We met in 1996, a year before Via Foundation was established.
At that time Peter was in charge of the Community Foundation of Santa Clara County (later renamed the Community Foundation Silicon Valley) and he was our inexhaustible source of inspiration, knowledge and good ideas. Peter shared how companies could be inspired to give, introduced donor funds and community foundations to us and showed us how to lay the groundwork for working with individual donors.
Peter’s greatest success was his philanthropic work with successful young business people in Silicon Valley. Peter is the one who showed them the power of philanthropy and what “giving back” is all about. Jeff Skoll, founder of eBay, and many other successful start-up owners are grateful to Peter for his work and for helping them understand the ‘purpose of their wealth’. I think their favorite conversations with Peter were those when Peter said: “Don’t give to problems, give to solutions.”
Between 1996 and 2005 Peter visited us almost every year and it was always a fascinating experience. Not just because he knew so much – but mainly because he was so willing to share his knowledge and help us.
It took me some years to realize what a blessing it was for Via Foundation and for myself that we encountered a person as wonderful and generous as Peter in our personal and professional lives.
Peter died on Sunday, August 21st at the age of 73.
We thank Peter for everything that he taught us and that we were able to experience with him. And for all the laughter we shared.
Jiří Bárta, Executive Director, Via Foundation.
P.S. To read more about Peter Hero, see recent articles here and here.