Ode to Kate Borders

Posted by DFP Staff

As you’ve probably heard by now, our President and CEO Kate Borders has taken a position in Tempe, AZ. While we’re all really, really, really sad to see her go, we know this will be a great move for her and her family. Plus we’re banking on crashing her couch for Spring Training. Here are a few things we wanted to share with her as she embarks on this new, exciting adventure.

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From Event Coordinator Rocio Andrade

I’m very thankful to have worked for you, Kate! I enjoyed every meeting, every project, and every talk! You are a great leader and the DFP was very lucky to have you. I’ll miss you a lot but I wish you the very best in your new adventure. Thank you for all your support and knowledge that you shared.

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From SC2 Fellow Cole Judge

Kate Borders has been such an inspiring role model for me. How does she do it all?! She gets things done well and quickly, understands the big picture while staying on top of details, maintains her cool in all circumstances, engages those she speaks to, sees herself as part of the team, works out at the gym every morning, and has done so much work to start the business improvement district up in Downtown Fresno. I am excited for her new journey, but will totally miss her here at the office. Thank you, Kate, for letting me be part of the downtown team!


From Liz Boghosian at The Grand 1401

Tell Kate Arizona is HOTTER than FRESNO, what is she thinking?! I refuse to accept her resignation and will have a petition signed by thousands and that will force her to stay – I will call the governor and have him tell her that Arizona is not accepting new residents it’s closed! I will call the president and have him declare Arizona in a state of emergency and unfortunately they will not allow anyone with the name of borders to cross their borders! That should do it !

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From Office Manager Kim Leonard

Kate impressed the heck outta me the first time it was revealed that she knew all of the lyrics to every song from Grease II. You know sometimes when you’re just figuring out a new person and trying to see what makes them tick- in that moment when we were counting money after an event in her office and she started singing “Cool Rider” I knew she was the best boss in the universe. I feel so lucky to have worked with Kate for the last year and a half- and that’s how it is, too. You work with her, not for her. She has seemingly endless patience, I’m sure this comes as a shock to you but things don’t always go according to plan. Kate doesn’t have freak-outs when things go awry, instead she figures out plan B without pointing fingers or casting blame. I learned a lot about how to really treat people respectfully from Kate. Her kindness extends to everyone she interacts with- even when they’re being unkind to her. As a leader she figures out what her staff do best and then lets them do it and develop the programs and projects that they’re already passionate about. She’s so good at helping her staff reach their full potential and encourages working together and creating a super-team. This has gotten so rambly because I have no clue how to tell her how much she meant to me professionally and personally. Tempe, AZ- You’re getting one heck of a director. Take good care of her and make sure she doesn’t always stay up past midnight checking her e-mail. PS Kate- I still have my Kate Borders mask and I will use it whenever I need to channel your super powers!

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From Business Liaison Steve Skibbie

When I heard the PBID had formed Downtown, I knew I wanted to be part of it. But when I met Kate, I knew I definitely wanted to be on her team, somehow. So, I went to meetings and events, put my business cards in her hand every chance I had. Eventually, I made it onto the DFP team working under one of the greatest bosses I’ve had. Her skills in motivating our team, creating a healthy and exciting work environment and bringing a lot of wisdom to the table was a welcome thing. We work in some very challenging conditions as a PBID. Kate made those challenges something we could take on in stride.

I will miss Kate’s work ethic, her ability to wrestle with hard questions and difficult answers. I will remember Kate’s contributions to our City. I’m grateful for her time here.

Tempe, Arizona will be getting one of the best!


From SC2 Fellow Gretchen Moore

For all of us who enjoyed the downtown Ice Rink and the Christmas Parade, or rappelled a downtown building, or had a friendly encounter with a DFP Ambassador, we have Kate Borders to thank. She brought joy to downtown, renewed interest in our city and she accomplished 5 years’ worth of work in 3 years’ time! When you really look at what the Downtown Fresno Partnership has accomplished since 2011, and realize that she’s never had more than 4 office staff to help her, you get an idea of the Herculean effort that Kate put in to this job and this downtown. She made it look effortless, all the while working mornings, nights, late nights, late late nights and weekends. Kate challenged us to tackle obstacles, seize opportunities and find inspiration all around us. She taught us how to believe and how to succeed. Kate has the unique and incredible ability to be simultaneously idealistic and realistic; she is both a dreamer and a doer. It’s difficult to imagine how we will move forward without her, but Kate is like our very own Mary Poppins – she came when we needed her, she added an element of fun to our work and she has given us everything we need to complete the transformation of downtown Fresno. And now she must go where she is needed most. Out of respect and gratitude for all that she has given us, it is our job now to go forward in that same spirit of joy and dedication to finish the job. I am so thankful to Kate for her leadership, her good example and mostly, for her friendship.


 From Kate’s Super-Fan and BFF Sarah Moffat

As today marks the last day of Kate Borders as the Executive Director of the Downtown Fresno Partnership, I see her driving off humbly into the Arizona desert just as quietly as she arrived three years ago…“Completely unaware of the huge impact she has had in our community.”  To say Fresno was lucky to have Kate Borders is an understatement.  To say that she went above and beyond does not represent her work ethic and simply does not do her justice.

I sat down today with the intent of writing a blog for someone I consider a role model, stalwart Fresno advocate, brilliant female CEO, passionate leader and most importantly one of the greatest people I have ever known and had the privilege to call my friend.  Kate sat me down last Thursday at lunch to tell me she was moving and I was absolutely devastated. Not just because I was losing a good friend to Arizona, but because I was losing someone who instilled the passion in me to not only be a champion for Downtown, but in my own life.  As a way to not turn this blog into a Moffat Borders mush fest I have decided to give insight into the Kate Borders I was able to get to know over the past three years.

Kate Borders can make you do anything……AND you’ll want to do it!! From volunteering to pour beer for 6 hours in support of a local business or passing out fliers about upcoming hearings you’ll be there with a smile on your face because that is exactly what Kate is doing.

Kate is a great friend.  Kate will find a rose that you were given and lost the night before, pick it up off the streets of Pasadena, dust it off as broken as it was (great job Kristina) carry it around with her all night, wake up and then present it to you the next morning as you board the tour bus.  And as gross as it is….you’ll want it!

Kate forgets she’s getting prestigious awards.  The first time I met Kate it was to discuss bringing back the FLYP Downtown Academy. We met and chatted pleasantly over coffee and then she quickly gathered up her things to scurry off to what must have been her 6th meeting of the day.  In passing I said, “I’ll see you tonight at 40 Under 40” to which she replied, “Wait. Is that tonight?  I need to call my husband to let him know I’ll be home late?” It was hilarious and showed me that Kate is one of those rare people that care more about the high quality of their work then the fluffing of their resume.

Kate doesn’t just say, she does.  You think we should have an outdoor ice rink during the winter in Downtown Fresno? Let’s do it!  With Kate, hypotheticals no longer existed.  I feel like this should also be issued as a warning because any idea you have could potentially be implemented whether part of Downtown Academy or out having a drink after work.  #thisdoesnottasteright

Kate’s a Dorothy….and so am I! Yeah..yeah we all want to be Sophia, but being a Dorothy isn’t so bad. According to the What Golden Girls Character You Are quiz, that means Kate has a tendency to be sarcastic, but those who care about her see her good heart and loyal nature.  At least we aren’t losing her to the St. Olaf PBID.

Kate is a motivator. Kate is one of those people you love to work with and work for.  She has this amazing ability to get people to see the potential within their community and within themselves.  Her insight brought new perspective to Fresno, her colleagues and friends. Better yet, she can take it one step further with the wonderful gift of being able to bring it out in all those around her.

Kate is that cool kid in High School everyone wanted to be friends with… Kate Borders is cooler than me. I’ve accepted it. I’ve moved on from it. However I am bitter because now she is leaving and I still want to hang out with her.  Kate, when you move to Tempe do not sell out your new Field Representative friend in front of the Tempe Mayor and say that you have wine lunches on occasion. Better yet, don’t get a new Field Representative friend.

Kate Borders is the reason that I like many others, believe in the amazing potential that is Downtown Fresno. When you are faced with the statistics, listen to business owners, read studies on pedestrian malls and really learn about areas of Downtown Fresno you understand the logic that is Fulton Mall and Downtown Revitalization.  It just makes sense.  Kate took us all one step further.  It was one thing to believe, but yet another to be vocal and an active member of the Fresno community.  Before Kate Borders arrived in Fresno I believed.  I wasn’t actively asserting my belief, but I believed. Then in walks Kate Borders with her creative energy and passion for something better in Fresno.  Kate immediately saw Downtown’s potential and worked diligently to show us all what Fresno could and would be. She changed our mindset from if it could even happen to it was just a matter of time before it would.

This wasn’t just about the Fulton Mall. That was just step one, A HUGE STEP ONE  in a game of dominos poised to tumble, in moving Fresno’s urban core back into the twenty-first century for ALL of our benefit.  That last part is really the Kate Borders effect.  Kate brought us all (North, South, East and West Fresno) back to Downtown and gave us the chance to be a part of something greater than her and the Downtown Fresno Partnership.  Kate Borders showed us what it was to believe in our community and brought back the pride we all have for this amazing city.

So what do we do now that Kate Borders is leaving?  I learned yesterday that PODS lock from the outside so any chance of us jumping out and yelling surprise “alive” in Tempe has been discarded. So I have taken to this. There are two types of people in this world, “Those that take from their community and those that give back to it”. Kate Borders is the epitome of a Giver and with that we must all take it upon ourselves to use our demonstrated abilities to utilize each and every thing we’ve learned from her and maintain/exceed the legacy she has established here in Fresno.

Thank you for everything Kate.  Every great city has a great downtown….and every great downtown has a Kate Borders.


From Jake Soberal of Bitwise Industries

Kate brought a world-class vision and fresh approach to Fresno. More importantly, she had the courage to do the hard stuff. Kate really is going to be missed. But, like all of the good ones, she’s left in place a legacy that will continue to benefit Fresno long after she’s gone.



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  1. I first saw Kate on a television interview and thought to myself, “now Fresno is finally getting it right.” I’m a fourth or fifth generation Fresnan (depending on who you talk to) and a native-born California. I’m old enough to have experienced downtown Fresno when it was an open corridor with upscale stores such as Berkeley’s, Gottschalks, Smith Brothers and I.Magnin. I’m so disappointed that Kate is leaving because from my experience living in other cities (for 33 years), this means it will be “business as usual” in Fresno. The citizens in Fresno who want Fulton Street open to vehicle traffic want a quality of life like San Diego, Sacramento, Santa Barbara, Pasadena, Santa Monica etc.; a place to shop, eat, socialize, and stroll with friends; not, a street with the same old shops and businesses that exist on it now. A specialty street where you won’t find the same shops, restaurants, etc., duplicated a thousand times over in the outlying malls. Unless this is still the vision for downtown Fresno, I plan to move and spend my retirement years elsewhere. Fresno lost an important person for change, Kate Borders. I wish Kate the best wherever she goes.

    Donna Michelson

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