Peter deCourcy Hero, a longtime California foundation leader credited as the catalyst in building Silicon Valley into a philanthropic powerhouse, died Sunday at the age of 73, Palo Alto Weekly reports. The cause was esophageal cancer.
Mr. Hero served as president of the Community Foundation of Santa Clara County (later the Community Foundation Silicon Valley) from 1988 until 2006, when it merged with another regional grant maker to form today’s Silicon Valley Community Foundation. During his tenure, the Santa Clara group’s assets swelled from $9 million to $1.2 billion as Mr. Hero set out to tap mushrooming tech-industry wealth. Associates said he developed an innovative approach that shifted philanthropy’s traditional emphasis on large, late-life gifts to working closely with younger donors to meet an array of charitable goals.
"Building those relationships with tech leaders, he figured out how to engage them and leverage the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit of Silicon Valley with solving our most pressing community problems,” said his son, Chris Hero. “That's really his legacy: figuring out how to engage and build a culture that didn't exist before.”
Before his foundation career, Peter Hero was an executive at food company Spice Islands and served as president of the Maine College of Art. In his later years he founded and led the Hero Group, which focuses on impact investing.