Bay Area Philanthropist: Mrs. Helen Diller

Corinna Kaarlela, News Director
Source: Elizabeth Fernandez (415) 476-2557

Bay Area Philanthropist: Mrs. Helen Diller

A resident of San Mateo County, Mrs. Helen Diller has a history of philanthropic giving to education, science and the arts.

She created the Helen Diller Family Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund 10 years ago, and its grants have supported a number of programs and institutions in the Bay Area and throughout the world. She is recognized for her creativity in looking for opportunities to make contributions and for her deep involvement in the areas she supports.

In 2003, the Foundation made a generous $35 million grant to support construction of a new cancer research building on the UCSF Mission Bay campus. At the time, the grant was the largest contribution directed by individual donors in UCSF history. The facility was named the Helen Diller Family Cancer Research Building in recognition of the family's pivotal role in making it possible.

In 2007, UCSF renamed its cancer center the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center in honor of Mrs. Diller's commitment to improving lives worldwide and for serving as a role model who inspires others to make a difference in their communities.

The Helen Diller Family Foundation also has made major grants to UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz to fund programs in Jewish studies. A grant to the San Francisco Jewish Community Center created the Helen Diller Family Pre-School. The Foundation also supported the renovation of the Julius Kahn Playground, located in the Presidio of San Francisco.

The Foundation created and supports the Diller Teen Fellows Program, a national initiative to promote Jewish teen leadership through community service, ethics and identity-building; the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, an annual award that recognizes up to five California teens for their exceptional community service and outstanding leadership; and the Diller Family Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, an annual award to top educators in their field.

In addition, the Foundation has donated to San Francisco's de Young Museum and helped make possible the San Francisco presentation of "The Sculpture of Louise Nevelson: Constructing a Legend" in fall 2007. The Foundation also played a key role in bringing the Marc Chagall exhibition to SFMOMA in 2003, which was the only venue outside of Paris for this major retrospective.

Mrs. Diller is the recipient of the National Scopus Award, the highest honor the American Friends of the Hebrew University can confer, and the Visionary Philanthropic Leader Award from the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, and Marin and Sonoma Counties.

She has been active in a number of charitable organizations, including service as chair of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and regional president of the American Friends of the Hebrew University.