Inspiring Boomer: Jan DuPlain- Connecting the World
In Washington, D.C. a city where relationships drive world affairs, Jan DuPlain is not just another networker. She is an international connector.
When the Gallup Leadership Institute, presented DuPlain with its Excellence Award in 1998, the organization commended her for her “ability to connect just the right person with just the right talent to make just the right contribution.” They extolled the impact of her work, noting, “With her help, alliances are forged and progress is made.”
Indeed her recent appointment as Embassy Liaison for the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center is a testament to that statement. DuPlain’s extensive international experience has included working with the Cultural Tourism DC, where she launched “Passport DC,” a month long, city-wide cultural celebration of Washington’s international and diplomatic community with 70 embassies hosting open houses.
As president of DuPlain Enterprises, a top local marketing and public relations firm she founded more than 18 years ago, she has also had numerous international clients.
DuPlain describes herself as a late bloomer who keeps blooming “Life is a series of changes,–so get ready, replace fear with faith-look at each beginning as an adventure”, she advises,
I started over many, many times. My confidence comes from knowing that “the challenge before you, is never as great as the power behind you!”
Born and raised in Southern California, she first came to Washington, D.C. to attend American University. After graduation in the 1960s she returned to California to sell ads for her father’s newspaper and later moved to New York City for a brief stint at CBS Cinema Center Films, working with celebrity columnists Leonard Lyons, Earl Wilson and television host Ed Sullivan.
Her passion for the arts caused her to move back to Washington D.C. in the early 1970s to do marketing work for the newly renovated Ford’s Theatre. “1971 was a pivotal year for the culture of Washington,” she said “the Kennedy Center and Wolf Trap Performing Arts Center opened up that year.. Nothing has ever been the same since—DC flourished and we are now rated as the 2nd highest ticket sales in theatre in the USA (after NYC).—we are truly a “world class cultural city!”
As a marketing rep for the Ford Theatre Society she worked closely with Frankie Hewitt, wife of legendary CBS “60 Minutes” Founder/Executive Producer Don Hewitt, who she described as her ultimate mentor and friend.
Loyalty has continued to define DuPlain, who has served as a mentor to numerous successful Washington business women. There is truth to the saying “make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold,” she said.
During the 1970s, she also got her consciousness raising from feminist Gloria Steinem (whose 80th birthday party she will attend this November in Philadelphia). DuPlain eventually took a job with General Electric where she managed a clearinghouse on alcohol information. While at GE she was especially concerned about the lack pf support for women and alcoholism. “there was no research on women, minimal treatment programs and prevention programs for women. She launched the first Women’s addiction group for the National Organization of Women (NOW) in DC and became the first Director on Women for the National Council on Alcoholism- she set up Task Forces around the USA to support women with alcohol and mental health issued.
She always had a air for acting so when she moved back to California she joined a repertory company that allowed her to star in many productions including a production of “Same Time Next Year.”
She returned to the east coast in 1983. DuPlain said “felt like starting over again” She took a job at Washington-area PBS station WETA-TV. From 1983-1995 she led its public relations department, raising the station’s visibility locally and nationally. The job included doing public relations for such legendary personalities as news host Bill Moyers, newsman Charlie Rose and actress Helen Mirren. She also spearheaded publicity efforts for the D.C. world premiere of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns’ multiple award-winning TV series, “The Civil War.”
After leaving WETA-TV in 1996 she founded DuPlain Enterprises (www.duplain.com). The company’s title was homage to her late father, who first used it for his newspaper business. Over the years her company has managed major celebrities and clients including at the National Women’s History Museum where DuPlain worked with museum spokeswoman, actress Meryl Streep.
While she has been a frequent guest at the city’s top social gatherings and won numerous awards, DuPlain starts her and ends her day in a conventional way – for what she considers her most important connection. “The confidence I have didn’t come easy. This town keeps you humble.”
“Every day I get down on my knees,” she said.