Matt Foreman, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

TITLE: Senior Program Director

FUNDING AREAS: LGBT rights, immigration

CONTACT: matt@haasjr.org, (415) 856-1400

IP TAKE: Foreman is one of the most passionate philanthropic leaders you could ever hope to find these days. Haas obviously saw this spark and brought him in to take on its gay and lesbian grant support. And Foreman is doing exactly that. Oh yeah, and then there's that immigration program.

PROFILE: “The bottom line is that people need to tune out the message from the media and popular culture that gay and lesbian people are solidly in the mainstream now and enjoy the same rights as everyone else. We don’t, and it is causing real harm.” That was LGBT rights activist and lawyer, Matt Foreman's response to progress made in the marriage equality movement so far. Foreman is the Senior Program Director of the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, in the thick of it for their gay & lesbian rights and immigrants rights programs. (A cool historical note: the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund was the first foundation of any kind to support marriage equality—Read Evelyn and Walter Hass Jr. Fund: Bay Area Grants.)

When all is said and done, he's been a leader in the LGBT rights movement for nearly three decades. Foreman joined Haas in 2008, after stepping down from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, where he worked for five years. Before that, he was the Executive Director of the NYC Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and the Empire State Pride Agenda. He's the founder of Heritage of Price, the organizer of LGBT pride events in New York City, and he's served on the board of Dignity/NY, an organization for gay Catholics, and the New York City Commission on Human Rights. Back in 1982, Foreman graduated from New York University School of Law, where he was a lead organizer of the 1979 national conference, “Law and the Fight for Gay Rights.”

Before devoting his career to the fight for gay rights, Foreman worked in prison policy and administration for ten years. He was the assistant commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Corrections, the executive assistant to the New York City correction commissioner, and the director of a medium/minimum security prison on Rikers Island.

Today, Foreman directs a $10 million grant program that focuses on gay and immigrant rights. The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund provides more grant support to LGBT nonprofits than any other non-gay-identified foundation in the country. Since Haas first made that commitment in 2001, the foundation has awarded grants totaling more than $60 million in this focus area.

As a long-time leader in the LGBT community, Foreman is sticking up for LGBT leaders and helping the public see that there's still a lot of uphill battles to be won. At the fund he has a first-hand view of how nonprofit leaders are are too stressed out and burnt out to think about anything beyond putting out daily fires. An answer to this problem is Haas Jr.'s Flexible Leadership Awards, which provide multi-year support in amounts between $35,000 and $50,000.

Foreman is also the director of Haas Jr.'s immigrant rights program. The foundation has been awarding grants in this focus area since 1999, totaling over $35 million. It makes sense that Foreman is the director of this immigration program. In Foreman's recent The Bilerico Project blog post, he compared the HIV/AIDS struggles of gay Americans with the citizenship struggles of American immigrants. “And, just like HIV/AIDS, the broken immigration system needs a fair, humane and comprehensive response, not one that elevates the 'good' immigrants while penalizing and stigmatizing the supposedly 'bad' ones,” he wrote. In his Towleroad blog post, he commented, “it's nearly impossible for minorities to win or defend their rights at the ballot box.”

Foreman is one of the most passionate philanthropic leaders you could ever hope to find these days. The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund obviously saw this spark and brought him on to ramp up it's LGBT grant support. And Foreman is doing exactly that. "The reality is that we’re making progress and the progress is accelerating," Foreman has said. "A hundred years from now, people will look back and will really appreciate what the gay movement did to foster a better, more just and less oppressive notion of family."