• November 2015

Change Agent Mary Waters

On Oct. 25, 2015, the world lost dynamo Mary Dolores Waters. The Oct. 28 Washington Post obituary describes her as having had “a long and lucrative career in the public relations field and played an integral part in the creation of the Committee for Dulles.”

Scroll down to read what The Inkandescent Group thinks made her a Truly Amazing Woman.


Who she was: The powerhouse behind the creation of the Committee for Dulles, a coalition of businesses, organizations, and individuals dedicated to the effective and orderly development of Dulles Airport and its environs.

What she did: In the start of her career, Mary made a living as a writer, public relations expert, and advertising executive for the Vienna News, but soon transferred to the newsroom when the editor saw that Waters would be an asset as a reporter and travel writer. Other area publications picked up her stories and soon the Washington Star, Washington Times, and Journal newspapers began carrying her work. Her connections helped her make changes she believe were needed — from helping grow the Dulles Airport area to forming the Fairfax Heritage Society, which worked to preserve Sully Plantation on Route 28 south of Dulles Airport. And more.

Why she did it: “Oh, I just loved it all,” said Mary. “I visited dozens of foreign countries, dined with royalty — more than once — and rubbed elbows with some of the world’s most rich and famous. It has been a wonderful ride. My wish is that every woman enjoys their life as much as I have.”

FEARLESS FLYER

By Hope Katz Gibbs

Mary Waters mastered the fine art of networking long before it became vital for every savvy, career-minded professional. This dynamic woman’s forte lay in building relationships — whether linking a young job seeker with a prospective employer or lobbying on behalf of Washington Dulles International Airport.

Waters was the powerhouse behind the Committee for Dulles, a coalition of businesses, organizations, and individuals dedicated to the effective and orderly development of Dulles Airport and its environs. The Ashburn, VA, resident also founded the Potomac Society, an organization that brings together female journalists for networking and social functions in the Greater Washington area.

Years ago, Waters led the formation of the Fairfax Heritage Society, which worked to preserve Sully Plantation on Route 28 south of Dulles Airport.

“Mary is not just a cheerleader,” says Keith Meurlin, the manager of Dulles Airport. “As airports continue to grow, they are often not able to sustain relationships with the community. Because of Mary Waters, we’ve been able to maintain those relationships at Dulles.”

For years, Waters made a living as a writer and public relations expert. She started her career as an advertising executive for the Vienna News, but soon transferred to the newsroom when the editor saw that Waters would be an asset as a reporter and travel writer. Other area publications picked up her stories and soon the Washington Star, Washington Times and Journal newspapers began carrying her work.

Swiss Air also fancied her travel columns and Waters if she might like to see Switzerland firsthand. After that, the native Washingtonian decided she would definitely enjoy seeing the world and embarked on a publicist’s life of travel, writing, and event-planning.

Her clients included Swiss Air, Fin Air, and Air Italia, but it was Air France that hired her to work full-time. For 17 years she represented the company in the Washington region, leading press trips to France and celebrating the annual Waiter’s Race on Bastille Day in Washington, DC.

“Oh, I just loved it all,” says Waters, during a recent lunch at the Dulles Hyatt, one of her favorite area haunts. “I visited dozens of foreign countries, dined with royalty — more than once — and rubbed elbows with some of the world’s most rich and famous.”

Waters, however, still considered herself the down-to-earth girl who was raised blocks from Catholic University and graduated from St. Anthony’s, Notre Dame High, and Immaculata College.

She also called Capitol Hill home. Early in her career she landed a job working as an executive assistant for Richard Welch, a congressman from California credited with building the Golden Gate Bridge. She also worked for Edna Kelly, a New York congresswoman, who helped pass the Equal Pay Act of 1963, providing women with equal pay for equal work.

Her political career was sidelined for a few years when Waters launched a second career, as a mother. Within four years of getting married, she had given birth to four children — Susan, Sharon, Sheilagh, and Ray. Five years later, Waters had another daughter, Kathleen.

Her foray back into the workforce came when her children were in high school. In the decades since, her career not only flourished, but Waters found time to mentor some of the area’s most successful businesswomen, including Kristina Bouwieri, owner of Reston Limousine in Sterling, and Georgia Graves, president of Bridgeman Communications.

As Graves says, “Mary’s name is highly regarded in this region. She is someone whom I not only respect and admire, but a woman who provides stability and vision to any organization she chooses to participate in. She is highly knowledgeable, persistent, and determined. But mostly, Mary is one of those people who can turn an ordinary idea into something spectacular. She is truly a Loudoun icon.”

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