Thank You, Flores Forbes

Flores Forbes, Associate Vice President of Community Affairs, is retiring, though he will continue to teach and consult. 

June 30, 2022

Dear colleagues,

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.

Thanks to Flores’s vision and hard work, the Columbia-Harlem Small Business Development Center and the recently launched Community Advisory Council are university fixtures that will endure as substantive commitments to our neighbors in Harlem and throughout Upper Manhattan. For years Flores has partnered with Columbia Business School and the School of Social Work on criminal justice-reform initiatives, and in recent years he has co-chaired President Bollinger’s Antiracism Task Force, which led to the creation of the Advisory Council. His indefatigable commitment to his team, the mission of the Community Affairs office, and the cares and concerns of the untold number of colleagues he has mentored, will be deeply missed.

I invite you to read more about Flores and to join me in wishing this extraordinary individual the richly rewarding “retirement” he deserves. Of course, Flores will continue to teach and consult for us, but it won’t be the same.

Cheers to the end of an era – and thank you, Flores.


Shailagh Murray
Executive Vice President for Public Affairs