The six women mostly likely to have Barack and Michelle Obama, or one of their five closest confidantes, to their homes.
Teresa Heinz: A longtime fan of couture fashion and especially of Chanel, Heinz, 71, has ideas about how to fix everything from the environment and a struggling economy to a perfect green salad. At least five key aides in the Obama administration are former recipients of the Heinz Foundation award. It doesn’t hurt that her husband, Sen. John Kerry, is chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and her late husband, John Heinz, was a moderate Republican.
Ali Wentworth: The city’s new social “It” girl, Wentworth, 44, learned a lot from her mother, Mabel “Muffie” Cabot, who served as Ronald Reagan’s social secretary. Case in point: “Seating is important — making everyone feel important and integral to the event.” But she disagrees with her mother when it comes to working the room with her husband, ABC chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos. “I’ve always been a big fan of the host and hostess moving seats, so everyone feels part of the party in the same way,” she says.
Capricia Marshall: Former White House social secretary for the Clintons, now chief of protocol, she’s a longtime pal of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and fast becoming the diplomatic corps’ best buddy. Marshall, in her 40s, organizes parties at Blair House for ambassadors to meet Obama insiders such as chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
This story first appeared in the November 24, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Madeleine Albright: Having resided in Washington since the Sixties, the 72-year-old former secretary of state has seen the city change from a place where women traded recipes for béarnaise sauce to a hub for women determined to run the world. She can still give a dinner party when the time is ripe.
Debra Lee: President and ceo of BET Holdings Inc., Lee is building a huge new home in the most prestigious part of town, hoping to attract the Obamas.
Katharine Weymouth: Granddaughter of legendary hostess and publishing mogul Katharine Graham, Weymouth, 43, is tough, just like her grandmother. The ceo of The Washington Post Media Co. and publisher of The Washington Post pulled the plug when Politico broke the story of an in-house brochure offering to charge lobbyists $250,000 for the privilege of dining at her home with top Post journalists.
Desirée Rogers: She’s the designated hitter when it comes to mixing with the social set both in Washington and Chicago. The 50-year-old White House social secretary graduated from Wellesley College and Harvard Business School. She is always at Michelle Obama’s side. Her best friend is Valerie Jarrett, the President’s best friend and senior White House adviser.
Valerie Jarrett: White House senior adviser and the best friend of both Obamas, Jarrett, 53, loves high fashion and hitting the social high spots almost as much as Desirée Rogers.
Eric Holder: Married to obstetrician Dr. Sharon Malone, Holder, 58, is a big catch for any hostess —the best-looking Attorney General since Robert F. Kennedy.
Penny Pritzker: Former national finance chairman for the Obama campaign, she is the richest of the Obamas’ friends — worth more than $1 billion — and is also among the most socially active. When she comes to town, Pritzker, 50, stays at her family hotel, the Hyatt. She has more clout with the President than anyone in the White House, aside from the First Lady.
Rahm Emanuel: Hard to land since his family moved to town, especially because his wife, Amy Rule, a stay-at-home mother, is known to be shy. “The best place to catch him is in the morning at the House gym,” said one social insider of the 49-year-old Emanuel.