Interview Series: Allison Foster, Director of Communications

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How did you get involved with ONA?

I started following ONA on Instagram after following several other Miss Wisconsin titleholders including our CEO, Susan. I loved the mission from the very start, having a deep appreciation for veterans myself. When I saw that they were looking for interns this past spring I figured it couldn’t hurt to apply. I have a strong interest in communications and marketing, so I wanted the opportunity to learn and grow as well as serve an amazing mission that I believe in whole heartedly. It was also something I could do in my spare time and still look for a full-time position. I applied and was pleasantly surprised when they wanted to add me to the team — and then keep me around! 

What do you love most about working with ONA?

Quite honestly: everything! I love the projects that I’ve been able to not only work on, but jumpstart and take ownership in. However, the thing I absolutely love the most is the team of people I get to work with! They are some of the most passionate, inspirational, and driven people I have ever met! They make me want to work harder and do more for our organization and encourage me both personally and professionally. What I do at ONA brings me so much joy!

You’ve been working with ONA since March of 2020, how have you grown since then? What new skills have you learned?

Oh man — I’ve grown a lot since this March! I’ve been able to dabble in a few things throughout my time here, but my main projects were starting the ONA blog (hi – thanks for being here, reader!) and email marketing initiatives. I’ve learned so much about the platforms we work with like WordPress and Flodesk. I’ve also learned how to better communicate with our donors, volunteers and those we serve through emails or the stories we tell on the blog. I’ve also been able to gain a deeper understanding of non-profit organizations in general and how they work. Non-profits and ONA  kind of operate on a whole different system than you would in most other jobs, so it’s been very enlightening to learn exactly what goes on behind the scenes and how the gears of these organizations turn!

Aside from ONA, what are you doing now that you’ve finished college?

Well, let me tell you, finding a full-time position that utilizes your degree in a global pandemic is slightly harder than you may think. Well, at least that has been the case for me. While I’m waiting for the right job to come along, I work at one of Wisconsin’s most prized possessions: Kwik Trip. I currently work third shift and go between working the floor as a cashier and frosting donuts in the bakery! Not exactly what I dreamed to be doing post- college, but it pays the bills and reminds me to stay humble and always treat everyone you meet with kindness. Other than my Kwik Trip career, I’ve excitedly re-invested in my home community serving on the county fairboard, being more involved in church committees, and spending lots of time with my family. 

Tell us about your involvement with 4-H. How has that helped you with this organization?

Oh my gosh, my heart! I was a faithful 4-H member for 13 years, from kindergarten all the way through high school. Besides my parents who have always taught me and my siblings the importance of helping others, 4-H is what truly fostered my servants heart. I took leadership roles throughout my time, including President of my club, eventually became a county ambassador, and later worked for a local extension office as an assistant for the summer! The 4-H motto is to, “make the best better” whether talking about ourselves, our relationships, or our communities. These years in 4-H not only allowed me to exhibit and win prizes at our county fair, but also to take on projects such as the community garden, hosting a community meal, and adopting a family for Christmas. 4-H taught me how to give and serve my community and I credit most of my talents to this great organization.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? 10 years?

I’m definitely one of those people that wants it all. I want to have a career that I find meaningful and fulfilling, while also having a family and children. When I think about the next 5 or 10 years, I hope that I find a job where I can use my unique skill set to the best of my ability. I would expect that to be in some sort of communications role because I simply love to talk, write, and manage social media. On a more personal note, I want to own and operate a farm of my own. It’s been my dream since I was a little girl and someday I hope to have an on-farm processing facility where we sell products directly to consumers. I want to find someone to share these dreams with and maybe someone who will dream even bigger than I can! Lately, it has become abundantly clear how much I love kids! So, whether they are my own or not, I know I always want children to be a big part of my life!

If you had a day off, how would you spend it?

To be honest…lately it has been eating and sleeping, haha! When you work 3rd shift your whole life is kind of wonky (in my opinion). However, I do like to take full advantage of any extended time I get off. I would probably spend it getting lunch with my mom or one of my brothers. And right now, I’m usually doing some Christmas shopping or baking! I also love to read on my days off, but sometimes I nod off in the middle of the page…

What’s your “motto?” What keeps you motivated?

I would say that my motto is, “love with your whole heart.” I recently had this realization when I said something to my brother about our pizza delivery guy and how I loved him with my whole heart. My brother said, “you sure do love a lot of people with your whole heart?” I replied, “yes it’s a blessing and a curse.” I believe in loving people extravagantly whether we think they deserve it or not. It’s what I am called to do, not only as a Christian, but as a human. We don’t know what other people are walking through, but we always have the ability to show them love and kindness. Sometimes, we/I mess that up, but when we make that our motto or goal, we can have the ability to impact other people’s lives. That is also what motivates me. How can I show up and love myself and someone else today? Now, I’m not always great at the loving myself part, but the loving others…that I can do! It’s that simple really. I attempt to bring that to every aspect of my life. It’s what keeps me going even when life is discouraging and disheartening, I know that if I bring some love into the world it’s a little bit better. 

What’s your most memorable ONA Mission Moment?

I shared our Cheer Package announcement on my personal Facebook page and a friend from my church requested one for a mutual friend and Vietnam Veteran. The best part? I was able to sponsor his cheer package this year! The day he got it, I received a text from his significant other saying how touched they were to receive this package and that the veteran wanted to call me later. I gave credit to the woman who requested the Cheer Package and that I was so glad he liked it. When he called me later, he was so thankful and thrilled to receive a token of our appreciation. He said, “it made me feel special and appreciated for once and I will definitely be enjoying that coffee.” Seeing our mission so deeply affect someone I know and care about was such a beautiful and powerful mission moment for me. 

What advice do you have for people interested in non-profit work?

Don’t be afraid to volunteer, or offer pro-bono work, and get involved in a mission you feel strongly about. You have no idea where those kinds of opportunities may lead you. I know right now I’m gaining valuable skills I could use in my career someday, while pursuing something that brings me joy and fills my heart. How can you go wrong with that? Some of my greatest experiences have come from just showing up and being willing to serve and they have taught me so many skills that I put to good use and hopefully will soon for the right job too! Never be afraid to try something new because you can always learn, but if you don’t try you’ll never know.

Allison Foster                                                                                                                                       

Director of Communications

Nathan Plym                                                                                                                                     

Director of Marketing and Advertising

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