10 Questions for Christine Forester, Principal, Catalyst


Born, raised and educated in the French part of Switzerland, Christine Forester is an architect who specialized in hospital architecture and then changed direction in the early ‘80s deciding to apply the same analytical approach to business, branding and marketing. Her clientele includes start-ups seeking venture capital as well as established corporations. She develops business and marketing plans, brands services and/or products, and designs collateral materials and ad campaigns. She serves on a number of boards and is actively involved in the San Diego community.

Forester has said she believes that one has to earn “the right to bitch” by doing something about what is wrong with government. Although she loathes fundraising, she engaged in seeking funds for Senator Barak Obama’s HopeFund nearly a year before he declared his run for the presidency. She now serves as a vice chair of Obama’s National Finance Committee, and sits on his Arts Policy Committee.

Q: What brought you to La Jolla?

Love. I fell in love with Russell Forester while I was living in Chicago and he was living in La Jolla. After nearly one year of commuting, we decided it was time for one of us to move. The decision between Chicago and La Jolla was a no-brainer.

Q: What makes La Jolla special to you?

La Jolla is an equalizer where Nobel Prize winners and beach worshipers wear the same uniform: shorts and flip-flops.

Q: If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

More trees in public places. Many more trees. Real trees, not palm trees. Sidewalk cafes under the trees.

I’d blow off the T-shirt joints and flying carpet stores and I’d bring back the nursery, the lumberyard, the five-and-dime store and all the small shops that made La Jolla a self-sufficient village.

Q: Who or what inspires you?

People who think. People who care. People who dare. People who combine all three are my heroes.

Q: If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

Barack Obama; Jon Stewart; Keith Olbermann; Bono; Steve Jobs; Bill Maher; Maya Angelou.

Alain Ducasse would be in charge of the food and wine (no Blue Nuns invited!), Dave Brubeck would play during the cocktail hour, Alice Walker would be there to write about it, Annie Leibovitz would photograph the event, and W would park the cars (if sober). I’d resurrect Freud to analyze the guests and their interaction, and Michael Moore would ultimately make a documentary about it.

Q: Tell us about what you are currently reading.

For the past two years, because of my involvement in Obama’s campaign, I have concentrated on everything related to politics - from books, to monthlies, weeklies and dailies, to related Internet Web sites and blogs - along with a fair amount of client-related reading. Until November, all fun reads have been pushed aside - and the pile is growing.

Q: What is your most prized possession?

My eyeglass frames. When Russell passed away, six years ago, I put my lenses in his frames. The warm feeling that he is helping me see my way has been, and still is, of great comfort to me.

As for “possessions” who own me: My children and grandchildren.

My pets: K-10 (better than K-9) a Bearded Collie; Boston-Billy, a Boston Terrier; my three fish, Moby and The Two Dicks, along with their progeny, The Tacos; Carter, the annoying Blue Heron whom I thought was lusting in his heart for my fish, but who made my pond his Jack-in-the-Box; and two regulars: Hooli/Gans, the raccoons who’d get the fish if the pond wasn’t so deep...

Q: What do you do for fun?

Break bread with friends. Great food, heady wines, stimulating conversation and much laughter.

Q: Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

Marketing my clients in a way that enhances their business and makes them shine. Each contract is a wonderful challenge that draws on pragmatic thinking and stimulates creativity.

Q: What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Eat it but don’t wear it.