Welcome to SVCF’s Staff Spotlight, an occasional series in which we present Q&A-style profiles of some of our staff members. In this edition, we feature Hannah Wasserman, philanthropic services officer.
How long have you been at SVCF? What led you to this work?
I have been at SVCF since June 2019. In my last year at UC Berkeley, I went against a more traditional recruiting process and decided to network in hopes of landing a job that contributed to bridging the gap between large funders and the community. After speaking with many different people, I was connected to one of SVCF’s corporate clients, who referred me to the foundation. I got offered a job on the Grants team the day of my graduation and started at SVCF two weeks later.
With the implementation of the new strategic plan in 2020, how has your role evolved?
My role has evolved a lot since I first joined the team, and it feels like the evolution has come full circle. In 2020, I transitioned from supporting the Grants team as a senior associate to project managing for our Consulting Services team. Now, in 2022, I am an officer in our Philanthropic Services department and work with our grant facilitation clients.
Working in various departments at the foundation in the last few years has proven to be invaluable. One of the four pillars from our strategic plan is building a culture and practice of effective philanthropy; I believe it is important for my colleagues and I to understand the inner workings of our various teams so that we can effectively collaborate and continually improve the philanthropic experience for our donors.
What excites you most about SVCF’s work, and how it has evolved with the implementation of the new strategic vision?
The most exciting thing about SVCF is the sense of urgency. The team takes this work incredibly seriously — everyone is really passionate and dedicated to supporting the community.
One example is our disaster response work. The first large project I supported at SVCF was the Gilroy Garlic Festival Victims Fund. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last disaster where we had to act quickly. Right now we’re still in a global pandemic, and I’ve worked on our COVID-19 response funds too.
What do you like most about working with the Philanthropic Services team at the foundation?
My favorite part about the Philanthropic Services team is the diversity of individuals that share a similar passion and goal. I support a portfolio of grants facilitation clients — pushing grants from recommendation to payment and managing all the compliance and due diligence from start to finish. What I like most about my team is that as a large team, we have many different personalities, work styles and lived experiences and bring a variety of valuable perspectives and ideas to the table.
What are your biggest hopes and dreams for the future of Silicon Valley?
Hopes and dreams are big words, so I’m going to go with a really big hope and dream: to abolish the wealth disparity in our region.
What do you most like to do outside of work?
I enjoy staying active, both solo and with my family. I practice yoga and breathwork daily and hike every Sunday in Redwood Regional Park with my partner and daughter.
Who are your heroes?
My mom is my hero. In 2021, I gave birth to a beautiful baby. After enduring a long pregnancy, grueling birth and instantaneous transition to life with a newborn, I gained a new understanding and appreciation for my mother’s love.
What is something people are surprised to learn about you?
I started my career in philanthropy when I was 13 years old. I joined a teen group that managed a small private foundation at the synagogue I grew up attending. I also founded a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating opportunities for women in sports. That’s when I realized that giving is not only a passion or a family and cultural thing – it’s also a business.
Would you like to join the SVCF team? Check out our current job opportunities.