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Two NCG Members Honored with Distinguished Service Award

Monday, April 18, 2016

This year, the Council on Foundations (COF) awarded two local superstars its highest honors for distinguished service, Carol Larson, President and CEO of The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Ira Hirschfield, President and Trustee of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

 "These much-deserved awards reflect the energy and momentum of the philanthropic sector in Northern California," said Ellen LaPointe, President and CEO of Northern California Grantmakers.  "We are fortunate to have two of the giants in the field as part of our community. Ira and Carol have both made significant, enduring contributions to the work of their institutions, and to the philanthropic sector more broadly.  More importantly, transformative impact has happened in the real world as a result of their leadership and fortitude. We owe them a debt of gratitude, and are proud to call them our colleagues and friends."

“This award reminds me what an absolute privilege it is to be in philanthropy," reflected Ira Hirschfield. "Every day we get to work with leaders, organizations and movements that are opening doors of opportunity and changing the world. We share this award with our partners in the Bay Area and around the country, and we are inspired by this honor to keep supporting them to lift their aspirations of what they can achieve.”   

Read COF's press release below. 


The Council on Foundations today announced the recipients of three awards:
  • Distinguished Service Award
  • Robert Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking
  • Wilmer Shields Rich Award for Excellence in Communications

These awards recognize excellence in philanthropy and honor exemplary leaders in the field.

Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award, philanthropy’s highest honor, celebrates visionary leaders who embody those inspirational qualities that define excellence in philanthropy—commitment, courage, entrepreneurship, and impact. This year, the Council is honoring two people with this award:

Ira Hirschfield has served as president and trustee of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund for nearly 30 years, and under his leadership, the Haas, Jr. Fund has become a national leader when it comes to taking on issues of inequality and injustice. Among the Fund’s signature achievements is its leadership in the successful drive for marriage equality, including the landmark Supreme Court decision last year. The transformative results of the Fund’s work can be seen locally as well, as Ira played a critical role in the transformation of San Francisco’s Crissy Field from a military airfield into a beautiful park that now attracts more than a million people a year.

Prior to joining the Fund he served in leadership positions at the Rockefeller Family and Associates, the Philanthropic Collaborative, and Levi Strauss Foundation. Ira cofounded and served as president and chairman of the F.B. Heron Foundation and has served on the board of the Council, Independent Sector, the National Center for Family Philanthropy, the National Center for Responsive Philanthropy, and GuideStar.

“Ira Hirschfield’s career has been focused on improving the quality of life for several of our nation’s most vulnerable populations, and he has done so with vision and a strong voice,” said Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “Always gracious, Ira has long been a respected voice for strengthening the field of philanthropy and enhancing its commitment to equity and justice. I’m particularly proud we are recognizing his work to achieve marriage equality. He works thoughtfully and collaboratively with nonprofit leaders and community partners and is known for his commitment to values as well as impact.”

Carol Larson has served the Packard Foundation for 26 years, the last twelve as its president. Under her leadership, the foundation has built collaborative philanthropic efforts with a wide variety of colleagues around some of today’s toughest challenges like mitigating the effects of climate change, ensuring children have the opportunity to reach their full potential, and providing access to quality reproductive health care. At every level, she has worked to establish the Packard Foundation as a center for innovation and excellence in philanthropy.

Additionally, she has provided extensive service to strengthening the field of philanthropy. Carol is a leader in the Encore Movement, encouraging older adults to work for the common good. She served on the board of Northern California Grantmakers and Grantmakers for Children, Youth, and Families and as the board chair of the Council on Foundations from 2010 to 2012. Carol currently serves on the boards of the ClimateWorks Foundation and the American Leadership Forum — Silicon Valley. Notably, she mentors other philanthropic leaders.

“Carol Larson is rightfully being recognized for her global philanthropic leadership,” said Spruill. “Under her leadership, the Packard Foundation has built collaboration among foundations, and her efforts to create a tighter philanthropic community have undeniably improved the quality of all our work. She is also known for her humility and integrity, as well as her commitment to ensuring that American philanthropy engages thoughtfully in a global context.”