Cathy Cha


Cathy leads the Fund’s work to advance rights and create opportunities for all people.

As President of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Cathy leads the Fund’s work to fulfill its founders’ vision of a society in which all people can live, work, and raise their families with dignity. Cathy’s work is driven by a career-long commitment to equity and opportunity.
Cathy will step into the role of President of the Fund in 2019 after serving for two years as Vice President of Programs. In that position, she oversaw grantmaking and the development of program strategies. She also helped shepherd a two-year organizational transition that included the expansion of the Board of Directors and the hiring of new staff at the program and senior leadership levels. Cathy helped create the California Campus Catalyst Fund, a coalition of funders, educators, and advocates who are working to expand support and services for undocumented students and their families across California’s public higher education systems.
Cathy is a leader in advancing new models for how foundations can collaborate and partner with communities, advocates, and government for greater impact. She co-created and led California Civic Participation Funders, a collaborative that is increasing voting and community organizing in low-income communities in four regions of the state. In 2011, Cathy worked with the Carnegie, Knight, and Grove foundations to start the New Americans Campaign, which has assisted more than 300,000 legal permanent residents to become U.S. citizens. In 2015, Cathy led efforts to create the African American Civic Engagement Project, an alliance of community leaders, funders, and local groups across California that is working to increase power in black communities. She also helped jumpstart a first-of-its kind project to spur organizing and voting in Orange County’s Vietnamese communities.
Cathy joined the Haas, Jr. Fund as a program officer in 2004. After working in the Fund’s family self-sufficiency and neighborhood development program areas, she led its Immigrant Rights and Integration program starting in 2009. In that position, Cathy managed the Fund’s grantmaking in support of efforts to increase civic participation, improve the climate for immigration policy reforms in California, and support public education for federal immigration reform. Cathy’s focus on alliance-building and collaboration helped strengthen the immigrant rights movement in California, leading to key policy wins such as scholarships for Dreamers, groundbreaking enforcement reforms, driver’s licenses for undocumented residents, and healthcare coverage for undocumented children. Cathy was instrumental in creating a new position in the Governor’s Office focused on immigrant integration. California is now seen as the most welcoming state for immigrants in the country.
Before joining the Haas, Jr. Fund, Cathy was a program officer at the Hyams Foundation in Boston. While working there, she helped establish the Home Funders initiative, which continues to unite Massachusetts funders in support of efforts to reduce family homelessness. Earlier in her career, Cathy worked for the private firm, ICF International, where she consulted to local governments on their affordable housing and anti-poverty programs. Cathy developed affordable housing with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation in San Francisco. She also worked at the United Way of King County in Seattle, where she managed a grantmaking portfolio focused on strengthening safety net supports for low-income families and children.
Cathy served for seven years on the board of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), including two years as national co-chair. Previously, she served on the boards of Chinatown Community Development Center, Asian Pacific Environmental Network and Somerville Community Development Corporation.
Cathy is a frequent public speaker on civic participation, immigration policy, and the catalytic role of philanthropy in advancing social change. She received the Leader in Action Award from Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) in 2015, and the Immigrant Integration and Inspiration Award from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in 2014.
Cathy has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Washington in Seattle.