Mr Foster, 52, currently chief executive of Middlesbrough Council, will take up the post early in the new year.
'I am looking forward to working with John, who comes here with a strong track record and is, I am sure, the person we need to move us on to providing improved services for the citizens of this District.'
Mr Foster will take over from John Edwards, former chief executive of Barnsley Council, who was appointed as an interim chief executive at Wakefield just over a year ago to guide the recruitment process for a permanent appointment, develop the authority's improvement programme and oversee the introduction of a new constitution.
Mr Edwards said: 'I too am delighted to welcome John to Wakefield. I have very much enjoyed working here, meeting the challenges of change, introducing a new constitution and modernising and improving ways of working.
'My job now is to hand over the reins to a permanent chief executive who can take this authority on to its next stage of development. The prospects for continuing improvements are excellent and will be boosted by John leading the team.
Mr Foster said: 'I am very much looking forward to working in Wakefield, to building on the work already done and to using my experience to move the authority on to the next stage of its modernisation and development.'
Mr Foster is an adviser to the LGA on urban policy and is a member of the government's urban sounding board. He is also a non-executive director of the New Local Government Network and is a regular contributor and speaker on the government's new agenda for modernising local government. He was previously involved with the Social Exclusion Unit priority action team.
Mr Foster is on the board of governors at the University of Teesside and is on the editorial board for Public Policy & Administration for the Joint University Council. He is a board member of Tees Valley Tomorrow and Middlesbrough Town Centre Company.
Before joining Middlesbrough in 1998, he was executive director at North Tyneside Council. Mr Foster is particularly interested in urban policy and neighbourhood regeneration.