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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

From Aggieland to The Hill

From+left+to+right%3A+Elizabeth+Alexander%2C+Class+of+2001+and+communications+director+for+First+Lady+Jill+Biden%3B+Thomas+DeFrank%2C+Class+of+1967+and+president+of+the+Gridiron+Club%3B+and+Gen.+Eric+Smith%2C+Class+of+1987+and+assistant+commandant+of+the+United+States+Marine+Corps.%26%23160%3B
Photo courtesy of Thomas DeFrank

From left to right: Elizabeth Alexander, Class of 2001 and communications director for First Lady Jill Biden; Thomas DeFrank, Class of 1967 and president of the Gridiron Club; and Gen. Eric Smith, Class of 1987 and assistant commandant of the United States Marine Corps. 

For the first time since 2019, the Gridiron dinner, one of the most prestigious annual Washington media events, returned — this time with three Aggies present. 

This esteemed bipartisan event is typically attended by the United States Marine Band, the U.S. president, politicians and prominent figures in the Washington media scene. The dinner, held on April 3, resulted in a small COVID-19 outbreak among 14 high-profile Washington individuals. The Gridiron Club dates back to 1885 with the Grover Cleveland administration and has since held the annual dinner in Washington. 
 

Gridiron President Tom DeFrank, Class of 1967, said as president, he hosts and runs the dinner in addition to inviting guests. This year, he invited two Aggies: Elizabeth Alexander, Class of 2001 and Gen. Eric Smith, Class of 1987. 
 

“General Smith and Elizabeth [Alexander] are two of the most capable and dedicated public servants I’ve ever known in the 54 years I’ve been in Washington,” DeFrank said. “It shouldn’t surprise anybody that they’re Aggies. I was delighted to be able to have them at the dinner.” 
 

Alexander currently serves as communications director for First Lady Jill Biden, and Gen. Smith is the current assistant commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Alexander and Smith could not be reached for comment at time of publication. 
 

The three Aggies posed for a selfie after the dinner was over. DeFrank said Alexander and Smith are a credit to A&M and its values. 

“It’s an important tradition of Washington’s spring social and political calendar,” DeFrank said. “I didn’t want to be the only Aggie there, and I’m really glad that I wasn’t.”  
Editor’s Note: Tom DeFrank is a former editor-in-chief of The Battalion.

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