2021 Year in Review
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” - F. Scott Fitzgerald
2021 had its share of challenges.
Most years do, but in our lifetimes, few unfold against the backdrop of a worldwide phenomenon that over time reminds us of the limits of our ability to truly control our lives. Unfailing optimists that we are, we choose to remember 2021 for that which was good, and as the proverb admonishes, accept those things we cannot change.
Our reflections on some of our highlights of 2021 follow. As the new year begins, we are celebrating perseverance in the face of adversity, and planning for a 2022 that we hope will be rewarding for all of us.
The World Watches the MLK Memorial Anniversary   
It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since we produced and built worldwide awareness for the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. In October, SDI was honored to produce and promote the Memorial Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Celebration of the MLK Memorial. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris joined Foundation President Harry Johnson in a ceremony at the Memorial, which was aired live globally on PBS, CNN, and MSNBC, among others. View the full ceremony courtesy of PBS Newshour. 
Dole Foundation & Tom Hanks Honor Caregivers
The Elizabeth Dole Foundation, a longtime SDI client, hosted its annual Heroes and History Makers event, emceed by NBC TODAY show host Savannah Guthrie, featuring Oscar-winner Tom Hanks, and capped by a performance from music stars Lady A. HGTV hosts Erin and Ben Napier were among the celebrities who appeared to honor military caregivers, as profiled by Southern Living
First Colors Ceremony Opens the World War I Memorial
Despite COVID limitations, the World War l Centennial Commission created a nationwide event in April with a compelling live-streamed video featuring President Joe Biden; a powerful in-person “First Colors” flag raising punctuated by “Taps” and a spectacular fly-over. SDI worked with the Commission to build national and international awareness of the broadcast which was recognized with a win in the PRNews’ Platinum PR Awards
Maximus Among Those Leading the Fight Against COVID-19  
As we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, Maximus found itself on the front lines all year, as an employee explained in this profile from NBC 9 in Denver. Maximus has also become a high-profile source about the COVID response. Read this New York Times interview with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Michael Weiner.  
Defense Health Agency Keeps Millions Informed About COVID-19
The SDI team at the Defense Health Agency remained laser focused on the COVID-19 response in 2021, staying on top and informing millions of beneficiaries of the rapidly changing health environment. The emergency response to COVID19 accelerated unprecedented change within military medicine, with valuable resources being shared by the SDI team daily
New Client: American Battle Monuments Commission 
We were delighted to win a contract with the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) to plan their Centennial in 2023 via events, public education, and commemorations. ABMC, established by Congress in 1923, is the guardian of America’s overseas commemorative cemeteries such as in Normandy and Flanders Fields, and memorials, abroad and at home, that honor the service, achievements and sacrifice of those who gave their lives in service to our nation abroad.
Global Experts Share Security Concerns 
In 2020, SDI began working with the National Intelligence University, as we were tasked to edit, provide commentary and coordinate with NIU experts on environmental security narratives. Following the 2021 Environmental Security Summit last fall, SDI went back to the editing table to help U.S. and global experts expertly communicate their summit proceedings.
Milestone Date for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
A custom toolkit SDI created for its long-time client Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) helped state chairs launch this year’s celebration of 50 years supporting the critical relationship between National Guard and Reserve members and their employers. 
Museums Welcome Back the Public
SDI was recognized by the Stevie Business Awards for our work with the Army Historical Foundation, which opened the new National Museum of the Army in 2020 but wasn’t fully open to the general public until summer 2021 due to COVID.

SDI also promoted our client Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s celebration for the 15th anniversary of the National Museum of the Marine Corps.
Maximus Makes Big Acquisitions
This spring, Maximus acquired Attain and Veterans Evaluations Services (VES) for a combined $1.8 billion, the company’s largest acquisitions to date. CEO Bruce Caswell explained the deals in feature interviews with Washington Technology and Washington Business Journal.  
Catholic Foundations Launch National Safeguarding Initiative
SDI led the outreach efforts for The Commitment to Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection initiative, launched in March by Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA). FADICA’s member foundations, with combined resources of $48 billion, pushed for stronger abuse and harassment protections, as explained by FADICA CEO Alexia Kelley in this interview
Helping Afghans
This summer, the plight of the Afghan people became a global story. We were so relieved when many of the girls in the Zabuli School were able to return and look forward to all 800 girls returning to school in March. Razia’s Ray of Hope founder Razia Jan was featured in People for her work with girls’ schools in the country. Susan Davis is proud to chair the foundation board.  
In the United States, SDI learned of React DC, a new organization created by military spouses and former U.S. vets who served in Afghanistan, who are doing incredible work despite the huge challenges. We were so impressed we made them our 2022 pro bono client. React DC founder Amy Marden was profiled on the CBS Evening News. They need lots of support: www.reactdc.org  
Moving Forward 
We were privileged to work with several major corporations for many years who were sold or in the sale cycle in 2021. Though we will miss collaborating with the fabulous teams at the multibillion-dollar contractor, Perspecta (now Peraton) and the innovative earth observation satellite corporation, Theia, we are grateful for the opportunity to work with cutting-edge changemakers!
JWLS Returns to a Live Event This Year
Planning is moving quickly on The Sea Services Leadership Association (SSLA) Joint Women's Leadership Symposium (JWLS), scheduled for July 10-13, 2022, in Norfolk, Virginia. JWLS is the largest annual gathering of women serving in the military and is returning to a live event format this year after two years of virtual conferences and webinars due to COVID. 
Military Women’s Memorial Prepares for a Big Year
Twenty-five years ago, SDI was privileged to produce the Dedication of the Military Women’s Memorial. And we are so honored to now plan the 25th anniversary, scheduled for October 2022. The Military Women's Memorial closed temporarily for the first time in November to undergo renovations and will reopen in May.
Supporting The TOUGH Project's Critical Work
SDI is launching work with our newest client in the new yearthe Trauma Outcomes and Urogenital Health (TOUGH) Project. It’s a Congressionally-funded study that identifies the long-term health-related outcomes and needs of veterans who had an injury to the genital or urinary areas of their bodies during U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 20 years. SDI will work with academic leaders at UC Davis, UT Health San Antonio and UT Southwestern Medical Center to help conduct and promote the study.  
SDI Returns to the Live Stage
In November, the PR Summit DC returned to a live event, and hundreds were in attendance as SDI Vice President Sean O’Leary moderated a panel on the impact of COVID on communications and public relations for government contractors. The panel included representatives from Accenture, Leidos, and our client Maximus, and shared details on how COVID changed their messaging and tactics. 
From Intern to Full-Time at SDI
We have always been so lucky to have fabulous interns, all of whom we would want to keep if only they didn’t have to return to school. Despite the pandemic, we again had outstanding interns. Our newest recruit is our former Washington Media Institute intern, Haylee Sigafoose. Haylee graduated from Alma College with a major in New Media Studies in December and will be joining us this January! 
Drum Roll, 20 more years!
But who is counting? SDI just renewed its GSA contract for 20 more years. We have loved our government contract work for the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Transportation and Labor, plus many Commissions and smaller agencies, and look forward to what the future might bring. A big thank you to Vice President Tom Davis for shepherding this renewal for nearly an eternity!

SDI Wins Big in 2021
The SDI team won a plethora of awards in 2021!

  • Vice President Spence Geissinger joined SDI in 2021 and quickly made an impact by being honored by Smart Meetings as one of its Meeting Planners of the Year
Our biggest win was coming through the 2021 pandemic year safe and healthy. We hope yours was too
Here’s to a Happy, Healthy, Fun and Successful 2022!
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