Newsmakers | March-April 2016

1Ira S. Hirschfield, longtime president and trustee of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund in San Francisco, has announced his planned departure from the foundation. During Hirschfield’s 28-year tenure, the fund has made more than $500 million in grants to organizations and programs seeking to advance the causes of fairness, equality and opportunity across the nation. The foundation, under his leadership, focused its resources on four key program areas: gay and lesbian rights, immigrant rights, education equity and the Haas Leadership Initiative. Before being selected to lead the Haas, Jr. Fund, Hirschfield was a veteran in the philanthropic sector, arriving from Rockefeller Family and Associates, where he served as director of philanthropy. Prior to that, his career path brought him to serve as executive vice president of the Levi Strauss Foundation and corporate vice president and director of community affairs.

He also founded and led the Philanthropic Collaborative, a nonpartisan organization that brings together foundations, charities and the public sector to provide information to policymakers about the societal impacts of foundation grantmaking. Hirschfield’s educational background includes an undergraduate degree from Washington University and a master’s degree in urban affairs from Occidental College.

He also received a second master’s degree and a Ph.D. in public administration and gerontology from the University of Southern California. “Ira has been a constant source of inspiration for our family, daring us to dream and challenging us to push the boundaries of what philanthropy can help people to accomplish,” said Walter J. Haas, chair of the Fund’s board of trustees. “Because of Ira’s bold leadership, the Haas, Jr. Fund and our partners have achieved results that many people initially thought weren’t possible.” Hirschfield will serve as president and trustee until the end of 2016, after which he will continue work on select initiatives and hold the honorary title of president emeritus.


2The Dyson Foundation recently appointed Jennifer Killian as program officer for its Mid-Hudson Valley grantmaking. A native of Dutchess County, Killian grew up in the city of Poughkeepsie, New York, and has dedicated her career to helping the people of her home region through philanthropy. She first attended Dutchess Community College, receiving an associate’s degree in liberal arts and humanities. She then moved on to Rutgers University and earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology. Killian rounded out her education by obtaining a master’s degree in public administration from Marist College. Early in her career, Killian served as a legal assistant before working her way up to become the Hudson Valley regional manager for the New York Council of Nonprofits, helping provide technical assistance and training to nonprofits throughout the Hudson Valley and New York state. She then joined the Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, where she eventually rose to serve as vice president of programs. Killian came to the Dyson Foundation in late November 2015. “Jennifer brings considerable experience and knowledge of the nonprofit community to this position,” stated Andrea Reynolds, Dyson Foundation president and CEO. “She is a welcome addition to the Dyson Foundation team.” Killian will be responsible for much of the foundation’s grant making program in the Mid- Hudson Valley as well as the Management Assistance Mini-Grant Program.


Phillip Li has been named president and CEO of the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation (RSCF). Li comes to the RSCF from the Century Foundation, where he served as chief operating officer. Previously, he held the same title at the Brooklyn Community Foundation. He also spent some time at the helm of the Philanthropic Services Group at Changing Our World, a consulting firm focused on the nonprofit sector. Li is also well known for his time as executive director of the Coro New York Leadership Center, which provides leadership development and training to individuals interested in public service. Li has not always been in the nonprofit sector, beginning his career on Wall Street at Merrill Lynch and then Moody’s Investors Service. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics and biology from the University of Pennsylvania as well as a master’s in business administration in finance and strategic planning from the Wharton School. Li sits on the board of directors of four organizations and is the board chair of Philanthropy New York, the regional association of grantmakers in the New York City area. “Phil ushers in a new era at the Foundation and we are delighted that he will take the helm as we embark on programmatic initiatives in New York City focused on leadership and leadership development,” said James Allen Smith, board chair. “Phil’s experience, ideas and energy are exactly what we need.” Li succeeds the interim president, Vincent McGee.


The Ford Foundation recently named Bess Rothenberg director of its new office of strategy and learning, which reflects the foundation’s new focus on continuous learning and challenging inequalities in the education system. Rothenberg holds a bachelor of arts in sociology from Boston University and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Virginia. She comes to the foundation from Wellspring Advisors, where she served as deputy director of research and evaluation, leading strategic planning for international and domestic human rights work. Prior to her time at Wellspring, Rothenberg worked as the senior program officer for Africa at the International Women’s Health Coalition. Her experience in philanthropy also includes serving as associate director of grants at American Jewish World Service. Rothenberg’s career also led her to the education sector, having served as an assistant professor of applied sociology and African studies at Clemson University, as well as associate director at Columbia University’s Center for the Study of Human Rights. “The Ford Foundation has always been a leader in the field of philanthropy, but at this moment it is promising not only to lead, but to transform,” Rothenberg said. “I am extremely excited to join Ford at this important moment, to help support the implementation of a new vision and strategy.”


3The co-founder and president of Netflix, Reed Hastings, has made a name for himself in the philanthropic sector recently with his announcement of the establishment of a $100 million education fund. The first grants made by the Hastings Fund totaled $1.5 million and were made to the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley and United Negro College Fund scholarship funds. Hastings has selected Neerav Kingsland to be the fund’s chief executive. Kingsland is known for leading New Schools for New Orleans, a nonprofit that has helped the city’s education system after the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. Hastings has long had an interest in education. He supported Rocketship Education, an innovative teaching service that combines online and face-to-face learning, as well as the Khan Academy, which is now a widely known and used online education service. Hastings was instrumental in providing early support to help start the NewSchools Venture Fund as well as Aspire Public Schools. His interest in improving education goes beyond providing funds: Hastings has served on the boards of the California Charter Schools Association, the KIPP Foundation and DreamBox Learning. He also served for four years on California’s state board of education. Hastings’ propensity for education began early. After graduating from Bowdoin College he served in the Peace Corps, teaching high school math in Swaziland for more than two years. He then returned to the U.S. and attended Stanford University, earning a master’s degree in computer science. His technology career began at Adaptive Technology, where he quickly showed his innovative tendencies by inventing a new tool for debugging software. He left that company in 1991 to found his first company, Pure Software. For two years after leaving that company, Hastings prepared for his next startup and in 1997, he and Marc Randolph co-founded Netflix. Hastings is glad he can use the massive success of Netflix to help advance education opportunity and access. The Hastings Fund will be the centerpiece of this goal.


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