Cherry Blossom Festival Announces President & CEO

Staff Report From Middle Georgia CEO

Monday, March 20th, 2017

The Cherry Blossom Festival Board of Directors is pleased to announce the completion of the President and CEO search.  A search committee received 29 resumes from across the nation and performed interviews with the four finalists.  The committee selected Stacy Campbell, who accepted the position this morning.  The position is effectively immediately with Interim President and CEO Thomas Wicker remaining on the team in an advisory capacity through April 28.

Festival Chairman Don Bailey served as the Chairman of the search committee.  “We are thrilled to be able to complete the process and name Stacy before the Festival begins next Friday.  I look forward to working with her and the fantastic team to produce a successful event for the community.”

Stacy currently serves as the Vice President of the Cherry Blossom Festival and has eight years of service during her previous time with the organization, from 2004 through 2012.  Board Chair Stacy Ingram was a part of the team who recruited Campbell back to the Cherry Blossom Festival last fall.  Ingram explains, “Stacy has the unique experience of having served the Festival as an event planner, marketing director, royalty program coordinator, and sponsorship sales and fulfillment director.  She knows the organization intimately and was able to rejoin the team in November 2016 with virtually no learning curve.  We feel a sense of excitement from the Board and staff leading into the 2017 Festival and look forward to sharing the events we have planned with everyone.”

Each March, Macon becomes a pink, cotton-spun paradise as over 300,000 Yoshino cherry trees bloom in all their glory. For 10 days, festival-lovers are treated to one of the most extravagant displays of springtime color in the nation as they visit the town referred to by Congressional Records as the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World. Festival Founder Carolyn Crayton organized the first mass planting through the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission with a donation from William A. Fickling Sr.

Fickling agreed to donate the trees if she would organize the planting. A community effort, spearheaded by local families and corporations ensued, leading to the planting of approximately 500 Yoshino cherry trees on Saturday, November 24, 1973, with the first trees planted along Wesleyan Woods, Guerry Drive, and Oxford Road.

As the Executive Director for the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission, she proposed launching a Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate the beauty of the trees and to honor Fickling for all he had so generously contributed to the town.  As a result, the Cherry Blossom Festival was born in 1982 under the auspices of the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission, and was developed around the basic principles of “love, beauty, and international friendship.”

Dr. Pam Carswell currently serves as the President and CEO of the Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful Commission.  The office is located at the Cherry Blossom Festival headquarters and the two organizations work closely together to serve the community to create a clean and beautiful community and create a unique sense of place with the Cherry Blossom Festival.  Carswell says, “I look forward to working with Stacy to grow both organizations effectively.  We already enjoy working together which makes me excited about the future.”

Thomas Wicker agreed to serve as the Interim President and CEO during the search process, after previously serving as Festival and Board Chair in 2011 and 2012.  He has worked closely with Stacy Campbell during his time with the Festival.  Wicker states “Stacy is the perfect person to lead this organization.  She has the experience, talent, energy, and leadership ability to take the Festival to even higher levels of success.  More than that, this work is not only her passion, it is her calling.”  

Stacy Campbell has worked with the Board of Directors and the team to shape, organize and implement the 2017 festival.  This will be her ninth Cherry Blossom Festival and first in the President and CEO role.  Campbell explains, “I am extremely humbled to have been offered this opportunity.  Having worked for the Festival for 8 years, my passion for the Festival never waned.  Carolyn Crayton as well as board members I have been fortunate enough to work with previously are invaluable mentors for me.  This organization is one of the strongest families I know, and I am so honored to serve the Board of Directors to work with our team to produce the Pinkest Party on Earth!”

The 2017 Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off at Noon with the opening ceremonies at Central City Park.  Highlights include the Gala, Parade with a F-15 flyover scheduled at 4 pm, Third Street Park Festivities, the return of the Street Party, the Grand Finale and much more!