Brooke Foster
Brooke Foster
Age 30  |  Executive director, American Heart Association

The American Heart Association approached Brooke Foster about applying for the local chapter’s executive director position. Seven interviews later, she got it.

Less than a year later, Foster has led a successful effort to double the size of the group’s governing board – a move intended to create stronger ties with the community – and has the organization headed toward a sizable improvement in its fund-raising results for the fiscal year.

Bringing in passionate, engaged board members has been Foster’s proudest achievement so far, she said. And a projected increase of $200,000 in fund raising, which would be 50 percent above last year’s total, isn’t bad, either.

“It’s all new staff,” Foster said. “We all came on at the same time and have learned how to work together.”

Foster grew up in nearby Adel and wanted to move off to a bigger city. However, “Opportunities kept presenting themselves,” she said. “Des Moines has become much better for young professionals; there are more networking opportunities and more entertainment. I like it now.”

She studied radio and television broadcasting at Grand View University, hoping to become a producer. Internships taught her that she’s too much of a “people person” to be happy working alone in a room, and her career path shifted.

She spent a year as a missions coordinator for Lutheran Church of Hope in West Des Moines, then became the special events director for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in Johnston. She started her current job in May 2010.

Last August, Foster received an M.B.A. from Drake University. For a while there, between work and school, “I had no life,” she said. Now she’s spending more time with family and friends and plans to resume her participation in running events.

“I ran in half marathons before I started working on my M.B.A.,” she said. “I hope to get back to that.” This summer, she expects to compete in the Dam to Dam race, something she has done five times before.

Her parents recently bought a house at Lake Panorama near Panora, and Foster is looking forward to spending weekends there. The house is near a golf course, and although she has barely dabbled in the sport, “I want to make golf my hobby,” she said. “I love being outside.”