Barbara Ehrlich, an active member of the Southwest DC community, has been named Volunteer of the Year by the International Festival and Events Association (IFEA) for her 25 years of service with the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Ehrlich played a significant role in the creation of the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival. Through her dedicated engagement and strong ties to the community, Ehrlich worked with the festival’s staff to rally support and participation for the first-ever Fireworks Festival in 2004, which had just 200 attendees. Today, this event attracts more than 50,000 people to the Southwest DC community each spring. As a member of the Southwest Waterfront community as well as a volunteer for the National Cherry Blossom Festival, Ehrlich has joined the neighborhood together as one group of volunteers.
“Through Mrs. Ehrlich’s efforts, Southwest DC has been named ‘the home of the cherry blossoms,’” said Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen. “Through her volunteer efforts for the past 25 years, Mrs. Ehrlich’s impact has been an immeasurable contribution to the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC. Without her volunteer efforts, the organization, coordination, and resource development that makes the Southwest DC event so outstanding would be difficult to maintain or grow in the future.”
Since 1991, Ehrlich has provided essential support to the festival through her roles on various committees. As a member of the festival’s Board of Directors and Executive Committee, Ehrlich has actively participated in strategic and program planning, budgeting, special projects, and more. She currently serves as the board’s secretary.
“Barbara exemplifies the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s spirit and joy,” said Diana Mayhew, president of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. “She is truly a ‘super citizen,’ and has been instrumental in the evolution of the festival throughout the years.”
Ehrlich also took initiative in coordinating three goodwill trips to Japan. While in Japan, Ehrlich developed relationships with city officials in order to strengthen the festival’s legacy of honoring the original 1912 gift of trees from Tokyo. She has since hosted dignitary groups from Japan at her home, providing festival hospitality and developing long-standing relationships. Through these relationships and the groundwork that Ehrlich laid, the festival was able to build a strong foundation and flourish into a world-renowned event.
As this year’s Volunteer of the Year winner, Ehrlich will be the guest of the IFEA and Zambelli Fireworks at the IFEA’s 61st Annual Convention, Expo & Retreat, Sept. 27-29, 2016 in Tucson, AZ. She will be recognized and presented with her award during the IFEA Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, Sept. 27.