In 2016, after more than a decade of organizing Columbia Heights Day, our committed Board of Directors cast a vision for an organization that would work across sectors to serve our community year-round. With that vision in mind, they took the bold step to hire their first Executive Director, Brianne Dornbush, and under her leadership, the organization began laying the foundation to pursue and win a DC Main Streets Grant.
Over a decade ago, Columbia Heights was a rapidly developing neighborhood. Residents saw that more than just the appearance of the neighborhood was changing. They feared the diversity and unity that had defined the neighborhood was disappearing. In an effort to maintain the uniqueness of the neighborhood, the vision for Columbia Heights Day was born. This event was designed to unify the diverse community and celebrate the neighborhood’s history. To keep the event inclusive and sustainable, the first board of directors formed Columbia Heights Day Initiative, fondly known as Columbia Heights Initiative. They garnered support from local businesses, churches, community organizations, and residents from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds.
These stakeholders made both financial and in-kind donations to make the first Columbia Heights Day festival happen in 2005. The community came together to create an event showcasing local businesses, artists, food, family-oriented games, and entertainers. That momentum has continued to propel us ever since and allowed us to expand beyond a one-day festival to build a year-round service organization.