Eastern Market Main Street (EMMS) announced at their first post-pandemic gathering April 20 that Ann Blackwell will lead the organization as their new Executive Director.
At the event, the nonprofit organization, dedicated to entrepreneurship, growth and development of the Eastern Market neighborhood, celebrated great successes in their support of small businesses throughout the course of the pandemic. Small business owners, members of Eastern Market Main Street and local residents attended the celebration.
Ann Blackwell is a marketing executive and small business owner who is the founder of Well Built, an eco-responsible furniture brand. She has lived in Washington, DC for 17 years and has two children who attended the DC public schools.
Blackwell brings a unique perspective to the organization. She is a small business owner and has extensive experience in design. Notably, Blackwell was integral in the collaboration of several city organizations that facilitated the creation of an art park in Hollywood, Florida.
Blackwell said she is excited to lead EMMS, but also to learn from the other members of the organization and the community. She expressed excitement about the unique features of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.
“I love the classic architecture of the neighborhood and I love that Eastern Market is a world class market,” Blackwell said. “It’s a gorgeous area, and at the same time, it’s incredibly diverse. I feel like we have people from all walks of life and I love that; I want to hold on to all of those pieces.”
After visiting the west coast and seeing the devastation of the pandemic on San Francisco and Seattle, Blackwell said she was amazed by the community support and loyalty to small businesses that she saw in DC. She is looking forward to listening to and learning from the Eastern Market community in this role and continuing to build on the progress made thus far.
Manuel Cortez, Chair of the Board of Directors, spoke at the event regarding the successes of the organization throughout two very challenging years.
“I’m looking forward to 2022, to expand on the successes to assist the current businesses with their recovery, recruiting and retaining your businesses and promoting diversity equality with the businesses in the historic district and the surrounding neighborhood,” Cortez said.
Mr. Henry’s owner and EMMS Treasurer Mary Quillian Helms thanked the members for all of their hard work and productivity.
“You [EMMS] are almost six years old, yet you have met and exceeded expectations and goals that some programs that are 15 years old haven’t been able to meet,” Quillian Helms said. “So I need you to really pat yourself on the back, clap your hands and say we did a great job.”
Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen (D) attended the celebration and expressed gratitude for the hard work of the organization throughout the pandemic and recovery.
“I am deeply grateful for the hard work the board and all the staff have done because you helped us get through this,” Allen said. “And you’re going to be there to help us get stronger and really have that full recovery.”
Allen expressed optimism about the future of Eastern Market under their leadership.
“I’m looking forward to the years ahead because I know that we’re going to come out of this strong,” Allen said. Your neighbors appreciate it and Ward 6 appreciates it.”
Sarah Payne is a general assignment reporter at Capital Community News. She can be reached at [email protected].