Women To Watch

The Washingtonian’s latest issue features Washington’s “100 Most Powerful Women.”

From the media side, ABC’s Jessica Yellin earns the title of a “woman to watch” (she was also a “journalist to watch in the magazine’s “Top 50 Best and Most Influential Journalists” issue in December).

    She interviews fishermen in Maine and covers the Michael Jackson trial and meets the President on Air Force One–an “out-of-body experience.” Jessica Yellin rarely has a boring day at the office. The Californian worked her way from Harvard political-science and women’s-studies major to local news reporter in Orlando to her current job as White House correspondent for ABC News.

    She appreciates the importance of her job. “There are only so many seats in the briefing room,” she says. “You have a responsibility to question your president. I’m a little bit corny about that, but I take it very seriously.”

    Before being named to her current position in February 2005, Yellin, 35, had worked as a correspondent for ABC News and overnight anchor for MSNBC. She started her broadcast career at Central Florida News 13, a position she got as a result of her hairstylist’s connections.

    But before that lucky break, she had been turned down for jobs repeatedly, sometimes because of inexperience, sometimes for reasons like the color of her hair.

    A recent highlight for Yellin was an impromptu interview with President Bush on Air Force One about the controversial deal that would have allowed a Dubai company to operate US ports. She’s traveled all over the world with the President and learned a lot along the way.

    “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you no,” she says. “I’ve been discouraged by so many people along the way. Focus on what you want, and you can do it.”

Pass the kleenex. Was she influenced by Jodie Foster’s commencement address?

Other women from the media category:

Maureen Dowd, columnist, New York Times
Kim Hume, bureau chief, Fox News
Gwen Ifill, moderator, Washington Week
Sandra Johnson, Washington bureau chief, Associated Press
Debra L. Lee, president and COO, Black Entertainment Television
Janet Leissner, vice president and bureau chief, CBS News
Judith McHale, president, Discovery Communications
Diane Rehm, host, The Diane Rehm Show
Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO, WETA-TV and WETA-FM
Robin Sproul, vice president and bureau chief, ABC News
Katharine Weymouth, vice president of newspaper advertising, Washington Post Company