Events Manager Sophie Barral joined the Rosslyn BID in December 2015. A native of Bordeaux, France, Sophie now lives in Arlington with her husband. She graduated from the Institute of Political Studies in Bordeaux with degrees in Political Science and International Relations.
Rosslynva.org: How did you end up being an event planner?
Sophie Barral: I studied International Relations and Political Science and graduated with a Master's Degree from a French university when I was 24 years old. It was hard to really know what I was passionate about, and what I wanted to work on every day.
I went on to an internship at the United Nations in New York. I have always loved being around people from different countries and cultural backgrounds, and that’s why I always thought that I should just continue working in International Affairs.
In 2014, I was living in Kosovo and working for an international foundation. During that year, I was also working as a consultant with a U.S.-based nonprofit organization planning an international conference with 500 participants from all over the world. I worked on everything from supporting visa processes with U.S. Embassies to outreach to keynote speakers. This event took so much planning, but was the experience I needed to understand not only what I was good at, but what I was passionate about: creating ideal spaces for people to meet and connect.
Little by little, I gained more skills in event planning by organizing other conferences in different countries and in the U.S. I now work on event planning full time at the Rosslyn BID. I am so lucky to work on such a diverse set of events, from fitness classes to concerts to business events. I get to meet and work with different people every day, from restaurant owners from Wisconsin to craft artisans from Peru.
Rosslynva.org: What has been your favorite event at the BID so far?
SB: In just one year, I have worked on so many different events. If I had to pick I would actually choose two. The first one is Bike to Work Day. BikeArlington is the primary planner of this event, and we provide some support. It was one of the first events I got to work on at the Rosslyn BID. I loved that event because I got to connect with so many different people stopping by on their way to work in the morning in Gateway Park. Most of the attendees for this event are either people who work or live in Rosslyn, and they know our neighborhood really well. Most of the time, I am running around during events, and it felt great to actually connect with participants.
My second favorite event was really recent and was the Rosslyn Holiday Market Festival + Bonfire. This was only the fourth edition and the second one outdoors in Gateway Park. So much planning and work went into this event but it turned out to be a very successful one, with over 2,000 attendees in two days, despite the very cold weather. With this event, I probably used every bit of creativity I had and got to plan a lot of fun activities for everyone. You can learn more about it here.
Rosslynva.org: You live in Arlington, Va., just outside of Washington, D.C. What do you love most about living here?
SB: I have lived in big cities in many countries, but Washington, D.C., is very particular: It has Arlington as its next-door neighbor. It’s very rare to have such different cities next to each other, and yet so connected (mostly through Rosslyn!). I love to work and live in Arlington because I get the advantages of living in a world capital without too many of the inconveniences. While working at the Rosslyn BID, I learned how much Arlington is like a modern urban village: Everybody knows everybody else, very different neighborhoods are located next to each other and there are so many parks to hang out at. I appreciate this city even more now that I work for the BID. I meet everyday people who work hard to make this a unique place to live, work and play.