Photos: Christoph Hodel

Last Wednesday, we gathered at Meda Coffee & Kitchen to celebrate the incredible work accomplished over the past year and to honor seven exceptional individuals and their organizations whose support and partnership have been integral to our journey.

We extend our heartfelt thanks to the owners of Meda Coffee & Kitchen, for graciously hosting our event. We also want to express our gratitude to all county elected officials, members of the community, our community advisory committee, and the board of directors who joined us. Your support and commitment to our community are highly valued — special thanks to our sponsors and individual supporters who enable us to continue our mission.

In our vibrant and diverse Columbia Pike community, there are several outstanding individuals and organizations who deserve recognition for their remarkable contributions. Join us in acknowledging these champions who have made a positive impact on our community.

  • Lloyd Wolf- Columbia Pike Documentary Project The Columbia Pike Documentary Project, under the dedicated leadership of Lloyd Wolf, is committed to preserving the history and stories of our diverse community. Their efforts to document our past ensure that our shared heritage is not forgotten.
  • Lloyd Washington – Arlington County Solid Waste Department Lloyd Washington’s devotion to maintaining the cleanliness and safety of Columbia Pike goes above and beyond. He keeps us informed about potential challenges and their resolutions, helping to create a safer and more pleasant environment for all.
  • Tracy Huerta and Ashley Huerta – SNAP Staff at the Columbia Pike Farmers Market  Tracy and Ashley Huerta have been instrumental in providing invaluable safety net services to our community. Their work ensures that members of our community have regular access to fresh produce, a vital resource, especially in challenging times like the pandemic.
  • Scott Taylor (receiving Craig Syphax) – Black Heritage Museum of Arlington The Black Heritage Museum of Arlington, led by Scott Taylor, provides historical visibility and context to Arlington’s African American hidden history. They have been valuable partners, hosting events that educate and engage our community.
  • Alex Sakes Alex Sakes is not just a leader; he’s a partner and a significant community advocate. His support extends to our business and community outreach efforts, and he has been a collaborative force in promoting and showcasing our events, including the popular pet portraits at Paws of The Pike.
  • Merrelle White – Arlington County’s Black Employees Council Arlington County’s Black Employees Council, with the involvement of Merrelle White, has been a fantastic new partner in engaging South Arlington. They have actively participated in events like our 26th Annual Blues Festival, Juneteenth Celebration, and Movie Nights, enriching our community experiences.

These remarkable individuals and organizations have collectively made Columbia Pike a better place to live, work, and do business, and we are deeply grateful for their dedication and contributions during this past year.

As we reflect on the past year, we’re proud to highlight our Top 10 achievements:

  1. Fundraising & Team Talent: We successfully met our fundraising goals and secured additional annual sustainable funding, enabling us to focus on talent retention.
  1. Board Representation & Strategic Planning: We continued to align our board representation with our community’s diversity, thanking legacy board members and welcoming four new members: Alex Held, Daniel Rogers, David Hilde, and Kevin Sheffield. We also attended LCE’s Onboard Training and refreshed our strategic plan through FY2027.
  1. Boletin: In our commitment to diversity and inclusion, we expanded Boletin to include both Spanish and English languages, offering the publication in both print and digital formats on a quarterly basis. This expansion allowed us to share a broader range of information and increase our outreach.
  1. Ribbon Cuttings: We facilitated the opening of seven new businesses on the Pike, including Meda Coffee & Kitchen, Papa Deenos Pizza, Cabaña Restaurant, Eli’s Taqueria, Sabores Tapas Restaurant, Mpanadas, and ParCiti Golf.
  1. Progress Events: This year, we brought back the Columbia Pike Progress Luncheon in person, with the theme “Embracing Diversity and Fostering Inclusive Growth.” The event sold out well in advance. Additionally, we partnered with the Pike Presidents Group and Arlington County to formalize the State of the Pike.
  1. Partnerships: We collaborated with BHMA, the Swiss Embassy, Arlington Career Center, and the Sankofa Mobile Museum to present a panel discussion called “Teaching Heritage: Reaching Community” in celebration of Black History Month. The discussion focused on the significance of public history, creative curation, and museum education as powerful means to engage with local communities.
  1. Movie Nights: Our summer movie nights series gained popularity, earning recognition as one of the top 20 Best Summer Outdoor Movie Events in the United States by Travel Magazine.
  1. Recipes for Recovery: In collaboration with Sushmita Mazumdar and the Washington Forrest Foundation, we published “Recipes for Recovery,” which tells the story of the Pike’s restaurants and our partnership through the Buy a Nurse Lunch program during COVID. The book was printed in Colombia and delivered to Columbia Pike.
  1. Lunch Club: In an effort to bolster our restaurants during lunch hours, we launched a Monthly Lunch Club, utilizing the “Recipes for Recovery” book to encourage patrons from both Columbia Pike and its neighboring areas to dine at our local restaurants during midday.  This initiative proved highly successful, attracting a significant number of food enthusiasts.
  1. Blues Festival: Our 26th annual Blues Festival was a massive success! We welcomed over 10,000 people for a full day of fun on Columbia Pike, featuring more than 50 vendors, five nationally recognized Blues bands/artists, and numerous activities for all ages. The festival showcased the diversity and essence of our community, making it an unforgettable event.

We are proud of our accomplishments and celebrate our community,  partners, and supporters. As we look ahead to a new year, we hope we can count on your support to further our mission of a more vibrant, safe, connected, inclusive, and diverse Columbia Pike community.