Jonathan Foerster grew up in a small town, but that hasn’t stopped him from making a big impact.

“I didn’t have access to the breadth of educational experiences that my peers who were raised in larger communities did,” he says. “So, I did the next best thing: I read everything I could get my hands on—books, magazines, newspapers. My high school didn’t offer physics, so I taught myself in a correspondence course. We didn’t have AP classes, so I did night school at the junior college an hour away. I was determined not to be behind my peers when I got to college.”

That drive has stayed with Foerster as he’s climbed the professional ladder.

Since joining the Humane Society Naples in February 2017, Foerster has raised more than $5 million to aid homeless animals. He also launched the organization’s inaugural “Clear the Shelter” event, which resulted in more than 150 animals adopted in one day.

Before that, the award-wining former journalist served as the director of communications at Artis—Naples and managed the communications strategy for the launch of a $150 million capital campaign.

On his own time, Foerster teamed up with the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, the Leadership Collier Foundation and CareerSource Southwest Florida to organize “Suit Up September.” In two years, the clothing drive has collected hundreds of gently used suits, shoes, ties and shirts for men in need of professional attire.

“Always be looking for new ideas,” Foerster advises. “I got this lesson during a summer internship. If you are always generating new ideas, you are always creating value for your organization.”

Foerster is married to Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster and the father of one rescue dog. He enjoys St. Louis Cardinals baseball, University of Missouri football, collecting records and trying new restaurants. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri.