Former commissioner Anne W. Halsted, a community leader who was reluctant to be known by that title but who nonetheless served from 2005 until last May as the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission's representative on MTC passed away Saturday.
Halsted's commitment to public service was highlighted by her numerous public and civic appointments and leadership positions. In an oral history interview conducted by UC Berkeley in 2018, Halsted said that in her civic role she pursued issues that brought people together in the public interest, maximized diversity in work and in problem-solving, and built alliances within community.
“Overall, I know myself more as a facilitator and a connector of people than as a leader,” she said.
Halsted was born in West Virginia, was raised in Cleveland and Milwaukee, and attended Duke University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. She moved to San Francisco in 1964, where she began a career in human resources. From 1969 to 1990, she served as vice president of Human Resources, for U.S. Leasing International, Inc. While her working career was in human resources, her calling was building community, improving the environment, and advancing opportunities for women and minorities.
“For many of us, Anne was more than an extraordinary Board member of immense integrity, thoughtfulness and empathy,” said Therese W. McMillan, MTC’s Executive Director. “ She was a dear friend, and for me, a mentor and champion during many a tough go. And there was no one more unequivocal in her support and appreciation of staff. Her dedication to MTC and BCDC, as well as many other Bay Area causes, was felt by those who knew her personally, and all those benefiting from her decades of service to this region,”
In 2018, BCDC chair Zachary Wasserman didn’t hesitate recommending Halsted be reappointed to MTC as her term was expiring.
“Anne's depth and breadth of experience in Bay Area planning in general, and with special attention to transportation planning, continues to make her an outstanding choice,” he wrote.
Halsted served as the vice chair of BCDC for many years and as chair of the Northeast Waterfront Advisory Group and the Ferry Building Advisory Group.
She was president of the Port of San Francisco and co-chair of the San Francisco Open Space Advisory Committee and was also a commissioner at the Treasure Island Development Authority and the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency Commission.
Her civic involvement included the City Club of San Francisco, where she served twice as chair; the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), where she was president from 1993 to 1997 and served as chair; and the Telegraph Hill Dwellers, for which she served one term as president. She also was a board member of San Francisco Tomorrow and San Francisco Friends of the Urban Forest.
Former SPUR Executive Director Jim Chappell wrote the introduction to Halsted’s UC Berkeley oral history.
“What emerges is the picture of a gentle giant, an individual so committed to social, economic and environmental justice but so modest and common-sensible…a mentor to so many others, young women especially, a catalyst who leads by example without an ounce of command or control or ego,” Chappell wrote.
Chappell added: “In reflecting on the broad swath of Anne’s community involvement I am reminded of the epitaph of the prolific architect Christopher Wren, “si monumentum requiris, circumspice” — if you are searching for his monument, look around. Both physical and institutional changes spurred by Anne Halsted’s gentle leadership abound.”