Mitzvah Maker — Kevin Fishkind

The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington recently announced the winner of its Jerome J. Dick Young Leadership Award:  Kevin Fishkind.

Gather the Jews:  Congratulations, Kevin!  Can you tell us a little bit about the award and what you did to win it?  Big cash prize?!

Kevin with his wife (Meryl) and his daughter (Ruby).

KF:  I have been involved with Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (JFGW) for 6 or 7 years.  My wife and I were introduced to JFGW by taking a Jewish Heritage Class with Erica Brown (she’s the greatest).  I have also been a volunteer and participant in Young Leadership Programs including Nexus and Nexus Next Step.  My first leadership role was (along with my wife) as Co-Chair of Dialogues with JFGW.  For the last two years I have served as Co-Chair of Young Leadership along with Eva Davis (2010-11) and Jeremy Rosen 2011.  We have made amazing strides and, along with the professional staff, have created a Young Leadership Board.

GTJ:   Dialogues… tell us more about that!

KF: This is a JFGW program for Young Couples in the DC/MD/VA area.  Most of the programs for young people in Washington DC are located in the District and cater to a single crowd.  Dialogues is a way for young couples that are dealing with similar challenges in marriage or career or raising children to interact with other couples and also stay connected to the Jewish Community.

GTJ:  If you could give one thing to the young professional Jewish community of Washington, DC, or if you could improve one thing about the community, what would you do?

KF:   I would like to create a better network for young Jewish Professionals to conduct business with one another and also connect for personal reasons.  I am passionate about passing on Jewish traditions and values to the next generation and I think we need a connected community to accomplish this.  We need to make being Jewish “cool” and a club or “tribe” that people want to be a part of.  In general, our generation is less interested in religion and this matters less if you are a Catholic as there are still plenty of Catholics out there.

GTJ:  If you had to give this award to another person, whom (other than your wife) would you give it to?

KF:  Sorry to cheat here but I would give the award to Jeremy Rosen, Rachel Cohen Gerrol, and Josh Stevens.  Eva Davis has already won the award and is deserving.  All four of these young leaders inspire me.

GTJ:  That’s the second week in a row that Jeremy Rosen has gotten a shoutout.  See Casey’s interview.  Unprecedented!!

GTJ:  When not saving the Jewish community of DC from evil monsters, what do you do (… What’s your day job?)

KF: I work as a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.  I help clients answer 2 questions: Do I have enough money to make it?  Are there any blind spots in my plan?

GTJ:  Describe the DC young professional community with four adjectives.

KF:   Intelligent, Driven, Caring, and Socially Aware

 

Girl of the Week – Jessica

1.) You’re an avid collector. Tell us about that.
I come from a family of collectors and so on a family trip to California I started my own collection by buying my first snowglobe. My dad would bring me snowglobes back from business trips, I would get them for birthday and Hanukah presents, from family vacations, etc., and soon I had over 200! At 16, I was invited to join the Smithsonian in their 150th anniversary celebration by displaying my collection in their young collector’s exhibit. My collection and I were also featured on the cover of the Potomac gazette and in a young collectors show on FX. Shortly after that my mother started my second collection – Peach Crest Fenton glass, or as I call it – Pink Fenton. Knowing I had a love for pink, it was the perfect addition to my love of collecting. My paternal grandmother was also a collector and being extremely close to her, she left me her two most important collections when she passed – her clowns and her teapots. I cherish both of these collections just as much as my pink Fenton glass and my snowglobes; they are truly a part of who I am.

2.) You work in television production. What goes on behind the scenes?
Working in TV isn’t always glamorous – especially when you work in government TV like I do. As a little girl I wanted to be the next Katie Couric, but in high school I was introduced to the production side and fell in love with the creativity it allowed me to bring. Government TV isn’t very exciting but I love what I do – I handle all the logistical parts of production. I get to location scout, hold casting calls, travel to new cities, interview exciting people, and work with clients to produce all kinds of multimedia. I smile every time my friends tell me what a cool job I have, but it’s not always thrilling! Most of my days are spent in front of a computer planning and organizing upcoming shoots. It’s not your typical 9 to 5 job, but I wouldn’t trade it in for any other job in the world.

3.) You’ve had many traveling adventures. What was your favorite?
I can only pick one? That’s really hard! My travels started as a young child with many family vacations. When I was 16 I went on USY on Wheels where for 6 weeks, along with 45 other Jewish teens, I traveled by bus around North America. A few years later I traveled to Israel to attend the Alexander Muss High School in Israel – another incredible opportunity. After that I loved to travel to new places and see new things – besides more family vacations like Cape Cod and Hawaii – where I swam with Sharks – I’ve traveled with friends to Vegas and New Orleans. In college I visited Delmarva where I went skydiving – not your typical traveling but an adventure I had to mention! New York City is another favorite destination, I have a lot of friends there so it’s nice to go visit. I also love to go to Chicago to visit my 4 year old nephew Max and my 8 month old niece Ruthie. Next up? I would love to plan a trip to India! There are so many places I would love to see though that someday I hope to travel the globe!

4.) How did you decide to become a youth advisor?
Growing up I was extremely active in USY – it is a huge part of who I am today. I’m still very good friends with many of my USY friends and I love to reminisce about how much fun we used to have at activities, dances and conventions. When the opportunity came up to be a youth advisor at Har Shalom, the same synagogue that I grew up at, I jumped at it. I hope to have a positive influence on these kids, and that they have the same amazing experiences as I did. I am truly blessed that I am able to give back to the synagogue that taught me how important Judaism is and to the Jewish community that taught me so much.

5.) Where can we find you on weekends?
I am such a social butterfly that I’m always out doing something! I love to go out dancing in Bethesda so you can usually find me out bar hopping somewhere in the area. I try to visit my college friends in Baltimore when I can and always have a blast there! I’m much happier in a laid back city like Baltimore than a busy uptight one like DC – although since buying my condo a year ago, Bethesda is definitely home. I also enjoy going to Shir Delight at Adas once a month and do that whenever I can! Life can get so busy it’s nice to have options to enjoy it every once in awhile.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Yasha

Yasha explains why he should be Jewish Guy of the Year:

When I moved to US from Russia in 2006 I didn’t know a single person in DC. Yet I was very much welcomed by the Washington Jewish community and through my involvement with the DC Jewish life I’ve met great friends and had many memorable and meaningful personal and communal experiences. Now I feel very much at home here and whether or not I will be named the Jewish Guy of the Year I will continue to pay it forward by being as engaged and welcoming as I can.

1.)     Tell us about your work at Hillel.
I work at Hillel’s International Division in our headquarters in Chinatown. My job, which I love, is to support and grow over 30 Hillels in the countries of the former Soviet Union, Israel, Latin America, etc. No, I don’t travel to all these places all the time, but I definitely use Skype way more than my regular phone.

2.)     Where can we find you on a Friday night?
I enjoy taking advantage of the diversity of the DC Jewish community. Over the years I attended services at TLS Shabbat, DC Minyan, 6th in the City, Mesorah DC, Shir Delight, 6th Street Minyan and others. These days most of the time you will find me at 6th and I Historic Synagogue as I’m a big fan of their truly inclusive community of communities model. Maybe that is why I am currently the mayor of the place.

3.)     I hear you love to host parties. You had a Glee season finale party. What did that entail?
Ooops. I guess I’m out of my Glee closet for good now. It was a very laid back night with my fellow gleeks where we had some vodka slushies and decorated a Glee chalkboard during the commercial breaks. It wasn’t as crazy as some other parties that my roommate and I recently hosted at our place in Van Ness such as Russian Space party or guys-only Whiskey Night. But the next party I’m planning will put them all to shame as I’m looking forward to celebrating my American citizenship later this summer.

4.)     Vodka slushies, Russian space party, citizenship – it seems pretty clear you came from Russia not too long ago. What were the biggest adjustments you had to make when you came to the U.S.?
First there was language and food but that was relatively easy. Then came the real learning and the process of breaking down the stereotypes about Americans as a whole and certain communities in particular that I didn’t get to experience before moving here. It was an eye- and mind-opening experience that I am very grateful for. One other interesting observation that I made is that Russians usually have fewer friends, but the relationships among friends seem to be deeper. Here everyone is friendly but building a meaningful friendship is not easy, especially in such a transient city as DC. But being the member of the tribe certainly helped a lot with my adjustment here as it creates an instant bond with someone with whom you might not have much in common otherwise.

5.)     What’s your favorite thing to do in DC?
I host a lot of international visitors and often take them around to see the sites. Strangely enough I still very much enjoy it as I get to see and rediscover the beautiful city that we live in through their eyes. Library of Congress, FDR and Einstein Memorials, Old Post Office Tower are some of my favorite places to take people to but there are many more that are off the beaten path. And since I recently signed up for Capital Bikeshare I’m discovering even more unique neighborhoods and cool streets. I’ve been here for 5 years but still feel like the journey has only just begun.

 

Mitzvah Maker: YAD-MD

GTJ:  We hear there’s a new Jewish group in town…  Tell us about it.

Kelly Paul:  YAD-MD is the Young Adults Division of Magen David Synagogue. We are a Sephardic synagogue located in Rockville, MD, just outside of Washington DC, led by Rabbi Joshua Maroof and his family. Our group was created to introduce young people to our synagogue & to provide opportunities for people to connect.

GTJ:  Ooooh Sephardic?  Is is true that Sephardim are better looking than we Ashkenazi folk?

KP:  Thats a personal preference. On a different note, I can confidently say that sephardim are far superior in terms of food. I’ve never understood ashkenazi food such as gefilte fish. What exactly is in that stuff? I’ve always been scared to try it.

GTJ:  Why did this organization launch recently?  What made it the right time?  Who are the leaders?

KP:   The group was started by myself and two other fabulous ladies, Shelley & Netaly. Rabbi Maroof has been unconditionally supportive of our efforts. If not now, when?

GTJ:  What are some of the events you’ve hosted so far?  And what do you have coming up?

KP:  We’ve had two events so far, a happy hour at ONE Lounge and a Yom Ha’atzmaut BBQ at the synagogue. Both were incredibly successful. Our next event is a Shabbat Dinner on Friday June 10th. Check out our facebook page for more information and to sign up. All the food will be homemade and sephardic-style, I promise it will be very yummy!  https://www.facebook.com/#!/home.php?sk=group_202742076424241

GTJ:  In honor of Shavuot…  Which one of the Ten Commandments is your favorite?

KP:   Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.  Remember to sign up for our shabbat dinner- it is going to be amazing!

 

To learn more about YAD-MD, visit the group’s facebook page.

Jewish Girl of the Week – Casey

1.) You were raised in England. What was your transition like when you moved to the US?

I was actually born in LA so the culture shock was actually more intense when I moved to England as a 9 year old valley girl. My mom decided I was going to follow in her footsteps and sent me to an all-girls equestrian boarding school in the country side. Our uniform was brown and yellow. We wore brown knee-high socks, and boater hats that looked like a lot like this—see below. For better or for worse, my mom was all for what-doesn’t-kill-you-makes-you-stronger experiences.

2.) You’re a biking extraordinaire. Tell us about your favorite trails/biking adventures.

So I’m not exactly the biking extraordinaire that I used to be. Okay, I’m not at all anymore, BUT I still have a bike, and I just got a nice new pump that I plan on using very soon.

To answer your question, my favorite biking adventures were on my way into work when I worked at AIPAC (pre-moving to the suburbs where I now drive an SUV to work, 5 minutes away). Me and a couple coworkers would wake up before sunrise, head out to Bethesda, take the C&O trail into the city, and straight into work. Biking through the woods, next to the river as the sun was coming up… um, yeah. Best commute ever.

A specific “adventure” also happened to be on our way to work, when my friend decided to bike on the C&O canal, which had frozen over that night. The trouble was, we didn’t exactly know how thick the ice was. Okay, so we survived and there ended up being very little “adventure”, but it was probably the most scared I’ve ever been on a bike.

3.) You produced some events for the AIPAC policy conference. Tell us about them!

I did! This year (just last week), AIPAC’s Policy Conference exceeded a record-breaking 10,000 attendees. That’s over 10,000 kosher chickens in one night, not to mention a lot of Jews. The crowd couldn’t all fit in the main hall, so AIPAC had no choice but to create an additional banquet that occurred simultaneously, and at times, in “live-sync” with the Gala Banquet.

Personally, I was able to combine my love for an organization I owe so much of my life to, and my other love for producing events in my new role at VIVA Creative (a “global experiential communications” agency that specializes in, well, just about anything creative). It was hands down the highlight of my professional career to date.

4.) You’re leading the Birthright alumni leadership mission trip this summer. What will you be doing?

The incredible thing about co-chairing this year’s 2nd Annual Birthright Leadership Mission (with Jeremy Rosen!) is that we’re doing pretty much all of my favorite activities and programming from last year, and so much more that is going to be new for me—not to mention that I have 25 awesome new people I will get to know.

Personal highlight from last year, and one that we will be revisiting: Zohar Raviv and Forsan Hussein. Not only the best of friends; they are two unbelievably inspirational people in their own right. Zohar is the Educational Director of Taglit-Birthight Israel; and Forsan is the first Muslim to stand at the head of the YMCA—an organization founded to put Christian principles into practice, located in a Jewish State.

We will also be going to an army base camp, working with high-risk youths, visiting an Ethiopian Absorption Center, the Taub Center, “Present-Tense”, and so much more… but knowing that I still have another question left, I should probably move on and respect our readers’ attention span.

5.) When you’re not at a Jewish event, where can we find you?

Talking to my dad on the phone (we probably talk at least 3 times a day); geeking out on my computer making videos (“birthdays, weddings, funerals… film for every occasion”); or slappin’ the bass at Malcolm X drum circle on Sunday afternoons. For any readers that haven’t yet been, do yourselves a favor and go.

 

Guy of the Week – Zach

1.) You moved to DC pretty recently. What were your first impressions?
I’ve actually moved around quite a bit in the last two years: I graduated from the University of Michigan in 2009 (go blue!), lived in St. Louis last year, was back home in LA for 6 months, traveled to Thailand, and then finally settled in Washington DC five months ago. I get tired just writing that! I think I’ll stick around for awhile. I was told to expect this, but I didn’t realizethe extent until I actually moved here: DC is run by 20 year olds. It is awesome to be around so many interesting young professionals. Sorry I can go on about this city. In sum, I’m happy to be here.

2.) Where can we find you on the weekends?
I am a big fan of the drum circle at Meridian Park. Would like to go more often. You can’t beat (GTJ: pun?) the scene and ambience. When it’s nice out, there is nothing more pleasant than spending a dayat the park grooving and people watching. But I typically watch and dance. Although I must say, I am more of a tandem yoga kind of guy. (Cue the L.A. hippie, flip-flop-wearing, organic-salad-eating, stereotype. I’ve heard it all before.)

3.) What were you thinking leaving sunny L.A.?
Obviously, I get that question a lot.  But if this past weekend was any indication, I don’t think I will be deprived of the sun here. Don’t get me wrong, I miss home. I have a niece and nephew in LA that I am missing grow up, so that’s hard. Thankfully I discovered Taqueria Nacional. The first thing I do in a new place is seek out a taco stand. If you got another spot, I’ll check it out.


4.) Rumor has it you’ve already thrown a few Shabbat dinner gatherings.
Thanks for not asking a question about Shavuot. You should leave that for next week’s Jewish Guy of the Week. I enjoy entertaining and cooking. It’s nice to celebrate the Sabbath with friends. Amazing way to mark the end of the week. I also cook one hell of a baked salmon, if I say so myself. Looking forward to having people over on my roof deck this summer.

5.) We’ve talked about Los Angeles a lot. You must watch Entourage. Which character are you most like?
I am like E—the guy who gets it done behind the scene. Vince may get the fame and glory, but I get Sloan.

 

Jewish Girl – Becky

Jodi T.:  You’re on the Federation’s young leadership board. What do you do and how can we get involved?
After I went on my Birthright trip last summer I wanted to stay involved with the DC Jewish community. I joined the Birthright Israel NEXT DC committee, a committee under the Federation’s Young Leadership division. It’s been a fantastic way to meet new people, and what’s so great is that we’re all Birthright alums, from all sorts of Birthright trips, all living in the DC area. We plan fundraising happy hours, volunteer with Mitzvah Hoppin’, celebrate Shabbat with Shabbat Hoppin’, and so much more! In fact, this Sunday is “Jew at the Zoo,” a fun opportunity to hang out with young Jewish professionals and Birthright alumni while enjoying a mimosa and the National Zoo! If you want to get involved you can learn more about Birthright Israel NEXT DC at this site or email dc@birthrightisrael.com.

JT:  Tell us about your job.
I feel privileged to work for JSSA, the Jewish Social Service Agency. I am a clinical social worker and get to wear a variety of “hats” there — I do care management for older adults and their families; I see clients for therapy; I co-facilitate a variety of groups; and I coordinate financial assistance requests, among other things. Every day is different and there’s never a dull moment! It’s exciting to be able to impact the lives of so many people, especially during these tough economic times. JSSA offers a wide range of services for children and families, senior adults, individuals with special needs, and also employment and career services. If you’d like to learn more about JSSA you can visit our website at www.jssa.org!

JT:  We hear you love to bake. What are your specialties?
I do love to bake! I get my love of baking for others from my mom, who learned how to bake from my father’s mother. I have a fun time putting a nostalgic twist on the trendy baked goods we see around the city; recently I’ve been experimenting with whoopie pies and cake pops. I have fun when I’m baking, it allows for so much creativity, allows me to de-stress, and come on, who doesn’t love a good old fashioned chocolate chip cookie?

JT: What are your favorite things to do in DC?
I’m a huge fan of farmer’s markets during the warmer months. I love perusing Eastern Market with a good iced coffee on a weekend morning and coming home with a fun find — I’m still growing a huge rosemary plant that I bought as only a few sprigs this time last year! I don’t think DC gets the credit it deserves for great restaurants and I really enjoy trying new places. I sometimes wish I could spend lunchtime in the city to try out the newest food trucks! Oh, and another favorite thing to do is jog over to Roosevelt Island for a walk around the island and its monument. If you’ve never been you should go! It’s a semi-hidden gem of the city with a gorgeous raised trail around its perimeter.

JT:  Where can we find you on a Friday night?
Well I recently became the newest Birthright Israel NEXT DC Shabbat Hoppin’ Co-Chair, so pretty soon you’ll be able to find me all around the area one Shabbat per month at a different local synagogue. It’s a great way to get to know our community, both young Jewish professionals and the Jewish community at large. I also really love taking advantage of the Birthright Israel Shabbat dinners and hosting friends for a Shabbat dinner. It’s a fun opportunity to showcase my newest baked good creations but it’s also a great way for friends to come together after a busy week and unwind together. A lawn game-themed Shabbat dinner is in the works…

Jewish Guy – Mourad

Tila K.:  DC has been your home for a few years now… What have you been doing and is it true that you will be leaving us soon?
Sadly, it’s true that I will no longer be among the proud Jews in Washington D.C. I will be graduating GW Med after four wonderful years in DC but I won’t be going toooo far. I’ll be heading to another Capital of America- the Jewish one. I will be in New York City for residency.

TK:  Does your family have any neat Passover seder traditions?
Rice, rice, rice! Not only do we eat, drink, think, and bathe in rice, we also have other unique traditions. As the best uncle, I buy all my nephews and nieces gifts for finding the afikomin (even though they never find it!). Being with family is what it’s all about and I look forward breaking matzah with them every year. Oh, we also don’t eat hummus because it sounds like chametz…weird, I know.
SR:  You bathe in rice?  Is that how somebody figured out that sticking your water-damaged iPhone in a bag of rice can save it?  I’ve always wondered about that…

 

TK:  If you had to wander the desert for 40 years, what would you take with you for entertainment?

Ipad 2 with 3g and wifi (you never know where there will be hotspots). I think I would entertain myself for hours if I had doodle jump, cut the rope, and angry birds. Oh and maybe, GPS (i.e. google exodus). It also makes a great waiter tray for all those times you need to serve the manna to others in the desert. 

TK:  Do you remember what your Torah portion was?  Do you have any words of wisdom on it?
My torah portion was Toledot and I remember it vividly since I read it by the Kotel. Not only did it teach me to be humble and acquire good deeds like Jacob, but it taught me how to be a savvy businessman when it comes to trading lentil soup for first-born rights.

SR:  I’ll have to try that one…

Jewish Guy – Alberto

Tila K:  Tell us about yourself
Always a hard question to answer!! I am the grandson of Polish and Turkish immigrants to Mexico City, where I spent the first half of my life. I had a lively childhood. It was full of great experiences and notable people. I went to high school in San Diego, college in upstate New York, and graduate school in Pittsburgh. I’ve been in DC for a little over 2 years. I like to eat, read and other good things like that.

TK:  What is the Jewish community like in Mexico?
Jewish life in Mexico is interesting! Despite small numbers, Jews are well represented in the working sector, in the arts, politics, and society. The Jewish community is very close, although there is a noticeable breakdown between ethnic groups in a way that is more pronounced than in the US. This is less the case today than in the past, when marrying outside your ethnic group was frowned upon. Also, Jews in Mexico have blended their Judaism with several aspects of the surrounding culture, as they have in other places. And since Judaism and Mexican cultures are both rich, the product is vibrant and endlessly interesting.

Stephen R.:  What Spanish phrase or word does the English language really need?
“No Manches,” which literally translates to “don’t stain,” but is really a clean substitute for a vulgar term, which is used to convey surprise in a number of different contexts. It’s like the joker card. It’s kind of how the phrase “forget about it” is used in the movie Donnie Brasco. But I don’t really know anyone who goes around saying “forget about it” for every possible situation, except if they just watched the movie and are really enthusiastic about it. But, most Mexicans use “no manches” in a number of contexts.

SR:  A few world cups back, the United States beat Mexico in the round of 16. Was the corner kick goal the USA scored on a hand ball or a legitimate header for a goal? Who were you rooting for?
Ah, nice attempt to test my allegiance, which I pledge to the flag… But really, that was a handball, or at least not a deliberate handball as the ref later claimed. I lost my faith in all humanity after that terrifying incident.

SR:  You said you like to eat and read. What food and book go particularly well together?
Like Water for Chocolate” and chocolate; “Green Eggs and Ham,” and green eggs but no ham; “Who Moved my Cheese?” and Tofu; “Charlotte’s Web” and bacon. Ok, never mind that one. I don’t eat bacon only because I have a soft spot for Wilbur the pig and because I learned first-hand the trauma of eating a personified animal when back in Mexico the cook killed my pet turkey “Daniel” and made him into dinner! Very, very traumatic!

SR: yumm…

SR:  Many graduating high schoolers are asked for a senior profile for which they have to pick a theme song. Mine was “Damn it feels good to be a gangsta” … For obvious reasons. What would your song be? And why?
Damnit Stephen!! Don’t you be stealing my song! I’m the only gangsta in this piece cuz real gangstas don’t flex them cuz they know they got it! Got it? Ummm… I guess you can also be a gangster and we can then both be gangsters?

TK:  Where can we find you on a Friday night?
I try to frequent 6th and I or DC minyan but lately I’ve been a bit of a hermit. Now that it’s summertime I am determined to get out a bit more.

Jewish Girl – Karen

Jodi T.: You’re a Mitzvah Hopping Co-Chair. Tell us about the program and how we can get involved.
Yes! Mitzvah Hoppin is actually the product of the Birthright Alumni Leadership Mission that I was fortunate enough to have been selected for last summer. I’m on a team of 7 amazingly committed individuals planning out bi-monthly volunteer activities. So far we’ve volunteered at a Senior Center for Hanukah festivities, the DCJCC for their Hunger Action program, and we have 2 really great programs coming up this summer with Lucky Dog Animal Rescue and Behrend Builders. For more info, join the Mitzvah Hoppin’ facebook group!

SR: It’s called Lucky Dog…?  Weird… See New Orleans

JT:  You’re from New Jersey. Tell us about this.
I hesitate to admit this but my iPod (which was given to me as a gift) actually says, “We don’t pump gas, we pump our fists” on it, haha. One thing I will NOT hesitate to admit though is I love Jersey Shore (the place and the show), but only one of them is actually from New Jersey, so they pump gas as well as their fists. When I was younger and people would ask my mom what I wanted to be, she used to say “Italian.” I went to high school with 90% Italian kids so I just started to blend. I’ve been to Italy twice now (once on a high school trip and then studied abroad there in college) and if pressed, I might still be able to have a basic conversation. When you think about it, Jews and Italians really aren’t all that different: we both love food and family…and talking with our hands.

JT:  We hear you like theme parties. Explain.
I love themes, and I love dressing up – Halloween has been my very favorite holiday for as long as I can remember. I used to have a Halloween party in the summer as an excuse to wear a costume! I usually start planning my Halloween costumes around August and start planning my Halloween party around the same time. For anyone that knows me, I’ll find any excuse to wear a costume: Santa Bar Crawls, Oktoberfest, Legwarmers concerts, Tuesdays, j/k.

JT:  I’ve been fortunate enough to join you at one of your Sunday night dinners. How did this tradition get started?
I love cooking, trying out new recipes and putting my own twist on them. My family gets together on Sundays for dinner so I think it was my way of paralleling and replicating that with my own DC family. It’s a good way of getting together at the end of the weekend to recap what happened and also relax before a new week begins. There are three rules to Sunday dinner though: you have to like Frank Sinatra; you have to like wine; and stay out of my kitchen!

SR: Invite?

JT:  Being an event planner, can you tell us about a time when something came up that you didn’t exactly plan for.
I’d love to tell you about a time where everything went according to plan, those are more rare! I had an event the Monday after the “government shutdown” debacle with more than a dozen federal officials who were integral to the success of the event. I literally had plan a, b, and c mapped out for if the government shut down or not. Luckily, it didn’t and everything went smoothly, but man were those a tense few days!