So when public relations power Edelman named Ross its chief executive of U.S. operations in April, making her the first Black woman to lead a PR operation of that scale, she approached that national role with a perspective shaped by her Washingtonian origins.
“My world has always been more representative than probably that of other CEOs,” Ross says. “From an early age, the schools that I went to were predominantly White schools, but I lived in Black neighborhoods. My family is multicultural — my husband is White, my children are biracial. But my Blackness is something that I walk into proudly in every room. It’s a strong part of who I am, and it’s how I see myself. Being a D.C. native, and everything that I’ve learned and everything that I am, is rooted in this experience.”
On Ross’s perfect day in the District, faith, family and food loom large as she strolls the city with a nostalgia-driven itinerary.
I would spend my dream day retracing parts of my life in the District, so my morning would start with mass at St. Augustine. Because I am not much of a coffee drinker, my next stop would be for an Earl Grey at Teaism in Dupont Circle.
Then I would feel the need for some exercise. My first, second and third houses in D.C. with my family were very close to Rock Creek Park, so I would take a scenic walk through the park along Beach Drive. If I had the time and energy, I’d go all the way up to Candy Cane City [the playground in Meadowbrook Local Park], which was an area that we used to take our kids to when they were little, and an area that my parents use to take me to.
In the afternoon, I would go walk Howard University’s campus — it is one of the most beautiful campuses in a city setting — and pay homage to my parents and to my Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. Next, I love to eat, and sometimes I like to eat food that may not be great for me, so I would grab lunch at the Florida Avenue Grill and order pork chops, collard greens and a small side of mac and cheese.
Then I would continue on memory lane to the 14th Street corridor and stop by the John Wesley AME Zion Church. My grandfather was an [African Methodist Episcopal] minister, and my mom brought him there in his final days and they made him an honorary pastor. I’d look at the stained glass there, and get into the church to say a prayer if I can. My next stop would be an hour or two — or three — at GoodWood. They used to just sell antique furniture, but now they’ve got clothing, art, home accessories, etc., and the owners, Anna and Dan Kahoe, are lovely people that we’ve gotten to know over the past 20 years.
As we get into the early evening, I would go to Lafayette Square — when I worked in the Clinton administration, my office was in one of those townhouses that overlooked the park. While there, I would also go over to Black Lives Matter Plaza. After that, I would walk over to the Hay-Adams — that’s where my wedding reception was held 33 years ago — meet with some of my girlfriends and have a professional tea, which would include some champagne. I would also try to catch the sunset at the National Mall by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and hang out down there, do some meditating and clear my head a little bit.
Then I’d meet my husband, Jeff, my daughter, Claire, and my brother Peter, for dinner at Jônt — it just got two Michelin stars and my son, Christian, is the sous chef there. I would sit down and let Christian say, “This is what I would do today,” and let them start. It is a remarkable, remarkable dining experience. Then, if it’s not too late, I might end the evening at the Vegas Lounge, which was a favorite of my husband and I’s when we were dating.
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