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Executive Director

Executive Director
Application Deadline: 
Friday, September 29, 2017
Job Description: 

The Walter & Elise Haas Fund (“the Fund”) is a private family foundation. Its current program areas include the Arts, Economic Security, Education, and Jewish Life. The Fund also currently provides community support by maintaining a $1 million fund for safety net programs. It is the leader of a multi-funder grantmaking initiative, The Creative Work Fund, which makes grants to artists and nonprofit organizations collaborating to create new art works. The Fund’s grantmaking is focused in the counties of San Francisco and Alameda.   

Through its grantmaking, the Fund works to find the right balance between stabilizing critical community institutions and investing in new approaches. The Fund remains true to the values upon which it was founded, maintaining a long-term view; it keeps focused on the external changes and internal innovations to which the Fund aspires. It is the Fund’s intent to ensure that its contributions, while modest on their own, make sense as part of bigger and broader cross-sector efforts that create platforms for increased opportunity and shared prosperity.

To that end, the Fund is committed to engaging in thoughtful, strategic partnerships and collaborations for change. These efforts are accomplished with colleagues, organizations, and agencies in the public, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors, fulfilling the Fund’s mission, and leveraging the Fund’s resources to have even greater impact.



With this change of executive leadership, the trustees of the Fund seek an executive leader who can respectfully build on and leverage the Fund’s 65-year philanthropic legacy. The trustees seek a professional who will view existing programs through a creative and innovative lens to offer enhancements to grantmaking. The new Executive Director will excite and inspire the board members and Staff, with fresh ideas and perspectives.           

While the Fund has a deep history of philanthropy and commitment to community, the Board seeks an executive who will not be weighed down by prior history but rather actively engage with the trustees on developing strategies addressing current issue areas as well as identifying and presenting new issue areas for discussion and deliberation. The trustees are seeking an executive who views philanthropy and the Fund’s work through a wide aperture of curiosity, freshness, and relevancy, and can lead the Fund in ways that reflect ingenious and cutting-edge thinking.     


Organizational Structure

The Fund has an asset base of approximately $220 million, 10 staff members including program and administrative functions, and makes charitable grants of approximately $12 million per year. The Executive Director works closely with the Program Directors (Arts, Economic Security, Education, Jewish Life) and the Director of Administration.


Board of Directors

Since its founding, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund has been overseen by a Board of Directors comprised of direct descendants of the founders. Currently, the trustees consist of third- and fourth-generation family members, with two members from each of the three family branches. The Board ensures the Fund continues to honor the spirit of Walter and Elise Haas’s charitable intentions.

The culture of the Board reflects, in part, its size and organizational values. As a small Board, it achieves a high degree of cohesion and unity, while respectfully managing differing points of view. Trustees bring an experienced and thoughtful focus to proposed and existing grant programs.

There are Audit and Investment Committees, chaired by and composed of trustees; there is one non-trustee on the Audit Committee.

More information about the Walter & Elise Haas Fund can be found at



The leadership challenge of this position is to effectively leverage the Fund’s reputation, position, Staff knowledge and efforts, as well as financial resources to influence building a healthy, just, and vibrant society in the Bay Area. The Fund accomplishes this via its program areas of Arts, Economic Security, Education, and Jewish Life, as well as support of safety net organizations.

The Executive Director serves as the leader and executive manager of the Fund, leading the Fund’s strategy development and implementation, staff development, and organizational effectiveness in support of the Fund’s mission.

The Executive Director is responsible for ensuring the smooth functioning of all Fund programs and operations (financial management and reporting, information and technology systems, facilities, and office operation) via the Director of Administration.

The Executive Director will encourage, inspire, and motivate Staff’s strategic and dynamic interaction with the Board, where expertise and analytics are shared, including his/her own. S/he will enable deeper thinking on the part of Staff, while continuing to foster collaborative and supportive actions by staff both internally and externally. 

The successful candidate will work in the Walter & Elise Haas Fund office in San Francisco, California. This position will require occasional local and national travel on behalf of the Fund.



Strategic Leadership and Management

  • Lead the development and implementation of the Fund’s mission, policies, and strategies;
  • Propose possible innovative enhancements to current program areas;
  • Ongoing assessment of program strategies to ensure that they reflect changing environmental (social, political, economic) conditions and enable the Fund to better fulfill its mission; 
  • Ensure excellence in operations, finance and administration, communications, and systems necessary to the work of the Fund;
  • Position the Fund as a thought leader and convener on issues via appropriate modalities (industry collaborations, white papers, conferences);
  • Promote and encourage Staff’s sharing of their expertise with the Board as well as the industry;
  • Assess the Fund’s strategic staffing requirements and align human resources for effectiveness; and
  • Through behavioral example, leadership, policy and practices, foster an organizational culture of collaboration and dynamic interaction, mutual support and respect, accountability, empowerment, and results.


Board Engagement

  • Partner with the Board in ideation for the Fund’s strategy and mission fulfillment;
  • Engage in robust thought and programmatic leadership with the Board, offering innovative ideas for consideration; facilitate discussion and deliberation;
  • Facilitate the Board’s consideration of generational turnover in a thoughtful and strategic way, mentoring new members of the Board who will not have the experience of existing trustees;
  • Ensure complete and timely information on programs, operations, and finances to support the Board’s decision making; and
  • Work closely with the Board Chair to develop agendas for Board meetings (held three times a year) that reflect the interests of the Board members and that provide continuous learning about the program areas and external environment factors that impact the Fund’s program work.


Program Strategy Development, Management, and Evaluation 

  • Ensure the Fund’s program strategies are ambitiously fulfilling its mission, internally collaborative, responsive to identified needs, anticipating emerging needs, and have measurable objectives;
  • Stimulate critical thinking about the Fund’s program goals in order to support and encourage programmatic innovation by the Executive Director, Board, and Staff;
  • Manage program staff with clear performance expectations; work in partnership to develop annual performance goals that support and further the mission of the Fund; provide overall direction and coaching to ensure consistent and effective review of proposals and development of funding recommendations;
  • Ensure programs, including key initiatives within each key performance indicators of progress and impact, are reviewed regularly by Staff and, as appropriate, Board; and
  • Ensure program work of the Fund is documented and evaluated, and key findings are disseminated as appropriate to benefit future work.


External Relations

  • Initiate and participate in partnerships and collaborations with philanthropic entities, nonprofit organizations, advocacy organizations, technical assistance providers, consultants, and relevant stakeholders to leverage the Fund’s work in fulfilling its mission; and
  • Represent the Walter & Elise Haas Fund to grantees, nonprofits and philanthropy, media, as well as the local community.


 Finance, Operations and Human Resources

  • Ultimate responsibility for all financial and administrative aspects of the Fund’s operations, including the annual operating plan and budget for the Board of Directors’ approval;
  • Oversee appropriate human resources policies and procedures, such as annual performance reviews, are in place and compliance is consistently monitored; and
  • Develop a collaborative, inclusive, and productive working dynamic with Staff, with attention to increasing diversity of personal backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences to enhance the quality of discussion and decision making.



  • Minimum of 15 years of relevant experience in organizational management, including program management, operations, or executive management. Organizational experience could be in philanthropic, nonprofit, governmental, or academic entities.
  • Experience infusing “freshness” into established practices, viewing existing processes through a lens of innovation and efficiency while not diminishing the “heart and soul” of the work.
  • Experience in a top-of-organization executive position, including working within governance structures with a Board of Directors.
  • Experience in or with philanthropy, family-based or otherwise, strongly desired.
  • Knowledge of program, i.e., effective investment in grantee organizations, evaluation and impact assessment, and grants management.
  • Seasoned manager of high-caliber, high-performing Staff, ideally with experience of managing a comparably sized staff to the Fund.
  • Experience with organizations undergoing inter-generational succession planning and management is a strong positive.
  • Familiarity with the San Francisco Bay Area is helpful though not required.


Education: An undergraduate degree is required, and a Master’s degree is highly desired.



The successful professional will have or be:

  • Passionate about exemplary leadership and management of family-based philanthropy
  • Demonstrated thought leadership
  • Able to internalize the family’s and Fund’s history, personalities, and values, and represent them well to others
  • Able to infuse energy, creativity, and innovation into the Fund’s Staff and programs, supporting the culture of feedback and improvement, while also being able to ideate with Board members
  • Commitment to quality and excellence in executive, program and process management
  • Track record as a collaborative thought partner internally and industry-wide
  • Thrives in a collaborative, relationship-building team environment
  • Create a high-caliber, high-achievement work environment that raises team standards and performance
  • Promote a proactive, forward thinking work environment and style
  • Excellent oral and written communication abilities including excellent listening skills
  • Well-developed diplomacy skills
  • Demonstrated good judgment
  • Ability to engender trust and confidence internally and externally.



A competitive compensation package, including comprehensive benefits, will be offered.

Walter & Elise Haas Fund is an equal opportunity employer.

For additional information on this opportunity, please contact:

Sally Carlson                                             Heidi Holzhauer
Managing Partner                                     Partner
415.433.2299 direct                                  707.963.1250 direct
415.203.5259 mobile                                415.298.6659 mobile