Transitions at the Fund

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

It is with mixed feelings that I pass along the following letter from Anu Greenlee Cairo, who has served as the Fund’s Education program officer for nearly seven years.  Anu is leaving to take a great position with the S.D. Bechtel Foundation, and, while I am sad to see her go, I am excited for her new set of professional challenges and opportunities. Anu has penned a really lovely letter to the Fund’s Education grantees; I’m sharing it because it so well represents the values that we cherish here at the Walter & Elise Haas Fund.

While no one is irreplaceable, Anu will be missed by all of us here – she has been a tremendous colleague, generously sharing her knowledge and insights in ways that have benefitted our work individually and collectively. As the Fund’s Education program officer, Anu has charted a thoughtful course through a crowded and complicated educational environment.  She has partnered with philanthropic colleagues, community organizations, and our local school districts to help develop the requisite school leadership and skill sets necessary to provide high quality public education to every child.

Please take a moment to read Anu’s farewell letter, and join us in wishing her all the best in her new endeavors.

Dear Colleagues,

It is with a mixture of excitement and sadness that I share the news of my departure from the Walter and Elise Haas Fund.  During my almost seven years here, I have been honored to work with truly exceptional grantees and foundation colleagues. The Fund’s grantees have demonstrated, again and again, how modest grants can seed high quality educational programs that influence broader practice. You also have shown how persistence and practice yield good results, even in the face of budget and staffing challenges. Many of you have shared the messiness of your work and been honest about missteps, taking time to share your learning with me in “real time.” Phew, what a brave thing to do and what a contribution to our collective learning. Importantly, it allowed me to adjust our grant making to better meet your needs. It is your hard work that gives our grants value, so thank you.

I came to this job with no philanthropy experience.  I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my foundation colleagues who welcomed me into learning communities, took me to lunch, offered mentorship, and shared knowledge. Some allowed me to tag along on joint site visits, “modeling” thoughtful, respectful engagement. Others shared data and research about the field, or invited me to training that improved my practice. Here at the W&EHF, my capable colleagues have provided unwavering support, reviewing and critiquing my writing and the thinking underlying it, strategizing about how to support current grantees, and sharing technical skills—from making sense of audits and financial statements to understanding the complexity and usefulness of evaluation. Thank you for your patience, friendship and support. I extend a special thanks to our trustees for their engagement and unwavering commitment to improving the quality of Bay Area public education.  Thank you for allowing me to help with this important mission.

While this is a goodbye of sorts, I will be close by—down the street at the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Family Foundation—and still doing grantmaking that supports public schools here in California.  I will be serving as a program officer on the STEM team, supporting implementation of the Common Core State Math Standards and encouraging collaboration among school districts to improve teaching and learning for adults and students. As the messiness of real practice yields the best lessons for how to do this work well, we can learn and improve together. Please continue to include me in your communities and allow me to call on you with questions as I take on this new grantmaking challenge. There is plenty I will need to learn!

Goodbyes are hard, but the Fund’s education program will move ahead with enthusiastic support from trustees and staff alike. The Fund’s search will yield a capable replacement. Friday is my last day of fulltime work here at the Fund, but I will continue to support you until April 15.  You can reach me at [email protected] and count on hearing back the same day (most likely later in the evening). The exception will be between March 19-22 when I will be on vacation and away from e-mail. We also can schedule phone calls as needed. Last week, I enjoyed speaking with many grantees about the transition and look forward to speaking with the rest of you during the next few days.

With gratitude,


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