Pierre Hauser is a long-time philanthropic activist. In 1991, he and his wife, Abigail Disney, founded the Daphne Foundation, which is a private family foundation that works to end poverty in New York City. Pierre has been very hands-on at Daphne, even to the extent of serving as its executive director off and an through the years. While he is still centrally involved in his family foundation, Pierre wanted to round out his philanthropic experience by working with North Star Fund, which is a community foundation. Says Pierre, "My family has been a proud donor to North Star for several years, along with many New Yorkers. Now I'm taking the next step and taking an active leadership role by serving on its board of directors."
One of Pierre's goals for participating on the board of North Star Fund is to learn from the inside how we organize and evaluate our activist-led grantmaking programs. According to Pierre, "In helping to run the Daphne Foundation for 17 years, I've always been disappointed by the reluctance of fellow foundations to support community organizing. Usually the excuse is that it's hard to measure the impact of organizing. North Star's grantees have repeatedly demonstrated the opposite, producing quite tangible results--for example, forcing sweatshops to pay back wages, or convincing city officials to create workfare jobs that are not dead ends, or securing legislation requiring city programs to provide translation services."
Pierre is an accomplished, award-winning writer. His published work includes several history books for young adult readers, including a history on undocumented immigrants and two works on late 19th and early 20th century African-American history. Recently, Pierre has concentrated on writing fiction. Since 2005, he has had 11 stories published.
Pierre sees a similarity between what it takes to write creatively and what it takes to do innovative grantmaking. He says, "As a writer of fiction, I appreciate the imagination North Star brings to its grantmaking, the fund's ability to look at fledgling grassroots groups and imagine what they might develop into, if properly nurtured and encouraged--it reminds me of the process involved in taking a germ of an idea, a fleeting image or a snippet of dialogue, and turning it into a full-fledged story."