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Lunch with Phyllis Richman [Crystal City magazine]

By Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine

For nearly three decades, most Washingtonians wouldn’t have recognized Washington Post restaurant critic Phyllis Richman, even if she was sitting at the next table. She kept a low profile, was rarely photographed, and often wore a silk scarf over the bottom of her face when she went out in public. Since retiring in 2000, the woman who could make or break a restaurant’s reputation is no longer hiding.

Phyllis Richman will have the sorrel soup, please. And the grilled squid. And, if possible, one perfect oyster. “Thank you, madam,” says the gracious, white-shirted waiter at the elegant P Street seafood bistro, Johnny’s Half Shell.

“Thank you,” replies Richman with a grin that indicates she is happy to be ordering exactly what she wants for lunch—and not sampling the entire menu, as was her mission for two decades as the Washington Post’s award-winning restaurant critic.

Readers often awaited her opinion before trying a new dining spot. Indeed, the success of a restaurant sometimes depended on her opinion. It was a serious responsibility, she realizes. “I often said mine was the world’s most wonderful job,” Richman says today. “Still, every job has its drawbacks.”

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Go Get It: Reston Limousine [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
”Go Get It” column
Summer 2003

Limousines are not just for weddings and proms, says Kristina Bouweiri, owner of the Reston Limousine service. “VIP pick-ups, group trips to athletic events and guided tours are other occasions that people book for our limos,” she explains. In fact, it was a three-hour trip around Washington that started the company in 1990. Bouweiri’s husband, William, new to the area and working for another limousine firm, was given a $5,000 tip by a wealthy Texas woman who was grateful for her tour. With it, he bought his first stretch and slowly began growing the company that now generates $6 million in annual sales, employs 200 people, and transports thousands of people around town each year in its 12 limos, 14 sedans, 35 vans and 40 buses. Visit www.restonlimo.com.

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Minding Your Manners [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
Cover story
Fall 2001
Photos by Bognovitz

At Christmas time last year, Heidi Peck’s house was filled with guests. She wanted her daughter Lauren, then 5, to be on her best behavior. But Lauren seemed to have trouble remembering her good manners. When a notice came home from school offering a manners class for 5 and 6 year olds by a local mom named Joy Yates, Peck signed up. “Lauren is a great kid, but I was tired of listening to myself scolding her for not minding her manners,” says Peck. “I figured if lessons on how to have good manners came from someone else, it might stick.” Yates, who has sons ages 6 and 2, says she knows firsthand how tough it can be to get kids to listen and be polite. “Most Moms and Dads have trouble getting their children to use good manners,” says Yates, who started offering her manners class throughout the region in 1999. “It can be one of the most frustrating events in a parent’s life.” Yet the Gainesville, VA resident says it is possible to teach kids to use a napkin, answer the telephone politely, and obey the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. The secret is to make a game of it.

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Heart of Human Rights: Thomas Buergenthal [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
Cover story
Photo by Bognovitz

Thomas Buergenthal’s eyes disarm you. They reveal a 50 year-old tale of his struggle to stay alive at Auschwitz, the horror of being 10 and separated from his parents only to learn that his father was executed three days before the war ended. Yet, there is a youthful twinkle in those gray-green eyes. A warmth which attracts heads of government to the 64 year-old diplomat, who is also a professor of Comparative and International Law and presiding director of the International Rule of Law Center at the George Washington University Law School. His job is to negotiate peaceful outcomes as a member, chairman and/or president of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the United Nations Truth Commission for El Salvador, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Last Spring, he was chosen by the Volcker Commission to become a member of the 16-person Claims Resolution Tribunal, which will determine who gets the millions of dollars that have been locked inside 7,000 dormant Swiss bank accounts since World War 11. And in September, he was elected to a second term to the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Committee. This treaty-monitoring body oversees the interpretation and application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright supported Buergenthal’s nomination. “Professor Buergenthal has served with great distinction since his election in September 1994,” Albright said. “There is no one better qualified to serve on the committee. His work is vitally important.”

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High Flying: Lockheed Martin [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
Cover story
Spring 2003
Photo by Hilary Schwab

ON THE SECOND FLOOR OF Crystal Square Two, a woman’s heart is pounding, her palms sweating. She has just been strapped into the cockpit of a F-22 in the flight demonstration center at Lockheed Martin headquarters. One of the new fighter planes in development by the giant aeronautics company, the F-22 is filled with buttons and gadgets and doesn’t offer much wiggle room for the civilian sitting inside. “I have this fear that if I push the wrong button, the whole plane is going to launch through the ceiling,” she confides. For those who enjoy the thrill of flight, an afternoon spent at Lockheed Martin’s Flight Demonstration Center is better than a trip to Disneyland, when it comes to showing off the high-tech capabilities of the multi-million dollar jets that Lockheed Martin expects to be in operation by 2005. The center showcases two next-generation fighter aircraft, the F/A-22 and the F-35 joint Strike Fighter. Two flight simulators (exact replicas of these fighter aircraft cockpits) are set up to take visitors on virtual flight missions.

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Hire Education: DeVry University [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
Spring 2003

A short climb up a tiled staircase leads to the second floor campus of Crystal City’s newest resident, DeVry University. But bring your track shoes. This indoor campus encompasses 82,000-square feet and is filled with so many high-tech toys it will make even the most seasoned tech-head want to stay after school.

WHEN IT COMES TO CHOOSING A COLLEGE, many teens and their parents’ dream of buildings covered in ivy, a school filled with fraternities, sororities, and football teams that shine at college bowl time. But others look for a different kind of dream—especially those who could rebuild a toaster at age 10, spent their high school years in front of a computer monitor, and can’t wait to find out what the next new thing will be. For them, the high-tech nirvana of DeVry University has long been a top pick; previously, they had to travel to one of the school’s 26 campuses somewhere else in the county. But in the fall of 2001, the Crystal City campus opened, and within months, more than 500 students were registered. Since then, enrollment has steadily increased.

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Forecasting the Future: Tom Conger and David Pierce Synder Face Off [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
Spring 2003
Photo by Hilary Schwab

Futurists Tom Conger and David Pearce Synder faced off in this Spring 2003 article about what they saw on the horizon.

Conger forecast:
• The economy will get stronger. “It is tough to know when the economy will stabilize. Faced with uncertainty, developing a balanced portfolio is the best approach for business people.”
• But he was concerned about the economic and social fallout of war. “If the U.S. isolates itself politically, it runs the risk of isolating itself economically. Should the world begin to perceive America as a group of cultural imperialists, it will isolate us.”
• And when tackling new markets, Conger recommended companies do it in a respectful manner. “I’ve found that companies are more successful overseas when they do more than customize their products to suit the taste of a particular country. The bottom line benefits when companies honor the culture of the country, rather than aggressively push American goods and ideals. “

Synder forecast:
• “Employers will finally realize the heightened efficiency that those high-tech toys were supposed to offer,” he says. “As more companies get better at what they do, the economic performance will revive and growth will return. “
• Most people will be earning more money.
• With two breadwinners heading off to work each day and growing numbers of singles parents working at least one job, families will have even less time to cook, clean, and shop for themselves, As a result, consumer services will continue to grow.

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Future Forecast: Tom Conger [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
Winter 2000
Photo by Bognovitz

Hope met Tom Conger in 1999 at a friend’s birthday party, and when he told her he was a futurist the journalist to want to know more. She wrote this feature about his work and new company, Social Technologies, for the Winter 2000 issue of Crystal City magazine. Hope followed up with Tom in 2003 (see article, above).

The two reconnected again in late 2006, and in January 2007 she became the leader of corporate communications at Social Technologies, a global research and consulting firm that has grown to more than 40 employees with offices in DC, Shanghai, London, and Tel Aviv.

Read the entire article to learn more about how this futurist got his start; and view the article above to learn more about what trends Conger and fellow futurist David Pearce Synder forecast in the Spring of 2003.

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GVOX: Teaching Kids to Play Music the Old-Fashioned Way [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
Spring 2001

When Nathaniel Weiss was in college his goal was to get girls. To accomplish this, he would play ballads on his guitar to charm the women at the University of Pennsylvania. It worked well enough, Weiss admits, but he was frustrated because he couldn’t figure out how to take his electric guitar outside to play a bigger crowd. So, as his senior project, the electrical engineering major went into the lab to devise a portable electronic guitar. “I worked for months on it, spending nights and weekends in this dimly lit engineering lab,” recalls Weiss, 33. “Two weeks before it was due, I tried it. And it worked. I couldn’t believe it. Looking back now, I realize it was probably the worst thing that ever happened.” The reason, he says, is that inventions rarely work the first time. Success spoiled him, he recalls; thereafter he believed he could do anything. Instead of joining the military after graduation—as planned—Weiss formed a company. He called it GVOX, short for “Voice of the Guitar” (VOX means voice in Latin and G stands for guitar). The idea was to harness the technology of a computer and use it to teach people how to play music. His concept won seed money in 1991 from a Pennsylvania state-funded organization called Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

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Book Review: Harry’s the Hottest [Crystal City magazine]

by Hope Katz Gibbs
Crystal City magazine
Fall 1999
Photo by Bognovitz

CHILDREN’S BOOK LOVERS REJOICE. HARRY Potter has arrived and is destined for a spot among the classics in children’s literature. Like Meg Murry and Charles Wallace in Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time,” Harry Potter is a quirky kid wise beyond his years. He isn’t in search of a tesseract in “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” the second installation of seven planned by J.K. Rowling. The 11-year-old hero is a wizard-in-training hunting for the identity of the Heir of Slytherin—an evil creature literally petrifying the students at the thousand year-old Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which Harry attends.

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More Crystal City Business Articles


"I get by with a little help from my friends," says Hope, who gives special thanks to:

• MICHAEL GIBBS, website illustration and design: www.michaelgibbs.com
• MAX KUKOY, website development: www.maxwebworks.com
• STEVE BARRETT, portrait of Hope on Bio page: www.stevebarrettphotography.com

Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.

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