Leslie Foster is a nonprofit leader who lifts up others to fulfill their potential, while making communities work for diverse populations. Since 1990 Foster has been the President of The Gathering Place, which serves women, children and people who are transgender, and who are experiencing poverty. Phillip Infelise, CEO of PCubed, remarked, “One of the most memorable hours with Leslie was spent walking down Colfax. I quickly realized Leslie’s dedication to serve the community goes well beyond the walls of The Gathering Place. Everyone we passed addressed Leslie by her first name; and she did likewise to them. I realized how expansive the impact of service can be when it comes in the form of a woman like Leslie.”
Foster graduated magna cum laude from Stephens College in Missouri and received her MA in Public Administration from CU Denver.
Under Foster’s leadership, The Gathering Place has grown to an annual budget of $2.5 million, and assets over $7 million. The organization serves 250+ individuals daily. In 2016, there were 61,000 visits from 5,986 individuals, including 2,000 children. Over 65,000 meals and 824 medical screenings were provided. In a prior role as the Pro Bono Project Coordinator of the Mental Health Association of Colorado (now Mental Health America), Foster created a nationally recognized program that placed volunteer mental health professionals in schools and shelters.
Foster’s parents instilled in her a deep sense of civic engagement, volunteerism, and social justice. Her father was a union pipefitter, and her mother was one of the first activity directors in nursing homes and a member of Governor Romer’s Commission on Aging. Foster joined the Board of Directors of Community Shares of Colorado (CSC), serving as Board Chair from 1993 – 1996. She became a member of the Denver Community Leadership Forum in 1993, and she was appointed to the Mayor’s Commission to End Homelessness in 2003. Her many honors include the Colorado Women’s Agenda Foremother Award in 1995; Colorado Business and Professional Women, Woman of the Year in 1999; and a recipient of the 150 Most Influential Leaders of Denver award from Mayor John Hickenlooper in 2008.