Remembering Tom Foster
Earlier this year, Tom Foster, one of MFA’s co-founders, passed away. In reflecting on our 25 years of business, I’ve been thinking a lot about Tom and his legacy on our employees and the work we do. We shared this message with our employees last week.
Let’s Be Careful Out There
Tom Foster was an expert toxicologist. He was known as one of the best in the business, and he had a knack for making the data about toxicity relevant and interesting. He had a deep understanding of how chemicals reacted with and to each other.
His expertise was part of what led to starting MFA, but that’s not why he built the company. Tom believed that he could create a consulting company where people believed in each other and in their communities, so with Jim Maul and Neil Alongi, he started a new company.
Tom cared about everyone at MFA, and he showed it in ways that made you feel welcomed and valued. He wanted each person here to feel successful and to build the career they wanted. Really, many of our values as a company are his legacy. Catalytic Coaching wasn’t a thing when Tom was managing director for MFA, but he would have loved the question about what you want to be when you grow up, because he wanted for you what you wanted for you. Everyone loved him, because he genuinely cared for everyone around him.
Tom encouraged folks to not take themselves so seriously, and he was really fun to be around. He was also a perfectionist and always wanted things to be right.
He was constantly in motion – foot jiggling, fingers tapping. That motion drove MFA in our early years, propelled us to keep growing and getting better. Tom was proud of the company we’ve become and would be blown away by all the different services we offer now for our clients.
Maybe because he knew so much about toxicology, or maybe because he was a worrier by nature – either way, Tom was committed to safety. He thought about it and talked about it and made it a priority, and he ended meetings with, “Let’s be careful out there.” (For those of you who may not remember, that’s from a really great TV show called Hill Street Blues.)
So let’s be careful out there. With each other. With our clients and the work they entrust to us. With the company that is such a big part of his legacy. And while we are being careful in all those ways, give a tip of the hat and heart to Tom and all he brought to his family, his community, and us.