Chief Executive Officer
Why do you do what you do?
Many of my family members were teachers or involved in nonprofit and social justice organizations. They were active in the civil rights movement, so it was natural for me to focus my career on addressing race, income and poverty.
What drew you to the foundation?
This is the second time I’ve worked at San Francisco Foundation. The first time I came here, as a fellow in the 1990s, I had been working in nonprofit organizations, and I just wanted to demystify fundraising and philanthropy. Once I got here though, I realized that this place was about much more than funding. The work here aligns perfectly with my roots in the Bay Area and my interest in social justice.
How would you describe your role?
My role is threefold (in no particular order): First off, I am a spokesperson for the foundation and its work. Secondly, I provide strategic leadership on issues that the foundation should be focused on in the Bay Area. And third, I manage the organization so that the trains are kept running on time.
Are you involved in any volunteer activities?
I serve on a number of boards, including the Independent Sector, Northern California Grantmakers, the Bridgespan Group, the dean’s advisory council for UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design and the community advisory council of the San Francisco Federal Reserve.
Fred Blackwell is the CEO of the San Francisco Foundation, one of the largest community foundations in the country. The San Francisco Foundation works hand-in-hand with donors, community leaders, and both public and private partners to create thriving communities throughout the Bay Area. Since joining the foundation in 2014, Blackwell has led it in a renewed commitment to social justice through an equity agenda focused on racial and economic inclusion.
Blackwell, an Oakland native, is a nationally recognized community leader with a longstanding career in the Bay Area. Prior to joining the foundation, he served as interim city administrator for the city of Oakland, where he previously served as the assistant city administrator. He was the executive director of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and director of the Mayor’s Office of Community Development in San Francisco; he served as the director of the Making Connections Initiative for the Annie E. Casey Foundation in the Lower San Antonio neighborhood of Oakland; he was a Multicultural Fellow in Neighborhood and Community Development at The San Francisco Foundation; and he subsequently managed a multiyear comprehensive community initiative for the San Francisco Foundation in West Oakland.
Blackwell serves on the board of the Independent Sector, Northern California Grantmakers, the Bridgespan Group, the dean’s advisory council for UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design, and the community advisory council of the San Francisco Federal Reserve. He previously served on the boards of the California Redevelopment Association, Urban Habitat Program, LeaderSpring and Leadership Excellence. He was Co-Chair of CASA — The Committee to House the Bay Area. Blackwell holds a master’s degree in city planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in urban studies from Morehouse College.