James Higa, former senior director in the Office of the CEO at Apple, has been appointed the new executive director of Oakland-based Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, the first new top leader for the organization since its founding in 1991 by philanthropist Bill Somerville.
For most of his career, Higa reported directly to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. He worked with the original Macintosh team and was involved in hammering out agreements with record labels as Apple launched its iTunes digital music store in 2001. He played a major role in the creation of iTunes University.
“I have spent my career striving to think different and change the world through technology,” Higa said in a statement. “I want to carry on that work at PVF now through people and communities.”
The foundation provides grants to address issues of poverty and injustice, supporting school programs, resources for teachers and community initiatives.
“James helped start Apple Japan,” PVF Board Member Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, said in a statement. “He was a member of the Unicode working group that established the universal character-encoding system used by practically every computer and software company today. Unicode is why people around the world can use any computer no matter what language, what software program, or what website. James’ penchant for innovation with a global reach, combined with a profound concern for improving the prospects for poor people at home and abroad, makes for a perfect fit with Philanthropic Ventures Foundation.”