After years of volunteering while working in the corporate world, Mary Lynn Foster will take a more active role in nonprofits.
The 15-year Dublin resident is set to take the helm of the Children's Hunger Alliance Sept. 16 and lead the statewide agency that works to eliminate childhood hunger in Ohio.
After eight years as chief operating officer at Charles Penzone, Foster said the time was right to take on a new challenge as CEO of the alliance, with her son starting his senior year in college and her daughter entering DePaul University.
"It was a perfect opportunity now that my kids are in college," Foster said.
"It offers me the opportunity to travel the state through all 88 counties to complete the mission of the Children's Hunger Alliance, which is eradicating childhood hunger in Ohio," she said.
"It's the perfect opportunity, professionally and personally."
Starting in the world of accounting, working at Scotts in Marysville and finally leading Charles Penzone Salons, Foster said, gave her a chance to get into philanthropy and children's advocacy.
At Scotts, Foster said she grew the company's United Way contributions and at Charles Penzone participated in many events and fundraisers for nonprofits including Kids Caring for Kids, Hairdressers Unlocking Hope, Habitat for Humanity, Pelotonia and the Koman Race for the Cure.
Outside of work, Foster was on the advisory board of the Conway Center for Family Business and several Goodwill Columbus boards and committees.
She and her husband also got involved with Dublin groups.
"When my kids were in high school I was on the Columbus Children's Choir board to assist," Foster said. "I was a (Dublin) Jerome (High School) Music Booster.
"I'm a big advocate for music and the arts. My daughter was a soccer player so I helped with the soccer boosters was well," Foster said.
"My husband and I are fully engaged in the community and our children's lives. We feel it's very important to give back."
With a strong business background and experience with nonprofits, Foster said she has the knowledge to lead the agency that helps provide education for a healthy life and healthy meals for children during the school year and in the summer.
She takes over the reins of the Hunger Alliance from retiring CEO Mary Lou Langenhop, who has led the organization since 2009.
"I see a lot of similarities between for-profit and nonprofits," Foster said. "There are differences, but also similarities.
"There's a big movement to bring corporate or for-profit leaders to the nonprofit sector to bring leadership skills and learning and apply those to the nonprofit as well. There will be some learning curve, but I'm anxious to bring those skills."
Foster said she hopes to cut food insecurity among Ohio children and help them lead healthier lives.
"Our goal is to make (Children's Hunger Alliance) a household name in Ohio," she said.
"I'll be out there campaigning and asking for everyone's support to eradicate childhood hunger," she said.
"Children grow and thrive in the Dublin community. My wish is for all children to have those opportunities."