Robert D. Haas
Mr. Haas combines extensive leadership experience in business and philanthropy to help guide the Fund’s work to advance rights and create opportunities for all people.
Robert D. Haas joined the Fund’s Board of Directors in 1992 and currently serves as Chair of the Audit Committee. Mr. Haas’ deep knowledge and experience in both business and philanthropy informs his work as a Director of the Haas, Jr. Fund.
Mr. Haas served as chief executive officer of Levi Strauss & Co. from 1984 to 1999. As CEO, he led the company through a business turnaround that resulted in more than a decade of growth and expansion. During Mr. Haas’ tenure, the Dockers® brand was created and the company expanded internationally. Under his leadership, Levi Strauss & Co. continued the firm’s longstanding commitment to leadership in corporate social responsibility—for example, becoming the first company to define and enforce labor and safety standards for employees in its worldwide contract manufacturing and finishing facilities. In 1991, Mr. Haas was the first recipient of the Edward N. Brandt, Jr. Award from the National Leadership Coalition on AIDS for his pioneering efforts in addressing HIV and AIDS in the workplace. In 1992, Levi Strauss & Co. became the first Fortune 500 company to extend full medical benefits to domestic partners of employees. In 1998, President Bill Clinton honored Mr. Haas with the first annual Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership in recognition of the company’s anti-racism initiative, “Project Change.” Mr. Haas became chairman of the board in 1989 and was named chairman emeritus in 2008.
Mr. Haas’ community involvement is extensive. Currently, he is a Berkeley Fellow and serves on the Chancellor’s Board of Visitors. Previously, he served as the National Giving Chair for the Campaign for Berkeley. He also is a former member of the Humanities Council at UC Berkeley and a former board member of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Mr. Haas was elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011. Additionally, he is an honorary director of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. In the past, Mr. Haas was the president of the Levi Strauss Foundation; a trustee of the Brookings Institution, the Ford Foundation and Mills College; chairman of the Stanford Humanities and Sciences Council; a member of The Conference Board; and regent of the University of the Pacific. He served as a member of the North American Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations, and as a director of the California Business Roundtable, the San Francisco Bay Area Council, the Ron Brown Award for Corporate Leadership and the Advisory Board of Governors of the Partnership for Public Service. He also is a former director of the American Apparel Association, and a former member of the League of Women Voters Education Fund’s National Advisory Committee. In 2013 he was named “Outstanding Philanthropist” by the Golden Gate Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Mr. Haas graduated as class valedictorian from UC Berkeley in 1964. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa that same year. Forty-three years later, he was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Award. In 2008, the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion was established in his honor as part of a campus-wide initiative for equity and inclusion. In April 2009, he was honored as Cal Alumnus of the Year.
Mr. Haas received his MBA in 1968 from the Harvard Graduate School of Business, where he was a Baker Scholar. He served in the Peace Corps in the Ivory Coast from 1964 to 1966 and was a White House Fellow from 1968 to 1969. He was an associate with the management consulting firm of McKinsey and Company from 1969 to 1972 before joining Levi Strauss & Co. in 1973.
What really matters to me is that the funds we devote to the causes we support end up making a difference. That gives me the courage to stay the course.