Nikki Foster has served as a Program Officer at the Northwest Area Foundation since May 2013. For decades, NWAF has cultivated strong relationships with the Native people of its eight-state region. NWAF currently commits 40 percent of all new grant dollars to Native-led organizations aligned with the Foundation’s work to advance policies and programs to increase good jobs and strengthen financial capability in our communities.

At the Foundation, Nikki uncovers unmet needs within the Foundation’s region and recommends ways to address those needs facilitating partnerships between the Foundation, non-profit grant seekers, grant recipients and community to help people with low incomes increase their income, build their assets (such as a savings account, education, a car, a home), build financial management skills, and gain access to capital for new businesses.

In her most recent positions as Executive Vice President and Director- Marketing, Communications and Corporate Responsibility with Sunrise Banks, she established standards of quality financial programs and banking products geared toward low-income people who do not use, or do not have access to, conventional banks. She designed and led the organization’s overarching corporate responsibility and community development strategy, among other things.

Nikki was honored as a First Mover Fellow by the Aspen Institute Business and Society program, a vital step toward her continued quest to integrate corporate profitability and social value. Nikki also has served as a community affairs analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis and a policy advocate for the Minnesota Housing Partnership and the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corp.

Nikki has a Master’s in Applied Sociology with an emphasis on Public Policy from American University, Washington, D.C.