The Foster family's success story dates back to 1938 when Albert Foster co-founded Foster & Marshall Inc., a stock brokerage firm. At the time, the country was making great strides to recover from the Great Depression. Albert, a 1928 graduate of the School of Business at the University of Washington, envisioned great business opportunities in the Northwest. He set out to make his mark by "peddling municipal bonds out of a saddle bag." The financial framework of the city of Seattle was being rewritten and Albert knew his signature would be on it.
At the same time, the arts and cultural scene in Seattle was beginning to develop into the rich tapestry it is today. Albert and Evelyn Foster were among those pioneering spirits who created and contributed to several cultural institutions in the city. Albert was the founding president of the Seattle Opera Association. Evelyn was for seven years the personal secretary to Seattle Art Museum founder, Dr. Richard Fuller. It was an association with the museum that began in the 1920s and continued until her death in 2002.
Michael Foster inherited his father's savvy business sense and keen eye for opportunity. When Albert stepped down as chief executive of the brokerage business in 1972, Michael took over the company and began to orchestrate an ambitious expansion plan. Foster & Marshall Branch offices were opened in numerous locations throughout the Pacific Northwest—the geographic area now embraced by The Foster Foundation. In the space of ten years, the company grew to become the largest regional brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest. In 1982, the company was sold to American Express.
Although the founding members have all passed away—Albert in 1986, Evelyn in 2002 and Michael in 2003, their spirit of involvement in the well-being and future of the Pacific Northwest lives on in the philanthropic work of the Foundation.
Established by a multi-generational Husky family, The Foster Foundation had a strong and loyal connection to the University of Washington. In addition, many of the employees who worked at the founders' brokerage firm, Foster & Marshall, received their education at UW.
To recognize this legacy and to expand the opportunity for a quality business education to future generations, one of the Foundation's first major gifts was a $3 million contribution in 1990 to help build a new business library on the Seattle campus. That building would carry the name of Albert O. and Evelyn W. Foster.
In 2007, a new gift of $36.5 million brought the Foundation's total contributions to the university to $50 million. To honor this commitment and the life of the Foster Foundation's co-founder Michael G. Foster, the University of Washington's Board of Regents renamed the UW Business School the Michael G. Foster School of Business on Sept. 20, 2007.
Today, the UW Foster School of Business consistently ranks among the top business schools in the nation—for both undergraduate and graduate degrees. The Foster School serves more than 2,500 students. With one-in-four UW freshman applicants requesting business majors, demand for a Foster School business education is significant and growing―a fitting reflection of the market vision and business acumen shared by its namesake.
The Foster Foundation Board of Directors:
Michael G. Foster, Jr.―Chairman of the Board
J. Bradford Smith―Director
Karen Okamura Rowe