Recognized as a prominent community leader for her creative approach to philanthropy, Pam Baer is a San Francisco-based businesswoman and the wife of San Francisco Giants CEO Larry Baer. A force in the Bay Area, Pam spends her time advocating for vulnerable populations and focusing on healthcare. She is a Lifetime Director of the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation and currently serves on the Board of the Giants Community Fund, is an Advisory Board member of Family House, and is a Board member of the Jewish Women’s Giving Circle. Globally, she works as a Founder’s Circle member of Every Mother Counts and serves on the Advisory Board of Nest, a non-profit that serves to improve women’s wellbeing and preserves important cultural traditions around the world. She continues to be involved in organizations such as the Contemporary Jewish Museum and various other educational and public health causes. She also founded For Goodness Sake, a specialized mobile store that donated a portion of all sales to raise funds for numerous local nonprofits.
Originally from Texas, Pam completed a marketing and finance degree at the University of Texas in Austin prior to moving to New York City. After a successful career in the financial services sector she started a marketing business with some of her former clients. The entrepreneurial venture was a direct mail marketing agency focused on financial services and served consumers and business-to-business clients, as well as some Fortune 500 companies. Having gained valuable industry experience, Pam developed her own creative approach to business, particularly the idea of doing business in a way that was centered around giving back to local communities.
When she married Larry Baer, the couple moved to San Francisco where they have raised four children together. Pam’s altruistic projects in San Francisco have demonstrated her ability to engage people in fundraising initiatives while supporting community-building experiences that support the many organizations that champion her most personal causes.
Giving from the Heart
Pam’s involvement in philanthropy was embedded in her from an early age but it was after her young son suffered an accident and was restored to health at the San Francisco General Hospital that she made healthcare for the vulnerable her mission. Inspired by the lifesaving care and service they received at the General, Pam joined the San Francisco General Hospital Foundation (SFGHF), serving on its board of directors until 2018, after which she was named their first Lifetime Director of the Board. Pam continues to work closely with SFGHF and to date has raised in excess of $250 million.
One of Pam’s signature collaborations, the Hearts in San Francisco Project, is a highly anticipated event in San Francisco for its support of local artists and their work. This city-wide initiative showcases an array of heart sculptures that are designed by Bay Area artists and are auctioned off to raise funds for the SFGH Foundation. Pam worked closely with Tony Bennett and convinced him to paint a heart that is now permanently displayed in Union Square. He performed his iconic song “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” at the launch of the Hearts project in 2004 and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. These heart sculptures represent the love that San Francisco residents feel for their local hospital workers as well as for one another. The large sculptures are exhibited both publicly and privately across the Bay Area and beyond.
Pam has always been inspired by large public art installations, especially when they are Initiatives that provide community-building benefits and spark creativity. “San Francisco has always housed some amazing public art pieces. Recently, due to COVID and sheltering in place, I’ve traveled via Zoom to see some astounding installations around the world. Art always gives me a warm buzz of appreciation and inspiration.”
With the goal of expanding her philanthropic activities to include other sectors of the community, Pam launched For Goodness Sake in 2014. For Goodness Sake was a small mobile boutique that was created with a mission to support health, educational and community causes through the sale of accessories and crafts designed and created by local artisans.
Once again showcasing and supporting local creative talent, For Goodness Sake supported a variety of nonprofits through direct donations of a percentage from all of the organization’s sales. The mobile store made appearances at community and cultural events to raise awareness among the local population, and encourage charitable giving. During its four year inception, For Goodness Sake raised over $1 million in donations to various nonprofits across the San Francisco Bay Area.
Walking for Inspiration
Pam attributes her endurance and organizational skills to daily preparation. “I begin each morning with mindful meditation, a cup of coffee and the pages of the New York Times,” she explains. “This ritual is usually followed by a morning hike on a local trail. Being outside and having the headspace to relax allows me to mentally prepare myself for whatever the day brings my way.”
An advocate of spending time outside every day, both as a source of inspiration and as a habit for maintaining optimal health, Pam is committed to the practice. “I was born to appreciate my surroundings and all that nature has to offer, so I’m always encouraging people to get out more – whether it is a daily walk, run or hike,” she notes. “It’s not just about the endorphins—although they are great—but it benefits our health both physically and mentally.”
Pam starts her day by prioritizing her ongoing task list. The early hours are her most productive hours in the day. “I’m continuously adding to my never-ending to-do list with important tasks and checking off those that I have completed. A written list has always helped to keep me organized and prepares me for the day.” she remarks.
This rigorous daily preparation produces just the right combination of relaxed mindfulness and productive energy to create a fertile ground for new ideas to blossom— ideas that Pam will usually bring to fruition through meaningful and supportive collaborations.
Teamwork, Collaboration, and Research Lead to Big Ideas
“My process is a combination of brainstorming ideas, creating new things, and working closely with like-minded people on truly meaningful projects,” Pam shares. “I’ve always tried to be continuously open to collaborations in my network, and my philanthropy board work has been instrumental in expanding my reach. By becoming as educated as possible in the areas I champion, I am able to create connections. I’ll take classes, read books, seek out experts in the area and learn as much as possible about it. I find that it helps me not only drive results but also make informed decisions.”
By remaining open to collaborations and committed to building a network that will get the job done, Pam has been able to implement initiatives and achieve success in projects that would have otherwise seemed insurmountable by herself. This is a lesson she learned early on in her career. “Like many professionals, I’ve been guilty of taking on too much,” she admits. “Let’s face it, when you love what you do, you want to always say ‘yes’ to new opportunities. I’ve overcome this by putting trust in and expanding the number of people on projects and more carefully delegating tasks. By strategizing and utilizing people’s strengths, you can build a team that can achieve anything.”
While some might guess that Pam is a social butterfly, she actually refers to herself as an introvert. “Nobody believes me when I tell them this, but it’s true,” she points out. “While I might appear to be in my element at social events and massive functions, I’m just as content curled up reading a book or knitting in the comfort of my own home. It’s all about balance.”
People close to Pam say that she is well-centered and balanced, perhaps thanks to her practice of mindfulness. She’s a committed optimist who encourages herself and other women to fearlessly pursue their dreams and goals. The keys to success in life are simple: “Don’t worry about failing at something. Try your ideas, however wild they may seem, and be confident. Use your inner courage. Get out there and see all that the world has to offer you. Travel as much as you can and continue to help others wherever you land.”
When asked to recall a favorite quote, Pam smilingly offers a quote by Katherine Hepburn that sums up her own approach to living and giving: “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.”