Karen Sander on leaving Downtown Boise Association: “My heart and soul is down here”

For more than a decade, Kâren Sander has worked to make Downtown Boise a vibrant community, with restaurants, shops, offices and other miscellaneous businesses.

Sander will step down as executive director of the Downtown Boise Association, which oversees the Downtown Business Improvement District, at the end of September. Her destination: the commercial real estate team at Cushman & Wakefield, where her primary focus will be Downtown Boise real estate.

“I’ll have a great team of folks over there to back me up,” she said. “Obviously, it’s a new career, so there’s a big learning curve.”

Q: Why commercial real estate? Why now?

A: For me, it’s a great opportunity to take what I know and start a new career. But it also provides me some great flexibility for my work schedule. I have an 8-year-old, and I really would like the opportunity to spend more time with him, but also contribute to this fabulous community down here. ... I can continue to be that Downtown champion. My heart and soul is down here.

I had toyed with the idea of ‘what’s next?’ — especially having a young kid going into third grade. And I had an opportunity to have a discussion with one of the brokers (at Cushman & Wakefield). It was just a crossing of the paths at the right moment. The opportunity presented itself, (while we were) realizing as a family that we needed to do something different.

Q: What’s in store now for the Downtown Boise Association?

A: This organization is in a good place. So, it is a good time for somebody else to take it and elevate it and do something great with it.

I have a meeting with my board leadership (Tuesday, Sept. 1) to look at what that timeline looks like. They’ll be sorting through resumes and hopefully have some great quality folks. ... The goal this week is to get that (job announcement) out.

Q: What are you most proud of from your time at the DBA?

A: For me, being able to put this organization on a stable footing has been really important to me. One of the projects I think were great is the gift card program. (We sell) 7,000 of those cards a year, and the funds come back into Downtown businesses. I was able to be in the group of people who got the box art going. ... I’ve served on so many task forces — anything from parking to transportation to bike lanes.

Downtown Boise Association plays a fabulous role in making sure that the health of Downtown is a priority. (I am) looking forward to the new leadership and where it takes us next.