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Savvy with a Shock: Dambisa Moyo

May 16, 2018

Author Dambisa Moyo, center, with hostess Juleanna Glover at left (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Author Dambisa Moyo, center, with hostess Juleanna Glover at left
She's savvy, she likes to shock, and she's wearing stilletos. You believe her when she says she wants to save liberal democracy. 

But in Dambisa Moyo's new book Edge of Chaos: Why Democracy is Failing to Deliver Economic Growth, the Oxford-and-Harvard-educated author prescribes a system of “weighted voting,” in which individual ballots are ranked and weighted more or less depending on a voter’s educational or intellectual qualifications. Oh -- and throw in compulsory voting.

Journalist Michael Hirsch asks a question (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Journalist Michael Hirsch asks a question
It's Saturday night at the lovely home of Juleanna Glover and Christopher Reiter, so provocation is expected on the menu, and even the most outrageous ideas receive a respectful review.

Just nice -- or in this case necessary -- the champagne is flowing like a hidden Arctic spring. 

Andrea Coronado and Sean Weppner (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Andrea Coronado and Sean Weppner
The glittery crowd includes Ambassador Dina Kawar of Jordan, journalist Michael Hirsch, Gloria Dittus, media-coach-to-the stars Anne Dickerson, Hollywood on the Potomac's Janet DonovanAudrey Pichy, Suzanne ChavernAlexandra Sarner, and co-hosts Steve Biegon, Devon Spurgeon and Ziad Ojakla.

You have to hand it to Moyo for sparking conversation, even consternation. She rattled Bill Gates and the international development establishment with her last book Dead Aid, arguing that Western dollars have had negative effects on Africa. 

Agree or disagree -- democracies need fresh debates and provocateurs are much less prevalent than political couch potatoes.

Audrey Pichy, Suzanne Chavern, and Alexandra Sarna (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Audrey Pichy, Suzanne Chavern, and Alexandra Sarna
Moyo was born and raised in Zambia, one of the poorest countries on earth, and earned a Ph.D. in economics at Oxford before working at the World Bank and Goldman Sachs. She serves on the boards of Barclays Bank, beverage giant SABMiller, and along the way earned a master's at Harvard and and a degree in chemistry at American. And, oh yeah, an MBA too.

So it's refreshing to get an intellectual shock from this plausible provacatrix, even if some of her ideas are off base.

That's not the champagne talking. 

 


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Anne Dickerson: More Than 15 Minute's Fame

May 14, 2018

Top D.C. journos, authors and VIPs celebrated one of their secret weapons Friday at the gloriously renovated Cosmos Club.

Jenn Cobb of Internews, Anne Dickerson and Amanda Ripley, contributor to The Atlantic and Time (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Jenn Cobb of Internews, Anne Dickerson and Amanda Ripley, contributor to The Atlantic and Time
Anne Dickerson, founder of 15 Minutes Group, was surrounded by friends and fans to announce that she'll be advising clients from New York starting this summer, joining husband John Dickerson in the Big Apple where he now co-anchors CBS This Morning. The glittery crowd included NBC's Pete Williams, former HUD secretary Shaun Donovan, journalist-author Claire Shipman, literary-agent-to-the-stars Rafe Sagelyn, author and Atlantic writer Amanda Ripley, Political Gabfest co-creator David Plotz, Future Tense's Andres Martinez, Internews's Jennifer Cobb, authors Dan Pink and Sally Mott Freeman as well as Susan Farrell of IHS Markit.

CARE's Beth Solomon and John Dickerson, co-anchor of CBS This Morning (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) CARE's Beth Solomon and John Dickerson, co-anchor of CBS This Morning
Said John, who fell for Anne when they were students at UVA: "As I became a writer, the one person I talked to about my ideas and how to make them sharper and how to hone them and what I was really trying to say – was Anne. And so I was kind of the first client," he said to laughter.

David Plotz, co-founder of Political Gabfest and Andres Martinez of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) David Plotz, co-founder of Political Gabfest and Andres Martinez of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State
"The rates were a little steep, but I’ve been a client for a very long time and it’s also why I’m such a booster, because I know how all of you work so hard on your ideas and pace around late at night when no one’s up trying to figure out exactly what you’re trying to say, and then you birth something into the world. And then it’s like what Upton Sinclair said about The Jungle. He said he aimed for people’s hearts but he hit them in the stomach," he continued.

Anne Dickerson and former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Anne Dickerson and former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan
"You do something and you pitch it and then people misunderstand. So somebody who can help you communicate the way you want to and in a way that’s true to your heart and true to your work – that’s the key for those of us who work with ideas and who spend so much lonely time trying to get those ideas right – it’s so important. So I’m not just her husband, I’m also her client." 

John Dickerson, (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) John Dickerson, "The Jersey Brothers" author Sally Mott Freeman, and literary agent Rafe Sagelyn
Anne described 15 Minutes Group's first assignment. Hired by the United Nations, the team dove in. “We did a dissertation on what makes the perfect soundbite. We did flow charts on how to structure the right answer. We did all this deep work because we said, ‘There’s no way we’re going to be one of those shallow media training firms.’ So we did a session with the UN client. We were so pleased with ourselves. We felt like we delivered all this deep information. And at the end of it, he let out this big sigh, and he said, 'Aren’t you going to tell me what shirt to wear?'"

Over the last 15 years the firm has worked with clients like the Brookings Institution, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Carnegie Endowment, helping them be clear and more confident in their media appearances.

In recent blogposts Anne and the team noted former FBI director James Comey for his skilled interiews to promote his book, A Higher Loyalty. As any media observer knows, it’s not easy to communicate clearly and sucinctly. You need to “distill your thinking and keep distilling,” Anne writes. “Answer the hard questions and the sound bite will come to you, clear, potent and concentrated. Like a shot of Tito’s Vodka.”

 


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Crocs Rock the Embassy of Australia Launching 'Year of Mateship'

January 12, 2018

Matt Wright and mates Willow and Jono on the (Photo by: Monster Croc Wrangler / Nat Geo WILD) Matt Wright and mates Willow and Jono on the "set" in Australia's Northern Territories
Real live crocodiles chilled and thrilled a rolicking reception at the Embassy of Australia Thursday where Ambassador Joe Hockey shared the stage with the blood-curdling predators and TV star Matt Wright of Monster Croc Wrangler as the show launched a brand new season on Nat Geo WILD. While Ambassador Hockey showed no fear, the show’s premise is harrowing: Matt and his mates, Willow and Jono, save people and crocs by catching and moving the creatures to safe habitats away from people.

Kids and adults enjoyed the Monster Croc Wrangler show (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Kids and adults enjoyed the Monster Croc Wrangler show
It's a big issue in Australia, where crocs have come into conflict with ranchers, leading in the old days to massive killing of the crocs. The rough 'n' ready reptiles, which date from prehistoric times and can grow to 20 feet in length, were on the verge of extinction only 40 years ago. Due to efforts like Wright's, their numbers have recovered and are now higher than ever.

But keeping the crocs away from human habitat is not for the meek. Cameraman Ash Dunn, who was at the reception, faces an extremely dangerous mission on every shoot as Matt and the mates wrangle deadly snakes, wrestle wild bull crocs or dangle hundreds of feet from a helicopter to land inside a crocodile nest. 

However, Dunn said he and the crew feel a kinship with the blood-curdling crocs, who are hunted elsewhere for their valuable skins and meat. Not on this show -- on or off camera. "We don't eat crocodile meat," Dunn said of Wright and the crew. "After you spend all this time with the crocs, you feel close to them."

Beth Solomon of CARE, Ash Dunn, cameraman, Jerome Barry of The Embassy Series, and Nick Fordham, Exec. Producer of Monster Croc Wrangler (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Beth Solomon of CARE, Ash Dunn, cameraman, Jerome Barry of The Embassy Series, and Nick Fordham, Exec. Producer of Monster Croc Wrangler
Call it respectful, call it evolved. You might even call it "mateship." In Australia, a "mate" is more than a friend. The term implies a sense of shared experience, mutual respect, and giving assistance in need.

This year, the Australian Embassy in Washington is celebrating the first 100 years of Australian-U.S. "Mateship" 1918-2018. The nations' friendship first formed in the trenches of World War I when U.S. and Australian troops -- under Australian command -- recaptured the city of Hamel from the Germans and turned the tide of the war, eventually leading to the Allies' victory.

Lisette and Jerome Barry, Robert Demers and Linda Harper (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Lisette and Jerome Barry, Robert Demers and Linda Harper
The Battle of Hamel has become the symbolic foundation of the deep and enduring bond, mutual respect and close cooperation that continues to exist between the American and Australian people today. Since World War I, Australia and the United States have been side by side in every major global conflict. 

And Americans sure like the Aussies' crocs and croc wranglers, too.  

 


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