with New Chamber President/CEO Danielle Borja
Carrying the Chamber Forward
ConejoView: Tell us about your background and what led to you becoming CEO of the Chamber?
Danielle Borja: I was born and raised in Thousand Oaks and absolutely love this community. After graduation, I attended Moorpark College before transferring to California Lutheran University earning a bachelor’s degree in Marketing Communications and eventually my MBA.
My first introduction to the business world was an internship for Caruso Affiliated, which led to my first job as a Production Coordinator at GO West Events & Multimedia in Westlake Village. That role gave me an important foundation for the production industry orchestrating programs for a number of corporate clients including Anthem Blue Cross and Jafra Cosmetics over the next three years.
Then after a short time running the Design Studio for Pottery Barn while finishing up my MBA, I found myself full circle back at Caruso Affiliated as their Director of Marketing for the West Valley Region. This position combined my events, marketing and retail experience to market outdoor lifestyle centers including: The Promenade at Westlake, The Lakes at Thousand Oaks and The Commons at Calabasas.
When a round of mid-management layoffs eliminated my position at Caruso, I found myself shifting to the nonprofit sector joining the Greater Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce team as their Events Manager in 2012. My initial role quickly grew into the Director of Events and in less than a year, I took over both departments when our Director of Marketing vacated her position in 2013.
My time at the Chamber over the past seven years has been a transformative journey; giving me opportunities and building professional relationships that I would have never imagined. As the department lead for events and marketing we took on: rebranding the organization, created a professional quarterly magazine (yes, ConejoView!), and redesigned multiple websites while elevating the production value of every signature event and the organization along the way.
CV: What do you see as the strengths of our business community or what makes us unique?
DB: Our business community is diverse, dynamic and engaged. The combination of our bio-tech community which is currently growing, the Los Angeles Rams current training facility and corporate headquarters, our state-of-the-art regional hospital and local healthcare companies, top rated schools and universities combined with a Our business community is also extremely supportive of our local nonprofit organizations which meet important needs for our entire community including: food, mental health services, arts & culture, veterans support services and youth programs just to name a few.
During the Borderline and wildfire tragedies of 2018, the business community quickly rallied behind the Chamber in the form of sponsorship support for State of the City Thousand Oaks. This allowed the Chamber to donate $50,000 in 2018 and an additional $20,000 in 2019 to continue to support the longterm needs of both tragedies including ongoing support groups for the Borderline victims and their families.
CV: What are you most excited about in leading the Chamber going forward?
DB: I’m excited to be working with ten outstanding professionals at the Chamber who continue to move the needle daily to support our businesses and the community-at-large. Our Chamber team is so fortunate to work with dedicated elected officials, city/county leadership and a number of community partners who continue to support our team in these efforts.
This year alone, we have two new hotels opening in Agoura Hills expanding our tourism district, the first mixed use project will be completed on Thousand Oaks Blvd., plans are being prepared to redesign the Civic Arts Plaza and you might even find me in a dunk tank at the Westlake Village Street Festival in April!
CV: When you get a chance to unwind, what are your favorite things to do?
DB: I love to hike and run through our beautiful open space; Chesebro Canyon Trail is one of my favorites and I’m running The Great Race 10K this year. After a race, I typically treat myself to a Hot Stone Massage at Hand & Stone in Thousand Oaks or the Tranquility Massage at the Four Seasons, and I’m excited to try out the new Spa Relais at the Westlake Village Inn.
5 The Borja Five
My three young daughters (10, 5 & 3) enjoy the local parks (“The Farm Playground” at Borchard Park is their favorite!) followed by a trip to Coaches Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor and live theatre performances at the Civic Arts Plaza. If the kids are not in tow…. my husband and I may head to Cinepolis at The Promenade at Westlake for a relaxing date night.
CV: What business would you like to see in the Conejo Valley that we don’t currently have?
DB: From an entertainment perspective, a concept like Slappy Cakes in Hawaii, a full-service breakfast restaurant where you can make-your-own pancakes at your table on built-in griddles. For the new downtown area of Thousand Oaks, a small piano bar and something similar to Park 101 in Carlsbad, a restaurant that features a family-friendly ground floor level with oversized games and a rooftop dining deck for guests 21 and over.
It would also be great to see a Tesla gallery and eventually the retail technology where shoppers scan their app at a turnstile, pick up the items they want and leave the store without the typical “check out process.” We also need to
continue to nurture and support our local start-up community; look at the success of The Trade Desk in Ventura.
CV: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
DB: Pick your battles; don’t let the small stuff weigh you down. Always try to look at situations from the lens of intent rather than how something might come across or be perceived at the time.
CV: What book are you reading now or what is a book that you’d recommend?
DB: Malcom Gladwell is one of my favorite authors; The Tipping Point, blink and Outliers are all staples on my bookshelf at home and I’m anxious to read his newest book Talking to Strangers. I’m currently reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, really enjoying her authentic voice and hearing about her road to the White House becoming the first African American First Lady of the United States.
CV: Who are your heroes? Why?
DB: My mom; she taught me how to be a strong woman while treating people with kindness and respect.