Nora Foster Tapped to Lead LCS in Klamath Falls
Four years ago, Bob Pickel called managers into his Klamath Falls office. He was challenged to build a succession plan and asked if anyone was interested in becoming the associate district director. Nora Foster agreed to try it.
“At first, I didn’t want to be the boss, but then I realized that leadership is about empowering others,” Nora said. “It felt like a comfortable pair of shoes when Bob mentored me as I built leadership skills.”
After leading our work in Klamath Falls, for 25 years, Bob left the agency April 15. Nora became the new district director April 16. Nora has great respect for Bob, and he had some advice for her before she interviewed for his job.
“Bob said, ‘Make sure you show them the force that is Nora’,” she said. That force has a tough side – Nora grew up with 11 siblings, seven of them brothers. She also has a caring side. Nora always knew she would help others. After her brother died by suicide, Nora found human services.
After becoming a dislocated worker, and seven months pregnant, she earned her bachelor’s degree in Applied Psychology from Oregon Institute of Technology. She earned a master’s degree in counseling from Walden University in Minneapolis in 2013. Nora was a case manager for nine years with Klamath County Mental Health. When the county contracted out mental health services to Klamath Basin Behavioral Health, she accepted a job to start the medication management program at LCS in Klamath.
“What gets me up and going is service and passion,” Nora said. “I have a will to make our community safer, healthier and stronger than what it is now.”
She defines service as creating the space for people to heal mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Her passion is about making sure everyone is treated with dignity and respect. In her new role, Nora emphasizes the necessity of a team.
“We have created a team based on respect, and I will continue working to keep that going,” she said. “We’re not afraid of mistakes here; there is no shame when we learn.”
Her strength is steadfastness with a vision – she sees things through to the end. Nora speaks up for employees or clients when they need another chance. Setting expectations is what allows people to grow. Change is difficult and amazing once it’s complete.
“I believe in setting the bar high. If someone needs help to reach that bar, we’re going to make sure we provide real help,” she said.
Nora moved to Klamath Falls in 1994 along with her husband (of 29 years) Darren. They have a son who is an Army officer and soon to be stationed in Fort Campbell Kentucky, along with her daughter in law and granddog. She enjoys mountain and water adventures that include hiking, bicycling/mountain biking and kayaking. Her goal is to hike the Pacific Coast Trail completely, but not all at once.