A Life of Giving
Dr. Juliann Foster's list of honors and awards could fill an entire professional journal. She is outstanding in every sense of the word and has received accolades both in her professional life and her retirement. She is also a warm, deeply caring, outgoing social charmer. She truly is "One From The Heart."
Pink: Dr. Foster, I will ask you about your illustrious career as we go on into the interview, but first please tell me a bit about your childhood.
Dr. Foster: I grew up in segregated Washington, DC but was fortunate enough to go to a small private school until I was in the fourth grade. It was a more sheltered environment than what I found when I entered public school. My parents were divorced, but they never "divorced" me. My dad lived very near us; I spent much of my time with him and always felt very care for and loved. I was an only child, but I never really felt alone. Both of my parents were always there for me. My mother was a teacher and very highly regarded. She was an example not just to me but to others as well. I went from high school to Howard University then to dental school.
Pink: That sounds like a straight path. What next?
Dr. Foster: After I was married, we moved to Chicago, which I thought was going to be a short stay, and started with the Chicago Board of Health. From there, I went to Northwestern University, where I was the Director of Dental Hygiene at the University Dental School. (Dr. Foster also held positions as Asst. Dean of Community Auxiliary Programs, Associate Dean of Admissions for the Dental School, Associate Dean of Student Affairs, and a major role in the People's Clinic, a service for indigent children.)
Pink: I understand that you also had yet another successful career after you retired from Northwestern.
Dr. Foster: Yes, I did. I became a director at Health Care Service Corporation, which is Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Illinios. I chaired their Grants Committee, Audit and Compliance Committee, and finally served as Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors. My responsibilities included travel to each of the four states I represented-Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Illinois-at least four times a year. I was on the road a lot, to say the least!
Pink: You also have had several first-time experiences have you not? By that, I mean you were the "first woman" in certain roles.
Dr. Foster: I have been very fortunate in that regard. I served on several governmental committees, which took me to Washington, DC to the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. I was selected to several National Advisory Councils of the National Institute of Health. In that capacity, I had some eye-opening experiences, hearing testimony to Congress on a new disease [at that time]-AIDS/HIV. Our committee also made the decision of the Human Genome Project, which has opened the door to research in a variety of areas. I also was President of the Chicago Dental Society and President of the American College of Dentists-yes, the first woman in both cases!
Pink: As you know in order to be in the "One From The Heart" column you must have a passion for and a heart for volunteerism and giving to others. What is your passion and commitment here in the Lowcountry?
Dr. Foster: I am so glad you asked me that. It gives me the opportunity to share what truly is what you call a passion. Women In Philanthropy is what I enjoy. It helps me give back. I am part of a group of collective givers and it enables me to achieve more than I ever could as a private donor. A local woman named Susan Ketchum brought the idea of collective giving to a small group of women and the group has grown to more than 200 women. We hope to grow our endowment to over a million dollars next year, and we always welcome like-minded women into the group. To date we have provided more than $96,000 in grants that have enabled local organizations to accomplish specific projects for which they have applied.
This project, and my involvement in it, has truly given me a much deeper insight into Beaufort County. Driving along 278 and going into your gated community is a different world than the dirt roads here on our Island. Yes, I said dirt roads! I serve this year as Grants Chairman and it is a job that I love; I am proud to serve in this capacity. You can tell that this truly is my passion, can't you?
Pink: Thank you so much for letting us be a part of what has been a wonderful life, career, and ground breaking experience. Will you share your words to live by or words of wisdom for today's young women?
Dr. Foster: Yes, I certainly will. I have several things. First of all, I tell young women to listen. I have been lucky to have several mentors in my life, and they have guided me and given me great advice. However, I did not always hear their messages as well as I could have, so my advice is LISTEN.
I will also say that plans are great, but never put yourself in an untenable position. Always have a Plan B. Finally, I hold this quote very close to my heart: "I shall not pass this way again. If there is any good I can do, let me do it now."
It is obvious that Dr. Foster lives by those words and has made a difference in the lives of those around her. She also serves as a wonderful inspiration to aspiring young women who seek professional career paths. Thank you so much, Dr. Foster.