Vice President of Programs

The Vice President of Programs (VPP) will be responsible for driving the Haas, Jr. Fund’s program strategies and grantmaking to achieve the mission of advancing rights and creating opportunities for all.


Sixty-five years ago, Evelyn and Walter A. Haas, Jr. started a family foundation as a way to give back to their community—the people of the San Francisco Bay Area. The founders were inspired by their vision of a society in which all people could live, work, and raise their families with dignity. Today, their children and grandchildren—Robert D. Haas, Betsy Haas Eisenhardt, Walter J. Haas, Elise K. Haas, Jesse Eisenhardt, and Walter A. Haas III—carry on the founders’ legacy by taking on contemporary issues rooted in a deep commitment to advancing rights and creating opportunities for all. The Haas, Jr. Fund has evolved from a locally-focused funder in the Bay Area to one that is recognized at the local, state, and national levels.

With a reputation of “punching above its weight class,” the Haas, Jr. Fund currently has $465 million in assets. It has awarded over $580 million in grants since its establishment in 1953. In 2017, the Haas, Jr. Fund made $24.5 million in grant investments. The Fund has 25 staff working in its downtown San Francisco office.

The Haas, Jr. Fund is guided by an enduring set of values—equality, fairness, and opportunity—that were passed down from the founders to the current Board of Directors and staff. In all of its work, the Haas, Jr. Fund seeks to:

  • Demonstrate empathy. Compassion and empathy for others are key to the Haas, Jr. Fund’s work on issues ranging from alleviating homelessness to advancing rights and opportunities for gay and lesbian people, immigrants, and students in San Francisco’s public schools.
  • Respect people’s tremendous ability to create change. The Haas, Jr. Fund approaches its philanthropy with a healthy dose of humility and a deep belief in the power and the wisdom of people to shape solutions to the problems affecting them and their communities.
  • Affirm diversity and inclusion. Treating people fairly, equitably, and with dignity has been a distinguishing and longstanding value of the Haas family, dating back to the days when Walter A. Haas, Jr. and his brother, Peter Haas, led Levi Strauss & Co. to desegregate its plants in the South.
  • Make a deep and lasting difference. Over the years, the Haas, Jr. Fund evolved from supporting local direct services in the Bay Area to scaling and leading transformative efforts to level the playing field for people, families, and communities.

Nurture and sustain a love for the Bay Area. The Haas family's philanthropy is motivated by their love and deep appreciation for the vitality and beauty of the Bay Area, its diverse people, and its rich culture.

The Haas, Jr. Fund currently focuses on the following five key areas:

  • Immigrant Rights: Through its support for the immigrant movement in California, the Haas, Jr. Fund has helped the state become a beacon for the nation in advancing common-sense policies that recognize and amplify opportunities for immigrants to contribute to their communities and the economy. The Haas, Jr. Fund was one of the first foundations to invest in leadership and organizing for young undocumented Dreamers.
  • Gay and Lesbian Rights: The Haas, Jr. Fund was the first foundation to take a stand on the freedom to marry by making it a funding priority. The Haas, Jr. Fund is credited as a key player in the success of the movement for marriage equality from coast to coast. It was also a leading supporter of the effort to dismantle the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that barred gays and lesbians from military service.
  • Education Equity: The Haas, Jr. Fund has forged a close partnership with the San Francisco Unified School District to reduce the achievement gap for students of color in the city’s public schools. The Haas, Jr. Fund has been a leading philanthropic partner in the district’s efforts to improve education for children in the PreK-3rd grade years, and it supported the development of a bold plan (Vision 2025) to prepare all students to succeed in the global economy.
  • Haas Leadership Initiatives: The Haas, Jr. Fund launched the Haas Leadership Initiatives to advance solutions that enable nonprofit leaders to get better results for their organizations and movements. The core of the initiative is the Flexible Leadership Awards, an innovative program that supports the Fund’s grantees over three to five years to implement solutions to the leadership challenges and opportunities their organizations face.
  • Community Partnerships and Initiatives: The Haas, Jr Fund is an important partner in a range of Bay Area initiatives to open doors and strengthen opportunities for all. The Haas, Jr. Fund helped establish the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund, which raised a record $9.4 million to support low-income families with emergency assistance this past year. The Haas, Jr. Fund helped lead the transformation of Crissy Field and the Presidio into cherished public spaces, and is a longtime partner with UC Berkeley to create a more inclusive and equitable institution. The Haas, Jr. Fund is also a founder and leading supporter of Coaching Corps, a national program that uses the power of sports to improve health, educational, and social outcomes for low-income kids.

A New Chapter

The Haas, Jr. Fund is in the midst of a thoughtful leadership transition that began when Ira Hirschfield stepped down at the end of 2016, after 28 years leading the foundation. The Board of Directors promoted two leaders from within the Fund to ensure a smooth succession. Jennie Watson, formerly Vice President of Special Initiatives and Communications, is serving as President for two years, and Cathy Cha, formerly Program Director for Immigrant Rights, is serving as Vice President of Programs during this period. Cathy Cha will become President of the Haas, Jr. Fund in January 2019.

The appointment of Cathy Cha as incoming President signals a new chapter of leadership at the Haas, Jr. Fund. Cha has an impressive record of accomplishment, both at the Haas, Jr. Fund and earlier in her career. Cha is a leader in advancing new models for how foundations can partner with communities, advocates, and government to expand equity and opportunity. From collaborative initiatives that boost citizenship and voting, to a successful drive to create a new position in the Governor’s Office focused on immigrant integration, Cha has jump-started numerous efforts to solve community problems and extend the Haas, Jr. Fund’s impact. She recently brought together the California Campus Catalyst Fund, a partnership of funders, educators, and advocates working to expand support and services for undocumented students and their families across California’s public higher education systems.

As the Haas, Jr. Fund approaches the moment when Cha officially steps into her role as President, the time is right to recruit the Fund’s next Vice President of Programs. Working closely with the President and Board of Directors, the Vice President of Programs will define the focus and impact of the Haas, Jr. Fund in this next chapter. S/he has an opportunity to experiment and innovate, both by designing new initiatives to extend the Haas, Jr. Fund’s impact and by creating new philanthropic approaches. The Vice President will serve on the Leadership Team, along with the President and the CFO, stewarding the organization and co-leading the effort to maintain an inclusive, trusting, high-performing team culture. The Haas, Jr. Fund is seeking a new Vice President of Programs who brings fresh perspective, skills, and experience at an exciting juncture in the history of this highly respected foundation.

Additional information on the Haas, Jr. Fund can be found here.

The Opportunity

The Vice President of Programs (VPP) will be responsible for driving the Haas, Jr. Fund’s program strategies and grantmaking to achieve the mission of advancing rights and creating opportunities for all. The VPP will report directly to the President, manage and oversee all programmatic activities, and supervise five talented program leaders.

At a pivotal moment in the Haas, Jr. Fund’s history, the incoming VPP also will have the unique opportunity to partner with the President and Board of Directors in building on the Fund’s strengths and past accomplishments while shaping its future. With Cathy Cha and the newly expanded multi-generational Board of Directors, the Leadership Team will keep the Fund’s long-held values front and center as it works to redefine priorities moving forward through the development of a new strategic plan. The VPP will lead the efforts to articulate and execute the new vision.

The VPP will lead the Directors and staff to conceptualize, sharpen, refine, and reshape the Haas, Jr. Fund’s grantmaking strategies. A key responsibility will be to help the Board identify emerging opportunities to further the mission of the Haas, Jr. Fund and extend its impact. With an emphasis on the Fund’s proven strengths—such as lifting people’s aspirations, taking a long view, and providing collaborative “more than grantmaking” leadership—the VPP will help ensure that the Fund is adapting and responding to new and emerging conditions.

The VPP will provide intellectual leadership to the organization and foster a culture that is respectful, gracious, and reflective, and values the Haas, Jr. Fund’s key asset—our staff. The challenging environment for the marginalized communities the Haas, Jr. Fund cares about requires us to be nimble, creative, innovative, and prepared to take risks.

S/he will lead the hiring, development, and retention of a diverse program team that can execute the Fund’s strategies in an inclusive feedback-rich learning environment. In partnership with Human Resources, s/he will identify professional development needs and training opportunities, and demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement.

S/he will collaborate with the Communications Director to incorporate communications strategies that advance program goals.

The VPP also will actively engage with organizations and leaders central to the Haas, Jr. Fund’s work, including grantees, movement partners, private and public allies, and other funders. The VPP will serve as a representative of the Haas, Jr. Fund in local, state, and national settings to advance and strengthen its alliances, reputation, and impact.

The VPP’s key priorities for the first two years include:

  • Exercise a leadership role in creating the Haas, Jr. Fund’s next strategic plan and, in partnership with the President and Board of Directors, help define the direction and priorities of the Haas, Jr. Fund for its next chapter;
  • In partnership with the President, forge close and trusted working relationships with the Board of Directors, including the three new Directors who recently joined;
  • Advance organizational goals and priorities as a member of the organization-wide executive Leadership Team;
  • Coach, support, and supervise five talented program officers and maintain a trusting, inclusive, high-performing team culture;
  • Lead overall strategy development and oversee grantmaking and the implementation, appropriate resourcing, and streamlining of grantmaking processes;
  • Lead the development of program strategy reviews, annual plans, budgets and new program development for the Board of Directors;
  • Partner with the President on the strategic direction and agendas for Board meetings. Oversee the creation of memos, reports, and presentations for the Board;
  • Collaborate with other funders, grantees, and an array of partners in order to develop new initiatives to deepen and extend the impact of the Haas, Jr. Fund’s work;
  • Represent the Haas, Jr. Fund externally through speaking and writing opportunities, sharing knowledge and lessons learned with the philanthropic community and other stakeholders; and  
  • Act as a champion for the Haas, Jr. Fund’s mission, legacy, values, and organizational culture, ensuring that all are consistently upheld.

Candidate Profile

The Haas, Jr. Fund seeks an accomplished and visionary leader who is passionate about having impact across a broad array of programmatic areas and committed to justice and equity. We seek a leader who will bring the richness, passion, and wisdom that comes from being grounded in the lives of the marginalized communities we serve, gained either through personal lived experience or through work at community-based nonprofits. The ideal candidate will feel the “fierce urgency of now” and have the following professional and personal skills, qualities, and characteristics:

Passion for the Mission and Values

The VPP will have a sincere passion for the mission and values of the Haas, Jr. Fund, for solving community problems, and for leveling the playing field. S/he will take pride in representing the Fund, bringing an appreciation for its history and a commitment to upholding its reputation in the philanthropic sector. S/he will revel in succeeding at the highest levels and show a commitment to perpetuating the Haas, Jr. Fund’s culture of excellence. S/he will demonstrate inclusiveness, collaboration, humility, and compassion. The VPP will express authentic leadership, graciousness, and a sense of humor. The Haas, Jr. Fund holds dear its familial culture and values our staff deeply, so it is an imperative that s/he treats others with respect and stays true to the organization’s values. The ideal candidate is an individual of unquestioned integrity, ethics, and values, and someone who can be trusted without reservation.

Strategic Philanthropic Leadership

With a focus on impact, the VPP will be a thought partner with the President and Board of Directors as they define the next chapter in the Haas, Jr. Fund’s history. With an appreciation of the value added role of philanthropy, s/he will be willing to take risks and creatively push the boundaries of traditional philanthropy to meet current community needs. S/he will be experienced in program strategy development and be willing to be bold in support of the Haas, Jr. Fund’s goals in response to a changing environment. S/he will be able to create impactful and creative new initiatives and partnerships with sophisticated nonprofit, government, and private sector partners. S/he will have a deep intellectual capacity and curiosity. S/he will be able to take in large amounts of information and rapidly develop an analysis about the levers for change and identify and execute game changing moves. S/he will be able to listen deeply, identify a shared vision and agreed upon paths forward, and then move ideas to action.

An Experienced Leader and Manager of People

The VPP will be an executive with strong staff management experience. S/he will have a track record of successfully building and leading high-performing teams. The VPP will be a mentor and facilitator, guiding the program team through change and continued growth and development, all the while maintaining a high standard of professionalism and quality. The VPP will possess the ability to inspire a staff with a diverse set of skills towards a common goal, applying innovative management practices to ensure efficient day-to-day operations aligned with the Fund’s strategic goals.

Excellent Judgment

The VPP will have the maturity and sound judgment required to act thoughtfully and lead effectively. S/he will have keen analytical skills and the ability to think critically, evaluate risk, make sound decisions, solve problems, and explain and justify recommendations to diverse audiences. The VPP will be politically astute and exercise good judgment in a range of situations.

Relationship Building and Communications Skills

The VPP will be an effective relationship builder who can create and sustain successful partnerships with the Haas, Jr. Fund’s varied constituents, ranging from community members to nonprofit leaders to elected officials. The VPP will become fluent in sharing the strategic priorities of the Haas, Jr. Fund with partners and will expand relationships in order to deepen the Haas, Jr. Fund’s impact. S/he will be sensitive, respectful, and empathetic in understanding grantees’ needs and will communicate with a clear and articulate style. The VPP will have exceptional listening, written, and oral skills. S/he will be an excellent writer, one who can write clearly, analytically, and persuasively in a jargon-free and inspiring way.

Candidates can come from a range of backgrounds. Experience in philanthropy with impactful grantmaking is highly desirable. Leadership elsewhere in the nonprofit, government, or private sectors would also be attractive.

Connections to, and an understanding of, the Bay Area is desirable, but is not a requirement.


Alison Ranney and Alexandra Corvin of Koya Leadership Partners have been retained for this search. Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search firm that works exclusively with mission-driven clients.

To make recommendations or to express your interest in this role, please email Alison and Alexandra directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.