Anne Halsted
Picture of Jessie Brennan

Jessie Brennan

Anne Halsted: A Lifetime of Advancing Environmental & Social Justice

We are sad to share that our dear friend and beloved Board member, Anne Halsted, has passed away after a long battle with cancer. Anne’s leadership in advancing environmental and social justice in the Bay Area will be deeply missed. 

Raised in the midwest, Anne spent most of her life in San Francisco. Her breadth of knowledge and experience was first introduced to Greenbelt Alliance when she joined our Board (back when we were known as People for Open Space) in the late ’60s. Anne worked closely with co-founder Dorothy Erskine to help establish the foundations of the organization early on. As Board Vice-Chair for the past two years, Anne helped to see the organization through a critical time of transition, where her strategic counseling and ability to empower those around her served as a major force to keep our work moving forward. Upon hearing of her passing, Executive Director, Amanda Brown-Stevens, said, “I feel so grateful to have known her even for this short period, and I know all of us are better people through her quiet and powerful influence.”

When reflecting on Anne’s impact throughout her life, in San Francisco alone the results are profound. While on the Board of the Neighborhood Parks Council, and as a member of the Open Space Committee (where she was personally appointed by then-mayor Feinstein), Anne’s guidance and advocacy can be attributed to the many neighborhood parks in the city.

Beyond the trees and green spaces Anne helped to establish, she was also heavily involved with the shaping of San Francisco’s shoreline. While enjoying views of the Bay, give a nod to Anne’s leadership as the President of the Port Commission and member of many agencies and organizations who relied on Anne’s knowledge to make the shoreline and city of San Francisco what it is today. 

Anne’s influence on the entire Bay Area is just as impressive. She was known by many for her decades of service as the chair and member of SPUR’s Board of Directors. She also spent the past 15 years as the Vice Chair of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission, and the last 12 as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Through these roles, Anne worked to build connections with communities, and draw parallels between equitable urban development and the conservation of our open space lands—preserving the unique beauty of this special place we call home. 

In addition to the time she dedicated to our urban and open spaces, Anne was also a mentor, where she helped to uplift and empower young women and others in her community. As a mentor and through her advisory positions at organizations like the Legal Aid Society, she strived for economic, racial, social, and environmental justice throughout every aspect of her work, and the results were felt by many.

It is difficult to capture just how much Anne Halsted did for her community, the many organizations and people she dedicated her time and knowledge to, and the entire Bay Area region that benefited from her work. What we can say is that when you visit one of our region’s special open spaces, catch a view of the sun setting over the San Francisco skyline, or hear about social or racial justice strides being made in our region, you should think of Anne. Our condolences go out to Wells Whitney, Anne’s husband and former Board member of Greenbelt Alliance, as well as to all of those who knew Anne and will miss her presence in this world.

Anne Halsted served on many Board, committees, and agencies during her life in the Bay Area, including: Bay Conservation and Development Commission; Business Executives for National Security; Chinatown Community Development Corporation; Greenbelt Alliance; the Institute on Aging; the International Institute; Legal Aid Society, Metropolitan Transportation Commission; Neighborhood Parks Council; North Beach Citizens; Northeast, Waterfront Advisory Group (NWAG); Open Space Advisory Committee; Port Commission; Potrero Hill Neighborhood Association; San Francisco Maritime National Park Association; San Francisco Tomorrow; SPUR; Tel Hi Neighborhood Center; Telegraph Hill Dwellers; and the national Women’s Campaign Fund to name a few.

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