Inaugural D.C. Power Index Prize honors six women: ‘the present is female’

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Six trailblazing women were honored Wednesday with the inaugural D.C. Power Index Prize, including Capitol Police Officer Caroline Edwards, who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova.

The other honorees were Dr. Christine Grady, the chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health; opera star Denyce Graves; entrepreneur, philanthropist and first African American woman to become a billionaire Sheila Johnson; and Emmy-nominated “Transparent” and “The Office” actor Melora Hardin.

“All six women are perfect examples of bravery and brilliance and, of course, badassery,” Joanna Coles, the famed magazine editor who helped establish Wednesday’s event, told the packed venue at Café Milano.

More than 100 women in business, politics, entertainment, philanthropy and other industries were in attendance. Microsoft Vice President Teresa Carlson and DeDe Lea, Paramount Global’s executive vice president for global public policy and government relations, co-hosted the event with Coles.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) presented the award to Edwards, praising the officer for getting back up after being knocked down.

“You not just protected the building, you stood up for our democracy,” Klobuchar told Edwards.

“I never as a police officer thought that I would be honored in this way, it’s very nice,” Edwards told ITK. “It shows that women have strength in every single field.”

Markarova was scheduled to appear at the event on Wednesday but instead joined Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska at her address to Congress that morning. Yaroslav Brisiuck, the deputy chief of mission for the Embassy of Ukraine, accepted the prize on the ambassador’s behalf.

Grady, who is also the wife of White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci, said the award recognizes a field that often goes unnoticed, even as bioethics played a key role in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’ve always been a proponent of science, women in science, starting with little girls in school because women are smart and creative and curious, and a lot of them are very good scientists,” Grady told ITK. “The more we can promote that, the better.”

Edwards also said she hoped the award would encourage other women to follow in her footsteps.

“You too can be like a five-foot-nothing police officer,” she said. “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. A warrior takes all shapes and sizes, and if there’s a woman out there who’s like, ‘I could never do that physically,’ you can. Absolutely you can. All it takes is heart.”

The officer also noted the “sisterhood” she’s entered of “integral women” testifying before the Jan. 6 committee, like former Georgia election workers Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman, former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson and, joining the ranks Thursday, former deputy White House press secretary Sarah Matthews.

“It gives me hope and it gives me joy to see so many women finding their voice, so many women saying I will not be silent in the face of injustice,” Edwards said. “So many women have found the courage to continue despite threats, obstacles and suffering.”

“I don’t believe that the future is female,” she added, “I believe the present is female.”

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