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Joni Foster has worked in the community development industry for almost 30 years, in urban and rural areas of the U.S., Nicaragua and Sierra Leone, West Africa.  Currently, Foster is a private consultant to nonprofit community economic development organizations and local governments on management systems, new initiatives and real estate finance.  Past clients have included Greater Houston LISC, NeighborWorks, Accion Texas/Louisianna, and HousingWorks Austin.

For almost three years, Foster was the director of housing and community at Rural Community Assistance Corporation, managing a staff of 22 professionals located in virtual offices in a 13 state service area.  Foster led the reorganization and expansion of the department to include a rural economic development initiative modeled after the Ford Foundation's multi-year initiative known as WealthWorks, built an affordable housing development consulting team in joint development of over 400 affordable units, and launched the Tribal Housing Excellence Academy,a three-year initiative providing training and coaching to nine organizations serving tribal communites in the five states.  Foster continues as a consultant to RCAC on the economic development initiative.

For 11 years, Foster was the executive director of the Jacksonville office of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).  Opening the office in 1999, Foster helped grow a city-wide community development industry, raising and investing over $26 million into capacity building of nonprofits and real estate transactions of local community developers.  She  led a staff of five and worked with community members, governmental agencies and other nonprofit organizations on strategic planning, public policy, new program design and implementation and fundraising.

Prior to Jacksonville, Foster worked for LISC’s Rural program working mainly in the Southwestern border states, providing technical assistance to rural community development corporations on management, project development and financing for a variety of housing, economic development and organizing initiatives.

Prior to joining LISC, Foster worked for five years with the Rural California Housing Corporation on homeownership, rental housing development, housing rehabilitation, and water and wastewater developments.  She was also the in-country project manager for El Porvenir, a U.S. nonprofit working in Nicaragua to finance rural community wells, spring developments and roads.  Twenty years later, Foster is currently the Board Chair for El Porvenir.   In 1981, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Ms. Foster is an accomplished facilitator and strategic planner with over 15 years experience using an Outcome Framework for planning.  Foster has facilitated strategic planning and financing for the boards and staff of many nonprofit organizations during formation, periods of major change, and initiating new endeavors.  Foster has been a lead organizer for collaborative efforts on public policy issues including the start up of the Florida Alliance of CDCs and the Sacramento Housing Alliance. 

Foster holds a Master’s degree in Social Work with an emphasis on Community Organizing, Planning and Administration from California State University in Sacramento.  Her B.S. in Human Ecology came from The Ohio State University.  Foster has been specifically trained in Adult Learning practices.  Foster also speaks Spanish.

 
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