VIDEO: The Georgetown Dish honors Sally Quinn
"Beth told me a few weeks ago that Sally Quinn would be receiving this first-ever award on behalf of The Georgetown Dish for her contributions to style and to journalism and I jumped at the chance to present the award to Sally. I learned early that Sally was the go-to person for pretty much anything when I first moved to Washington and my grandmother was going to take me out to dinner and called Sally to ask where we should go.
Sally, you all know, is a force to be reckoned with. She is widely credited with creating the Style section of The Washington Post. The section used to be known in that dismissive way as the “Women’s” section. And much as my grandmother blew up tradition when she refused to go nicely to the parlor with the women after a dinner while the men talked about serious things, Sally blew up the so-called Women’s section and made it a must-read for all of Washington. Today, when I run into people who used to live in Washington, they always tell me how much they miss getting The Washington Post. And when pressed, it is the Style section they miss most. There is just nothing like it anywhere else.
More recently, Sally has created a new name and reputation as the creator and author of On Faith, one of the most popular blogs on washingtonpost.com. Most of you might guess that newsrooms are generally populated with a group that tend toward the cynical – including their beliefs on the existence of a higher power. The Post has never been very strong in its coverage of religion. Sally fought to create On Faith and give it the attention it deserves. She has done it single-handedly and its success is entirely a testament to Sally.
Sally is also famous for having tamed the one man no one thought could be tamed. There is still a long line of jealous women but women who dare not cross Sally, no matter how charming Ben is. Sally is the woman you want fighting for you. What struck me most about Quinn’s wonderful book is not just everything he has fought for and triumphed over, but how Sally fought for him and refused to take no for an answer.
That same loyalty and passion that Sally brings to her work is the loyalty and passion she brings to family and friends. My grandmother adored Sally and relied on her for gossip, advice and just a good laugh. Sally is funny and smart and irreverent and you can count on her to always tell it to you like it really is.
I want to give you one example of Sally’s willingness to stand up for what she believes in and to tell you the unvarnished truth when you need it most. My Grandmother writes in her book of receiving an invitation to a dinner at the exclusive Gridiron Club in 1972 – a club which had long refused to accept women as members.
My grandmother confessed in her book that she was dying to go. But then she got a letter from a group of women in the newsroom at The Post urging her not to go until an unless the Gridiron Club accepted a woman as a member. In order to resolve the question of whether she would g or not, she invited a group of women over for dinner to discuss the merits of going or not going. My grandmother wrote of that dinner: “They made many valid arguments, but the clincher belonged to Sally Quinn, who said: ‘if a country club excluded you for being a Jew but said they’d like to have you for dinner, would you go?’ That cemented my decision to regret the invitation, which I did.”
Sally is strong and passionate. But she is has a soft side – a side that believes in a higher power and in the inherent goodness of people. In sum, you can see that it is my honor to present Sally with this well-deserved award to thank her for all that she has contributed. Washington would not be the same without her.
-- Katharine Weymouth, Dec. 7, 2010