Chief Cathy Lanier strikes an unfamiliar pose. (Photo by Francois Dischinger for ELLE) Chief Cathy Lanier strikes an unfamiliar pose. (Photo by Francois Dischinger for ELLE)

There’s usually nothing truly surprising in ELLE magazine’s annual list of the 10 most powerful women in Washington. It’s typically familiar faces from the political and nonprofit world, done up in sheath dresses and striking hands-on-hip power stances.

But, whoa, we did a double take when we spotted Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier’s photo spread. For one, Lanier almost always appears in public in uniform, and the photo shows her sporting a decidedly civilian pantsuit (note that she’s the only one on the list not wearing a dress and not bare-armed).

“My mom always tries to get me to wear lipstick,” Lanier tells us of the dressed-up look she donned for the photo shoot. “This will make her happy.”

And it’s refreshing to see the glossy mag saluting a woman whose status doesn’t have anything to do with politics — not to take anything away from the likes of Lanier’s co-honorees CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden, former deputy White House counsel Cheryl Mills, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Politico COO Kim Kingsley, and the Atlantic Council’s Capricia Marshall.

In the magazine’s writeup, Lanier, who’s the first woman to hold her title, did offer a glimpse of her softer side, revealing that in her free time, she picks up stray dogs in her police cruiser and has found homes for more than 100 pups. “I really believe that the underdogs are the ones that should get the extra support,” she tells ELLE.

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