The Up-and-Comers

The Bethesda area is home to lots of movers and shakers with long careers in business, politics and the arts. But it also has a number of rising stars who are making their mark before they’re even 40.



We celebrate six up-and-comers, from a chef with all the ingredients of success to a local politician making waves in Annapolis.

Carrie Fox

33, owner of C.Fox Communications

Shortly after Carrie Fox founded C.Fox Communications, she met with several high-profile executives on behalf of Balducci’s, the upscale grocery chain her public relations firm represented.  

Just 25 at the time, Fox walked into the meeting confident she could handle any question thrown at her. But there was one she wasn’t expecting: “Is your boss going to be joining you?”

Now 33, the petite woman with the angular bob is no stranger to proving herself in a field of older, more experienced colleagues. She was hired as communications director for Cal and Bill Ripken’s Ripken Baseball during her junior year at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore. Two years later, she became a junior associate at Prism Public Affairs in Washington, D.C., a firm co-founded by longtime political strategist Don Foley.

Foley was so impressed by Fox’s “finely honed” business skills and acumen that he now works as a senior counselor for her Silver Spring firm.

Fox founded C.Fox in 2004 while doing contract work for Prism after moving to Hartford, Conn. In 2006, she relocated to Maryland and expanded her firm, netting clients such as AARP and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Fox has focused on providing services for “mission-driven organizations.” Each year, C.Fox donates up to $30,000 in pro bono services to a different area nonprofit.

David Humphries, communications director for Silver Spring-based CHF International, says the relief agency received more media coverage in a year after hiring C.Fox in 2009 than it had in the previous 58 years.

He says Fox has “a serious ability to absorb knowledge quickly and pitch it in a way that’s interesting.”

Fox, who lives in Silver Spring with her husband, Brian, and 2-year-old daughter, Sophia, says it’s really a matter of attitude.

“If you carry yourself with confidence and speak with knowledge and authority,” she says, “no one can break you down.”

 

Dennis Friedman

33, chef-owner of Newton’s Table

It wasn’t that long ago that Dennis Friedman was a Walt Whitman High School student waiting tables at Ledo Pizza on River Road in Bethesda.

Even then, Friedman loved the restaurant industry and felt a connection to the people he served.

“Interacting with customers came naturally to me,” the soft-spoken Bethesda resident says.

Now 33, Friedman is connecting with customers on a much larger scale as chef-owner of Newton’s Table, which opened a year ago on Elm Street in Bethesda. The modern-American restaurant has received many positive reviews and is often packed on Friday and Saturday nights.

Friedman always believed he had a gift for the service industry. But he only considered becoming a chef after realizing that his heart wasn’t in attending law school as he’d initially planned.

Instead, he attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. That led to a stint with renowned chef Daniel Boulud at the restaurant Daniel in New York, where Friedman says the 100-hour workweeks were “the hardest but best thing I’ve ever done.”

He later worked at Michel Richard Citronelle and Kinkead’s in Washington, D.C., before becoming chef and co-owner of Bezu Restaurant & Bar in Potomac. He left Bezu to open Newton’s Table, and has since worked 14-hour days. He lives near the restaurant with fiancée Patty Pedroza.

Judith Mazza, spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C., chapter of the international culinary society Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, says Friedman possesses the culinary chops to be a star, and the business acumen required for long-term success.

“His techniques are spot-on, and he has a sensitivity to ingredients that’s just tremendous,” Mazza says. “He’s also personable and kind, and is defined as much by the way he interacts with his customers and colleagues as he is defined by his cuisine.”

 

Bill Frick

37, representing District 16 in the Maryland House of Delegates

When Bethesda’s Bill Frick was chosen in 2007 to replace retiring state Delegate Marilyn Goldwater, not many people knew who he was. The political activist and attorney surprised everyone—including himself—by winning out over 10 rivals in a special process conducted by the Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee.

But all that has changed in the nearly five years that the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School graduate has served in Annapolis.

Shortly after being sworn in to represent parts of Bethesda, Chevy Chase and Potomac, Frick played a key role in a contentious General Assembly special session over a state budget crisis, served on the instrumental Ways and Means Committee and helped Majority Leader Kumar Barve defend Gov. Martin O’Malley’s legislative package on the floor.

“Within weeks, he made the kind of impact on the Legislature that would have taken most people years,” says state Delegate Brian Feldman, who represents District 15 and is House chair of the Montgomery County delegation.

Frick, a senior attorney with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, D.C., has maintained that momentum. He tackled credit-card reform and consumer-protection issues, and successfully sponsored legislation requiring lenders to clearly disclose the terms of tax-refund anticipation loans.

Ginanne Italiano, president of The Greater Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chamber of Commerce, says Frick has a reputation for being highly responsive to constituents, and often calls chamber members to discuss proposed legislation.

The Harvard Law School graduate is also known as a family man more likely to talk about his wife, Bethany, or his kids—Katie, 6, and Charlie, 3—than his own accomplishments. And despite Kennedy-esque good looks that led the blog Maryland Politics Watch to dub him “The Stud of the Statehouse,” Frick doesn’t take himself too seriously.

“He’s very up front and real,” Italiano says.

 

Lisa Fadden

30, vice president of public affairs for The Chevy Chase Land Company

Lisa Fadden’s office at The Chevy Chase Land Company is decked out with tributes to running—from a poster of the 2007 Boston Marathon in which she ran to framed photos of the running team she coaches.

The pictures remind her of how running can bring together disparate personalities—and of how coaching can mean assuaging conflicting points of view.

That particular skill has served her well at the 122-year-old, low-profile firm that hired her in August 2011 to be its public face and help shepherd its controversial proposal to build a large mixed-use development at Chevy Chase Lake.

With her long brown hair and 5-foot stature, Fadden looks much younger than her 30 years and it’s difficult to imagine her going toe-to-toe with longtime community leaders. But that’s what she has done ever since she was hired six years ago as public affairs and communications coordinator, and 18 months later as vice president of public affairs, at the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce.

Gigi Godwin, chamber president and CEO, says Fadden excelled at “getting into the weeds” of complicated legislation when she served as a liaison between the chamber and local lawmakers.

And in her new role, Fadden has helped smooth the contentious public debate over The Land Company’s development proposal for Chevy Chase Lake, says Chevy Chase Mayor David Lublin.

“People are now engaging in a meaningful discussion about the issues rather than simply arguing,” Lublin says. “She reaches out to people in a very meaningful way, listening to understand, not just to pay lip service. I wish she were working for my side.”

Fadden, who lives in Northwest Washington, D.C., with fiancé Dale Nelson, attributes her success to her “fearless” nature.

“Honestly,” she says, “it’s pretty difficult to intimidate me.”

 

Michael Bobbitt

39, producing artistic director of Adventure Theatre

A chase is unfolding onstage at Adventure Theatre, and the few dozen preschoolers in the audience are going wild.

“Do you hear that?” Michael Bobbitt says as laughter and shrieks pour from the theater. “That’s the best part of my job.”

Tall and stocky with big brown eyes, a goatee and a soft, honey tenor voice, Bobbitt, 39, makes his job as producing artistic director sound like child’s play. But transforming the Glen Echo Park children’s theater from a board-run operation to one with a professional staff and a revamped operating system was anything but.

Bobbitt, who took over in 2006 after working as a professional actor and director in Washington, D.C., and New York, also changed the focus of theater productions from grade-school kids to preschoolers and younger children.

And he aggressively pursued adaptations of big-name children’s books, including If You Give a Pig a Pancake, which won the theater its first Helen Hayes Award last year.

During Bobbitt’s tenure, the theater’s annual attendance has skyrocketed from 18,000 in 2007 to 71,000 in 2011.

Jerry Whiddon, a former artistic director at Bethesda’s Round House Theatre, says Bobbitt has increased Adventure Theatre’s visibility “in a wonderful way.”

“What he’s done with the theater got my attention, and got the attention of a lot of other professional artists who are well into their careers,” says Whiddon, who has directed plays for Bobbitt at Adventure Theatre.

Bobbitt, who lives in Glen Echo with his partner, Craig Hanna, and his Vietnamese adopted son, Sang Bobbitt Hanna, 10, is working to diversify the theater’s audience. He has developed a “sensory-friendly” performance model for autistic children and held special events, including one for adoptive families.

Bobbitt’s “fearless nature and healthy sense of competition” motivate him to seek new challenges. “I thrive on the fun of those challenges, and in the success that comes in their wake,” he says.    

 

Anna Hargrave

31, deputy director of The Community Foundation for Montgomery County

When Anna Hargrave attends board meetings for The Community Foundation of Montgomery County, she often finds herself sitting with parents of childhood playmates.

That’s because the 31-year-old with the big brown eyes and wide smile has lived in the county almost her entire life. A Springbrook High School graduate, she grew up in Silver Spring influenced by parents who were committed to serving their community. Her father, Thomas Hargrave, served as president of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington, and her mother, Meredith Higgins, often brought her daughter along to serve breakfast to the homeless and volunteer for various causes.

These days, it’s Hargrave who’s serving her community as deputy director of The Community Foundation, working one-on-one with its more than 260 donors.

Hired as a donor services associate in 2006, Hargrave assumed her current role in late 2010. She focuses on uniting government agencies, businesses, philanthropists and nonprofits, and she makes sure that donors are giving in a way that’s fiscally smart and emotionally satisfying. For example, she might pair a dentist’s widow with an organization that provides free dental care for kids.

“What’s special about Anna is the way she takes her talent and her love for this community and uses it to engage philanthropists in conversations about why they should give where they live,” Executive Director Sally Rudney says. “Anna really pays attention to who donors are and what they’re about.”

Before joining the foundation, Hargrave worked with various social service organizations in the area, including the Jewish Social Service Agency in Silver Spring, and the Montgomery Youth Works program at MontgomeryWorks in Wheaton.

Hargrave, who lives in Silver Spring with her husband, Jimmy Hernandez, says she loves “learning what inspires people, and what pulls on their heartstrings.”

Amy Reinink’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, Entrepreneur and Women’s Running. She lives in Silver Spring.                 

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