About the Fund: A Brief History

“We have been brought up personally to have social responsibilities.”

— Walter A. Haas, Sr.

“Integrity needs no mention; it is all-important.”

— Elise S. Haas

For more than six decades, Walter A. Haas, Sr. and his wife, Elise Stern Haas, contributed to the quality of business and cultural life of San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. First as president and later as chairman of the board, Mr. Haas led the development of Levi Strauss and Co. from a small western pants manufacturer to the largest apparel company in the world. An artist and civic leader, Mrs. Haas helped pave the way for future generations of women to participate fully in their community.

Two remarkable people, Mr. and Mrs. Haas shared a deep commitment to the basic values of a pluralistic American society. Mr. Haas was a pioneer in the field of socially responsible business, and personally served on numerous public and private commissions and advisory bodies. Mrs. Haas was no less of a groundbreaker; she was the first woman to become president of the Board of Directors of Mt. Zion Hospital and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A talented sculptor and patron of the arts, Mrs. Haas was instrumental in initiating programs that provided opportunities for young people to actively participate in the City’s cultural life.

In 1952, Mr. and Mrs. Haas established the Walter and Elise Haas Fund as an enduring expression of their philanthropic commitment to San Francisco. The original Board of Trustees included the founders and their three children: Walter Haas, Jr., Peter E. Haas, Sr., and Rhoda Haas Goldman. Of these, Peter was the remaining original member serving on the Board of Trustees, and was the Fund’s Honorary Chair until his death in 2005. The remaining four Board members are grandchildren of Walter and Elise Haas. In addition, two great-grandchildren are now participating on the Board of Trustees.

San Francisco Neighborhood Centers Together

San Francisco Neighborhood Centers Together unites multi-generational, place-based community organizations that meet community needs. Pictured, neighborhood center staff gathers for the organization’s Block by Block biennial leadership development conference.

Photo by: Anne Hamersky

Featured photos by Anne Hamersky