August 13, 2010

Phifer gives young people wings to succeed

2010 Women of Distinction - Government

In her more than 20-year career at Colorado State University, Kathy Phifer has been a whirlwind of energy and positive influence to those around her.


Phifer began as publications coordinator for the university, and now serves as director of Communications and Creative Services. She leads a team that includes project managers, client relation specialists, writers, designers, photographers, videographers and production specialists who develop branding and all sorts of outreach communications for CSU.

From the CSU Viewbook, which provides an image of the university to potential students, to video and television productions for CSU-TV Channel 11, Phifer is a driving force behind branding and marketing for the university. Phifer meets with staff from colleges and departments throughout the university to assess their marketing and communication needs and works with the vice president for Public Affairs to develop central marketing strategies and materials for the university.

Those who work with her say Phifer has an uncanny ability to listen and understand her clients’ goals, as well as the goals of the university. Several of the CSU publications have won regional and national awards.

“I’ve been very fortunate,” Phifer said. “And I work with amazing professionals.”

In addition to her energetic work at CSU, Phifer has been a tireless volunteer for many organizations in Fort Collins. She is the driving force behind “School is Cool,” the 18-year-old program that provides school supplies and backpacks for disadvantaged students in the Poudre School District.

When Phifer’s now-grown sons were students at Tavelli Elementary School, she noticed other children whose families were not able to provide school supplies for them.

“I thought, ‘How do these kids start on the same academic footing as their peers when they don’t even have the same supplies or self esteem?'” she recalled.

So Phifer helped start a collection drive at CSU that began with five departments on campus that provided supplies and backpacks to five Poudre School District schools. Today the drive involves every department at CSU and every school in PSD.

“We have a phenomenal executive committee on campus,” Phifer said. “And the giving hearts in the community are amazing. We are at record donations. The Bohemian Foundation has been amazing, too.”

Phifer grew up in Colorado, the youngest of four children, and credits her family for inspiring and motivating her.

“I had three older brothers, and had the drive to be the very best I could be,” she said. “They really believed in me. I wasn’t a great student academically, but I had great mentors.”

Over the years, Phifer has become a powerful mentor herself, working not only with young adults on campus, but also with youth in the Poudre School District.

“Being on campus and seeing young people grow and blossom is a blessing,” Phifer said. “We give them wings and hope they grow and develop into successful people.”

Phifer said her career at CSU has given her endless opportunities, too.

“CSU has given me opportunities to learn and grow so much,” she said. “If you tell me what to do, I will try and do it to the best of my ability.”

Click here for a list of the
2010 Women of Distinction and links to their profiles.

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