I’m writing today to say goodbye to Flores Forbes, one of the wisest and most inspiring people I have ever had the good fortune of working with, who has contributed in countless ways to Columbia in his more than 14 years of service to this university.
Flores is by profession an urban planner, but he also is an entrepreneur, a problem solver, and a first-rate strategic thinker. Completely unfazed by Columbia’s labyrinth-like structure, Flores has worked with more people, in more departments, across a wider swath of this institution, than just about anyone I know. Flores’s superpower is his optimism. He always believed Columbia could pull it off, and that made him a fount of great ideas –– but with Flores, every idea came with a path for bringing it into the world. I will always remember a phone call between the two of us at the outset of COVID, when he casually floated an emergency loan fund for local small businesses. I prodded a bit, and sure enough, Flores had it all figured out. We had that fund up and running in no time.