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Past Emcees

Will Thomas

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Will Thomas an Emmy-award winning, veteran news anchor you may best know from his many years on Fox 5 Television in Washington. This year, he joined TTR Sotheby’s International Realty representing clients in DC, Virginia and Maryland with an office at the Sotheby’s Georgetown Brokerage. After 20 years as one of the area’s most trusted journalists, Will has an unparalleled knowledge of the local marketplace and a unique ability to connect with the community.


He has a long, successful history of buying, designing and selling properties, some of which have been featured in regional and national publications. Always a TTR Sotheby’s International Realty client, Will knows firsthand what it’s like to be the customer and to leverage one of the world’s most recognized and respected luxury brands.


Will is now harnessing his years of public service and connections as a broadcaster to help with charitable fundraising and awareness efforts. He serves on the board of Northern Virginia Therapeutic Riding Program which provides equine-assisted therapy to people with disabilities and recovering military personnel. Will is also lending his time and talents to assist other charitable organizations and will be traveling to South Africa later this year to shoot an educational documentary on behalf of Love Quilt Project which provides handmade quilts designed by U.S. based children to orphaned children in South Africa.

Laura Evans Manatos

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Laura Evans Manatos is President and Founder of Laura Evans Media, a media consulting company working with organizations and individuals that strive to make us better, our communities healthier and our world kinder. She helps clients get their message heard and their story told. Her intention is to break through the noise of negative news and ensure a variety of audiences learn about the innovative change makers among us. Before launching her own media consulting business, Laura served as anchor of Fox 5 News at 5, the top rated 5pm newscast in the nation's capital.

In her 26 year journalism career, including 18 years as an anchor and reporter with Fox5DC News, Laura’s reporting earned her several honors and awards including multiple Emmys and Emmy nominations, Associated Press Awards, Golden Mics and a Radio and Television News Directors Association Award for Best News Series. Washingtonian Magazine named Laura one of the rising stars in local television news.

Laura's field anchoring assignments have included presidential inaugurations, political conventions, the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, the visit of Pope Francis in the nation's capital. She has secured one-on-one, sit-down interviews with numerous newsmakers including Vice President Joe Biden, the highest ranking woman in US history, then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and she meditated face to face with Deepak Chopra.

Laura is known throughout the DC metropolitan area as one of her industry's most active supporters of local charities. She has served as Honorary Chair and emcee for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society's annual Light The Night Walks, emcee of the Man & Woman of the Year Gala, as well as emcee of Washington DC's biggest non-political black tie gala, The Leukemia Ball. Laura has also served as emcee for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Collegiate Directions Incorporated, Power of Pink, Mercy Health Clinic, Salvation Army, Race for Respect, Hoop Dreams and more. 

Laura helped spearhead the creation of, and continues to lead, the DC Newswomen: a collaboration of more than 20 on air personalities in the DC area that hosts a successful annual “Bash Against Breast Cancer”, raising money for various local breast cancer charities. She also single handedly launched a successful mindfulness program at a Bethesda elementary school.

Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Laura moved to the Nation's Capital from Santa Barbara where she anchored for the ABC affiliate and covered everything from California Wildfires, the Northridge Earthquake to the OJ Simpson murder trial.    

Laura and her husband Mike are raising their 3 children, Sienna, Andrea and Lucas and their yorkie, Gibbs in Bethesda.  

2019 Judges

Chelsie Hightower

Chelsie Hightower was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, and raised in Orem, Utah with five older brothers. She started dancing when she was nine years old and received conventional training since the age of 14. She has been trained in ballroom, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. Hightower has performed in musical theaters across the United States and won her first national title when she was 11. She was a U.S. Worlds finalist in 2005, and competed on Team USA during the British Open in Blackpool, England. She graduated from Timpanogos High School, then attended Utah Valley University.

At age 18, she made her television debut on season four of So You Think You Can Dance. She is highly remembered for her Emmy nominated performances with Mark Kanemura to a revision of “Bleeding Love” by Leona Lewis choreographed by NappyTabs and with Joshua Allen to “A Los Amigas” choreographed by Dimitry Chaplin.

Hightower joined the season eight cast of Dancing with the Stars as a professional dancer. She is known for being a regular dance partner, trainer and choreographer on the ABC competition show  where she was a professional from Season 8 to 15, excluding Season 13.

On July 8, 2010, she received an Emmy nomination for the “Paso Doble/Malagueña” dance that she and Derek Hough performed and co-choreographed for season ten.

Larry Michael

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Larry Michael is the “Voice of the Washington Redskins as well as the TV host for the Redskins Broadcast Network. He is a 12-time Emmy Award winner for his work with the Redskins Broadcast Network, and his current on-air work includes his role as “Voice of the Washington Redskins” (2004-present), as well as Hosting Redskins Nation on NBC Sports Washington (Daily 2007-present) and the Redskins Coaches Show on WRC NBC 4. He is also currently Chief Content Officer and Senior Vice President of Media for the Washington Redskins. He is responsible for the team’s content on digital platforms, as well as production of all Redskins Broadcast Network Television shows and broadcasts. He is also currently a selector/voter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Some of his other recent credits include: Host Inside the Redskins (WRC NBC 4 2009-2011) Redskins Game Day (WTTG Fox 5 2007-2009), Showtime Championship Boxing reporter (2001-2003),  NFL Play By Play on Westwood One (1999-2004), NCAA Basketball on Westwood One, HBO Boxing Beat (1997-2003) , Notre Dame pre-game Coaches Show on Westwood One, “Voice of the George Washington Colonials” (1991-2004) EA Sports “Knockout Kings” video game (2002-2003), Ballroom Boxing on Comcast Sports Net (1996-2004), Michael has also covered 8 Olympic Games, 21 U.S. Open Championships, 12 Masters Tournaments and 15 Super Bowls. Mr. Michael is active in area charities including The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and is a member of the board of Trustees for the Joe Gibbs Youth for Tomorrow Youth Home.  He previously worked for Westwood One, the nation’s leader in radio program syndication, as Executive Producer and Senior Vice President, where his duties included rights negotiations with the NFL, USGA, Masters, NCAA, NHL, Notre Dame, and NBC Olympics, as well as all programming and production. He is a Graduate of the University of Maryland, with a degree in Radio Television and Film.

Darren Haynes

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Darren M. Haynes is an Emmy award-winning sports anchor.


Darren is currently the Sports Director and Main Sports Anchor at WUSA in Washington D.C.  He also anchored at ESPN. During his time at the World-Wide Leader, he anchored SportsCenter, ESPN’s flagship program. His career includes the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, Stanley Cup Finals, NASCAR Cup Series Championship, World Series and more.

As a sports anchor, Darren has won numerous awards. He won multiple Emmy awards for Best Sports Anchor. He’s a three-time Associated Press Sportscaster of the year recipient and received the 2017 and 2018 A. P. Best News Anchor award for his outstanding editorial and commentary. In 2016, he was inducted into the Amity High School Hall of Honor and the New Haven Football Hall of Fame in his home state of Connecticut.

Darren has been recognized as one of the “Most Influential Blacks” by the NAACP. His work goes beyond sports. Darren is passionate about serving in his church and community with organizations such as Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association, U.S. Armed Forces and INROADS, Inc. He received the “Outstanding Leadership Award” for his work with the Pregnant and Parenting Teens Program as well as the “Media Recognition Award” for his fight against domestic violence with the Love Life Now Foundation.


In 2007, Darren launched the Junior Broadcast Program that has helped hundreds of aspiring journalists achieve their dreams in the media industry. His motivational speeches help individuals increase confidence and use personal power to activate their ideal life. The program currently mentors more than 500 young men and women. Darren is also the founder of Destined for Change. This program is dedicated to making a CHANGE in the world by inspiring, making an impact, and uplifting our young adults. Darren personally donates neckties to the young men to prepare them for the professional world. His work within the community continues with the Second Chance Prison Ministry where he helps create a plan for success for inmates at local prisons and recovery houses.


Darren is a graduate of Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Media Arts and Studies. He’s a proud member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and the National Association of Black Journalists. Above all of Darren’s professional awards and accomplishments, his greatest achievement is being a husband and father.

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