DC Chamber of Commerce honors local business leaders


The DC Chamber of Commerce honored a variety of local business leaders at its Choice Awards and Gala on Friday evening.

Sheila Johnson — founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts, which has a portfolio of luxury properties in Virginia, Florida and Louisiana — won the Lifetime Legacy Award. As vice chair of Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Johnson is the only African-American woman to have ownership in three professional sports teams: the Washington Wizards, Capitals and Mystics. Johnson is also a founding partner of Black Entertainment Television.

Monty Hoffman, CEO of PN Hoffman, won the Economic Development Impact Award. The 24-year-old firm is developing The Wharf, the $2.5 billion project on the Southwest waterfront. The project’s first phase opened recently, and the entire project is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

The Community Impact Award went to Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez, founders of Compass Coffee. Haft and Suarez met in the Marine Corps while serving in Afghanistan. Their coffee chain has five D.C. locations, and the company plans to construct a large manufacturing facility in Northeast’s Ivy City.

McKissack & McKissack won the Business of the Year Award. The architectural, engineering and construction firm, led by CEO Deryl McKissack, has 170 employees and more than $10 billion of projects nationwide. She is the fifth generation of her family to work in the design and construction field. The first, Moses McKissack, was once a slave. Her firm was founded in 1990 with a $1,000 budget and now has offices in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Miami as well as Washington.

Ted Leonsis, who was named Business Leader of the Year, is the founder, chairman, majority owner and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. In addition to running the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics, the company also operates the Kettler Capitals Iceplex, where the Capitals train, and George Mason University’s EagleBank Arena.

Lastly, Earle C. Horton III won the Chairman’s Distinction Award for providing legal service to the DC Chamber, negotiating the organization’s new lease at a significant cost savings.