Celebrating Women's History in Pontiac

Womens History

Before City Council, Kathalee James enjoyed a long career blazing trails at General Motors, one of the first black women professionals in her plant. She started out as a Production Supervisor at the Plant on Joslyn, and later, was promoted to Senior Quality Engineer. She maneuvered the complexity of supervising in a male-dominated environment by determining she would always project respect and professionalism. She left the executive suite for several years to return to the plant so she could devote more time to her teen daughter. Once she saw her daughter off to college, she returned to GM corporate leadership.


Following retirement, Kathalee filled her time with cleaning and improving Pontiac area parks and gladly helped to form Friends of the Pontiac Parks in 2012. The group has since worked with the Mayor’s office to tackle funding issues so Pontiac parks could be restored and flourish. With encouragement from her friend, (Jesus), she decided to run for Council in District 4 and has been continuing to make an impact on the Pontiac landscape since being sworn in, on January 2, 2022.


“Believe in yourself. Understand you have every right to be where you are—to work, to make a living for yourself and your family, and don’t let people tear you down to the point you’re running from job to job. Stand on your right to do that, to express yourself and your right to be who you are.”

= Councilwoman Kathalee James, District 4

Kathalee James Womens history Month short for web


Alexandra Borngesser was inspired to pursue political organizing and social justice, and obtained a Political Science degree from Wayne State University. She successfully led political and issue advocacy campaigns before taking on Grants and Philanthropy at the city of Pontiac—a department that, under her leadership, is now a formal part of the City’s administration for the first time! Alex says this move carries great weight with funders who see the administration is serious about revitalizing Pontiac. Alex relishes the fluid nature of her work, knowing that as one program reaches fruition, there’s always another major initiative set to launch. The following is advice Alex would give to young ladies and women everywhere: 

“As a woman in the workplace, specifically in male dominated fields, it’s important to remember that it is not your job to shrink to make room for the egos of others, and it is not your job to bend your values for the sake of patriarchal tradition to keep the peace. You’re allowed to take up space and your perspective is valuable.” - Alexandra Borngesser


Porche Prater has more than a decade of public sector experience, having embarked on a career in finance as an undergrad. Porche has served in two Michigan municipalities and rose through the ranks as Property Tax Manager, Deputy Treasurer and now, City Treasurer. Along the way she’s seen women excel—particularly in Accounting—which she says engages women’s detailed oriented nature and ability to multi-task and lead. In preparation of the next phase in her career, Porche is working to complete her Masters in Accounting with the goal of receiving CPA accreditation. It is intriguing and no small feat, however she’s devoted and excited about the future. The following is advice Porche would give to young ladies and women everywhere:

“When setting goals for yourself don’t focus too much on the end result, rather, pay attention to the process. The path between start and finish is where you discover the most about yourself. It is there that you develop an understanding of your strengths, weaknesses and your ability to overcome the obstacles life brings. Stay steadfast in achieving your goals and reach for the stars.”  - Porche Prater