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Trustee Profile: A Legacy of Community Stewardship

Submitted by mcrawford on Wed, 04/13/2016 - 13:55

Charles C. “Sandy” Wilkes finds, in his Federal City Council membership, a singular opportunity to give back to the community he dearly loves and to continue the legacy of his grandfather, one of the FC2’s founding members and its first general counsel. 

A native Washingtonian, lawyer and successful real estate developer, Wilkes has long been committed to FC2’s mission of progressive and thoughtful leadership in the areas of economic development, fiscal policy and social justice. 

“I’ve always had a special feeling for the Federal City Council. I was truly honored when I was invited to become a trustee in 1995,” says Wilkes.

His grandfather, James C. Wilkes, Sr., founding partner at the law firm, Wilkes & Artis, was one of the city leaders who joined together in 1952 with Phillip L. Graham, the publisher of The Washington Post, to form the FC2 in an effort to revive a declining Washington, D.C., and to set the city on a path toward economic renewal.

“The Council is not a booster group or a trade association. And it’s not a social club. The trustees are serious people doing serious work. For people who really care deeply about the city and want to find a way to make a difference, I think the Council is the single best opportunity to do that,” says Wilkes.

Wilkes has long believed that where the FC2 distinguishes itself from other organizations is its willingness to take on difficult issues with an “all-in” focus and determination. Adhering to its nonpartisan approach, it has been able to tackle some of Washington’s most vexing issues—infrastructure decay, pollution, poverty and illiteracy, to name a few.

“Also, what has separated the FC2 from other organizations is its deep understanding of the role economic development must play in a fair and just society. This awareness has always been at the heart of the FC2’s work and is the source, in my view, of the FC2’s moral authority and standing,” Wilkes offers.

Wilkes is also one of the primary architects of the FC2’s recent effort to establish the DC Policy Center, an institute that will use research, analysis, communication and educational initiatives to promote forward-looking policies and ideas on economic and social development in the region.

“It is hoped that the DC Policy Center will be an often-heeded voice in the public discourse on what constitutes sound fiscal policy, what are some of the best ways to sustain a high-performance local economy and how to help those of our fellow citizens who are struggling to live stable, productive lives,” says Wilkes. “These are clearly some of the great challenges of our time.”

The FC2 will incubate the DC Policy Center until it’s fully established, similar to what it did for the Anacostia Waterfront Trust and the Economic Club of Washington. The DC Policy Center will also look for opportunities to collaborate with our local universities to advance its research and policy formulations.  “The goal for the DC Policy Center is for its research and studies to have, on a local level, the value and credibility of reports issued by the Congressional Budget Office.  Our elected officials don’t always have enough unbiased data and information to make good decisions,” Wilkes points out.

Wilkes is chairman of The Wilkes Company, a leading real estate development company in Washington, D.C., focusing on transit-oriented, mixed-use projects. The company is presently working on a number of downtown developments including a major mixed-use project at the NoMa/Gallaudet Metro Station and, with its partner Quadrangle Development Corporation, development of the new headquarters for the District of Columbia Bar in Mount Vernon Triangle. Wilkes founded the company after practicing land use and zoning law in the Washington, D.C., office of Linowes and Blocher.

Wilkes is chairman of The Washington Children's Foundation, a trustee of The National Theatre, a founding member of The Developer Roundtable and chairman of the NoMa Parks Foundation. He and his wife, Helen, have three children, and are passionate collectors of 19th century European sculpture.