‘I Knew I Needed to Run Into My Fear’
As a little girl, Katie Shannon fantasized about calling one of Georgetown’s ‘glamorous’ cobblestone streets home. Two decades later, she was living alone in Kevin Plank’s mansion, fearful for the direction her life was headed.
The sales and event planner grew up moving up and down the East Coast and learning how to be a chameleon, never in one place for more than five years. She struggled to concentrate in school—too busy studying other students—but found her niche at the Four Seasons Baltimore, where she got her ‘grit’. In just over a year, she was recruited to work at their flagship Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown.
Katie appreciated the structure and excelled as their top sales producer, but couldn’t shake her natural tendency to rebel.
‘I pushed the envelope there and took people out of their comfort zones, but I always wanted to do things on my terms and I wanted freedom—and that was not the place to do that. There was a policy and procedure for everything and I was ready to knock ‘em all down—including wearing pantyhose.’
Restless at the Four Seasons, Katie was presented with an unusual opportunity—managing operations at four of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank’s luxury residential properties, including his Georgetown home, and executing events and VIP guest stays there for executives, athletes, politicians, and celebrities.
‘I was like, ‘This sounds so weird, I’m into it.’ My last day at the Four Seasons, I stood outside of the hotel and posed in front of the big sign, ripping a pair of pantyhose.’
Katie had her freedom, but felt the culture shock of suddenly living in the Plank’s Georgetown mansion.
‘I took a leap, but I didn’t realize it was going to be a lot of being still, which is not a skill that I’ve ever acquired. When you’re at the Four Seasons, you’re running constantly. To have to stop, pull back, and just sit was terrifying.’
Six months in, Katie sank into a depression—arriving at the hard realization that she’d taken the Under Armour job to stroke her ego.
‘I was going down an ego-centric path that was all about the money, and that was my definition of success. What I really needed was a timeout because I didn’t even know who I was. I thought, I’m fearful for the direction I’m going in and I need to challenge myself internally.’
In the midst of an identity crisis, Katie was surrounded by a supportive group of female entrepreneurs who mobilized to help her find an apartment and secure contract work while she figured out what came next. She was also buoyed by the ‘automatic adrenaline hit’ that came from the kindness of strangers who smiled and said hello on her meditational walks around the neighborhood—something Katie says would never happen in the rest of DC.
‘I was so used to taking care of everyone else, and for the first time I was faced with taking care of myself. Georgetown really embraced me, and I’m so grateful. You feel like you’re part of something bigger here, and that’s an intangible that you can’t buy or create out of the blue.’
A year and a half—and a lot of self-reflection—later, Katie believes her true purpose is bringing people together. She recently opened a new event space and coffee shop, 2622, with Georgetown developers Jessica and Ezra Glass, which she hopes will serve as an incubator for community relationships.
‘I had to get away from hiding behind these incredible brands to figure out who I am. I realized through my constant moving growing up, and trying to control everything as a result, that it’s so important to double down on long-term human connections. That’s what this event space does. I feel the energy and warmth, and I can imagine different people celebrating momentous occasions here.’
At all of the 2622 events Katie hosts, her goal is to peel back the onion of who people really are. Often, that starts with asking a question intended to make them feel a little uncomfortable.
‘They don’t like it at first, but it’s about more than asking if the trash has been picked up on their block. It starts this whole other conversation that gets a little deeper, a lot quicker. When we live in a neighborhood like this where we’re all on top of each other, it’s really important to build community.’
Although Katie’s career has been all over the place, the psychology major says it’s rooted in studying people. At their core, everyone wants to be listened to, loved, and cared about. Katie’s job is figuring out how they express those needs, and what’s most important to them—whether she’s meeting one person for coffee, or planning an event for thousands.
‘Constantly reinventing myself as a kid and those big challenges growing up became a super power because I learned to quickly absorb people’s behaviors. It’s not about what people are telling you initially. You have to ask the right questions, dig down deep, and bring what they truly value to the surface. If you can be successful at that, you can throw an incredible event, and have incredible relationships. And then it’s just about managing that.’
Now, Katie’s asking herself the right questions, too. She says she recently felt the itch to move again, and had convinced herself she was going to Austin before reexamining the real reason behind her decision.
‘I came to the realization that I was just going to keep repeating the same patterns. I need to feel the discomfort of being still and realize that long-term, there’s an incredible opportunity to do so much work to take Georgetown into the next decade in a really cool, creative way. Last year was an insane adventure of jumping off the cliff with no safety net. I could have done things a little differently along the way, but this is where I am. I feel like I’m home for the first time in my life.’