Get to know: Lenora Hardy-Foster ’88, ’96, in the business of caring

Lenora Hardy-Foster
Lenora Hardy-Foster ’88, ’96

Among those inducted into the College of Business Administration’s Hall of Honor recently and also receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award was Lenora Hardy-Foster, ’88, ’96 president of the 95-year-old Judson Center, which provides compassionate, comprehensive services to children and families throughout southeast Michigan.

Hardy-Foster earned an associate’s degree in business from Selma University in Alabama while working as a bookkeeper for the Farmers Home Administration. After moving to Detroit, she began a 36-year career with the nonprofit agency Southwest Solutions, and during those years she completed both her bachelor’s degree and her MBA at the University of Detroit Mercy.

From her initial role as an accounting manager at Southwest Solutions, she became director of finance and later, vice president for finance and administration, overseeing the financial, human resources, information technology, risk management, health and safety and property management functions. In 2007, Hardy-Foster was named executive director of Southwest Solutions, and played a crucial role in improving the agency’s efficiency by centralizing its financial and administrative operations. She worked on the organization’s merger with Springwells Housing Development Corp. and its acquisition of Detroit Neighborhood Housing Services. Together, those deals brought Southwest’s combined assets to about $1.5 million.

In 2016, Hardy-Foster became president and CEO of the Judson Center, a nonprofit organization that provides foster care and adoption, behavioral health, autism and disabilities services that impact the lives of nearly 9,000 children, adults, and families each year, through offices in five counties throughout the state. Hardy-Foster is responsible for guiding the strategic direction of the Judson Center and its three wholly owned subsidiaries by creating new partnerships, working diligently with the board of trustees and executive leadership team and building upon the Judson Center’s 94-year legacy of improving lives, all while creating a strong, productive community throughout Southeastern Michigan.

Her commitment to the community is evident in a variety of leadership roles that include chairing the Investments Committee of the Hannan Center, serving on the board of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families, the CEO council of the Alliance for Strong Families & Communities, and the board of MARO, a network of organizations providing access and inclusion for those with disabilities. Hardy-Foster is the immediate past-president of the Detroit chapter of Financial Executives International, serves on the Board of Advisors for Detroit Mercy’s College of Business Administration,and has been a keynote speaker during the College’s Alumni Week.

Hardy-Foster has received numerous accolades, including recognition by Crain’s Detroit Business as CFO of the Year in the nonprofit category in 2008, a 2016 Best of Michigan Business Community Leader award, honorary induction into the Global Jesuit Business Students Association, a 2017 Financial Executive of the Year award and inclusion by the Michigan Chronicle among the Women of Excellence in 2018. She is a graduate of Leadership Detroit, a program of the Detroit Regional Chamber, and recently completed the Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program at Harvard University.

Hardy-Foster has been a member of the Church of Christ all her life. For the past 40 years she has been a dedicated and faithful member of the Oakland Church of Christ where she serves as Treasurer and Chair of the Finance Committee and, in 2015, she received the church’s Business Leadership Award.

Hardy-Foster and Duane, her husband of 35 years, have one daughter and a granddaughter, Ava.  Lenora’s nephew, Caleb, also holds a special place in her heart.

In presenting the award, CBA Dean Joe Eisenhauer said, “the College’s mission is to prepare ‘diverse students to serve business organizations and society with competence, compassion, and conscience.’  There may be no better exemplar of our success in fulfilling that mission than Lenora Hardy-Foster.”

Gary T. MacLean ’65, a partner in the tax accounting firm of MacLean, Proppe, MacLean & Darnell, also received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Avery Autrey ’11, regional beverage manager at Kraft Heinz Foods, and Caitie Goddard ’06, program manager at the Global Knowledge Initiative, received Rising Star Awards.

From left, honorees Gary T. MacLean '65, Avery Autrey '11, Caitie Goddard '06 and Hardy-Foster with Dean of the College of Business Administration Joe Eisenhauer.
From left, honorees Gary T. MacLean ’65, Avery Autrey ’11, Caitie Goddard ’06 and Hardy-Foster with Dean of the College of Business Administration Joe Eisenhauer.

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