Susan Davis on her recent position as Chair of the Board of Vital Voices Global Partnership~
“We work with emerging women leaders throughout the world. We’ve trained over 15,000 young women leaders and some not so young in countries that are in conflict and transition. And I loved, loved, loved that work. . .”
A Ockershausen: All right, welcome to Our Town. This is Andy Ockershausen, and we’re so delighted with … I know, see, I say it all the time but it’s true. A guest is so special to us, and this lady is a trailblazer for women in formerly male-dominated industry of public relations.
I grew up in Our Town and over the past almost 3.5 decades, she has grown her agency into a global public affairs and communications power house. She is known internationally for her expertise and strategic positioning, reputation management, government relations, and crisis communications. Not only has she provided counsel to government and industry heads in our country, but advises key figures across the globe.
But we really got to know her very well at Fort McNair in those great days, working for the Chili Cook-Off. Susan is President of SDI. That’s Susan Davis International. Susan, how did you go from the chili bowl to a global conglomerate? It wasn’t easy, I’m sure.
Susan Davis: No, well thank you Andy. It’s really fun to be here with you and Janice and I consider both of you to be such great friends and forever friends.
A Ockershausen: No question about that Susan.
Susan Davis: And forever friends.
A Ockershausen: We didn’t say the fact you’re the most gorgeous redhead in the city of Washington. But I’ll tell you that all the time.
Family Full of Redheads
Susan Davis: You could say that … You could maybe just say that again. It would be all right.
A Ockershausen: In terms of the day of redheads. My mother was a redhead.
Susan Davis: I know.
A Ockershausen: And your mother was a redhead.
Susan Davis: Yes, my dad was a redhead.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Susan Davis: Yes, and all my brothers and sisters but one are redheads, and most of their children are redheads so. We come from big redhead genes. So the Chili Bowl, okay. I actually started my company before I started the Chili Bowl.
A Ockershausen: I know you did.
The Chili Bowl at Fort McNair to Benefit Children’s Hospital
Susan Davis: But somehow I got to be better known for the Chili Bowl, which actually was to raise money for Children’s Hospital. And we grew that small little …
A Ockershausen: I remember that Susan. What great days they were.
Susan Davis: It was so much fun. It was so much fun, but before that, it was in my backyard.
A Ockershausen: That’s right.
Susan Davis: Then we moved to a couple of restaurants, and then it got to be so big.
A Ockershausen: It outgrew you.
Susan Davis: That we did the big Cook-Off at Fort McNair and it was the only major non-profit event that they allowed there. It was fabulous.
A Ockershausen: And we had liquor.
Susan Davis: And yes, it was probably too much of that.
A Ockershausen: What were you drinking? A marguerita.
Susan Davis: Tequila.
A Ockershausen: They had that huge marguerita booze.
Susan Davis: Yes, right.
A Ockershausen: But Susan they were memories that I think of being with Bob Pincus and Sonny and Margo Jurgensen came, and all the people you had doing the judging. It was so much Our Town.
Susan Davis: Right, exactly. It was amazing. It was true community, and it was just absolutely fabulous, from people you … That everyone knew to people no one knew but we did and raised a lot of money.
A Ockershausen: But at the end of the day we knew everybody.
Susan Davis: Raised a lot of money for Children’s Hospital. It was so great. Yeah.
A Ockershausen: It was so great. And Susan, your impact on Our Town goes back to those early days, but are you from Wisconsin? Is that why you were honored by the University?
Wisconsin Roots : Green Bay Packers Fan
Susan Davis: I am. I’m from Wisconsin.
A Ockershausen: The family grew up there.
Susan Davis: This is something you don’t know and maybe I shouldn’t tell you.
A Ockershausen: That’s what I want to know.
Susan Davis: I’m still a Green Bay Packer fan.
A Ockershausen: You better be. A cheese head, right?
Susan Davis: Oh, I don’t like that term, but I’m still a Packer fan. I grew up with Vince Lombardi, when he was in Wisconsin. I probably shouldn’t try to date me that way, but … I somehow could never trade my allegiance.
A Ockershausen: You should never do it. The wonderful story about the US Open. They just played at Erin Hills.
Susan Davis: Erin Hills, right?
A Ockershausen: But the guy who wrote this said, I knew I was in Wisconsin when I saw the G on the mailbox.
Susan Davis: That’s right.
A Ockershausen: The Green Bay Packers own Wisconsin. Thank God. And I’m so happy that you’re still a fan, because that epitomizes a city and a town and no reason they should have pro football franchise, but it’s bigger than Green Bay. It’s everybody almost, in the world I think, are Green Bay fans.
Susan Davis: It’s just amazing. You can travel all over the world and if you wear a Packer t-shirt, people will come up to you whether you’re in Ireland or you’re in China.
A Ockershausen: It’s so true. I’ve noticed that, Susan. But did you went to high school in Green Bay?
Susan Davis: No, I’m from Mosinee, Wisconsin. Small town on the Wisconsin River. It’s about a couple of hours from Green Bay. South of Green Bay.
A Ockershausen: Wow, because Erin Hills is north of Green Bay.
Susan Davis: Yeah, it is. I went to school in Madison, though.
A Ockershausen: I know Door County. I had a friend of mine in the broadcast business.
Susan Davis: Isn’t that beautiful there?
A Ockershausen: It’s just hard to believe. For two months in a year it’s beautiful.
Susan Davis: Well yeah. There’s that. That’s why I’m here.
A Ockershausen: Why would you leave Wisconsin?
Susan Davis: Exactly that reason. Because two months of the year it’s great.
A Ockershausen: You came right to Washington?
Susan Davis: I came right to Washington, right out of school. I went to University of Wisconsin, Madison, and then I came right to DC.
A Ockershausen: That’s a major university in Madison.
Susan Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative), it is, yeah.
A Ockershausen: But there’s several colleges all over Wisconsin, right? The state system is very good.
Susan Davis: Right, but I went to the University of Wisconsin, Madison, which we considered to be like THE place, right?
A Ockershausen: It is.
Susan Davis: But I never went to live anywhere but Washington DC. When I was in high school, I knew that’s where I wanted to live, and it just … I never considered any place else, and I still never considered any place else.
A Ockershausen: Good for you. I’m glad you stayed and came back to Our Town, but you used Our Town as a basis of your business locally, but then you exploded globally. Tell us about that.
Susan Davis: I know. It’s . . . I’m just so lucky I think. I don’t think I would have that opportunity without living in Washington DC, because …
A Ockershausen: It’s so true.
Extraordinary Opportunities Abound in Our Town
Susan Davis: It’s here where you meet top people in government, but I think a lot of people don’t think about the city as a truly global city. There’s the federal city, and there’s Our Town so to speak.
A Ockershausen: Right.
Susan Davis: But there’s also the whole international community, and I remember years ago working with Steve Harlin.
A Ockershausen: Oh my.
Susan Davis: With the Board of Trade, when we first got the whole international counsel going. And would you believe at that time you could not buy foreign currency at the airport? That was one of the first things we did, to exchange foreign currency.
A Ockershausen: Right.
On Bringing the Diplomatic Community into the Washington DC Business Community
Susan Davis: But it was just amazing, and once we started reaching out to all the Embassies on behalf of the Board of Trade, it was so exciting because the diplomatic community was thrilled to be brought into the business community in Washington. There just hadn’t been any kind of effort like that.
A Ockershausen: No liaison at all.
Susan Davis: No, no, no. So it was a very exciting time.
A Ockershausen: Susan, being here, being … I was born here. My grandfathers and we were all here. This was a small little community. The Board of Trade was a part of it. It was never expanded much to later year, because we were a small town, in spite being a capital of the world more or less. The people inside it thought we were a small town. You helped change that. I know that. With your work with the Embassies.
Susan Davis: Well, it’s been … We’ve just been really fortunate, and we’ve worked for 12 countries at this point, from Ireland to Germany, to Sweden, to the Philippines, to a lot of countries, to Central America.
A Ockershausen: But Egypt, didn’t you do some work for Egypt?
Susan Davis: Panama. Egypt? Egypt was my first. Egypt was the first, yes.
A Ockershausen: I remember it. Janice we’re having dinner at a restaurant and there was a fire down the street. We found out it was the Egyptian Embassy on fire. We were at Ruth Chris. How many years ago was that? 30 years ago?
Susan Davis: That’s a long time ago, yes. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
A Ockershausen: That was your client. Somebody burned them, torched them. But what the great thing that you’ve done is focus the fact that you’ve expanded Our Town, and you didn’t do it to expand Our Town, you did it to bring these other people into Our Town, correct? And it worked.
Washington DC : International City
Susan Davis: It really has worked. I think it’s just been wonderful to see how Washington DC has grown in reputation and in respect, in terms of being a truly international city. And that wasn’t the way it was 20 years ago, but it is the way it is now. The business community really made that happen.
A Ockershausen: Thanks for mentioning Steve Harlin and all the people that worked with him and what his company did was very significant, and you were a big part of that. We even have people like Charlie Brotman help Our Town be on the map, when he did it with Sugar Ray Leonard.
Susan Davis: For sure.
A Ockershausen: He played Washington DC, that’s what it was all a part of. Of growth, and I know that you are a big part of that, but in addition to that, you represented the military.
On Representing the Military
Susan Davis: Yes, we still do. Mm-hmm (affirmative), we do a lot of work with the military. Probably 25 years now we’ve been working with the military all branches of service, organizations that support the military from the caregivers, for example, is a big piece of work that we’ve done working with military who have PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
We’ve been … We’ve just had a great opportunity. This city is so incredible in terms of opportunity, because if I lived in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I just would not have access to the people or to the experiences that would allow me to expand as a person, and allow me to expand our business in ways that we’ve been able to do.
A Ockershausen: Oh, God. It’s an incredible … Now you did something when Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense. That was a worldwide significance, but it was the US military, correct?
America Supports You Program
Susan Davis: Yeah, it was. It was called America Supports You. We created a program for the Department of Defense at a time when it was Iraq War and people were wearying about the war, and so the support for our soldiers, our warriors was waning. DOD was really worried about that.
A Ockershausen: People were getting tired.
Susan Davis: Yeah, of course they were. But the support for the warrior shouldn’t …
A Ockershausen: Shouldn’t have failed, right.
Susan Davis: Shouldn’t have failed, and for their families as well. So we created this program that honestly we had an idea of a small program called America Supports You and it caught on so fast. I think we had 30 or 40 major national or multinational corporations who were part of it and in addition to that, we had the NFL. We had the NBA. We had NASCAR. NASCAR of course was into it really big.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Susan Davis: They just took this program and ran with it. We ended up creating a network of over 400 support organizations for the military. It was just really fantastic and very, very powerful network.
A Ockershausen: All the wars that I have been familiar with, because I’ve been around for a lot of them. I never recall that much enthusiasm as was generated with that campaign.
Susan Davis: Yes, it was really amazing. Very proud of it.
A Ockershausen: Yeah, and our country stood tall for them. They still tall and … We talked about it. How long? It seems like we’ve been to war most of our lifetime, which is incredible. When does it end? We don’t know it, Susan.
Paralyzed Veterans of America
Susan Davis: I don’t know, but I’ll tell you just an interesting short story and that is years ago the PVA, Paralyzed Veterans of America, came to us and asked us to put together a strategic plan for them, because their Board of Directors was trying to decide whether or not there would be enough paralyzed veterans to continue the organization.
They wanted to just look to the future. We put the strategic plan together and some of the older people on that board refused to vote for them making any kind of change because they said, war will continue to come, and sure enough they were absolutely right.
A Ockershausen: That’s right. That came out of the wood work for you, didn’t they?
Susan Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
A Ockershausen: Susan, that’s great. Well we’re talking to Susan Davis, the President and Owner of SDI and we’ll be right back on Our Town. This is Andy Ockershausen and I’m so glad you’re here, Susan.
Susan Davis: That’s really my pleasure.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town.
A Ockershausen: This is Andy Ockershausen. This is Our Town and I’m talking to Susan Davis about the things she’s created just blows my mind, because all the things. Particularly with the military, Susan. Like what you’ve done for women who served in the military. You’ve got that wonderful … I don’t know whether it’s a monument or whether you call it Arlington Cemetery.
Susan Davis: It’s a memorial. Mm-hmm (affirmative), it’s called the Women’s Memorial actually. It’s women in military service to America.
A Ockershausen: Service.
Susan Davis: And it was built to honor the role that women have played in our military since the revolutionary war.
A Ockershausen: I know.
Susan Davis: During the Revolutionary War and the Civil War women couldn’t actually serve but they would dress up like men, and oftentimes serve in the role of their husband after their husband was killed. Or they would be spies, and the only way they would be found out it would be if they were injured. They would need help, and then they would discover it was actually a woman and not a man.
But anyway, we …
A Ockershausen: That’s an amazing story. They would actually take the place of the fallen soldier.
Susan Davis: Yes, exactly. But like so much of the woman’s world, in this case women and military didn’t have the recognition that they deserved in terms of defending our country. [Brigadier] General Wilma Vaught incredible, highly decorated one of the early top generals in the military who’s now 85 I think.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Susan Davis: General Vaught decided she was going to lead the charge to build the Women’s Memorial and we were right there with her. We helped create the logo to begin with and ended up helping her with everything from raising money, and this is interesting – we couldn’t get money from American corporations, so I reached out to the Kuwaiti government and asked them if they would support the women who had served in the Gulf War.
They did to a tune of $850,000. Then we asked the Saudis and they came in with the same and that sort of shamed American corporations, so then they came in behind, so we ended up with our money.
A Ockershausen: You went through the back door, but you got them all.
Susan Davis: Yeah.
Janice IaconA Ockershausen: And another unique thing that you did, that goes unnoticed I think by the … Just because it’s of interest to me, because of the radio business. But you had a campaign on radio to raise money, which was really not something 30 years ago that people did.
Susan Davis: That’s exactly right. I think we got some good advice from you and that was …
Janice IaconA Ockershausen: You did a lottery.
Susan Davis: We did a lottery. We used every means we could possibly use to raise that money, and it finally all came together and we had … We went for the … actually for the dedication of it, we had 30,000 women, including women from World War I who were there.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Susan Davis: It was just incredible. We had a march, a candle light march.
A Ockershausen: I remember the publicity was fabulous.
Susan Davis: Yeah, 16,000 people participated in the candle light march, and some of those women from World War I and World War II were never going to travel again. But they were there, and it was just … I’m so proud of that work. We did all the publicity. We did all special events, and it’s one of the things in my career that I’m most proud of.
National Museum of the Marine Corps
A Ockershausen: Well, Susan, you’ve done so many. Listen, looking at your awards, I can’t even remember it to talk to you about it, but I want to, but you’ve done so much for the military. I know what you’ve done for the Marine Corps and that Marine Museum at Quantico.
Susan Davis: That’s fabulous isn’t it?
A Ockershausen: That’s fabulous example of … It’s private too. There’s nothing … The Marine Corps didn’t support that. You did that. Susan Davis: No, well, we didn’t do that. But we were …
A Ockershausen: I think you did.
Susan Davis: Well, thank you Andy. But we need to get credit.
A Ockershausen: I’d call it Susan’s Museum.
Susan Davis: I know we need to give credit where it’s due to just the terrific foundation staff and yeah, they’re absolutely fabulous and it’s … They are and have been a wonderful client. We’ve been really proud to support them.
A Ockershausen: Tell me about this. You’ve won so many awards. I noticed what you’ve done for Our Town, but so many rewards from groups, not just women’s groups, but from the PR community and the advertising community and the awareness community. One of the things we were talking about it’s you couldn’t have done this in another town. You could only do these things in Our Town.
Is these different groups that you’ve tapped into. There’s also a military industrial complex in Our Town. It’s very important, and you’ve tapped into the fine delegations that are here and Uncle Sam, so you’ve done it. You’ve crossed all the borders haven’t you? You crossed all the tees.
Susan Davis: It’s been an interesting life so far. I hope it continues.
A Ockershausen: It will continue, Susan. You’ll make that. Tell me about are you still involved in the Board of Trade? Are you . . . not like we used to be?
Susan Davis: Not like we used to be. It was …
A Ockershausen: Things change.
Susan Davis Now
Susan Davis: Time. Not only that, but it’s always time for new leadership in every organization.
A Ockershausen: Oh that’s so true.
Susan Davis: I just finished being Chair of the Board of Vital Voices Global Partnership. We work with emerging women leaders throughout the world. We’ve trained over 15,000 young women leaders and some not so young in countries that are in conflict and transition. And I loved, loved, loved that work, but with everything it’s just time to move on. Life is short. You want to try new things.
I have to keep myself interested. That’s why I’ve been doing all these different things. I had to keep myself interested.
A Ockershausen: Find new things.
Susan Davis: Yeah, that’s right.
A Ockershausen: Nothing is easy when it comes to raising money, but one of the things and you’re a living example of that. You can’t get anything from people if they think you’re just in it for that. But you’re in it emotionally and that helps you sell.
Susan Davis: Of course.
A Ockershausen: And that helps you sell them because what you’re doing, because you can’t get raised unless you believe in what you’re doing.
Susan Davis: That’s true.
A Ockershausen: That’s why you’re so successful.
Susan Davis: That’s true.
A Ockershausen: You’re passionate.
Susan Davis: Yes.
A Ockershausen: Now tell me. That you were involved in the FDR Memorial?
Susan Davis International : National Memorial and Museum Representation
Susan Davis: We are. The Martin Luther King Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Japanese American Memorial, the Women’s Memorial, the World War II Memorial. We just finished producing this big event for the hundredth or the centennial, the hundredth anniversary of the US entering World War I, which that event was actually in Kansas City, Missouri.
A Ockershausen: 1917.
Susan Davis: 1917, and it was just … It was extraordinary. World War II is so close to all of us, but World War I is not something that I think most people think about much or even know what their family history is. And certainly young people don’t even … It’s not on the radar screen at all. It’s so ancient.
A Ockershausen: Ancient. Right, they don’t think it happened.
Susan Davis: So having the centennial anniversary, and there is a commission that was setup at Congress to honor our role in World War I. We got into World War I, US did, to end World War I. It was-
A Ockershausen: Correct. It was a war to end all wars.
Susan Davis: That’s exactly right, and …
A Ockershausen: Woodrow Wilson.
Susan Davis: Yeah, exactly right. It was just a wonderful walk down memory lane, and that’s actually … We’ve been so fortunate to work on all these different memorials and museums, because you … It’s like getting a college education about that period of history. The Holocaust Museum, the women’s role in the military, the Marines, etc. It’s just very, very rewarding and educational.
For us and for our whole team, especially the young people who work for us. They really learn a lot about things that they probably never would have chosen to learn about.
A Ockershausen: I think you’re absolutely right, particularly with what happened at the end and actually that war never ended, because what Hitler did was use that as the impetus to start another war. I know that story. How about the New Bible Museum? Janice is very interested in the New Bible Museum.
Museum of the Bible : Opening November 17, 2017 : Washington DC
Susan Davis: I think this is going to be one of the major attractions in Our Town. This is the Museum of the Bible, is opening at the Old Design Center.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Susan Davis: Yeah. Fourth and D Southwest.
A Ockershausen: It’s just cut through street I call that. It’s around the corner of where Regardie used to live.
Susan Davis: Is that right?
A Ockershausen: The Design Center.
Susan Davis: The Green family purchased the Design Center and then they built several floors on top of it. I think it’s about almost half a million square feet of space.
A Ockershausen: Is that right?
Susan Davis: I’ll tell you what’s so exciting about this. This museum is going to be the most technologically advanced museum in the world. It will have digital docents. You’ll come in with your … You’ll get an iPad. It will curate however much time you have, two hours, and you say I’m interested in these things and you’ll … They’ll take you, curate you through it, and when you’re … And it’s password protected, so when you come back the next time, you can pick up where you were before.
The exhibitions are just really extraordinary. They have . . . the museum is … That’s the bible and sports. Think about Yogi Berra’s bible. It’s the bible in fashion. It’s the bible in business. The bible in politics. It’s not … It’s the history of the bible in …the roll of the bible in . . .
A Ockershausen: In history.
Susan Davis: In history, right. It’s really, really fascinating. There is a fantastic ecumenical group that is advising …
A Ockershausen: But it’s nondominational, right?
Susan Davis: Church of England is involved. The Israeli Antiquities Organization is involved actually have their own permanent exhibition there. First time ever that they’ve done anything like this outside of Israel. The Vatican is involved. And many countries are hosting exhibitions from the Museum of the Bible now. I think there is at least 11 I think.
It’s very exciting. This is a global project. We’re going to be so proud of this being in Washington DC, and I think people are going to be very, very excited to go and to take their families and to …
A Ockershausen: To be a part of it, that’s what I love.
Susan Davis: And to be a part of it, so it’s opening in November 17th, and we’re just thrilled to be involved. Yeah.
A Ockershausen: Oh my. That’s why they call you … That’s why we call you a global icon. You used to be Our Town’s favorite redhead. Now you’re the world. It’s so important. But Susan, you get so much personal pleasure out of this. You couldn’t do it unless you were emotionally involved as you are.
Susan Davis: Yes, that’s true. It’s great to get to a certain point in your life where you can choose what you like to do.
A Ockershausen: Oh boy. I thought I had that till Janice said, “No, no, we’re going back to work.” You can’t do what you want to do. You got to do what we want to do.
Susan Davis: Yeah, well. I’m just … I’m not sure that I’m going to stop until all these wonderful projects…until all this wonderful projects stop. As I said, it’s just been a terrific ride.
A Ockershausen: Oh Susan, when you think of where you came from almost 40 years ago and to be involved in Our Town, what you’ve done for it, and what you’ve done for the global entity. What you have done is just so incredible. How is your relationship with the industrial complex that we have in Washington? The major people, are they … For stepping up.
We still have Northrop Grumman here. We have Lockheed, and they’ve got big bucks. We know that. Boeing.
Defense Contractors Support Our Military
Susan Davis: Sure. All these major defense contractors and even the small and mid-sized ones are so supportive of the military.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely.
Susan Davis: Honestly, I think they do it … It’s a socially responsible thing to do, but I think when you’re talking about passion that there’s a tremendous amount of passion and the part of people who work for those companies, for the military, and serving the military …
A Ockershausen: They believe.
Susan Davis: Yeah, exactly.
A Ockershausen: Susan, well tell me about Our Town. Have you noticed what is happening? You see it every day, because you live in the city. I know that for a fact. It’s exploding. Everywhere you look now there are cranes. It’s just to me every time I go downtown in Our Town, I don’t even know it anymore.
Susan Davis: It’s amazing. I’ll tell you, when I …
A Ockershausen: Like Hilton, for example. We lost our tennis court, right?
Growth in Our Town
Susan Davis: We did lose our tennis court, I know. So I bought my house at Dupont Circle in 1985, and when I bought it there was a homeless man living in the garage across from my garage, and there were needles in the alley way, etc. It wasn’t exactly the best place. Now when you think about the explosion on 14th Street, and … Just amazing restaurants, night life.
What an exciting, exciting development. It’s just terrific and I’m really happy, because house prices continue to come up too …
A Ockershausen: Of course. You’ve got a goldmine. It was 32 years ago. You could buy the whole block now. But everything you’re talking about when I see it, when they’re building bars and swimming pools on top of buildings now. You go up to 14 Street and all is going on up high, down low. It’s true over Northeast Washington, 8 Street’s exploded.
Susan Davis: Right, oh absolutely.
A Ockershausen: We have spent some years looking at the war. What’s happening on the water. It’s just incredible. They’re not going to be open this year and sit down. I don’t care what they say. But isn’t it been wonderful Our Town?
Susan Davis: It really is, you just see it’s so vital and it’s such revitalization. There’s such energy in the city.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely. You’re tapped into that, and that’s what made you successful.
Susan Davis: You can go to hot cities in Europe, Berlin, and Prague and people say, oh God, there’s so much energy. It’s so great. There’s so much night life, etc. We don’t have those big public squares and the plazas and all, but we have our parts in the city that are exactly the same way. Great night life, young people, international jet set folks around. People coming from all over the US. I think it’s just great.
A Ockershausen: Your enthusiasm shows for Our Town. This is Andy Ockershausen, and this is Our Town. We’re talking to Susan Davis.
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Announcer: You’re listening to Our Town with Andy Ockershausen, brought to you by Best Bark Communications.
A Ockershausen: This is Our Town. Andy Ockershausen. I’m talking to Susan Davis. And Susan, I’ve gone through your lists of awards. Unprecedented to me that you have done so much and deserve every of it, but one that really struck me, I’m so proud of you for the top 100 Irish American and 75 most influential Irish American Women. There was a time Irish women were not respected. Not like now.
Susan Davis: Yeah, this is true. Yes, I love those awards. Those were fun and the parties were fun too.
A Ockershausen: I bet. Of all . . .it’s recognition, the Washington Ireland Program Trustee’s Council. You’re the Co-Chair, the Board Member of the Medical Missions for Children, St. Jude’s Hospital, Professional Board. I mean US Panama Business Council. That’s one I never heard of before. Noriega just died.
Citizens Crusade for Panama
Susan Davis: Yes, Noriega just died. I will tell you a little story. I was one of the three incorporators of the Citizens Crusade for Panama in Washington DC, which was set up when there was this business community and a citizen’s group in Panama that were tired of Noriega’s military rule and decided if the US government wasn’t going to get them out, they would.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Susan Davis: So they started to demonstrate in the streets every night. They started the Citizen’s Crusade for Panama. They came to the US, and they set up the Citizen’s Crusade for Panama, incorporated it, and I was one of the three incorporators. We went to the hill, and we got a Resolution passed 97 to three in the senate calling on the US government to … Calling on Noriega to step down.
A Ockershausen: Wow.
Susan Davis: Okay, so we’re creating a lot of publicity …
A Ockershausen: You couldn’t get that many for the bible. 97 to three?
Susan Davis: No, but here’s an interesting thing. Noriega shut down all of the media in Panama, so there was … There were no television, no radio, no newspaper, nothing. So we created an underground newspaper, and we would create stories in the US about support for the Panamanians, put a little newsletter together, fax it into an underground fax operation in Panama and then the Citizens Crusade People would print it out and take it out onto the street. A Ockershausen: Distribute it, right?
Susan Davis: Right, right exactly. Of course, no one knew then working on this was that the US was preparing to invade.
A Ockershausen: Oh yeah.
Susan Davis: Right, so way before that happened …
A Ockershausen: Good preparation, though.
Susan Davis: Right before that happened, I got a phone call from someone at the National Security Council who went sort of like this, “You need to stop what you’re doing.” I went, “Oh, no. These people need to be represented.” They were like, “Just hear us. Stop what you’re doing now.”
A Ockershausen: Right now, be careful.
Susan Davis: Within 24 hours, boom, they went in.
A Ockershausen: That was an inside tip, absolutely. That didn’t last very long, did it? I know it was quick and they toppled him, and got rid of him, and …
Susan Davis: Yeah, they did.
A Ockershausen: Now we were in Panama a couple of years ago and it’s booming like you said. It’s a great tourist and great place.
Susan Davis: Yeah, just it’s an amazing country, amazing economy, amazing people.
A Ockershausen: We saw the work being done and widening the canal. That’s off, but that’s going to be big, big, big thing for Our Town is getting that canal.
Susan Davis: It sure is. It sure is.
A Ockershausen: But Susan, and locally, you were the Woman of the Year, the business award of the United States, and National Association of Women Business Owners, and I know you got the Board of Trade awards, the National Capital Public Relations Society Hall of Fame. The Knights Templar of Washingtonian Magazine. They call Miss Davis one of Washington’s most powerful women. I will change that. That’s not true. You are Washington’s powerful female, and I didn’t say that. Our Town says it, Susan.
Susan Davis: Could I just stay for this podcast forever?
A Ockershausen: You could. Well we want you to know that the impact you made on Our Town … It’s unprecedented and seeing all the things you did for the international community, a big part of Our Town, and like you say, we are … monuments of marvel, and we developed our broadcast company doing that. We wanted to be Our Town and you’ve been a big part of that Susan.
Susan Davis: Yeah, it’s been an honor to be part of it, and it’s been an honor to be friends with all of you, and your friends who were part of it … Are part of it.
A Ockershausen: Well The Book of List. You go to the Book of Lists. Remember we used to go? Now I’ll tell you how so much has changed. I used to go to The Book of Lists party, I know 90 percent of the people. Now I go to The Book of Lists party, I know two.
Susan Davis: Yes. There is that, right?
A Ockershausen: I mean it’s changed so dramatically in those years. We’re talking about almost 40 years Susan. It’s been a great ride and a great ride for you I know. I’m so glad. I liked to brag on you for many reasons, but when I said there are only two buildings in Washington, I know of that have got the name out front, Department of Justice and the Susan Davis Building on 19th Street.
That’s quite an accomplishment, girl.
What’s in a Name on a Building?
Susan Davis: Yeah, that was great. That was during the time when I thought it was important to have your name on the building. Before I realized that that …
A Ockershausen: I know. It wasn’t important.
Susan Davis: Yeah, right. That it wasn’t so important, and then …
A Ockershausen: You didn’t get any business off of that.
Susan Davis: No, I think I got talked into by the real estate people.
A Ockershausen: I believe and no question about it. Then they charge you more. Susan, this has been a delightful conversation, and we are going to be all over your Bible promotion. Janice and I we’ll do anything we can to help you with that, but I think emotionally we want to get involved with it, too.
Susan Davis: That would be wonderful. We’d really welcome that.
A Ockershausen: Well, I hope you haven’t given up your tennis, even though we lost our tennis court when the Hilton decided to build …
Susan Davis: No, I thought you were going to ask me what’s left in my life and I said, I can’t go anywhere until I can beat you at tennis.
A Ockershausen: It ought to be easy now. Hey, I tell the story. When I started hitting with Janice, she couldn’t hit the ball. Now she just kills me. I can’t play with her. She’s too good for me, and so are you. You’re the most delightful redhead I know and we just are so proud of you Susan and what you’ve done for Our Town. I hope you’ll continue.
Susan Davis: Thank you, Andy. I wish my mother was still around, because she probably would love this broadcast.
A Ockershausen: I remember your mum. Right, I remember your big, old dog too.
Susan Davis: Yup. Cody.
A Ockershausen: You probably got another one.
Susan Davis: I do. His name is Darby. You’d love him too.
A Ockershausen: Absolutely. That was part of Our Town, part of your life. See Susan, see the dog. This is Our Town. This is Andy Ockershausen. We’ll see you next time.
Announcer: You’ve been listening to Our Town, Season 2, presented by GEICO, our hometown favorite with your host Andy Ockershausen. New Our Town episodes are released each Tuesday and Thursday. Drop us a line with your comments or suggestions. See us on Facebook, or visit our website at ourtowndc.com. Our special thanks to Ken Hunter, our technical director, and WMAL Radio in Washington DC for hosting our podcast. And thanks to GEICO, 15 minutes can save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.