Board of Directors

A three-person Board of Directors sets policies, determines the strategic direction, and approves grants for the Kirsch Foundation.

Bill Johnson
Vice Chairman/CFO

Martha J. Kanter
Board Member/

Steven T. Kirsch
Chairman of the Board

Steve Kirsch, 50, is founder and chairman of Propel Software and CEO of Abaca, both Silicon Valley start-ups. He is, however, perhaps best known as the founder and chairman of Infoseek Corporation, an Internet navigation service that was acquired by the Walt Disney Company in November 1999.

Prior to Infoseek, Steve founded Frame Technology in 1986 and Mouse Systems in 1982. He has been involved with the Internet since 1972 when he worked with the "Father of the Internet" Vint Cerf while attending high school. He has BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.

In addition to his current companies, Steve has become well-known for his efforts to eliminate junk faxes. He has established and maintains a comprehensive site,, to help consumers and businesses and he has won lawsuits and judgments against junk fax operations.

Steve is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Ploughshares Fund. Ploughshares, a Foundation grant recipient and grantmaking partner, focuses its activities on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, a cause the Foundation champions.

Steve is well recognized as a philanthropic leader within Silicon Valley and beyond its borders. For more information about Steve, visit About the Founders.

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Bill Johnson
Vice Chairman/CFO

William “Bill” Johnson is the founder and president of Embarcadero Publishing Co., owner of six community newspapers on the Peninsula, in the East Bay and Marin County. The company also operates Palo Alto Online, a comprehensive news and information website serving the Palo Alto area. Bill serves as publisher of the largest Embarcadero newspaper, the Palo Alto Weekly, which circulates to homes in Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley, Los Altos Hills, Stanford and East Palo Alto. The company's other newspapers are The Almanac, Mountain View Voice, Pleasanton Weekly, Danville Weekly and Pacific Sun. Prior to forming his company in 1979, Bill served as a senior aide to Congressman Pete McCloskey and as a consultant to the California Coastal Commission.

Bill serves on the boards of numerous community and professional organizations, including the California Newspaper Publishers Association and the California First Amendment Coalition. He is also a board member of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Bill earned a BA in Communications from Stanford University.

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Martha J. Kanter
Board Member/Secretary

Martha J. Kanter is chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, one of the most prominent community college districts in the nation. She held various positions at institutions such as San Jose City College, the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office, and De Anza College prior to becoming chancellor in 2003. She holds a doctorate in organization and leadership from the University of San Francisco, a master's degree in education with a concentration in clinical psychology and public practice from Harvard University and a BA in sociology from Brandeis University.

Martha is active in a wide variety of national, state and local organizations that include the nationally renowned League for Innovation in the Community, San Jose Museum of Art, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, and Stanford Business School’s Alumni Consulting Team. She also volunteers as an education adviser to the Mayfair Improvement Initiative and SpringBoard Forward.

Over the years, she has received honors from the 24th Assembly District, San Jose Mercury News, The Women's Fund, American Association of University Women, Chinese Historical and Cultural Project, National Organization for Women-California Chapter, and the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women.

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Board Member Emeritus

In recognition of his service on the Kirsch Foundation Board of Directors from 1999-2007, Peter Hero was named Board Member Emeritus in July 2007.

Peter deCourcy Hero

Peter Hero currently serves as Senior Advisor to the President of Silicon Valley Community Foundation. From 1989 to 2007, Peter was the President and CEO of Community Foundation Silicon Valley. For three years he also served as the Chairman of the Council on Foundations' Committee on Community Foundations, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Council on Foundations, The National Trust for the Humanities, The Foundation for a Civil Society, Stanford University Haas Center for Public Service, and The Silicon Valley Housing Leadership Council. President George Bush appointed him to a six-year term on the National Council on the Arts in 1991. Peter holds an MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business, an MA in Art History from Williams College and a (Honorary) Doctor of Laws from Maine College.

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