This week’s Meet a Mom is Jennifer Foster, a mother of three from Darien. Besides hockey, running is a favorite family activity, and one of their top running spots is Waveny Park. Active in her professional life at Chilton Investment Company, Jennifer also loves to volunteer in town. She currently serves as a Board member of the Mather Homestead Foundation and is the Board Chair of St. Luke’s School. Learn more about Jennifer, her family and why she loves living in Fairfield County.
Can you tell us about your family?
My husband, Graham Foster, and I have three sons: Will (23), Henry (20), and George (18).
When did you move to Darien and what led you to settle here?
I moved to Darien in 1997 when Graham and I were married. We both lived in different towns in Fairfield County when we were dating. Then I went to Business School in Boston, and Graham bought a home in Darien after initially looking to buy in his hometown of New Canaan. Darien had more “starter homes” and so that is where we ended up. He was seriously worried which team he would root for at the Turkey Bowl!
What are your favorite family activities in the area?
Our boys grew up playing hockey at all of the local rinks so we have fond memories from rinks in the area. We love watching hockey, especially outdoors at the New Canaan Winter Club. We all like to run: my son Will, ran in college and my husband coaches Cross Country. Running in Waveny Park is simply the best. We take our two dogs Mason and Bauer on walks through Woodlands Park in Darien often. We love the beaches in Darien and recently started boating. Being on the water is such a treat and a marvelous way to relax. Fairfield County has so many beautiful, natural places; we feel so lucky to live here.
Do you work and/or volunteer? If yes, please tell us more.
Yes, I have worked at Chilton (an Investment and Trust Company) since moving to the area in 1997. We have offices in Stamford and in New York City, so I split my time between those offices as part of the Investment Team. It is a job that keeps me always learning which I love, and I work with amazing people. My mentor at work encouraged me long ago to get involved in the community through volunteering in order to be part of things and meet great people. Strong communities and organizations depend on people giving their time, talent, and treasure to sustain, and I have found a wonderful sense of purpose through my community work. I was a founding Board member of the Darien Foundation, and I volunteered at St. Thomas More Church for years. I currently serve on the Board of the Mather Homestead Foundation and as the Board Chair at St. Luke’s School in New Canaan where two of my children attend/ed. I led the search committee that identified and hired the school’s new Head of School, Dr. Mary Halpin Carter, who is just terrific. My professional life, in all of its various forms, has been a source of great joy to me.
When did your child/children begin attending St. Luke’s School?
My son Will started at St. Luke’s in 2009 as a 5th grader. George started in 2014 as a 5th grader as well. Will graduated in 2017, and George, a senior this year, will graduate in 2023. Henry attended another independent school which was a strong fit for him.
What was your children’s Middle School experience like?
Both Will and George found the St. Luke’s Middle School experience to be transformational to their education. They are very different learners; Will is high energy and is very social while George has deep concentration and was shy when he entered middle school. The St. Luke’s Middle School program was able to meet both of them exactly where they were and made learning fun, experiential, and non-intimidating.
During their middle school years, both boys developed strong foundational skills in writing, reading, public speaking, math, and science without the work being grueling or boring. They both started to activate their critical thinking skills and develop their intellectual selves. As a mom who loves learning, it was such fun to watch! In addition, they were able to try so many different activities in one place. As a working mom I didn’t have to figure out how to transport them all over creation to give them these experiences. Music, theater, sports, and service opportunities were plentiful through St. Luke’s. George tried baseball, tennis, and lacrosse in addition to the sports that he already knew he liked. Will took a Drama Improv class in 8th grade which he loved; those skills were useful in college when he served as the mascot for his college’s varsity hockey team! They both participated in the amazing music and band program. Thanks to SLS, in middle school Will figured out how much he loved running, a gift that he carried with him all the way to college and beyond.
The boys both met terrific students and teachers in the middle school, and they never, ever complained about going to school which made Graham and me very happy. By the time Will started high school, he had learned strong study skills and how to focus on getting a task completed. And St. Luke’s Middle School helped George to find his voice and his confidence as a student. They both flourished in high school at St. Luke’s.
What about St. Luke’s makes it a fit for your family?
St. Luke’s is a warm and welcoming community in addition to being a terrific school that provides an excellent education. Our entire family feels very connected there. Even our son, Henry, who did not attend St. Luke’s, worked there for two summers as a camp counselor! The St. Luke’s Motto, “Enter to Learn, Go forth to Serve” could be the Foster family motto. We align perfectly with this simple but beautiful vision.
Name one thing people would be surprised to know about you.
I have had a long and fulfilling career in Finance, but I went to college with the plan to be a teacher and studied English. Taking an accounting class as an elective junior year changed my career trajectory because I discovered that accounting and business were intriguing to me. I am glad that I stuck with my English major, however. Writing and story-telling have always been fun for me, and I believe learning how to communicate effectively prepared me well for my professional life. I didn’t figure out my professional path with total clarity until I was in my mid-to-late 20’s, and I worry that teenagers today put too much pressure on themselves to have all the answers at too young an age. It’s okay to simply follow the things you love and be open to new lessons and experiences along the way.
When you need “me time,” what are your favorite ways to escape?
I actually relax best on a beach or simply at home with a good book. Dog walks on Sunday afternoons or a run at Waveny hits the spot too.
What’s the best advice you’ve received from another mom?
When my first child was born, the mother of a friend told me “the days are long, but the years are short.” As I prepare to be an empty nester next year, these words ring so true. Where did the time go? At times, balancing it all was truly a challenge. But now that they are growing up and leaving home, I hold close the memories of those chaotic, but happy days.
Any words of wisdom for living life well?
I have to give a shout out to our church St. Thomas More of Darien and Fr. Paul Murphy our pastor who has been such a source of strength and encouragement as we raise children in these challenging times. Our church community has helped our family stay focused on the priorities of kindness and faith that are critical in navigating the pressures of modern living. Life is hard enough, and not sweating the small stuff is essential to keeping balance and living a life of purpose and joy.
We like to support local businesses. What are your favorite places in the area to:
Have dinner: Sole in New Canaan or Papa Joe’s in Darien
Grab a drink with friends: 1020 Post
Have a date night: Scena Restaurant
Spend time together as a family outdoors: Waveny Park in New Canaan, Woodland Park in Darien, Noroton Bay Beach
Grab coffee: Neat Coffee
Workout: the YMCA (We love both the Darien and New Canaan YMCA’s!)