brenda foster

“I’m energized by the power of communications to change the narrative around increasingly important social issues. There has never been a more critical time for strategic storytelling as we all work to find ways to personalize the complex, critical human issues that will govern the future of people and the planet.”

Memorable professional moments:

  • Helping board members Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young, Dave Matthews and Margo Price celebrate three and a half decades of progress toward a family farm-centered food system, knowing that I’ve had a part in shaping that direction since Farm Aid’s 10th anniversary – in 1995!
  • Seeing confidence grow among youth with mental health disorders and their families as they learn new communications and public speaking skills to help them advocate for themselves and others in their communities.
  • Standing on a Virginia mountaintop watching the president issue an Executive Order protecting America’s national forests — the result of a year-long, strategic advocacy campaign.

People often find it interesting that …
I got my first “journalism” job when I was just 14 years old. I was the voice of Hickory the Elf for western Pennsylvania’s WWIZ-FM radio. I told jokes, recorded holiday commercials and read children’s letters from Santa Claus. One night I got to the studio too late to preview the letters, so I cracked up laughing on the air when a kid asked Santa for new underwear. Surprisingly, they decided I was too charming to fire.

What does people-first mean to me?
When I began my career, I knew that I wanted to do something that would make a difference. After transitioning from journalism to PR, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a job where people were more important than products. At exactly the right time, I learned about Vanguard. I’m often asked why I’ve stayed at this firm for so long. It’s because every single day, I work with people I care about while working to help people I care about. It’s a dream come true.


  • M.P.A., George Mason University
  • B.A., Journalism, Penn State University


  • Adjunct Instructor, American University
  • Finalist, Washington Women in PR Woman of The Year Awards, 2021
  • PR News, Top Woman in PR, 2018

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