Karen Ha, a beloved founder and co-chair of the KACF-SF Board of Directors, passed away on September 1, 2017, succumbing to cancer after a long and brave battle. She was an extraordinary individual who embodied kindness, wise intelligence, strong leadership, and big-heartedness. She was instrumental in establishing and growing KACF-SF to be the thriving organization it is today. Karen is remembered with deep love and admiration by all of us at KACF-SF and by all who were fortunate to have known her and been touched by her warmth and generosity.
During our organization’s early startup days, Karen brought discipline and professionalism to the group of passionate founders, combining a no-nonsense, practical approach with warmth and good humor. Karen went on to serve as our fearless Board Co-Chair, leading the organization with her keen wisdom, indefatigable energy, and unbridled enthusiasm. She always pushed us to stretch for higher goals, stating confidently that she had always met and exceeded her goals. And true to her words, we reached and exceeded our fundraising goals each year, beyond our wildest expectations. While never losing sight of those lofty goals, no task was too small for Karen either. She could always be counted on to roll up her sleeves and get her hands dirty wherever help was needed.
Karen’s work with KACF-SF came from her heart — she could not talk about the plight of Korean seniors without tearing, and there was no good cause she did not want to support. Her genuine compassion and generosity challenged and inspired each of us to become more compassionate and generous. During her time with KACF-SF, Karen tirelessly advanced the Foundation’s values and vision of an empowered Korean American community that helps the most vulnerable and that encourages those better off to give back. She did all this while dealing with the daunting physical challenges of her illness.
Karen’s positive outlook on life, her energy and caring also served her well in a successful career as a software executive and in venture capital. Karen was a member of Sand Hill Angels, a partner at Athena Technology Ventures, and director at StartingPoint Partners, firms that invest in high-tech startups. Previously, Karen spent 14 years at enterprise software companies, most notably as a co-founder and CEO of Savvio, where she raised $13 million in venture funding.
Karen received her B.S. and M.S. from MIT in Ocean Engineering and Systems Management. It was at MIT that she met her husband and life partner, Perry Ha, who has also been her partner in philanthropy. Karen’s volunteerism included serving on the Corporate Development Committee at MIT, the MIT Public Service Center Leadership Council, and the MIT Alumni Association’s Fund Board. Karen also sat on the Board of the Network of Korean American Leaders and was a member of the Council of Korean Americans.
We honor and celebrate Karen’s life and many accomplishments, among them her enduring contributions to KACF-SF. Her legacy of generosity, along with her indomitable spirit and grace, will forever be remembered and cherished, and will guide all of us at KACF-SF in the months and years to come as we continue our work to help those less fortunate in our community.
KACF-SF has established the Karen Ha Memorial Fund in Karen’s honor. All donations to this Fund will go directly to support a program that represents Karen’s vision and legacy.