In its 11th year, the Washington Business Journal Women Who Mean Business Awards program has over 280 alumnae including some of the most powerful in Washington. Every autumn the Washington Business Journal selects a new class to join the coveted group. The Washington Business Journal is pleased to announce the 2014 Women Who Mean Business.
The Women Who Mean Business awards program is designed to honor the region’s most influential businesswomen. These women are from every industry and profession; women who’ve made a difference in their communities, blazed a trail for the rest of us, and are leaving a mark on Washington DC business. Honored individuals will be profiled in the November 14, 2014 edition of the Washington Business Journal. Washington Business Journal, along with title sponsor, Capital One Bank, will recognize the honorees at an evening awards program to be held November 13, 2014 at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Watch the award winner’s interviews »
Executive Director, Leona Agouridis’ Women Who Mean Business interview:
As the executive director of the Golden Triangle BID, Leona Agouridis, develops programs to retain businesses and attract visitors to Downtown DC.
Who’s been a mentor to you? Emmett Fremaux, he was the director of the DC Board of Elections and Ethics. He was my boss from 1985 to 1996 and was just a very smart man. He gave me a lot of leeway, a lot of faith in my ability to do things.
Anyone else? Dick White, he was the GM of Metro. He hired me in ’96, right after I left the board of elections, to be the media relations director, then two years later promoted me to assistant general manager. Dick really expected a lot from his direct staff.
Do you have a personal philosophy on mentorship? People in management, leadership positions — that’s an important part of what you do. You can sit at your desk and send people back to redo their work, or you can really try to teach them what you expect them to be producing.
What is the best career advice you ever received? Dick White said, “Think no small thoughts, Leona.” And you know what, he was right.
If you could pick anyone — dead or alive — to be your mentor, who would that be and why? Part of me would say Hillary Clinton, but I don’t like all that stuff where she stood by Bill. I think she’s very smart and she’s been very steady in working through her plan. I think she could be the next president.
What is the most memorable project you worked on at Golden Triangle BID? We convinced the city that they needed to relook Connecticut Avenue, because it’s an amazing street — it just didn’t have a lot of investment for a while. The median has, in many ways, transformed Connecticut Avenue. It’s gorgeous, we change it every season and now the city is finishing up all of the sidewalk work, and there will be some amazing tree gardens all up and down the street.
What do you think the biggest challenge of running a BID is? The mandate is so wide and so broad, it really is everything that you can do to make the neighborhood better. You have to be really good at keeping focused, understanding what your mission is, coming back to your strategic plan and saying, “Yes, I could be doing this and this and this, but the fundamental things of what I do are this and this and this.”
What is your favorite hobby? Teaching group exercise. I’ve been teaching in some form or another since 1996. I’ve taught kickboxing, I’ve taught Zumba, I’ve taught Resist-a-Ball, now I’m teaching BodyPump and Step. I love teaching a group of people — the bigger the class, the better, the more energy there is in the room.
What do you like about that? I think an important part of it is teaching people that they’re stronger than they give themselves credit for.