Deborah W. Foster is Executive Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer for United Way Worldwide. Mrs. Foster is responsible for leading relationships with key stakeholders and critical partners, including United Way’s National Professional Council (NPC), organized labor and national non-profit organizations. Mrs. Foster’s work extends globally where she has served as a trainer with United Way Worldwide affiliates in West and South Africa. The Diversity team is under her direction to advance the United Way system’s commitment to inclusiveness.Mrs. Foster has held various positions within the organization, including Executive Vice President, Field Leadership and leading teams responsible, training, conferences, career development, executive search, public policy, national community initiatives, a $25 million membership campaign and the $100 million Emergency Food and Shelter Program funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). She has also served on the National Corporate Leadership and Fundraising teams.While serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of the United Way of Pennsylvania for six years, she initiated several first-ever programs at the state level, including major giving, Success by 6, an early childhood initiative and market research on donor attitudes towards United Way. Mrs. Foster also served as Group Vice President for the United Way of Northeast Florida in Jacksonville where her work on an AIDS project and a program to increase minority representation on nonprofit boards has been nationally recognized.Her United Way career began with the United Way of the National Capital Area in Washington, DC in 1977. In 2002, she returned for a special assignment as interim Chief Operating Officer where she helped the organization through media and operational challenges.Debbie earned a dual degree (BS) in Early Childhood Education and Human Development from Syracuse University and a M.S.W. for Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.
Recently, I attended my mother-in- law's 80th birthday celebration. It struck me that one of the most enjoyable activities at family gatherings is the sharing of favorite memories. Good or bad, everyone has a story that they want to tell.
During this election and high-stakes political season, there are constant references to understanding the “differences” between candidates’ positions on critical issues at the community, city, state, national and international levels. Having a different point of view or being visibly different in and of itself does not lead to conflict and behavior unbecoming to a human being. It is our thinking and the meaning we attach to what we hear and experience that creates the response.
Yesterday, I was among a group of 100 diversity leaders, invited to the State Department to discuss diversity and inclusion as it relates to U.S. Foreign Policy. The energy and excitement among the leaders were palpable. The “ wisdom session” as the invitation indicated, featured keynote speakers, panels and workshops presented by individuals representing the private, public and NGO sectors.