Goldman Fund hires new director, expands Jewish giving

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When Charles F. Greene received his master's degree from Harvard Business School in 1971, he chose not to follow the Ivy League investment banking route.

Instead, Greene opted for a career in the nonprofit world.

"I got my MBA but I did not want to work for a particularly large organization," Greene said. "The skills I developed were more suited for creating and running a nonprofit, and I place a lot of value in serving the community."

After helping found a liberal arts college and serving as a nonprofit administrator for the past 26 years, Greene has taken over as executive director of the S.F.-based Goldman Fund — one of the largest secular philanthropies in the area that serves the Jewish community.

Greene's tenure began Aug. 2 when he replaced Duane Silverstein, who left after 18 years at the Goldman Fund to direct the Seacology Foundation, which works to protect the environment and culture of islands throughout the world.

The Goldman Fund, which was founded in 1951 by prominent San Francisco philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman, is currently endowed at over $377 million. It made more than $36.5 million in grants in 1998.

Of that, the fund gave $7.4 million, or 21 percent of its total grants, to Jewish and Israeli causes.

While Jewish agencies in New York, Boston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., were included, most of the grants went to Bay Area organizations. The largest donation for Jewish affairs was a $1 million grant to the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation.

In addition to Jewish affairs, the Goldman Fund gives financial support to agencies and programs that promote the environment, violence prevention, reproductive rights and youth services.

The total amount of grants tripled between 1997 and 1998.

At the same time, Jewish giving increased seven-fold and should expand more in the future, said Bob Gamble, deputy director of the Goldman Fund, who is also in charge of Jewish affairs.

"I expect continuing growth both in the amount and the percentage of Jewish giving," Gamble said.

Greene sees the Goldman Fund's board members as committed to the fields it has supported in the past. "But they are also excited about new initiatives like the $4.3 million gun-control program they just approved" in May.

"I am sure they will be doing things like that in the future. My job is to bring the creative energy to develop these new initiatives."

Greene, who is Jewish, brings unique experience to the job.

The 53-year-old Novato resident arrived to the Bay Area in the early 1970s and co-founded World College West in Marin County. The four-year fully accredited liberal arts college specializes in international and environmental studies. He spent 18 years at the institution, serving as its administrative vice president.

For the last eight years, Greene has worked as executive director of the Volunteer Center of San Francisco. During that time, he guided the center on a 10-fold increase in budget and scope of services.

"The Volunteer Center was a very productive and gratifying experience, but the position at the Goldman Fund was the opportunity of a lifetime," Greene said.

"It gives me a chance to support the nonprofit world with financial resources rather the human resources I provided at the Volunteer Center."