In Memory of Mayor Ed Lee

Today, I am thinking about Mayor Ed Lee, a longtime colleague, who died early yesterday morning.

I worked for three of San Francisco’s mayors. Ed Lee worked for four of them before he became one himself. He wasn’t a politician, nor a particularly good public speaker — and I know he was often frustrated that the public couldn’t see or know how hard he was working.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

But I knew. And what I never doubted about Ed was his heart, which is ironic, as heart failure is what has taken him from us too soon.

Ed Lee was a true believer in public service, in solving problems — from the Human Rights Commission to Public Works to Chief Administrator to the Mayor’s office, nobody knew more about the inner workings of this city — and no one cared more about the health of the city than Ed.

The last meeting I was in with Ed was a convening of the executive council of HOPE SF, our city’s big and bold initiative to ensure public housing residents stay at the center of rebuilding and reconnecting their neighborhoods to the City’s social and economic mainstream. Ed had a personal connection to HOPE SF, having grown up in public housing — and he talked about staying connected to the initiative after he left office.

I intend to ensure its success in honor of his legacy of service to the city we call home.

So much of my and my colleagues’ work at the Walter & Elise Haas Fund requires partnership with different parts of the “official” City — from Human Services to the School District to the Arts Commission to Housing and Community Development. Ed helped improve these partnerships, providing leadership and resources as needed. I will forever be grateful.

His memory is a blessing.

Many throughout the City and community are rightfully also taking this moment to share their memories of Mayor Ed Lee. I encourage you to read the thoughts and reminiscences posted on the Nothern California Grantmakers site and join me and the rest of Walter & Elise Haas Fund staff and board in honoring Ed Lee.


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