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Hidden Gems: Meet Joshua Foster of JAF Creative Solutions

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joshua Foster.

Joshua, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I’m a native of the Philadelphia area and a graduate of both Columbia University, where I was a student-athlete on the football team, and the University of Southern California, School of Architecture for my Masters. Professionally, the early years of my career were focused on the design and construction of multi-family housing projects throughout LA county. In 2021, I shifted my focus within the built environment to community engagement and founded JAF Creative Solutions, LLC. My company is a community-impact focused strategic partnership and design consultancy firm. Outside of my consulting work, I’m an Adjunct Architecture Professor at East Los Angeles College, a high school football coach in Long Beach, a founding member on the board of the Long Beach Community Design Center, and the recently appointed NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects) National Historian.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has definitely not been a smooth road but I believe that no road towards meaningful impact ever is. The bumps in the road towards creating an impact and legacy that is built to last is what strengthens the core of what you are building. As I am in the first year of building my business, I can say that the biggest obstacle so far has been prioritizing opportunities in a way that focuses on long-term impact over instant gratification. I’ve truly been blessed to be in situation where I am not at a lack of options when it comes to the projects that I can work on. In fact, I consistently have to make decisions whether or not to accept certain projects due to managing the time that I can give to focus on giving a particular project my full attention. While that sounds like a great problem to have, and it is, it also is a daily practice of discipline because the business owner in me would love to say yes to every project because more projects equals more money! While the instant gratification of that check may seem worth it in the moment, I remind myself every day that the impact I am aiming for calls for aligning myself and accepting opportunities that not only can have my full focus but that are also mission and vision congruent with what I am trying to build long term.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
JAF Creative Solutions is a community-impact focused strategic partnership and design consultancy firm empowering communities, businesses, and entrepreneurs with the tools to maximize their impact.

Before I started this business, I spent a considerable amount of time working alongside real estate development teams from the architectural and construction side of the table. Consistent conversations with these teams led to a clear discovery of the true gap in communication between those on the decision-making side of the table and the communities that were being built in. Through this realization, I felt that I brought a set of skills that could fill this gap as an advocate for the community that understood the nuances of project feasibility and the reality of a need to see a return on investment on the developer side. By creating a true line of communication between the two sides, I saw that I could help build up communities to the height of their potential by leveraging the resources of the projects arising in and around these communities all while celebrating the unique and beautiful culture already within. Essentially, the community now can become true partners in these projects in a way that will maximize the potential that they have to impact others and create generational wealth.

In terms of your work and the industry, what are some of the changes you are expecting to see over the next five to ten years?
In a perfect world, what I do would become obsolete sooner than later. My goal is to develop a framework for development projects in neighborhoods of color that makes honest and non-displacing investment into the community a no-brainer for capital partners and real estate developers due to the long-term return on investment and trust that was built through the process of true community engagement. Do I honestly think that will be the case across the board in 5-10 years…no. So for now, I see what I do being very important for a long time. With that being said though, I have already seen a shift in the discussions being had throughout the industry about the importance of community engagement and partnerships. This is a great start and one that I believe will one day lead to lasting change.

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