The naming of Georgetowners of the Year has been a tradition of The Georgetowner newspaper for decades. This year’s group, selected by the editorial board, includes a relentless advocate for the homeless, a police officer who knows Georgetown better than most Georgetowners, an all-volunteer business group consistently in Georgetown’s corner, a social and dining club that renewed itself for fun and profit and a famed journalist and author who found her own magic.
Gunther Stern, executive director of Georgetown Ministry Center for nearly 30 years, retires in February. Founded in 1987 by the Georgetown Clergy Association and Georgetown University, Georgetown Ministry Center is a combination of community efforts — a drop-in center, street outreach and a winter shelter — headquartered at Grace Church. The unstoppable Stern has given voice and visibility to the homeless among us, especially in this wealthy town. They find safety through Stern’s work and we learn how to decrease homelessness. His last name means “star” in German and he has indeed shone like the Christmas star for those in need, bringing them shelter. For such accomplishments — above and beyond — Gunther Stern of the Georgetown Ministry Center is a Georgetowner of the Year for 2017.
The Georgetown Business Association
Founded in 1976 by Rick Hindin, the Georgetown Business Association is an all-volunteer group that promotes businesses in D.C.’s oldest neighborhood and works with the other community groups and the District government. It celebrated its 40th anniversary in top style last year at the Rosewood Hotel. With an involved executive board, GBA’s new dynamism has led to Georgetown getting its own Main Street program, a D.C. government- funded nonprofit, which will help Wisconsin Avenue businesses market themselves — a huge plus for the community. GBA President Sonya Bernhardt, also the publisher of The Georgetowner, departs this year, succeeded by GBA Vice President Hope Solomon. For such accomplishments — above and beyond — the Georgetown Business Association is a Georgetowner of the Year for 2017.
Officer Antonial Atkins of the Metropolitan Police Department has patrolled Georgetown and nearby neighborhoods for almost 30 years. Atkins retires from the force Jan. 1, and, yes, there will be a retirement party for him. “Get to know your neighbors,” Atkins said at a community meeting two years ago. One of his inspirations, he said in The Georgetowner’s Aug. 5, 2015, community-policing cover story, came from watching reruns of “The Andy Griffith Show,” in which everyone in town knew one another. Also a big supporter of using social media and other technologies to connect citizens and police, MPD “Officer of the Year” Atkins told a story about neighbors who lived on the same street for more than 10 years and had never met. One resident thought someone was breaking into the house next door. It was his neighbor, not a burglar, and it took a cop to know the difference. And it took someone like Atkins to know the neighborhood better than most of its residents. The town is losing a truly great public servant. For such accomplishments — above and beyond — Officer Antonial Atkins of the Metropolitan Police Department is a Georgetowner of the Year for 2017.
Sally Quinn, who is known as the quintessential hostess, is more than the sum of her parts. A friend to Georgetown and its charities, she has opened her house for receptions to benefit them. Her love for her late husband, legendary journalist and editor Ben Bradlee, and for her son Quinn is without rival. Her intimate notes in her memoir, “Finding Magic,” underscores the work she did writing “On Faith” in the Washington Post, where earlier she was part of a vibrant Style section. She found God in her own way. Her venture into TV news may not have made her a star, but she’s our star. For such accomplishments — above and beyond — Sally Quinn is a Georgetowner of the Year for 2017.
The George Town Club
The George Town Club is the club that got its groove back. “We carefully reinvented the George Town Club,” said designer Andrew Law of the elegant in-town club, known for its members involved in politics, diplomacy, business, academia and other professions. Founded in 1966 and rich in stories, the club had fallen flat but underwent a design, culinary and leadership renewal. “The club feels relevant again,” said designer Deborah Winsor, who with others worked on the club renovation four years ago. One such leader was John Girouard, who righted the financial ship. Membership blasted off from 60 to 600. Also part of the dream team that made the renewal real are George Town Club President Sharon Casey, Vice President Lynn Doran, Elena Tompkins and Elizabeth Miller as well as restaurateur Bo Blair and his wife Meghan. Let’s also remember the late Wyatt Dickerson. For such accomplishments — above and beyond — the George Town Club is a Georgetowner of the Year for 2017.