At Home With Stephanie Bergsma & Dwight Hare
“It’s a happy home,” says Stephanie Bergsma as she shows Ranch & Coast around the contemporary Solana Beach home she shares with husband Dwight Hare. Sun spills through windows that frame panoramic Pacific views, from the storied turf at the Del Mar Race Track to the surf just furlongs away.
Bergsma, known as a formidable fundraiser during three decades at KPBS, and Hare, the chief software architect for Parity Computing, discovered the airy retreat shortly before they wed nine years ago this month. They had only been house hunting for two weeks when they found the home, tucked above a winding road. “We walked in, we walked upstairs, and we just looked at each other,” Hare recalls. “That was it. I love how open it feels, and how much light comes in.”
A curved wood staircase leads from the foyer to the bright living room where sleek, modern furniture forms a neutral backdrop for bursts of color, from plump Marimekko pillows to treasures from the couple’s travels including a century-old silk wall-hanging from India, a Balinese painting, pottery from Santa Fe, and a whimsical wood carving from a Oaxacan artisan.
In fact, over the past two and a half years, this peripatetic couple has steadily checked off trips on their bucket list: Antarctica, China, Cuba, France, India, Italy, Morocco, Tanzania, and a recent safari in South Africa’s Kruger National Park. Next up are visits to the Galapagos Islands, Peru’s Machu Picchu, Mexico’s Riviera Maya, and Cabo San Lucas.
When not on the road, Bergsma and Hare often entertain in the expansive backyard with its pool and outdoor kitchen. He likes to cook one-pot meals such as gumbo and cassoulet. She swears by Blue Apron, a service that delivers fresh ingredients and inventive recipes right to the front door. When they feel like dining out, Market Restaurant + Bar, Sea & Smoke, and Cucina Enoteca are close at hand.
Philanthropy is a constant in their lives. They co-chair the 13th annual “Starry Starry Night,” on September 19 at the San Diego Polo Club to benefit Voices for Children. The nonprofit hopes to raise $1.5 million to recruit and train Court Appointed Special Advocates, known as CASAs, mentors who help the county’s abused and neglected children navigate the legal system and life in foster care.
“Part of the excitement of this is seeing how we can take a very good gala and make it even better,” says Hare. So this year, they are adding a mixology cocktail party with lounge seating, a “store” where guests can sample wine before buying bottles for the table, wine-and-dessert pairings, a center stage, and an after-party. Andrew Spurgin and Culinary Concepts have created a festive menu.
Besides Voices for Children, Bergsma and Hare support many charitable and cultural causes including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the La Jolla Playhouse, inewsource, and of course, KPBS, where she retired as associate general manager in 2012, and where she remains a legend.
Credited with building KPBS from the ground up, Bergsma raised $20 million for the KPBS Copley Telecommunications Center in the early 1990s, and more recently, $6 million for the state-of-the-art Joan and Irwin Jacobs News Center. “KPBS is literally ‘the house that Stephanie built’,” KPBS general manager Tom Karlo has said.
But it was Bergsma’s relationship with the late philanthropist Joan Kroc that led in 2003 to the biggest donation of all, a record $235 million bequest to National Public Radio, the largest in NPR’s history, as well as $5 million to KPBS. The two women had known each other for a long time, but their friendship deepened when Bergsma’s first husband Alan spent his final days in a hospice that Kroc funded. Even though he was dying of cancer and in terrible pain, Alan took the time to write Kroc a thank you note. “I didn’t know about it until Joan Kroc called wanting to speak with him,” Bergsma recalls. “The nurse came and put me on the phone because he wasn’t able to speak. It was a big surprise. It was a profoundly moving experience on many levels.”
Bergsma, a keen observer, says fundraising is about getting to know people, following up, and listening. “Listening is the single most important thing, listening and thanking people,” says Bergsma of her success over the past three decades. “I have found that so many people don’t know how to listen…by listening and watching people, you get so many signals about who they are.” Andrea Naversen