recently. Audi Field is the largest-ever public investment in a soccer stadium in the United States. Levien was behind the push to develop the new state-of-the-art 20,000-seat stadium and adjoining Buzzard Point mixed-use development. He is also co-owner of English Premier side Swansea City, serves on Major League Soccer’s board of governors and was behind the club’s move to sign veteran star Wayne Rooney. “One of our key responsibilities is to use our DC United platform to help to unite different communities and constituencies in and around the District,” he says. The team’s partnership with DC Scores does that by teaching local youth soccer and life skills.

Categories: People Feature

ANDRE WELLS PHOTO BY ERIK UMPHERY; MATT DORNIC PHOTO COURTESY OF CNN; JOHN ROBERTS PHOTO COURTESY OF FOX NEWS CHANNEL; JOSHUA JOHNSON PHOTO BY JOY ASICO FOR WAMU; TOM DAVIDSON PHOTO COURTESY OF EVERFI; JASON LEVIEN PHOTO COURTESY OF DC UNITED

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