Cathy Cha is president & CEO of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. Under her leadership, the Fund is exploring new and innovative approaches to advancing equality and justice so every person has opportunities to thrive and to live life with dignity and hope.
Cathy’s path-breaking approach to collaboration among funders, movements, nonprofits, and government has helped spark wide-ranging social impact, including California’s rise to the top among states in advancing pro-immigrant policies. Today, the Haas, Jr. Fund is broadening its commitment to helping people achieve their dreams by advancing immigrant rights and LGBT equality, promoting a fair and representative democracy, and ensuring that college is affordable for low-income students and families. The Fund’s work and investments reflect Cathy’s passion for building and sustaining broad-based movements so they can achieve lasting reforms at all levels of society.
Cathy stepped into the role of president of the Haas, Jr. Fund in 2019 after serving for two years as vice president of programs. In that role, she helped create the California Campus Catalyst Fund, a coalition of funders, educators, and advocates who are working to expand support and services for undocumented students and their families across 32 campuses in California’s public higher education systems.
Cathy joined the Haas, Jr. Fund as a program officer in 2004. After she began leading the Fund’s Immigrant Rights and Integration program in 2009, she co-created and led California Civic Participation Funders, a collaborative that is increasing voting and community organizing in low-income communities. In 2011, Cathy worked with the Carnegie, Knight, and Grove foundations to start the New Americans Campaign, which has assisted more than 300,000 legal permanent residents to become U.S. citizens. Cathy also led efforts to create the African American Civic Engagement Project, an alliance of community leaders, funders, and local groups across California that is working to increase power in black communities. In addition, she helped jumpstart a first-of-its kind project to spur organizing and voting in Orange County’s Vietnamese communities.
Cathy’s work is driven by a career-long commitment to improving the lives of aspiring communities facing discrimination and poverty. Before joining the Haas, Jr. Fund, she was a program officer with the Hyams Foundation in Boston. While working there, she helped establish the Home Funders initiative, which continues to unite Massachusetts funders in support of efforts to reduce family homelessness. Cathy started her career in jobs with the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation in San Francisco and the United Way of King County in Seattle.
Cathy serves as a board member with Coaching Corps, a national nonprofit that recruits and trains coaches to use sport to help low-income youth reach their full potential. Previously, she served for seven years on the board of Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), including two years as national co-chair.
Cathy is a frequent public speaker on civic engagement, immigration policy, and the catalytic role of philanthropy in advancing social change. In 2019, she was named one of the Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business by the San Francisco Business Times. She received the Leader in Action Award from Asian American/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) in 2015, and the Immigrant Integration and Inspiration Award from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles in 2014.
Cathy has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Washington in Seattle.
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