District Fray member Braulio Agnes talks finding home in a transient city, participating in local stories and loving D.C.
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This month, we meet Braulio Agnese, marketing and communications director at the DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID) and longtime D.C. resident. Agnese tells of his many roles — from editing to architecture — some of his most memorable moments in breaking news and why the District is incomparable.
District Fray: How would you describe your career so far?
Braulio Agnese: Within D.C., I’ve worked for significant nonprofits, publishing companies, a museum and the largest architecture firm in the world, as well as local organizations and small businesses — plus occasional stints of freelance work. I have continually added to my knowledge and understanding of D.C. across a range of topics — people, places, history — which has been important as I have focused on local things in my career choices.
What major scandals and stories have you been involved with?
Most of my career has been outside politics and the federal government, but there was a five-year period in the early 2000s when I worked as a copy editor for a major weekly newspaper (Legal Times, now defunct) that broke a few stories about the Jack Abramoff Native American casino lobbying scandal, which some have called one of the largest political scandals in a generation. The paper also did significant reporting in the first few years of the Guantánamo Bay trials. Of more local, District-centered interest: I worked at the PR and marketing firm that helped Chef Mike Isabella open his first D.C. restaurant, Graffiato. I spent a year plus generating national and international attention for Dupont Underground. And I wrote a feature article about Capitol Crossing for Landscape Architecture Magazine.
What are your favorite things about living in D.C.?
Over the past 30 years, I’ve stood on the roof of the National Building Museum, swam in the Dumbarton Oaks pool and spent countless hours beneath the city’s streets thinking about concrete tubes. I’ve experienced the old and the new 9:30 Club, gone dancing in the warehouses of Southeast D.C. before that area was redeveloped and played flag football where the National Museum of African American History and Culture now sits. I’ve worked with organizations that have had positive impacts on local communities — such as my current role at the DowntownDC BID. My home is a 10-minute walk from the Metro, a 15-minute bike ride from the office and a 20-minute walk from Rock Creek Park. Where else is something like this possible?
What are your other hobbies or projects?
My ongoing project is perfecting the one-handed backhand, the most beautiful of all tennis strokes.
Your neighborhood: Petworth. Favorite museum: For the mission, the National Building Museum. For the architecture, the National Gallery of Art East Building. Go-to cuisine: Southeast Asian. 2023 goal: First international leisure travel since the pandemic began (here we come, Spain!)
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