Jennifer C. Haas
President of the Board

President's Message

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

When I reflect on 2011, I find myself considering not only that single year of the Walter & Elise Haas Fund's existence, but the full legacy of my great grandparents and my family. Since 1952, generations of the Haas family have expressed their commitment to the community through this Fund. I grew up aspiring to add my efforts to this philanthropic tradition.

Three branches and four generations of Walter and Elise's descendants unite to direct the Fund's efforts. Doing this is a great honor. Today's board is committed to simultaneously strengthening our community while maintaining the sustainability of the Fund.

During the economic downturn, the Walter & Elise Haas Fund continued to keep its grantmaking levels stable, even when this put some pressure on our endowment. Instead of reducing our giving, we held steady and focused on the ways in which we could increase our impact while maintaining a sustainable level of giving. In 2011 we continued a targeted Safety Net Initiative, in recognition of how our grantees and local communities were being affected by the extended downturn.

We are constantly evaluating how we can have more impact and better support the community. One example is how we approached the issue of foreclosure during this time. While we began our efforts by addressing foreclosure directly, we soon began to question whether this approach was effective, given the limited reach of the federal responses. Our stellar executive director and program officers-each of whom is a leader in her own field-took aim at the larger problem. We increased our support for asset building education, helping families increase their economic stability. We realized that if we can keep families from needing foreclosure assistance in the first place, our philanthropy becomes more effective.

The Haas Sr. Fund Board is not content to continue our family's proud history without continually advancing and improving. Our legacy of philanthropy and civic leadership enables us to draw the community together in significant ways. With this leverage, we can and will attempt bold solutions to the issues that concern us all.

As a family, and as a family-based foundation, we have a tradition to uphold. Adhering to that tradition is nothing less than invigorating. For the opportunity to continue the work of our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents, I thank you all.

Best regards,

Jennifer C. Haas
President, Board of Trustees