Jennie Lehua Watson

President

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

As president of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, Jennie 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. Jennie has devoted her career to supporting people, organizations, and communities to open doors to opportunity for everyone.

Jennie joined the Fund in 2000 as its first director of communications. In 2003, she was named vice president. In this role, she continued to develop the Fund’s use of strategic communications and oversaw human resources. She also partnered with a range of community institutions of particular interest to the Fund’s Board of Directors to help broaden access to important cultural and civic assets in the Bay Area.

Jennie worked closely with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy as it engaged the community in the transformation of San Francisco’s Crissy Field into a 100-acre national park with 1 million visitors each year. She also helped manage the Fund’s partnership with filmmakers Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan on the 2009 PBS film The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, which included funding for research on the role of African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and other diverse populations in the history of the Parks. The Fund’s support for America’s Best Idea included the largest grant in PBS history for public outreach to make sure the film reached communities that traditionally have been underrepresented in the Parks.

Jennie helped shape the Fund’s support for San Francisco’s Presidio as a national park for all people, with extensive hiking and biking trails and the restoration of Rob Hill Campground, where thousands of young people from the Bay Area have the opportunity to sleep under the stars, often for the first time. In addition, she has played a key role in the Chronicle Season of Sharing Fund, a longstanding partnership between the Haas, Jr. Fund and the San Francisco Chronicle to provide critical assistance to individuals and families in need. To date, Season of Sharing has raised more than $113 million for housing assistance, critical family needs, and food banks. In other work at the Fund, Jennie helped manage the Fund’s multiyear partnership with the San Francisco Symphony in support of Keeping Score, a wide-ranging, multimedia program to bring the joy of classical music to diverse audiences of all ages.

Before joining the Haas, Jr. Fund, Jennie was director of communications at Project Open Hand, a Bay Area charity that began providing meals to people with AIDS and now serves seniors and critically ill residents. Earlier in her career, she managed the membership programs at the California Academy of Sciences and the Oakland Museum.

Jennie holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from the University of Hawaii.

Jennie Lehua Watson

Partnering with organizations and movements that are continually working to build a fairer, more compassionate society is an inspiring challenge and a tremendous privilege.