ST. CLOUD -- After spending years in her previous field, Jolene Foss decided it was time for a change. That change has made Foss this week's "Rookie of the week."

Every week WJON's Rush Hour hosts Chrissy Gaetke and Richard Leguil feature a "Rookie" who has been nominated by a family member, friend or colleague for doing an outstanding job in their new position.

Foss recently took over the St. Cloud Downtown Council, Executive Director position. She says she started out her career in education but later decided she wanted to work more in the community.

"My previous position was in education, so my background is in education. But then in 2011 it was time to re-evaluate my path and I went back to St. Cloud State University as a non-traditional student and I got my bachelors degree in planning and community development."

After graduating, Foss started working in Princeton as their Community Planner. She primarily did economic development, community development and zoning administration for about three years for the city. Last November, Foss applied for and was hired on as the St. Cloud Downtown Council Executive Director.

Being the executive director comes with many responsibilities, Foss says her duties start with supporting downtown events and businesses.

"I'm also an advocate for downtown business at the local level, so at the city hall or at a state level if need be. We're also looking at how we can cooperate with other entities that are already throwing special events downtown."

Foss says the council works to bring all of the event information to one place, to make it easy for the community to find information on what's happening in downtown. The council also holds monthly board meetings to help organize the events and promote downtown businesses.

So far, Foss says she's still getting into the swing of her new position but she does have some goals already in the works.

"My goals in looking forward would be to continue to have the lowest vacancy rates ever in downtown, so we want to have all of our storefronts filled, vacancies are not good for downtown. We also would like to see a good balance of residential, of all different types downtown, because the more people that are able to live in the downtown area it keeps downtown more active and alive outside of regular business hours."

If you're interested in going into a community development field, Foss says it's simple, you need to get involved in the community.

"If you start locally you really can make a local difference. You can start attending city hall meetings, you can start attending different organizations, get on boards. Once you really see where the challenges are [you can make a difference]. I saw that I could be a catalyst for change and I could be a champion for the regular guy."

Foss says one of the most gratifying aspects of her job is being able to help small business owners by changing outdated policies to help them become more successful. With this, she feels she's been able to set an example for her children -- that change can be made and you can make a difference to improve someone's quality of life.

Foss' office is in the First National Bank Building in downtown St. Cloud. She says you can stop by if you're interested in how to get involved.

Do you have someone you'd like to nominate for Rush Hour's "Rookie of the Week?" If so, email Chrissy Gaetke, or Richard Leguil,

"Rookie of the Week" airs weekly on Rush Hour, weeknights from 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. only on AM 1240 WJON.

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