Two Eagles Take Flight in Washington

Burnell Edward Holland III was fascinated, and somewhat amused, as Lauren Robyn Weaver wandered past his table a couple times looking for him in November 2012 at a rooftop lounge at the hotel across from the DC Public Schools Central Office in Washington, where they each worked at the time.

“She’s strikingly beautiful,” said Mr. Holland, now 37, who was then manager of operations in the Office of Family and Public Engagement. He had recognized her from a LinkedIn photo he had stumbled across, and soon walked over.

A couple of months earlier, one of his college friends, who was Ms. Weaver’s mentor at Boston College, from which they each graduated, had asked him to connect with her about opportunities in the Washington public school system.

“I was moving to D.C. at the end of my Fulbright,” said Ms. Weaver, now 35, who was a Teach for America corps member. From 2011 to 2012, she was a Fulbright fellow in South Korea, and she taught English to third through sixth graders at Dusan Elementary School in Daegu. She received a master’s degree in education, summa cum laude, from George Mason University, and a law degree from Georgetown.

Within 24 hours Mr. Holland emailed her with dates that he could see her the following week. Ms. Weaver, not in town yet, quickly replied saying she was staying with her parents in Shaker Heights, Ohio, until her move. But he never followed up.

“I found my own job in D.C.,” said Ms. Weaver, who landed one developing the curriculum for kindergarten through 12th grade in the district.

He emailed a profuse apology, the day before she actually arrived, and offered to take her out for a drink.

“I was eager at least get to know a fellow Eagle,” he said, referring to the nickname favored by Boston College alums. Mr. Holland also received an M.P.A. from Syracuse University, and an executive masters in leadership from Georgetown. He now runs Gilded Knight Consulting, a social impact strategy consulting and investment firm in Washington.

“We talked about investing in youth, the Jesuit tradition of giving back, and the loss of his older sister,” a few months earlier, she said.

He appreciated her empathy and “positivity” and could not wait to see her again.

They began hanging out, but Jan. 4, 2013 stood out the most — dinner at Georgia Brown’s followed by jazz at Blues Alley, and a first kiss on her doorstep after he drove her home.

They cheered each other on through career moves, and in 2018 they worked across the hall from one another. Ms. Weaver, while at Georgetown Law School, was a law clerk in the private office of President Obama and Michelle Obama. Mr. Holland, until earlier this year, was the deputy director of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance at the Obama Foundation, which oversees 250 community initiatives for boys and young men of color across the United States.

Mr. Holland proposed on July 27, 2018, the last day she was a summer associate at the Washington office of Reed Smith, where she is now a white collar criminal defense and investigations lawyer. She gave up a Beyoncé concert to join him for what she believed was a surprise trip to Miami. A car outside her apartment instead whisked her away to the District of Columbia War Memorial where he got down on one knee amid rose petals that formed a heart. She moved in with him the following March.

They planned to get married in September 2019 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, with 300 guests, but after her father fell ill they wanted to wait until he recovered, and moved the date to July 2020. Amid the Covid pandemic, they moved the date again.

On July 17, before 140 vaccinated guests, the Rev. Jessie Gutgsell Dodson officiated at the church, in a ceremony she led with the Rev. James M. Hairston, a college friend and mentor of the groom. Both are Episcopal priests. After the couple jumped the broom, an African-American tradition, guests waved pink ribbons in celebration. Later, at the Ritz-Carlton in Cleveland, her father, usually quite stoic, danced with her to “Word Up” by Cameo.

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