Dr. Bellandra B. Foster is the president and principal engineer of BBF Engineering Services, PC (BBF). The company is a civil and transportation engineering consulting firm incorporated in the state of Michigan. BBF Engineering Services specializes in road and bridge construction inspection/engineering, traffic and transportation engineering, utility coordination, project management and small business consultation.
Dr. Foster, who founded BBF in 1994 as a sole proprietorship, is a native of Flint, Michigan. At an early age she exhibited talent in math and science. Her late parents, Dr. George and Ella Pearl Benefield, encouraged her to concentrate on her interests, even though girls were not typically directed toward these subjects in the 1970s.
After graduation from Michigan State University, Bellandra Foster launched her career working as a structural engineer for Bechtel Power Corporation in the fall of 1983, followed by a posting as Assistant Road Design Unit Leader for the Road Commission for Oakland County (MI). From 1985 to 1992, she took on progressively more challenging positions after becoming a licensed professional engineer (P.E.). Positions included being a Civil Staff Engineer with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Assistant Design Unit Leader and finally MDOT Metro Region Utilities-Permits Engineer. Each of these positions advanced her civil engineering knowledge-base.
In 1992, Dr. Foster put her transportation know-how to work in the city of Atlanta (GA) Department of Public Works when the late Mayor Maynard Jackson appointed her Director of the Bureau of Highways and Streets. She was charged with guiding a staff of 550 employees and overseeing the design, construction and maintenance of the booming city’s streets and sewer system.
In the summer of 1993, Dr. Foster and her husband, Michael, a fellow engineer whom she had married in 1984, decided to return to Michigan. There the couple would start their family and Dr. Foster would take on two other demanding projects: pursuing a doctorate in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Michigan State University, and opening her own business — BBF Engineering Services, P.C.
The triple challenge of being a new mother, a new entrepreneur and re-immersed in the world of academia required prioritization, organization and a determination for success. Life might have been considerably easier had Dr. Foster chosen to open a business in a field in which women and minorities were already well-represented — but she didn’t. So despite her years of experience and professional connections, finding contracts was challenging. Only by starting small, staying focused and overcoming often unfair obstacles has Dr. Foster grown BBF Engineering Services from a home based business into a company with two locations and gross revenues of over $2 million.
In 1999, Dr. Foster earned her Doctorate from Michigan State University’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering having previously earned a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering at Wayne State University ten years earlier.
Dr. Foster’s achievements have gained regional and national recognition. In 1998 the Federal Highway Administration named BBF Engineering Services its United States Department of Transportation Minority Business Enterprise of the Year. In 2004 the company was profiled in Black Enterprise magazine and again in Essence magazine in 2005. BBF has also been highlighted in Michigan Contractor and Builder magazine, Jet magazine and the Detroit Free Press. Dr. Foster serves on the Michigan State University College of Engineering Professional Advisory Board and the Michigan State University Civil Engineering Alumni Advisory Board.
Dr. Foster is a sought-after public speaker and has delivered commencement addresses at the engineering schools of the University of Notre Dame, Michigan State and Wayne State University. Dr. Foster shares not only her experiences as an engineer and an entrepreneur, but also her challenges and successes in combining those roles with being a wife, mother and scholar.
In 2007, Dr. Foster established “The Help House” non-profit (501(c)(3)) Corporation. Included in the mission of the non-profit organization is to assist persons with principles to achieve success in their homes and entrepreneurship endeavors.
To further spread the message that one can have both a successful business and a sane, happy family life, Dr. Foster has completed her debut book titled For Love and Money: Seven Guidelines for Achieving Success in Your Home and Business. In it she details steps aimed at inspiring and advising would-be entrepreneurs. She discusses the keys to finding and acting upon one’s true purpose; the necessity of careful research and preparation before starting up any business venture, and the value in finding a vision partner. She tells readers what it means to be an effective leader in your own organization and the importance of always playing for the “home team” by prioritizing your home and business to achieve success and maintain the priorities ordained by God. The book is available through www.drbbf.com, www.pleasantwordbooks.com, www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and www.borders.com