Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Sign up for our twice-weekly newsletter!

Law student fills ANC vacancy with plans to enhance transparency with Foggy Bottom

Sage Russell | Staff Photographer-
Kim Courtney, a Columbia Plaza resident and Hatchet photographer and videographer, said she has worked as an attorney for two decades, currently serving as a contract attorney with the consulting agency Innovative Driven.

Updated: Monday, March 6, 2023, at 9:30 p.m.

After graduating from GW nearly three decades ago, Kim Courtney has returned to campus as a law student and joined Foggy Bottom’s local governing body.

At-Large D.C. Council member Anita Bonds swore in Courtney last week to the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission to represent single-member district 2A05, which spans the intersection of Virginia Avenue and E Street and includes Shenkman Hall and the Columbia Plaza and Remington apartment complexes. Courtney, a one-year Master of Laws student who studied dance and international affairs at GW as an undergraduate from 1991 to 1996, said she plans to promote transparency within the ANC through monthly email newsletters to her constituents and meeting agendas that the commission posts on time.

“Presently, my primary goal is to make sure that there’s the transparency and that the process is clear and understandable and approachable for residents to participate,” she said. “I mean, we’re elected commissioners, but we’re residents.”

D.C. officials redrew the SMDs across the city’s ANCs late last year, a process that began in 2021 to fit their populations with 2020 census data. With her addition to the commission, Courtney fills the ANC’s last vacancy and ninth seat.

She said she hopes to send her first monthly newsletter to her constituents March 15, but she still needs to collect their contact information, which she hopes to collect by word of mouth.

Courtney, a Columbia Plaza resident and Hatchet photographer and videographer, said she has worked as an attorney for two decades, currently serving as a contract attorney with the consulting agency Innovative Driven tackling projects on a case-by-case basis. She said from November to December, she performed legal research, fact-checking and redactions for the report conducted by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol.

Courtney said she doesn’t consider herself politically active, although she interned for then-President Bill Clinton’s White House communications department from 1992 to 1993 during her time as an undergraduate.

Courtney said when she voted in the November election she saw an empty slot on the ballot for her district’s ANC commissioner seat, so she submitted a petition with 33 signatures – more than the required 25 – by the Jan. 30 submission deadline, launching her bid to the ANC.

“It’s not something that I sought out,” she said. “I was concerned that there was nobody in the position, and I just thought that everybody needed to be represented.”

Nicholas Dowse, another 2A05 resident who graduated from GW with a master’s degree in international affairs in 2015, said he also submitted a petition to fill the vacancy. Courtney said she challenged his petition when she saw some of his signatures came from people who were not registered to vote.

Dowse said after writing his name in “as a joke” for the vacant seat in the November election, the ANC emailed him that the seat was still open and provided directions from the Board of Elections on how to submit a petition. Dowse said he collected signatures from residents from Shenkman Hall and the Columbia Plaza Apartments.

He said even though he told local residents in SMD 2A05 that they could only add their names to his petition if they were registered to vote in D.C., they must have done so anyway without considering their registration status. Courtney said Dowse withdrew his petition Feb. 13, coming about a week after she submitted her challenge – a move she said “wasn’t personal.”

“It was very cordial,” he said. “There was no animosity whatsoever.”

Courtney said she plans to host in-person meetings with constituents where she will share information on upcoming ANC agenda items, and she plans to pay to print a newsletter with information about the ANC to place in the lobbies of buildings in her district.

“That’s the hardest part, is getting good communication with everyone,” she said.

Courtney said she paid out of pocket for a dedicated ANC phone which she plans to use to communicate with constituents, but she wishes the District paid ANC commissioners.

The ANC can apply for the District’s Technical Assistance Fund to purchase equipment to host meetings like WiFi hotspots and the Expert Assistance Fund, which pays for accounting, legal and zoning services. In January, commissioners signed a letter asking D.C. Council members to provide ANC commissioners with a salary or stipend.

“I can already tell that in order to do this really well, it takes a lot of time,” she said. “And I’m happy to put the time in, but I really wish that it was paid.”

Courtney said she loves the “sense of community” in Foggy Bottom and is pleased to be back as a student at GW, where she hopes to learn about law and photography to tell the stories of those who do not have a voice.

“I love GW so much,” she said. “I just love this place. I always wanted to come back.”

ANC members and constituents in Courtney’s SMD said Courtney will help fill a key gap in the commission, which was missing representation from the 2A05 SMD.

Commissioner Joel Causey, who chairs the ANC and represents SMD 2A06, said commissioners are excited to work with her.

“It’s new for us because we’re now going to have nine commissioners,” he said.

Commissioner and junior Dasia Bandy said she has not yet met Courtney, but she is “open” to working with another GW student on the commission.

Commissioner Yannik Omictin said he was “excited” for Courtney to fill the vacancy in 2A05.

“It’s great to have no vacancies on the ANC,” he said. “It means we can actually do our job.”

John Seichter, the treasurer of Columbia Plaza Tenants Association, said Courtney “was a highly qualified candidate” for the ANC, where she will be “an excellent addition.”

Sarah Shapiro, a resident of Columbia Plaza, said before Courtney began her petition, Shapiro spoke with Seichter about finding a resident to fill the vacancy.

She said the ANC commissioner seat is designed to represent constituents on local problems as they arise more than traditionally “political” issues. She said she wanted to ensure she is represented, even in the most local governing bodies.

“Whatever the ANC does, however little power it has, however little it does, I want that little bit,” she said.

Shapiro said as long as she is willing to represent the SMD, Courtney has her support.

“Actually, I wouldn’t have cared who it was,” she said. “I wanted us to be represented.”

This post has been updated to correct the following:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that Seichter is the president of the Columbia Plaza Tenants Association. Seichter is the treasurer of the Columbia Plaza Tenants Association.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
Donate to The GW Hatchet